Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: 101 Bible Adventures

101 Bible Adventures: The Ultimate Quest for Truth!
by Carolyn Larsen is a collection of Bible stories from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

I just got this book in the mail a few days ago, and it has already made some rounds through my school-age readers.  They love it when books come that are written to their age level.  Let's face it, though, there are MANY books out there that are collections of Bible stories.  What sets this one apart?

The feature about this book that literally caused me to pause and say, "Wow" was that it is not merely a retelling of scripture, but is word-for-word Scripture.  The author begins with the New Living Translation, which is easy-to-read in today's English.  Next, she condensed the text to further aid the target audience.  For example, the following is the NLT text for 2 Kings 11:1-2
"When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family.  But Ahaziah's sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah's infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king's children, who were about to be killed.  She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah, so the child was not murdered."
101 Bible Adventures condenses the text to read:
"When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family.  But Ahaziah's sister took Ahaziah's infant son, Joash, away from the rest of the king's children, who were about to be killed.  She put Joash in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah."
Each story includes a section with background information (which provides setting and context), a "Key Verse" for memorization, and a "Now What?" section for application.  The book does not have full-color pictures inside that will captivate younger children's attention.  It does have character cartoons for each story that will appeal to kids old enough to read on their own (suggested 7 and up, but Joshua at age 6 can read it).

Personally, I am a fan of books like this that help bridge the gap to help children graduate from reading Bible picture books to actually digesting Scripture.  And while it is not a homeschool "curriculum", it would certainly adapt well as a Bible curriculum, especially if your family enjoys the New Living Translation.  On the other hand, children this age are incredibly impressionable.  They are thinking and absorbing so much.  It is time to sharpen up on your theology.  I have read some Bible storybooks where the stories are retold in a way that uses soft theology or even sways the story by adding (or omitting) details to the original text.  The mere fact that someone picks and chooses only certain Bible stories to retell means that the person has at least some control of what the final presentation looks like.  In this book, Carolyn Larsen has condensed the Scripture to retell each story, but (as you can see from the one example above) she is merely eliminating details that may cause a young brain (or even my old brain) to scatter and wander.  It brings the story focus, and keeps the truth.  Larsen has taken the opportunity to use the "Now What" section to tie in the big picture of the Gospel right from the beginning.  For me, this is an essential element that I look for in a good book.  One of the first things I did was flip to the back of the book to the stories telling of Jesus' death and resurrection and the early church.  I read through the "Now What" sections looking for any details that may tell my child how or why to become saved.  At first, it appeared that I wouldn't find what I was looking for.  Disappointed, I flipped to Genesis.  There it was.  With the telling of Adam and Eve's sin, came the Gospel.  Right at the beginning, exactly where it was needed.  We need a Savior and here's why and here is where you can find Him. 

How about you?  How could you use a resource like this in your home?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Snow and other pictures

We have had a couple small storms come through...accumulating a dusting here and a dusting there.  Nothing exciting or worth writing home about.  :)  But it has added up to a *little* bit of snow on the ground.  On last Friday we had one storm roll through around noon.  The snow came down so heavily for just a bit.  It was fun to send the kids outside to play.  Imagine when you were in school...seeing the snow coming down and wishing you could go out to play.  This is one of those times when we are so glad we homeschool.  Out they went!

Zeke and a massive snowball
 Normally in January the temps are way too cold to make snowballs.  We have been blessed with warmer temps, perfect for packing snow.  The boys rolled up HUGE snowballs...but didn't make any snowmen.

Josh with 4 snowballs, though they are hard to see


Mitch, Zeke, Josh, and Malachi
 Mitch is reading some books with Zeke and Josh that he brought home from the library.  Malachi conked out.  So sweet.  I remember these same days when Micah, Eden, and Caleb were the little ones.  I didn't want to let that moment pass unnoticed just because these guys are "second string".  

