Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Weekend

I don't normally blog a lot about Easter - mainly because there is so much to cover with the Easter story, I don't really know where to start. And people are blogging out the wazoo about it, and most of those bloggers are a lot more knowledgeable than I about Easter traditions or history. But what I can do is show you some bits and pieces from our annual Easter drama. These are a few pictures and a couple of short videos from last night. We will be doing it again tonight at 8pm, so if you live in the area, PLEASE come by and see it! Everyone works so hard on this. It was my first year watching it instead of participating and it's absolutely amazing. (Faith Baptist Church, 2180 Carthage Rd in West End. Childcare and refreshments provided for free!)

 Scene: The Last Supper (new this year)

Scene: Jesus praying in the garden

Nothing is quite as chilling as watching Jesus praying in the garden, and seeing the guards coming from about 200 yards away, with flaming torches. (Video is 30 seconds long)

Scene: Jesus is brought before Pilate:

Scene: Jesus being forced to carry his cross which he will be crucified on (Video is about 50 seconds long; song is sung by Stacy at our church. I wish I had gotten to video the entire song.)

Scene: Jesus being nailed to the cross

Scene: Jesus being buried, and three days later rising again (Video is 3 minutes and 15 seconds long. The awesome, awesome part starts at 1:30; the part that makes me cry every time is at 1:55)

Please come see it tonight if you have the opportunity!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

God's Good Design

I recently had the opportunity to read the book God's Good Design: What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women by Claire Smith. I really wanted to read this book because it just so happens that I am also studying Power of a Praying Wife at this time. It is very rare to find someone who can talk about male and female roles in this time. The word "submission" has a bad reputation. Some women don't want to submit because they don't want to give their husbands too much control. Some men want women to submit just to exert control. But there is a perfect balance that can be found in marriages. Women can submit out of love and respect to their husbands, and do that cheerfully because men are loving women as Christ loves His church. That's the key.

Smith does a great job of hitting relevant scripture to this topic, and talking about the culture when it was written, but also how it still relates to us today.

One statement I loved was this: "One of the fallacies of much feminist ideology is the belief that for two people to be equal, they must do the same thing." I love that. Women and men are supposed to be different. They can be equal and different. You can be different and not be inferior or superior.

Claire Smith goes through scripture that is probably familiar to all of us - believers and nonbelievers alike. We all know people who fuss about the scripture that says women need to be silent in church. We all know people who roll their eyes at the part of the Bible that talks about wives being in submission to their husbands. Smith goes through all these tough scriptures and digs deep when she is studying them. She looks at many Bible translations and the original manuscripts when she is trying to figure out the meaning of these verses.

This was an interesting read, but there were some things I did not like about the book. I do not like how many translations of the Bible are used. I believe that is confusing. I think at most one or two versions should be used, and only the one or two versions that are most like the original translations. That is a personal preference. I also felt that the book read like a school essay at times. It was full of facts, but that isn't always enough to keep me interested.

Where to buy:
God's Good Design: What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women by Claire Smith is available at your local Christian bookstore. You can also purchase it from:
 I received this book free of charge from Matthias Media and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Draw the Circle Prayer Challenge Review

I recently received a copy of a book to review, called "Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge" by Mark Batterson. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed to find that this was a supplement to his book "The Circle Maker". I haven't read his other book, so in the beginning of this book I felt a little lost. The more you get into the book, though, the more you start to understand what the "circle" is, and you start focusing more on your prayers than anything else. I would say that I certainly do wish I had read the first book before I read this one, but this one does well to stand alone. Batterson's challenge is that we don't pray as boldly as we should, and that's why our prayers don't get answered many times. He covered some really interesting ground, such as putting our prayers into action, being specific in our prayers, and being determined in our prayers. There are some really amazing stories of prayers being answered in this book - stories that you know came from God, and not coincidence. This was meant to be a devotional every day for 40 days, but I read it in less time than that. It was interesting, well-written, and each devotion was so short it was easy to squeeze a chapter in here and there throughout my day. It still affected my prayer life, and I certainly have a few goals I am praying for specifically since reading this book. I think it can change a lot of people's perspectives on their prayer lives. Now I just need to read the partner books to this one!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gospel of Yes Review

 I recently received a review copy of "The Gospel of Yes" by Mike Glenn. In this book, Glenn explores God's most powerful word, which is "yes". He talks about the fact that so many people feel like God is a God who says "no" all the time, or "Don't do that!" The truth is, God has given mankind so many chances to redeem ourselves. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the book - when Glenn describes people making huge mistakes, but God basically says to them, "You messed up, but yes, here's another chance." Back to the very first mistake - Adam and Eve - when God could have just thrown his hands in the air and blown the earth to pieces and given up... but he didn't. God had to play the role of the broken-hearted parent telling his rebellious children to leave the garden, but he continued to protect them and guide them throughout their lives. When person after person in the scriptures messed up or felt like they weren't good enough, God stepped in to say, "Okay, leave your past in the past. Let's move on together to the next step." I think people want to make God a "no" God because they're scared to give up their lives to follow someone else.

