Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving -- Day 24

Today, I'm thankful for family and extended family and the relationships within both. One meal, many beliefs, yet we get along and have a good time. (The football game with the nieces and nephews has caused a little, well, a lot of soreness, but oh, the fun.)

Thanksgiving -- Day 23

I am thankful that the cliche is true -- When God allows a door to shut, He opens a window.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving -- 22

Today, I am thankful for all the people of "my past." The youth leaders, the Sunday School teachers, the coaches, the teachers. All of those that believed in me and gave me the confidence to be me and strive for the highest. I had a tremendous support network, and as I consider re-entering public education, I pray I will also be that support to some student who needs it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving -- Day 21

I am thankful for social networking sites like facebook. I know that sound cheesy, and flies in the face of all who say face to face friendships are "better," but let me explain.

I am basically a very shy person, and am very uncomfortable talking to someone just for the sake of talking Silence does not bother me in the least; I rather enjoy it (to the point that many times I have "an air" of being snobby or snooty, but that's really not the case).

Through the Internet, I have been able to deal with people as I am able. It gives me time to think about a response and then respond.

I have been able to re-establish old friendships and keep up with them, even if just peripherally.

I have been able to get to know other "real world" people better so that meeting them and talking to them isn't so big and scary to me.

AND, I have a whole group of friends that I have never met, and really aren't more than a few pixels on a monitor, but yet, they are real in their own way.

And in these ways, my life has been enhanced and bettered.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving -- Day 20

I am thankful for a future with potential. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know WHO holds the future for me.

Thanksgiving -- Day 19

I am thankful that God will never leave me nor forsake me. Ever. For any reason, or at any time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving -- day 18

Today I am thankful for doctors. My family has been blessed with some very good ones -- doctors who take the time when we need it and actually listen to us - or at the very least listen to my "mother's intuition."

In the 14+ years Bernard and I have been married, there was only one doctor (a heart surgeon) that was snarky, snide, and snotty, but he was good (probably saved my husband's life or at least extended it a few years) and we only had to deal with him once, so it was tolerable. :P

Thanksgiving -- Day 17

Today, I am thankful for music.

I have always loved music, and though I'm not all that great, I guess by virtue of being a music major in college I know a bit more than the average Joe. But it is not the academic side of music that appeals to me. While there was one point in my life where I could spout off music "facts" about just about anything, nowdays, I have to think about it before I give an answer.

But, the one thing that still sticks with me is the emotion behind it. It sets the tone; it heals the soul. Without words, it speaks to our hearts.

Bach gave us God's word,
Beethoven gave us God's fire,
Mozart gave us God's laughter.
God gave us music that we might pray without words.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 16

Today, I am thankful for the little people in my life. Not just my two kiddos (definitely those, but not *just* those), but others that I get to be around.

Last Spring, I coached some of the absolutely cutest kids on the face of the Earth in peewee baseball. I don't know how much about the sport they learned, but we had a good time.

Now, I am helping coach the Princess's basketball team. THAT is a hoot. 14 girls -- 6, 7, and 8 years old (10 of them have never been on a basketball team before) and it is just so much fun to be around them. I have a feeling that when the season ends in February, I'm going to have 14 favorite little girls.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 15

Today I am thankful for my coworkers. We are a motley bunch - different beliefs, philosophies and life-styles, but generally, a good bunch. My supervisors have always been supportive of me and my peers treat me with respect. I am truly greatful that I have a positive work environment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 14

Today I am thankful that God is the Great Physician. After receiving news that someone near and dear to my little boy is going to "be okay," I am rejoicing and thanking Him. :)

Thankfulness -- Day 13

In January, 2000, I had the privilege to travel with a group to Moscow. While on the trip, we visited hospitals, schools, and orphanages/boarding schools. I remember well standing in the lobby of one of the hospitals talking to the patients on the geriatric ward. As the group leader got to discussing Christ and his love, a couple of men left and some of the women looked absolutely terrified while looking up and down the hall.