 There's almost nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby. 
Obadiah, Tirzah

 This past weekend the temps were colder and the snow was powdery.  We went out to Papa and Grandma's house so the kids could ride the snowmobiles. 
Obadiah, Mitch
 Obadiah doesn't have a big snowsuit (no need for it) or really any "extra warm" clothes, so he didn't get to play outside.  Mitch brought him out for a few minutes, and he loved the snowmobiles.  Hmmm...scared of the vacuum, loves the snowmobiles?  This doesn't add up.  Must be a boy.  ;)

 Tirzah was dismayed that the trampoline is "broken".  (It's inside for the winter.)
Eden, Paul

Eden just got her snowmobiling license a couple weeks ago!

Josh, Eden
This week our weather is going to be above freezing every day, so I'm sure our snow will melt.  I have been enjoying the warmer weather and even the days that were really cold were not so bad.  I can't believe February is just around the corner! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Funny pictures

 Josh was reading some Janosh to Obi.  Obi has my iPod touch...oh buddy, please don't chew on it...it's not a teething toy!
 Patrick's parents brought this ^ cute outfit for Obi when they came to visit in July.  It fits now!  Patrick said I should put it on him every day for the next 4 weeks because after that it won't fit anymore.  Silly Obi is growing so fast.  I was trying so hard to get a good picture of him, and he was chasing me around the room.  I couldn't get away from him and get the camera (big DSLR with a flash attached, no less) into position in time before he would catch up to me.  He loved this game!
 Obi is going through a phase where he loves to climb into baskets.  I was doing my weekly laundry and he kept climbing into Eden's basket and "unloading" it for me.  Thanks.  I guess he'll grow out of this phase by the time he's...nah...nevermind, even Zeke still climbs into baskets/boxes/etc.  Tirzah asked if I would take a picture of her and "Obee-DI-uh".

Is there something wrong with this picture???

I bought Micah a pair of Dockers for Christmas, but they were the wrong size.  It turns out that I can't buy the size he needs (32x34), so I returned them.  I bought this shirt (the one I'm wearing) instead, but he's not impressed??  And Eden either??  Jealous kids!  Haha...actually I couldn't care less about Halo Reach.  He can have the shirt (I asked him to give me his best frown for the picture).  He's trying to talk me into exchanging it for some other game shirt.  ::sigh::  The kid doesn't understand that I don't love to go shopping at the mall.

Caleb's 11th Birthday

Caleb turned 11 years old a week and a half ago, and I am only just now managing to blog about it.  (And he didn't even remind me yet!)

 Caleb, at 11 years old you
~are in 5th grade
~get your schoolwork done efficiently and mostly on your own
~make all A's (is it too easy for you?)
~love to write
~enjoy reading, especially Donita K. Paul
~have had some of your work published on Mrs. Paul's website
~always memorize your Bible verses for RAD (Wednesday night church program) without any help or prompting from me
~have been staying up later (like 10 p.m.) and still usually get up early (like 6 a.m.)
~may not be getting enough sleep  ;)

 ~like to play Halo Reach on the Xbox 360 (blech!)
~like to watch Phineas & Ferb on Netflix (yay!)
~build really cool Lego things and share them with your brothers (sometimes)
~chose pizza rolls and bagel bites for your birthday dinner
~hoped we would get you the Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword game for your birthday (but we didn't...sorry buddy...by next year's birthday it will be less than 1/2 the price!)
~had a great birthday and a really good attitude anyway

 ~invited 3 of your favorite friends over to hang out all night long (I think you would have invited the whole church if I would have let you)

~have a ways to go to catch up to me and Eden in height...

Caleb, I love your smile and your imagination.  I love that you share your feelings with me.  I look forward to watching you grow inside and out through the next year!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


One of my most popular posts on my blog is one with free instructions for a pocket diaper.  I wrote them a loooooong time ago.  I've published several of my own patterns since then, as well as sewn over 1,000 diapers for sale!  I decided that the old faux fuzzis pattern really needed an update and some polishing.  So I did it.  I left it where it always was because it gets referred by a lot of message boards, but you can click here to go see it for yourself.