Glenn talks about a lot of great things in this book - from why we needed the cross and the resurrection to our destinies, authentic relationships, and living simpler lives. He covers a lot of topics and does it in a way that is down-to-earth, honest, and easy-to-read. I would certainly recommend this book for fellow believers to read, but also for nonbelievers, so they can get a glimpse of what God really does want for us.

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

Monday, March 18, 2013

Praying Without Ceasing

I'm reading a good book right now, called "Draw the Circle" by Mark Batterson. This chapter about praying without ceasing makes some pretty good points and I wanted to share with you. These are the author's words.

The idea came from the scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which tells us to pray without ceasing. In 1930, a man named Frank Laubach began a prayer experiment. He was dissatisfied with his lack of intimacy with God. He was inspired by a monk named Brother Lawrence, whose singular purpose in life was to live in the presence of God. This didn't mean retreating from the routine of life; it meant redeeming every routine and turning it into a prayer. He turned his chores into prayers, even. In his words, "The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."

Laubach's question was, "Can we have contact with God all the time?" This is what he said. "We try to call Him to mind at least one second of each minute. We do not need to forget other things nor stop our work, but we invite Him to share everything we do or say or think. Hundreds of us have experimented until we have found ways to let Him share every minute of our waking hours."

Laubach, for example, would pray for people while looking at them. Some people wouldn't react, but some people would actually turn around suddenly and smile at him. Before you walk into a meeting, pray for the people involved in that meeting. Pray blessings on them. If you're a child of God, you're a priest. It's your right and responsibility to pronounce blessings over everyone in your life - from your children to your colleagues, and everyone in between.

The key to praying without ceasing is turning everything into a prayer. It usually starts with big things like problems, and then graduates to little things like chores and routines. And eventually, your entire life becomes a continuous prayer. Every thought. Every action. Every moment.

If you are a worrier by nature, you have tremendous prayer potential. If you worry about everything, you'll have a higher likelihood of praying without ceasing if you learn to turn your worries into prayers. The Holy Spirit can redeem your anxious thoughts by using them as prayer triggers. Think of worry as a prayer alarm. Every time it goes off, you put it to prayer. Your anxieties will evaporate like early morning fog. Recycle them. Turn your worries into prayers!

What if you stopped reading the newspaper and started praying it? What if you turned lunch meetings into prayer meetings? What if you turned your chores into prayers?

You'd come a lot closer to the goal of praying without ceasing.

When you're folding your children's laundry, pray that they would be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When you're commuting, cast your cares on him. When you tuck your kids into bed at night, let the last words they hear be your prayers for them.

The reason most people don't feel intimacy with God is they don't have a daily prayer rhythm. They may have a weekly rhythm of going to church, but that won't produce intimacy with God. Can you imagine talking to your spouse or child just once a week? God wants a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute relationship with you.

Turn your prayer life into a game. Experiment with kneeling or walking while praying. Fast from things like food or television or sleep or Facebook, and replace it with prayer. Create a prayer list or a journal.

If you want to see God do something new in your life, you cannot keep doing the same old thing. Do something different. And see what a difference it makes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Psalm 32

Although I've been keeping up with my in-depth study on the book of Psalms, I haven't had time to blog about it. I'm going to try to get back into it because I hope that other people get something when they read these blogs. The psalms are so cool for two reasons: they are so similar, and they are so different. Yes, you read that right. There are things that need to be repeated because we are so hard-headed it takes it a while to sink it. And yet each psalm has a different flavor... hits a different nerve... helps in a variety of situations.

Anyway. On to Psalm 32! What a great read this morning.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

I am so blessed because my sins are forgiven. All my wrongs are covered by the blood of Jesus (verse 1). Psalm 85:2 tells us this too, saying that God has forgiven our iniquities and covered our sins. Psalm 103:3 also talks about God forgiving all our iniquities.

I am blessed because in God's eyes I am innocent of my sins, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus and by God's grace. We should strive to have no guile found in our mouths, because this is a characteristic of Jesus. We should have that desire in ourselves. (Verse 2)

When I keep silent and try to hide my sin from God, I just make life harder on myself. It distracts me. It exhausts me. It makes me feel guilty. It sets me apart from God. (verses 3 and 4)

But here is the good news - when I acknowledge that sin, and quit hiding it, God forgives me readily. (Verse 5). Proverbs 28:13 says the person who tries to cover up his sins won't prosper, but if we confess them and turn away from that sin, we'll find mercy. That is such great scripture, and it's really for our own good. As I just said, when I try to cover up my sin and make myself seem perfect, it's exhausting. And it hurts my relationship with God. God is telling us how easy it is to come to him, acknowledge what we've done wrong, and take steps to turn from it.