Unsure what was happening, we stopped and just asked if everything was okay. One lady explained that they grew up under communism, and the way were talking could have gotten all of us arrested.

Though they were no longer communist, they still couldn't believe they were free.

So, for day 13, I am thankful that I am free to worship, and beyond that, I am FREE in Christ.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 12

Today, I am thankful for God's provision. He is never late; He is never early, and He always gives me exactly what I need.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 11

Today is a day we set aside to remember those who have given of their time, and even life, to protect our country.

If I started making a list, I am afraid I would miss someone, because there are many young men and women that I want to say "Thank you" to.

However, there are a few that stick in my mind today.

Papaw Shuford -- WWII veteran.
My FIL, Randall Shuford - Vietnam

Thanks you, gentlemen, not only for your service, but for the heritage you have established for my children.

And one that is near and dear to my heart -- my former student Stephen Hall who is currently deployed.

But, then, my mind goes back over the years, and I remember standing in the cemetery trumpet in hand, waiting for the salute. Some of the families I knew well -- the father of a college friend; the grandfather of a lifelong friend, but others were complete strangers -- the 19 year old that died for his country in active duty. But one thing united them all -- the pain on their face of losing their loved one, for the briefest of moments when the flag was handed to them, evaporated and became something else -- they were comforted with the knowledge and pride that their loved one had done something that mattered.

So today, I say, "Thank you!" However you served, wherever you served, THANK YOU!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 10

Today's thankfulness is short and sweet. I am thankful that my kids have clothes. Lots of clothes. So many that even when we bag up several bags full to sell or give away, they are not lacking and do not miss anything.

Furthermore, we are blessed in that we have bought very little for our children. My mom works at a larger clothing department store and gets phenomenal discounts which she uses to buy their clothes for Christmas and birthdays.

So, not only do they have clothes, they have nice clothes, cheap. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 9

Today, I am thankful that I enjoy reading and writing. There are times when life simply gets to be so "much" that to sit down and put it on paper (or on a screen as is more often the case nowdays) is almost cathartic.

Even moreso, I am thankful that at least one of my kids LOVES to read (the other one will get there. eventually. maybe). One is a natural story teller, so when she figures out the whole writing thing, I think she may enjoy that, and be good at it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 8

Today is difficult. Not because I don't have things to be thankful for, I have many, but because my heart is heavy.

Trav's teacher is facing a fairly significant surgery and will be out for several weeks. In addition to my concern about her and her family, there is also the pain of watching my little boy's anxiety of worrying about his beloved teacher and wondering how he will get along with the substitute.

On top of that, I am making some fairly weighty decisions concerning my "career" and Kristi's education.

On top of that, I am dealing with some disappointments in things not working the way I want and the feeling of rejection that comes with it.

I think, then, for these things I will be thankful.

For when I am carrying a heavy load, there is Someone beside me who will carry me.

When I am anxious, He will hold me and remind me that it is going to be alright.

When I am worried about the future, He reminds me that He is *holding* the future.

So, today, I am thankful that "HE IS!"

Monday, November 07, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 7

Today, I am thankful I am a parent. Not only because I love my kids dearly, but because they have taught me so much about the Heavenly Father and His love for me.

When I looked at and held Travis for the first time, I was overwhelmed at how much I loved him, and how suddenly he had a grip on my heart.

Three years later, when I looked at Kristiana the first time, I had that same feeling and was in awe at how I really could love two as much as I loved one.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . . .

As my children grew and developed, my sense of pride in their accomplishments was unparalleled. I rejoiced in each new step, and at the same time enjoyed encouraging them to do the best they could be.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

There are times when I watch them sleep at night, peaceful and still, and I think of their future and what I hope and dream for them, and my heart fills once again with the love and thankfulness that they are in my life.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

There are those moments (that are becoming more rare as my kids become older) when they come and climb up in my lap and say, "I love you Mama; you are the best in the world," that make me all warm and fuzzy inside and at those moments, I know I would do absolutely ANYTHING to make my children's worlds right.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

When something happens that is out of their control and they are upset or sad, I feel upset and sad. I want to take them in my arms and make them feel okay again. If someone hurts them, I feel that hurt. If something makes them mad, I get mad. When they are disappointed or let down, I feel disappointed or let down. I, literally it seems, feel their pain.