I am also in the middle of updating my regular patterns.  I want to make them available for download, so when someone purchases a pattern they can print it and get started sewing right away.  This means that I have to reformat the layout of the pattern for most efficient home printing.  I am also updating the pictures and text so that everything looks neat and organized and clean.  It's a lot of work right now, but in the future it will save me SO much time.  The worst part about all this is protecting myself from file sharing.  Once people have a digital copy of the file, what will prevent them from sharing it with friends?  Probably nothing more than their own code of honor.  I have decided that this is really the best thing for me to do, even with the risk. 

Add to that all my regular duties...and reading through the Bible in 90 days...and preparing for taxes (taking inventory, listing expenses, etc)...and you can imagine that my head is swimming.  Yeah, I'm pretty much not getting anything done.  :)

Friday, January 13, 2012


These guys bring "cosleeping" to a whole new level...

The funny/ironic thing is, Micah sleeps in a full-sized bed.  For a long time, Malachi has been cosleeping with him.  While we had our Christmas tree up, we took the smaller couch downstairs and Micah decided to sleep on it instead (poor Malachi).  So wouldn't Zeke and Josh just join Malachi in the bigger bed???  Nope.  Four boys sleeping on couches instead of in beds.  Crazy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Obadiah at 9 months old

Obi is such a star! I should have written this a week ago...

Obadiah, at 9 months you
~weigh 20.5 lbs and are 28.75 inches long
~walk very well
~climb the stairs (and other things that you shouldn't)
~put everything in your mouth

 ~discovered the toilet paper roll.  I thought you were going to unroll it all, but you paused to taste it instead.  You didn't think it tasted very nice, so you left it alone after that.  Thank goodness!
~string together consonants like "ma-ma-ma" and "da-da-da" and do a good job of trying to repeat us.  If you start with "ma-ma-ma" and we say it back to you, then you will repeat us again.  You also understand exactly what I mean when I ask you if you would like some milk.

 ~love, love, love your siblings.  The louder they are, the better.
~love to be put to sleep by Micah or Caleb
~gave up your habit of taking long naps, and resort to 45-min naps.  Much to my chagrin.
~sleep a couple long stretches at night, then get up every hour from 4 a.m. on
~sleep in my bed, I don't even try to put you in your own anymore

 ~think the duplos belong to you and you only
~demonstrate your ownership of the duplos by crawling inside the container and playing
~scream, yes scream, at everyone else to leave you alone when you are playing with your duplos

 ~put everything in your mouth..I know I said that already...but you do
~sometimes you swallow the things you put in your mouth that you shouldn't.  Gross.

~don't like pureed vegetables.  Not carrots, not squash, not peas, not green beans, not mixed vegetables, nothing.  But you will eat whole peas, fresh baked sweet potato, and other foods that are soft enough
~refuse pureed meats too (but hey--I don't blame you--those are gross, too!)
~love all grains and insist that if the kids are eating it, you should be too.  Including toast, cereal, bagels, etc.  I don't know how you do this.
~have only one tooth on the bottom, and it's not even all that sharp!  It came through on New Year's Eve.  That is the latest any of my children have ever gotten their first tooth.  Congratulations, kiddo, you continue to amaze me.
~love to drink from a sippy cup--either a traditional spout cup, or with a straw
~love water
~love baths
~love to dance to music
~love watching Diego with Tirzah
~understand the concept of object permanence.  If you have it, and we take it away from you, you let us know (by a temper tantrum) that you know the object continues to exist.  Bummer!

I think one of the most amazing things of all about Obadiah is how much he is loved by his older siblings, especially Micah, Eden, and Caleb.  They adore him.  They all seek to help him, and all of the older kids would do whatever they could to protect him.  (Malachi and Tirzah don't necessarily have that concept down yet, lol).  I will watch their relationships with amazement as they grow into adulthood.  What a blessing Obadiah is to all of us!