God, you are my hiding place. You are my refuge. You surround me. 

God will instruct me and teach me and guide me with His eye - HIS eye which is perfect, and all-seeing, and can see my future. But I've got to be careful to pay attention to him. If I don't listen to God's instructions, I'm just like an old stubborn mule. And that doesn't do me any good.

People who choose to live against God will not have true joy. Ever. But for those of us who entrust our lives to Jesus, we will have joy and mercy in our lives. Therefore we must be glad! And rejoice! And Shout to the world that we have joy and why we are so joyous!

I would love to know if you have any thoughts to add to this beautiful scripture! Something I missed? Something I misinterpreted? Something I should take note of?  

A beautiful version of "You Are My Hiding Place" which goes with this scripture perfectly. Less than two minutes long, it's a Mongolian a capella version.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bri's Song

This is a video of my sweet little girl who likes to make up songs and dances. This is from last September. Also, I'll translate. For instance, "Sir Kirby" who she is singing about in the beginning has no relation to some of her favorite cousins. He's a character on one of the TV shows she likes called Doc McStuffins.

0:19 "This is the way I help children"

1:05 "I'm a silly goose"

2:01 "I'm so adorable!"

2:31 - turn your volume down for two seconds

3:01 - "Oh look at me, I'm a princess!"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hunter's Birthday 2012

Well it has only been six months since Hunter turned two, and only five months since Dad blogged about Hunter's birthday, so I'm catching up now!

Hunter's birthday was a BLAST! I feel like I worked harder on preparing for his birthday than any of Brianna's simply because he is so hard to buy for! I have some mental block in my head when it comes to buying toys for boys. Of course if you've been to a birthday party around here before you know I love trying out new cakes, and it's hard for me to choose between two different kinds, so my kids have been getting two cakes. I haven't heard any complaints so far and I love baking, so it works out quite well.

Hunter's free shirt I got from a friend. Worked perfectly for the day and was immediately passed on since his stomach was popping out of it by that evening!!

Some of the family: My Mom, Jennifer, Claire, Matt, Me, Stephen's Mom

Don't ask me why I am parading around with a drum stick. Maybe about to bop someone upside the head?

Aunt Leanne got a bunch of great pictures of my Dad with the grandkids!

 And a very rare family picture! She went out right after the party and got this framed in an 8x10 which now sits on our piano. She is so thoughtful!

 I saw a cake here that I definitely wanted to replicate. It looked easy enough and I knew I could make the colors more "manly" for a cake for Hunter. It's actually really simple, although if you are going to make this I suggest you go to her page for instructions, not mine, because I'm going to skim over a lot of stuff.

Basically, you take white cake mix and dye it with food coloring.

Cook some cake pops in a cake pop pan.

Cook the cake balls in white cake mix.


The pictures above were my practice attempt. My family loves it when I have to practice a cake I'm making! For the real cake, I put more cake balls in the cake and closer together, to ensure that every piece had a polka dot, and sometimes two different colors.

I went online to find some cute decorations for his party too. Did you know you can pay just $15 (or more!) for printables for your kid's birthday party? YEAH RIGHT!! So I hit the ole Microsoft Publisher (oldie but a goodie) and created these party favors. I was really proud of these because I don't have a creative bone in my body. The treat bags were filled with things from the dollar store, like "ugly teeth", kazoos, hair extensions for the girls, and maybe a piece of candy or two. I can't really remember now!! The favor says "Thank you for coming. It was loads of fun!" and has a cute little dump truck picture on it.

This is the final polka dot cake from the outside.

Then, just a couple of days before the party, a friend from high school, Morrissa, put a dump truck CAKE on her Facebook page. Well obviously, I was going to have to do that for Hunter's second cake! She gave me the instructions and Leila helped me prepare it very last minute!

At Brianna's birthday party last year I had used an old formula bottle and dolled it up to make it a pretty utensil holder. I ripped off the scrapbook paper from her party and replaced it with more "dirty-looking" scrapbook paper. I made another sign that said "Dig in!" and stuck it in there.

A dump truck was dumping out it's load of potato chips next to the dip:

Hunter's birthday present from me and Stephen - thank you Moore County Online Garage Sale!!

I'm no psychic but it's easy to know what's going to be happening after these girls turn 16...

We had a BLAST at Hunter's party! Even tornado watches and warnings throughout the afternoon didn't deter us from partying it up. And now it's just a couple more months until Brianna's 4TH birthday party! What will we think of this year!?