Category Archives: Family

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Book Review: A Servant Like Jesus

A Servant Like Jesus is a delightful book, and a wonderful introduction to a series that “builds a strong, foundational relationship with Jesus.” It models friendship, servanthood and compassion through a story with endearing characters. Charlie is shy, Willie & Tina have to learn how to share, and Bernie needs a friend when he gets hurt. The Sea Kids all respond differently to their first day of school. Some eager, some fearful, but all enter the unknown together. They learn an important lesson about helping others and how it also helps them overcome their own fears.

It’s easy to see why A Servant Like Jesus is winner of The Mom’s Choice Award, Illumination Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite Illustration Award, International Book Awards Finalist, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award and President’s Book Awards Winner. The author, Lee Ann Mancini has found a way to help kids relate to Jesus. And illustrator, Dan Sharp brings images that leap off the page into your child’s imagination! The colors are welcoming. The illustrations are fun, playful, full of detail and include a treasure hunt in the sea.

Get your copy now at GLM Publishing, and save during the holiday season! Take 50% OFF when you use the code: SEAKIDS16. This is a book you’ll read again and again… I can’t wait to dive into it with my own grandchildren!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Nest

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How does she do it, that Momma bird? She makes a home for her babies that is tightly knit. It rests on the ledge of my windowsill like a little castle on top of a mountain. Twigs, feathers and all manner of layers are woven together to create a safe haven. We startle Momma Bird every time we walk into the room, so I took to leaving the blinds closed. I wanted her to know we wouldn’t harm her brood.
We stick together, us Mommas. We find ways to help each other as we bring our babies into the world. We protect and feed our babies and we provide a safe haven for them, all in the hopes that one day they will discover their own wings.

It’s a tricky thing, this process of letting go. You raise your brood to be independent thinkers, yet when they achieve that, they no longer need Momma anymore. Or, so I thought. In the same weekend we watched our daughter march across the platform to get her diploma, she reminded me of words of wisdom from my own Mom. And I knew for a fact that you never outgrow your need for your Mom.
Sally
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When All You Can Do Is Pray

Praying woman hands
Praying woman hands

Ever feel so helpless that you can think of nothing else to do to help a situation, except to pray? I’m task-oriented, and that means a task gives me purpose. But, what if my greatest purpose is to pray? Prayer is hard work. It is a discipline that harnesses the mind and will and channels it to seek God’s will. So, instead of prayer being the last resort, it becomes my first choice.

Scripture is a great tool for prayer. It mobilizes and empowers prayers. For example, which prayers are more effective?
A. “Lord, bless Nate today.”
B. “Lord, enable Nate to know how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
A. “Lord, be with Kenzie today.”
B. “Lord, may Kenzie know the truth of Your Word today and be reminded that You will never leave her or forsake her.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
A. “Lord, protect Anna today.”
B. “Lord, may Anna find refuge in You today. Carry her safely in Your everlasting arms. Destroy any evil intended for her.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
In every A example, I am asking good things for my family. But the B examples help me to feel I’ve really been specific and gone to bat for them. One of the places I learned to be very specific in prayer was through Moms In Prayer, International. Moms In Prayer organizes moms to pray for their children and schools. And they have equipped countless families to build a strong foundation in God’s Word. It helped ours through some tough times, as well. Check out their website for more prayer tips.
As author, Mary DeMuth prompts, May I pray for you today?
“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19a) Amen.             In the comments section (located under the title), tell me what Scripture you will use to infuse your prayers today!
Sally


Book Review: Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love

Raising Big Kids

Did you get an eye-roll with a “whatever,” today? Then you might be the parent of a tween or teen. And you might have realized by this point in your child’s life, that there is no perfect formula for parenting. However, Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love comes pretty close to being a near-perfect parenting manual. Cleverly disguised as a book for parents to glean skills in child-rearing, it actually teaches us to be better adults.

Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love is packed with tools, examples and suggestions for a way to role-play the various hats we wear as parents. The authors, Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson bring their collective experience with their own families, as well as examples gleaned through conducting parenting classes. Wildenberg and Danielson are co-founders of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and authors of three parenting books. They are licensed parent-family educators, certified teachers, and moms of six between them. Their writing style is straight forward, as they advocate parents can engage with the teen’s world in a healthy and growing relationship.