[I have been having trouble getting my camera to focus.  I have no idea if it's user error or if something is wrong with my camera.  I've tried different settings, but it doesn't seem to help.  I don't have a whole lot of time to tink around with it.  So this is what you get.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

[Insert Clever Title Here]

Ohhhhh...I have thought up at least 4 different blog posts to describe the weather here right now.  I also thought up creative titles for each of them.  And I can't decide on one.  So you will get the post without the cleverness.  How's that?  =P

We are having an unbelievably mild winter.  We had one snowstorm in November that blanketed everything and we were sure it would stay until spring.  It melted the week of Thanksgiving, and we've only had trace amounts of snow since then.  The temperatures have been warm.  It is hard to believe that these pictures were taken yesterday and today.  Today it was 52 degrees F when I sent kids outside to play.  Unreal!!!

 Josh is lying on the ground, and he's not too cold.  It is warm enough to do that.  Well, and he's wearing snow pants too.  There is still some ice in our backyard because it is almost completely in the shade for the entire day (during the highest part of summer solstice, the shade doesn't even cover our deck).  

 For some reason, Tirzah loves digging in our garden.

 Yes, I asked Malachi multiple times if he wanted a coat on.  He assured me he was "hot".  He was running a LOT, and he was coming inside regularly.  They broke all the stalks from the sunflowers and used them as javelins.  

I am really loving this warm weather!

 Warning...the rest of this is pretty much a "sound off".  I guess I had it building...
There are the pessimists out there who are spouting climate change (their nice term for global warming), and it's the only thing that puts a damper on this weather for me.  I really get so sick and tired of the way they take data and twist it to present gloom and doom for the future of mankind.  ::sigh::  Seriously?  Yes, we may be in a drought.  Yes, there may be more severe weather during the next year.  Yes, bad things may happen.  They always do, don't they?  But my trust is not in a world that is falling apart, nor in mankind to save it.  My hope , my trust, is in Christ.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
(Romans 8:18-25 ESV)
Let me say this again...the pessimistic scientists of our day take data and twist it to present gloom and doom for the future of mankind.  They present to the reader only the data that proves their point.  They compile it into neat little charts that try to show patterns with which we can predict something that is going to happen in the future.  They try to use correlation of different types of data to show causation in ways that it really shouldn't and would take someone with a statistics degree to unwrap.  And get this--their "data" comes from a whopping 150 years of recorded data.  (No matter if you believe in a young Earth or an old Earth, 150 years is too short a time to make conjectures on what the current weather pattern really is.)  It's frustrating!  It is my belief that there's very little we can change about the way we live that will have a positive impact on our environment.  How do I know?  Where is my proof?  Genesis 8:22 "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."

For once I would like to pull up the weather and hear that there is no snow and are temperatures are warm because all the cold air is stuck in a holding pattern over Northern Canada and there's no wind to push the stream further south and hold it there.  No other conversation about the theories of how this relates to climate change, hotter summers, more violent storms, etc.  Ok? 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Book Review: Just In Case You Ever Wonder

Just In Case You Ever Wonder is a sweet little picture book by Max Lucado.  The book is available as a hard cover, an ebook, and best of all, as a board book.

[The copy I reviewed was an epub version, which I was able to read using iBooks on my iPod Touch.  The biggest negative about this format is it did not grab my children's attention.  Well, except for a few minutes during church it managed to captivate Tirzah.  Generally, though, they require a traditional book.]

In this story, a parent assures his child of his love.  That the child is created uniquely and is also loved by God.  Lucado is masterful at creating pictures from mere words.  As the words dance off the page, they wrap the reader in a warm embrace.

One thing I love about this book is the voice can come from either birth parents OR adoptive parents.  So if you have an adopted child (or would like to gift this to a family who has adopted), the words will still apply...maybe even making a necessary and firm impact of your love.  [The most narrowing description is that the child is small and its eyes are closed the first time the parent meets him/her.]  Very sweet.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from booksneeze (Thomas Nelson publishers).  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: 4 Days to a Forever Marriage

4 Days to a Forever Marriage by Dr. Gary & Norma Smalley is a new book published by New Leaf Press, just released in October 2011. 