And to think, God feels the same way about me. . .

Then there are those times when the kids know my last button and are jumping up and down on it pushing me past *that* point. I put aside my "mother" face and in its place grows frenzied hair, red eyes, smoky ears, jagged teeth and I lose each and every one of the fruits of the spirit that just moments before I may have possessed. I don't want to deal with them patiently, or in love, or with humility or meekness, I just want to explode on them and open a can.

And to think, that is NOT how God feels about me. . .

And therein, I am thankful for my kids, and even when we have days like today, they can show me the Heavenly Father's love for me.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 6

Today, I am thankful for employment and choices and choices IN employment. Each week, it seems that I have at least one lady or gentleman who is late 40s, early 50s, just laid off from a job they have worked for over 20 years, and they are having to get their GED just to find a job.

I can choose to work or not, part-time or full-time, teach or assist. The choices (and subsequent changes) are daunting, but I am thankful I have that choice.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 5

Today, I am thankful for my grandmothers and the Godly heritage they gave me.

Lela Kilby Mull "Mom" was a prayer warrior and fantastic cook.

Mattie Lucille Valentine "Mimaw" was a dear woman to me. Also a good cook (I wonder if my current physical shape was as impressed by them as my spiritual?), I remember her being there for me when life knocked me down.

Neither grandmother was financially well off, so they didn't give me money, or leave me an estate.

But, what they did give me was longer lasting and far more valuable. From them, I learned to call upon the Lord, to love unconditionally, and to trust in the Lord.

For that, I am thankful.

(The picture above is my grandmother Mattie Valentine, taken around July, 1970. I am sitting on the right and my cousin Danette is sitting on the left. Standing (l to r) is my sister Kelly,my cousin Scotty, my cousin David, my brother Kevin, my cousin Dale and my cousin Shannon).

Friday, November 04, 2011

Thankfulness - Day 4

Today, I am thankful to live where I live. I currently reside about 14 miles from the house I grew up in. I have only had two addresses in my entire life. I guess for some, that would be boring, and perhaps it is, but I prefer to see it as stable. :P

It is a small, rural town and while we don't have some of the "experiences" that bigger cities can offer, the peace and tranquility that exists is a fair trade, I think.

Even though I went to Tuscola (one side of the county) and now live on the Pisgah side, I usually see someone I know whenever I am out in town. At the Bethel Mall (aka Dollar General), I have yet to go in and NOT see someone I know.

To me, it is comforting to know that there will be a familiar, and usually friendly, face just around the corner. I like knowing my kids' friends' parents and even grandparents. I like that my kids go to school with several of their cousins. I like that when my son or daughter is invited to a birthday party, it is okay if the other one tags along (kristi knows Trav's friends as well as he does, I think).

Good or bad, I like that our family has a "history" here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 3

Wow. I started several times today to write this post, and kept putting off. Now, I've made it extra challenging because, to be honest, I'm a bit mad about a situation, and hurt and bewildered. However, it just reminds me that God does not deserve our praise and thanksgiving just when we are all warm and fuzzy inside.

I'm also reminded that for the past two weeks, I have been teaching my Sunday School class about Romans 8:28. Now, I'm having a chance to apply it, painful as it may be.

I am thankful that all things will work for good, even when I can't see the good. I'm thankful that my Lord, and Savior, has a plan, He knows the plan, and that plan is good for me. These bumps in the road are simply reminders to trust Him and what his plan is for me.

I'm also reminded that in the big picture, the bumps are small. Mere blips even. I'm upset and frustrated over a trivial matter that in a few years (months, weeks, or even days) will be irrelevant, while people I know are living their final days on Earth in pain, struggling with a recent cancer diagnosis, worrying over a wayward child, wondering how they are going to feed their family, or have just found out they will no longer have a job in 2 weeks.