In a time when we’re worried about being politically correct, the authors hold a high standard for child-rearing. They tackle tough issues like cyber bullying, peer pressure and sexual activity, and lay out a guide to providing a safe and secure home in a shifting culture. Their reliance on Scripture and prayer is refreshing, as they provide practical tips for conversations with teens and a desire to reach their hearts. I love the emphasis on character development and the encouragement to persevere, when you’d rather throw in the towel.

I wish I would have had this book when my own were teens. It reassures that times of failure are when we are most teachable, and we can develop character traits that will benefit our kids their whole lives. It provides a way to navigate the murky waters of expectations and miscommunication. And it is an encouraging and empowering book that is an important part of every parent’s arsenal!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


What Drew me to my Spouse?

Heart at the human hands
Heart at the human hands

In the early days, I was attracted to Roy’s curls at the base of his neck, and the way he kept his mustache and beard so well trimmed. He was ambitious, maintaining four part-time jobs in order to put himself through school. And he had a thirst to follow God, in every arena of life.

Through the years I’ve watched him hurdle obstacles that seemed insurmountable. And circumstances that felt unredeemable. Yet he did it hanging onto God’s promises, and trusting the Lord to see us through.

Now we are grandparents. In this season of life, I am so grateful for the memories that have become building blocks. They are a foundation of trust, faithfulness and perseverance. I am grateful for his loyal companionship in spite of the times I’ve acted in a manner that was less than attractive.

I’ve learned to give instead of always expecting more.

I’ve learned to respect, even when I didn’t understand.

And I’ve learned to appreciate the days we have together, for there is no guarantee of tomorrow.

On this Valentine’s Day, celebrate your spouse with words of affirmation. Remind him that he is still your hero. He needs to know you are still in his corner, because the world has a way of tearing you apart.

Sally

How have you learned to appreciate your spouse more over the years?

Welcome to Momhood

I am a bad mom.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve laid it all on the table.
I have two adult children and I still try to make life all better for them.
Wasn’t I supposed to let go of that role when they were in elementary school? I bandaged the cuts and brushed off their knees, with a kiss to make it all better.
bandaged knee
When did I adopt the role that said, “I have to keep everyone happy”? I scurry around trying to be the peace-maker and hand-holder and all of that scurrying leaves me empty and scarred. As moms, do we enable our kids to grow, when we are the go-to person in their lives? Where is the fine line between being an enabler and being a springboard to launch them into adulthood? In their book, The Cure for the “Perfect” Life, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory point out that “we live with the illusion that we have some measure of control over how other people behave. We’re like a three-year-old kid strapped into his car seat and using his Fisher-Price steering wheel, absolutely certain that he’s the one driving the car.
It’s crazy feeling that we have all the responsibility for other people’s lives, with none of the authority to make a difference.” (p. 171)
I gave up that authority with each birthday we celebrated. My children entered the pre-teen years with an earnest desire to make their own decisions. They went through the teens with independence as their motto. Letting go actually began the day I gave birth and gave them opportunity to breathe on their own. Why then, do I strive to take back control and seek to guide them still? Isn’t that something I label creatively as nurturing? When I hide my controlling tendencies in nice sounding terms, it makes me sound like a “good” mom. Yet, my whole job description as a parent is to prepare my kids to make their own decisions. And that cannot happen when I second-guess their judgment. Is there a better way for me to show them love? Lipp & Gregory say, “there is a love that goes deeper than hurting when others hurt- it’s the kind of love that allows those we love to be in pain so they can become the kind of people God has designed them to be.” (p. 175)
Now, I am the last person to want to leave someone else in pain. I am a people-pleaser with a capital P. But if I understand that I am not to rescue others from their problems, maybe I will embrace their journey to the Throne of Mercy by getting out of the way. And that is the best way to be an enabler.
I don’t have this all figured out. I’m sure I will regress and fall back into patterns of habit that are within my comfort zone. So here are two questions I will ask:
“1. Is this the best solution for them?
2. Is this the best solution for me?” (The Cure for the “Perfect” Life, p. 178)
Lipp & Gregory explain, one way to advocate healthy self-care is to tell myself, disappointment isn’t deadly.