This book is small, but its size is deceiving--it is packed FULL of great information.  I admit (sheepishly) that I kinda thought since the title has "4 Days" in it, that was some kind of prediction that I could finish the book in a literal four days.  Mitch picked up this book and read it first, before I had a chance to.  He did read it in just a matter of days.  It took me much longer.  Every time I would start reading, I would hit a nugget or quote that I just needed to savor.  I even jumped in and used #4days2forever to tweet a couple times (and I don't even know that much about tweeting!  But it was fun!!).

Dr. Smalley has a long history of providing incredible resources to families.  In this book, Gary and Norma have compiled a wealth of experience and wisdom in a format that is appealing, easy-to-read, and inspiring.  It will feed you simple ways to invest in your marriage in a positive and constructive way.  It would make a great gift for any married couple--wedding or anniversary.

Hear from Gary and Norma yourself:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from New Leaf Press.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, January 06, 2012


Friends of ours have almost all of their 4 kids grown up.  Their oldest son is also a Micah, so we have always called him "Big Micah" to differentiate from our Micah.  Although our Micah certainly isn't little anymore, he still loves Big Micah as much as he always has.  :)  Mitch was at their house on Wednesday night and came home with a bag of children's sunglasses.  Pretty much a bag of treasure in our house.  This was the conversation this morning:

Malachi:  Mom, do we get to keep these glasses?
Me:  Yes, those our ours to keep.
Malachi [holding one specific pair of glasses]:  I want these to be mine.
Me [in an upbeat voice, trying to encourage him positively]:  They are for our whole family to share.
Malachi:  Good, I will share.  These are mine.

It's easy to laugh when it's a 4-year-old.  But adults aren't any better, you know.  David wrote in Psalm 24:1,
"The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
   the world and those who dwell therein"
Yet we don't really think about things being God's.  It's more like, this is MY stuff, MY house, MY car, MY money, MY job, MY children, and so on.  Sure, I'll share, give some of MY money to missions.  It goes another way, too.  I've always disliked fundraising.  I don't want to ask you to give YOUR money, YOUR time, YOUR resources for MY cause.  This is messed up!

A missionary friend told me recently (when I was up against the thought of fundraising), "God's economy is not our economy."  She holds a better perspective of Psalm 24:1 than I did.  I challenge you to change the way you think about the blessings you have been given.  Shake it up a little.  Give in faith, and ask in faith.  If you need some help with this, Managing God's Money by Randy Alcorn is a good place to start.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

15 years ago...

I didn't wear a white dress and he didn't wear a suit.
We didn't have a bridal shower or a bachelor party.
No groom's dinner, either. (I didn't even know what that was.)
There was no reception for guests and no white cake.
We didn't go on a honeymoon.

We did have
~family surrounding us and supporting us in love
~a simple bouquet of white [silk] roses
~an exchange of Christian vows
~rings, a token and symbol of our vows
~God, with His outpouring of grace and forgiveness

What makes a marriage?  I can tell you with complete certainty it is not the things that we didn't have at our wedding 15 years ago.  I do not regret not having any of those things.  I don't miss them at all.

I will not even attempt to write in one blog post what has filled hundreds, if not thousands, of books.  What makes a marriage?  For us it has been plain and simple:  Grace.  God's grace was with us then and it has sustained us until now.  Yesterday we marked our 15th wedding anniversary.  It is hard to believe that time has gone by so quickly.  We had a wonderful dinner together and enjoyed our time holding hands and grinning at each other like a pair of newlyweds.  Our conversation was full of laughter and lingered long after we stuffed ourselves and our leftover food had grown cold.  It was very, very sweet.  I couldn't have planned a more perfect way to spend our evening together.  Grace.

Way back years ago when we were at Sauk Rapids Alliance Church (which is now Bridge Community Church) and Troy Bondy was the youth pastor (we love Troy and Deana), we used to sing a song by Bob Gillman.  I sing it even now:

Bind us together, Lord, Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.