God knows what I need, when I need it, even if it is not what I think I need.

Being thankful is humbling.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Thankfulness -- Day 2

Sometimes, it is the difficult moments in life that bring us to our knees and help us to realize what we've got, and what we've not.

Before 1999, I loved my family. After 1999, I realized that I probably wouldn't make it without them.

When my dad had a massive heart attack and ended up in a semi-comatose/chronic vegetative state, Mom wanted to bring him home and take care of him instead of letting him go to a nursing home.

In the next 2 and a half years, we had to make the conscious decision to get along and work together. I learned that when you *decide* to do that, doing it becomes a lot easier.

So, today, I am thankful for my brothers and sisters.

Kevin -- My big brother. Admittedly, there were times in my life where I could only wonder "what ARE you doing?" but as far back as I can remember, he was always the best big brother ever. Well, except for when he did those airplane spins, and flipped his eyelids inside out and chased me through the house. After Daddy got sick, he kinda became the head of our family. To this day, he is the one that will listen to gripe, complain, scream and complain, then look at me and say, "It's okay. It will all work out, now calm down." He's probably the ONLY person that can tell me to calm down without getting his head knocked off.

Jenny -- Not my sister by birth, but the absolutely coolest sister-in-law anyone could ever want. Jenny brings an element of sweetness and kindness into our family that none of us have.

Kelly -- My big sister. Growing up, my tormentor and guardian all rolled into one. She picked on me, ignored me, and forbid me to go into her room, but let someone else say something to me, and she was all over them. As adults, we aggravate her about being a control freak, but if you EVER want to see a nice spread, go to her house for dinner sometime. I wish I could be half the hostess she is. Kelly always comes through when you need her to.

Stevie -- Not my brother, but he's been around since I was young, so he's just kinda always been there. He doesn't say much, and he has many hidden talents. He can build about anything for you no matter how odd, and he will do it without grumbling or complaining. Like Jenny, not really my brother, but he is my brother.

Kasey -- the baby of the family and the target of more jokes and pranks than I can even begin to remember. She probably should have a post of her own. Actually, I could probably do a whole blog on "Things we've done to Kasey" and not run out of material for a long time. She is the emotion of the family, and the one that will make sure we are all getting along, even if it means uniting us by laughing at her. I read something the other day about best friends, and when I think of my best friends, I always include Kasey because despite our age difference, she really is one of my best friends.

Martin -- The newest addition to our family. So much like my husband, it is frightening sometimes, but that is okay. I'm thankful for Martin because he grounded my little sister and helped her to grow up. Heck, any man that can marry Kasey is bound to have resolve, patience, and character that runs deep. :P Like Jenny and Stevie, not my brother by birth, but my brother none the less.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

November Thankfulness -- 1

I see several of my friends on facebook posting one thing each day they are thankful for. I thought that was a splendid idea, and decided to play along.

Only one teeny tiny problem.

I could not come up with ONE thing I was thankful for for the day.

I would thank of one, then another, then another, then another. Within minutes, I had a fairly long list of things. It was kinda like taking a kid in a toy or candy store and offering to buy them ANYTHING they wanted, but only one thing. If you've never done this, try it. I would wager MOST kids will take FOREVER choosing because they will keep changing their mind.

So, I am not limiting myself to one a day. I do, however, want to post everyday with what I am thankful for THAT day. And why.

* I am thankful that my son got the teacher he did for his first year of "real" school. She truly loves the children, is a woman of God, and has been a blessing to him (and me) during this HUGE transition.

* My health and my families' health. My kids are healthy. We battle the occasional tummy ache or snuffy nose, but that is it. My husband is still alive and kicking. Based on what we learned in 2007 about his heart defect, this is a miracle. The "problems" I may have are NOTHING compared to what some of my friends are going through.