When I release my kids to experience pain, they are empowered to reach out to God as their own Rescuer.
Here is my question for you:
How have you learned to release your adult children to the consequences of their own choices?
Sally
Originally published September 3, 2014 at sallyswords


Living with Dad’s Dementia

The light bulb has gone out in Dad’s eyes. Last week we carried on a conversation and played Rook. Tonight, he responds “yeah” and can’t seem to figure out the different colors in Uno.

We were at this place five years ago. The doctors said he would have plateaus where he would level out. But Dad completely returned. He not only balanced out but was dreaming about getting a job again.

A few days ago, we said goodbye to my brother-in-law. Did the funeral trigger memories of Mom’s death? Has he retreated to the recesses of his mind to keep from the pain of Larry’s death?

At first the Uno game was cute. But he got stuck there and wouldn’t even rise from the table without me taking his elbow. Now I feel my own panic rise like bile in the back of my throat.

What is it about pain that shuts down the brain? Here I am, needing You again, Lord. The very breath I breathe needs Your infusion of hope and mountain-moving faith. Help me to take one step at a time, as we navigate these muddy waters with Dad.

Mom gave me a book by Anne Graham Lotz called “Why?” It has become my go-to resource when life throws another curve ball. Anne says, “The kind of trust God wants us to have cannot be learned in comfort and ease. Mary and Martha could not learn it immediately or quickly. It required time. And patience. And suffering. And the pressure of desperation.” (p. 55)

Are you desperate for God to intervene in your life? Reach out to Him to hold your hand and to walk the dusty road with you. And whatever you do, don’t give up. He promised He would go with you, no matter what.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” –Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Sally


Book Review: The Day Is Waiting, Illustrations by Don Freeman, Words by Linda Zuckerman

The Day is Waiting

The Day Is Waiting is a book for children but tickles the fancy of adults:

A bear rides a unicycle,

Crickets host a concert,

And clothed mice scurry through the market.

But it’s all part of the fun…

In the game of pretend.

Preschoolers would have a grand time with this book. The pictures and text, together, create a sense of expectancy – an anticipation that there are wonderful things to experience in the world, and then there’s safety, in the return back home. The underlying theme is one of awe, as the explorer sees treasures in God’s world.

I was intrigued by the creation of the book. Don Freeman was the creator of Corduroy, “one of the most beloved and popular author/illustrators of picture books for children.” The notes say the illustrations were provided after his death. The author then compiled them into a storyline that provided adventure.

With splashes of humor, Zuckerman ties Freeman’s artwork into a whimsical narrative. There are surprises around every page turn, as penguins and skyscrapers intermingle to pull the escapade onward. I chuckled as I imagined the author sifting through piles of artwork, in search of a tale. The whimsy that surfaced seems perfectly in sync with the illustrator’s style… colorful and imaginative!

Get a copy for the child in you!

Sally

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.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 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I review for BookLook Bloggers


Book Review: Your Family in Pictures

Your Family in Pictures

Me Ra Koh has successfully documented a way to equip moms to capture timeless moments. Photography was a catalyst for healing in her own life, and she advocates it as a way to empower women as they carry camera in hand. Me Ra says, “To impact a mom’s life is to impact the whole family.” (p. ix)

Not only does Me Ra Koh bring in tips for setting up photo ops with active kids, she cultivates family connections. She says to avoid a photo pose, (“Refuse to say cheese.”) and instead, look for a moment to capture. Her examples are so personal and practical, the reader takeaway is immediate. The author answers the question of “What’s in it for me?” with tips for individual shots, lighting recipes and aperture settings. Me Ra Koh gives hands-on advice for setting up a photo and locking in the emotion of the moment.

As a writing mom, I appreciate the journaling prompts provided. They jumpstart memories that later translate into scrapbooking slogans, adding to the legacy of that family moment captured in time. Koh also spins a tale, as in capturing the magic of bedtime: “…day’s adventures finally come to an end and dreaming begins.” (p. 46)

Wonderful book. Visually appealing. And great life applications found within!

Sally

 Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”
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