*I have a house that keeps me warm, cool, and dry. And it is a nice house.

* God is in control of what is going on, and I don't have to worry about the future.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Plain Wisdom

Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect upon reading this book. Other descriptions/reviews inferred that it was a book of short stories, but I think vignettes would be a better term as they weren't exactly "stories" but just snippets of the authors' lives.

Sometimes I felt that one author said, "Hey, this happened to me one time. Did it ever happen to you?" The second one said, "Yea, it did. Great, let's write about it and put it together in a chapter."

And so on.

And so on.

And so on.

Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, but it did get a little tedious and felt more "back and forth" than progressive. I kept wanting it to tie together in a "big picture" kind of way, and it kept disappointing me.

What it DOES do well, though, is give an interesting insight into how a typical Amish woman might react/feel in a given situation, and it does show that despite tremendous philosophical/religious differences between the Amish and non-Amish, there are many things that are very similar, if not exactly the same.

Overall, it is not a bad book, though I can't bring myself to pick it up to read again and again. I imagine some will really like it, though.

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

The Band That Played On. . .

I am fascinated with the story of the Titanic, and I am a musician (or former one) so I thought this book would be a neat twist. Also, very little is written on this topic, so I was looking forward to learning some new information.

I did learn, within just a few pages, that I had never heard much about this aspect of the Titanic because not much is written. In that respect, the author is to be commending on his obvious extensive, and time consuming, research. I was left with the impression that he had to do some serious digging to get the tiny morsels and tidbits that he was able to find. However, for me, it didn't make a very fluid reading for me. I felt like I was being given tiny facts, and that the author was filling in with speculation to fill up the book. At times, I wondered if the publisher had established a minimum length and the author was simply trying to fill it up.

And then, at the very end, the author began a discussion of a possible violin that had been recovered and how the value of it would be increased substantially with the 100 year anniversary of the sinking. For me, I was also left with the feeling that perhaps that is why this book was also released at this time -- to cash in on a significant date.

Overall, it was fairly easy reading and was somewhat interesting. I did learn some new things, and the book isn't all that bad -- especially for the Titanic enthusiasts.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Go to that Blog Over There --->

I don't know if you read my husband's blog or not, but if you don't, you need to. Well, one post in particular. :)

Good Things at the Baseball Game

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballpark. . . .

My son has been involved in baseball now for 3 years. This year, all four of us jumped into the fray that is Little League -- the son and daughter are playing, I'm coaching, and Bernard is serving on the local board. I'm not sure if it is because of our hyper-involvement, or what it may be, but I have had the opportunity to see many different people react in many different ways -- some positive, and some, well, frankly, no so positive.

It has caused me to think quite a bit about how we as Christians are perceived by the "world" and how we perceive the "world."

Our Christianity should not end at the church door when we leave. There are very few that will argue that point. VERY few.

Our Christianity should go with us into every daily activity, no matter how exciting or how mundane. Again, I seriously doubt I would get many arguments for that.

If a man (or woman, depending on denomination) has been called to a visible church role, s/he should be prepared to be especially sensitive to those around them. They are put on a pedestal (whether wrongly or rightly is irrelevant at this junction). If that person is involved in youth sports of any kind, that mantle MUST go with them. It simply cannot be left in the car with yesterday's Gatorade.

(I'm going to pause here and simply say that if anyone has watched me for any length of time, you know very well I have a hard time practicing what I am "preaching" here. I cannot count the times I have had to apologize for my words or actions, and to ask forgiveness for those involved.)

In one instance, a church leader was more than willing to "raise a stink" about another coach (incidentally, another Christian), one (or more) of the board members and one of the policies of our local organization. Despite efforts to bridge the gap of misunderstanding in this instance, the church leader became stand-offish and condescending to those involved. No humility AT ALL was ever exhibited in the situation. To quote one parent, "And he is a church [leader]. I wouldn't want to go to his church." All in an effort to make sure that an opposing coach didn't gain a minuscule advantage.


In another incident, a church leader absolutely refuses to speak to one of his fellow coaches. Now, whatever the background is for the "feud", frankly, is of no concern of mine. Nor is "who is right and who is wrong." When a witness is being self-sabotaged, the reasons "why" do not matter.

As Christians, we are called to represent Jesus Christ. Love, humility, GRACE, forgiveness. . .the list goes on. At any point if you can't carry those minimal traits to the ball field, get OFF! The damage you do to the church of Christ (not the denomination, btw, the body as a whole) may be irreparable. Ultimately, you will answer for it, but it is heartbreaking to watch.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to get people into "church." As a result, the "church" needs to be ready to go out and reach the people. At the ballfield, especially, a little grace and humility goes a LONG way.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rightness vs RightEOUSness

Does being *right* make us, as Christians, righteous?

Does being right give us the moral privilege of digging our heels in and refusing to budge?

That may be rightNESS, but is it rightEOUSness?

Rightness builds walls; righteousness builds bridges.

Rightness makes us look around; righteousness makes us look up.

Rightness helps us to stand proudly; righteousness drives us to our knees in humility.

Rightness widens gaps; righteousness closes them.

Rightness seeks recompense; righteousness seeks to compensate.

Rightness is a firm upper lip, a stern look, and crossed arms; righteousness is a quivering lip, a tear-filled eye and open arms.

Rightness pushes away (and tries to keep away) sinners; righteousness attracts them to repentance.

Rightness says, "Do it my way, or no way;" righteousness says, "I love you as Christ loves you."

Rightness remembers; righteousness forgets.

Rightness reminds; righteous forgives.

Rightness is being strong; righteousness is strength under control.

Rightness sacrifices relationships; righteousness seeks to grow them.

Rightness is a clean conscience; righteousness is a clean heart.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How to Eat Fried Worms

This book is destined to become a classic. Well, maybe not a classic in the sense that Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare are considered classics, but it *is* timeless. I remember reading it in 3rd or 4th grade and being greatly amused, and admittedly a bit grossed out. Those memories spurred me to have my son, a 9 year-old 3rd grader, read this book this year.

He seemed to enjoy parts of it as I would hear him chuckling as he read.

He finished reading it yesterday, so below are some pictures of the "special" lunch I fixed for him and his sister.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Year of the Champions!

In the Spring of 2010, around the first or second week of All-Star baseball practice, there was banter about the team, and how much they had improved, etc. The head coach, Josh Mease, said something about the State Championship, and though all heard it, most did not consider it a reality, or frankly, even a possibility.

About 6 weeks later, not only was it a possibility, with a walk off homerun by Kameron Walker, it became a reality.

4 days later, 7 members of the team showed up for football camp at Bethel Middle School's field. Because of his age, Kameron would leave his baseball buddies and join the older football team, the Mites.

6 of them, though -- Keegan Hudson, Gatlin Blanton, Travis Shuford, Brooks Valentine, Hunter Cseledy and Lane Mease would join forces and under the leadership of Johnny James and his most excellent coaching staff, absolutely roll over every one in the division. They became WNC Youth Football and Cheerleading's Association's Western Division Champions.

One week after a narrow Superbowl loss, 4 of the boys, Cseledy, Hudson, Valentine, and Shuford traded the cleats for high tops and the pigskin for a roundball. They reunited with three other baseball teammates Sawyer Trull, Jacob Moore, and Daniel Worley. Together, they charged through the winter, and found themselves as WNC Youth Basketball's Eastern Division regular season champions.

Three championships in one year. A year many athletes can dream of. What will the future hold for these young men? As one young man put it, "Do it again! Except take Association championships instead of just divisions!" Be ready coaches; here they come!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Couple Who Pray

I got this book and read it and I really wish I could give it rave reviews and talk about how wonderful it is.

Unfortunately (I guess for me), I can't.

From the opening paragraphs, I could not shake the feeling that I was reading an infomercial. I could just imagine the host giving the spiel as I watched couple after couple parade across the stage and proclaim, "This is what it did for us, Rich!" The "celebrities" interviewed gave me a feeling of "read this book because of these names" -- or "name-dropping." I much more enjoyed the "real" people's testimonies as I could relate to them better.

Supposedly, they also have the research with which to back up their claims. Of course, one of their studies has only been done once, so it doesn't have the benefit of being tested or tried. At best, the results can be taken lightly.

Is praying together important? Yes, definitely. Is it something that couples need to be aware? Very much so. And, perhaps, that is where the disappointment of this book lies for me. It is a crucial topic that has a world of potential, and yet, I came away from it going, "Okay, so if we pray together for 40 days we will never fight, we will understand each other thoroughly, and we will have mind-blowing sex." Actually, a lot of the time, I got the impression that the first two were optional and the real reason to pray together was to have better sex. ???? Seriously?

Again, I do not disagree that couples need to pray together. And frankly, I can think of few things more important than that, but this book's delivery in that message left me feeling cold. I suppose I *might* recommend this book to a couple who was not very mature in their faith, but I would be hesitant to suggest it to a couple who was having serious problems. I am afraid the simplistic approach to what could be years of problems could prove to be a fatal let down for the couple.


Disclosure of Material Connection: 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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A young friend saw the book on my shelf and asked me about it.

Because he is an avid reader, and we have "swapped" books several times, and he is, indeed the one who introduced me to "fantasy" books, I described it to him as "CS Lewis meets Christopher Paolini."

The story, an classically allegorical with a good vs. evil theme, takes place in a land that seems to be far away, in the distance past. The characters must use discernment, wisdom and magic to keep the dragon eggs safe, keep the statues out of the wrong hands, and stay alive.

It is an easy read in that it flows well, the characters are developed well, and the action, while a bit draggy in places, is enough to keep the reader interested. This is a latter book of a series, and I am thinking it may have been a bit more understandable had I read the first one before this. I had read some of Danita Paul's work, so I was familiar with a few of the characters. Some of my initial lack of understanding may have been because I was trying to make "Dragons in the Valley" a sequel to the one I had read, but it is does not seem directly related.

I would highly recommend this book to any middle school or high school student who enjoys reading and enjoys reading fantasy. Likewise, any adult that appreciates the genre will probably like it as well.

Find this book at -- Dragons of the Valley

Or the Waterbrook Multinomah page


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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

It's not often that I venture to create supper without a recipe, and even more rare is when it is edible. That said, I think I hit upon something tonight.

3 - 4 large chicken breasts, cubed
1 can Campbell's condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 (and some) cup cheddar cheese
dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs dijon mustard
1/8 cup diced onion and celery
2 tbs butter
1 Stove Top microwavable "Quick Cup"

In a skillet, cook the chicken until white, or slightly browned. Put in a greased 8x8 glass baking dish.

After chicken is cooked, add butter and saute onions and celery until tender.

In a bowl, mix soup, milk, sour cream, cheese, worcestershire, mustard, celery and onions. Mix until blended.

Pour over chicken cubes.

Prepare "quick cup" as directed and spoon over chicken and soup mixture.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 375.

Remove and sprinkle with remaining cheese (the plus some) and bake until cheese is melted.

Future possibilities -- add bacon. (everything is better with bacon) or ham.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Unto the Hills

This is a true classic by a true man of God.

In a world where authors seem to "hit or miss," Billy Graham stays right on target. Whether it is one of his early books, or a more recent one, they all seem to rise to standard that few evangelists seem able to aspire to.

Because this is a devotional, I obviously did not read the whole thing before writing the review. However, I will be reading it daily for the foreseeable future.

It is simple to read, and easy to understand, yet with a few minutes of prayer and meditation, it can take the reader so much deeper than that. I'm not a huge fan of "devotional" type of books, but this one I have enjoyed -- years ago as a young college student, and again now as it is being reprinted.

This book is good for any Christian wanting a closer walk with God, and it makes an excellent gift as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”