Monday, November 29, 2010

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie

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Each year as we approach the Advent / Christmas season, I promise myself that we are going to focus on Jesus... not our busy-ness.  Each year I pull out the Advent devotionals, Advent calendar, and the Advent candles.  And yet, each year my good intentions go undone or are so hit-and-miss that we really are not focusing on the birth of Jesus.

Not this year!  After reading through Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie, I know my good intentions will become a reality!  Each day's reading is short enough to keep the interest of the youngest in the family and includes Discussion Starters to challenge your older teens and adults.  These questions help focus the discussion on Jesus and include additional Bible verses to read and ponder.  Interspersed through the book are Christmas hymns, not only the hymns, but also background on the music, words, and history of the time.  Also, each reading includes a prayer to help focus our eyes on Jesus.

This is a great resource and I look forward to spending quality time with the family as we remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Star Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The content of the book is 5 stars out of 5, but I had difficulty reading the small print.

Ellen


This product was provided for my review by Tyndale House Publishers.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Peace and Joy

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This week I have been reading about PEACE and JOY. I don't know about you, but mine is running in short supply (not good since we are just entering the Christmas season). 



Romans 5.1-2

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God."   (NIV)

First, I need to remember that Jesus meets me exactly where I am.  I do not need to "fix myself" before coming to Him.  God is waiting to shower me with His grace and glory; I just need to throw open the door to Him.

Romans 5.3-5

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."   (NIV)


Secondly, I am reminded to praise God even in times of trouble - loss of a job, sickness, home/car repairs, financial struggles, etc.  I am to stand in heightened expectancy in what God will do next, always looking for God's generosity and blessings into my life.  The above scripture hints at the abundance of blessing that He pours into the lives of believers.  Thank you God!

Ellen

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God's Extravagant Generosity

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Romans 11.33-36
(The Message)

God's Extravagant Generosity


 
"Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

Is there anyone around who can explain God?

Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?

Anyone who has done him such a huge favor

that God has to ask his advice?

Everything comes from him;

Everything happens through him;

Everything ends up in him.

Always glory! Always praise!

Yes. Yes. Yes."

What a convicting piece of scripture.  I was introduced to this translation at the Women of Faith conference last weekend.  The conference centered around Romans 11.33a focusing on the 'extravagant generosity of God.'  Since this translation was new to me, I looked up the same verse (Rom. 11.33a) in NASB, which state, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God..."

I have been meditating on the "extravagant generosity of God."  God sprinkles blessing on us without asking  us for anything in return.  Or does He?  We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, His Son, loving all the people He has put on our path.  Am I doing this?  Unfortunately, no. 

The verses go on reiterating God's sovereignty in all things.  Really, who am I to think I know more than the God of the universe?  Even though there are times I don't understand what God is doing in my life, I must trust and believe that He is who He says He is. He will accomplish what He will in my life with or without my help.  I can look back over my life and see where God has truly brought beauty from the ashes of my life.  Thank you GOD!

The section of scripture ends with reminders of who God is... our Provider, the source of all things (including me), and He rules the world with perfect wisdom, justice, and love.  In all things, we are to bring glory to Him.  Praise the Lord! 




Ellen

This Post is linked to Mustard Seed Planting




Thankful Hearts

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During this Thanksgiving season, I take the time to consider all the blessings in my life.  I am thankful for my family. 

Rod, my husband, is the sole bread-winner and works very hard to supply our needs (and wants).  He is a realtor, and even though we have had some months of no paychecks (like 3 months straight!), our bills are paid on time and we have more than enough food.

My oldest son, Robert, married a wonderful woman in July... welcome to the family, Mallorie!  They have moved to Texas to be close to his son, Xander.  They are working on putting Christ first in their life.  What more can you ask for?

Matt, Melissa, and Michael continue to bless my life in how they complete their schoolwork and participate in outside activities - Matt's theater, Melissa's sports, and Michael's good-natured personality and love of camping! A smile, a hug, an "I love you, Mom" all make my heart sing!  God has made each one so unique that they all bring special blessing to our family!

I'm thankful to have my parents living near us.  They moved to our area in January, and since they are snowbirds, are still acclimating to the area.  They are active in our lives and the lives of our children. 



I thank the LORD for his many blessing we receive year round.  Many of them we don't even recognize or acknowledge.  Others seem so trivial... the sunrise, a flower blooming, a garden growing, a cool breeze on a warm night.....  I could go on forever.  The truth is... "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3.16 (NIV).  God's greatest blessing to me came when I was a sinner and in opposition to Him, and He still sent Jesus to die for my sins!

This post is linked to No Ordinary Blog Hop.

Ellen

Women of Faith

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"Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God...?"  ~ Romans 11.33

God loves us more than we know. He gives us more than we can ask or dream. He's unrestrained... excessive... outrageous... Over the Top.

This past weekend I had the privilege of going to the Women of Faith Conference in NC with my mom and sister.  We had a great time being together and hearing God through the amazing speakers.  What a refreshing time for us as a group and for me personally.  What would God have me hear in my heart?  Are there changes in my very near future present?  What have I withheld from God?

Patsy Clairmont


 Patsy Clairmont was able to speak to all the moms who have prayed for God to heal their child.  She shared the dark days last year when her adult son battled the H1N1 flu to the point of coma.  By God's grace, he is alive today, but still fights chronic pain.  She is witty, hilarious and is transparent in her love for GOD.  From Patsy I was reminded to TRUST God in everything, not just what I think I can't handle.


The Chapmans



Mary Beth Chapman really spoke to my  mother's heart as she shared the devastating loss of her daughter last year.  My parents buried my brother in 1986; Dad had a very hard time after his death.  Steven Curtis Chapman and his band gave a concert... WOW!



Lisa Welchel

Lisa Welchel described her challenge in forming lasting adult friendships.  During the time most teenagers learn about healthy friendships, she was filming The Facts of Life.  All of her "friendships" were written in by the writers.  So when she became an adult, she didn't know how to reach out to others and form healthy, safe friendships.  She reminded us all how important our girlfriends/moms/sisters are to our overall well-being.  From Lisa I was reminded how important our girlfriends are!  They are confidants, encouragers, truth-tellers, and accountability partners.



Sandi Patty


 Sandi Patty moved us not only with her beautiful singing voice, but also with her testimony.  Her voice is unmatched; it leaves you breathless.  She even "signs" some of her songs with and for the hearing impaired.  She shared her struggle with weight throughout her life.  I had no trouble relating to her story.  Her courage to undergo GI surgery and talk about it give me the courage to try the weight-loss thing one more time.  Thanks, Patty!



Marilyn Meberg regaled us with her wit, laughter, honesty, and such wonderful Biblical insights.  She walked us through issues that are holding us back from a 'vibrant relationship with God.'  We were challenged to invite God into our dark places and give our cares/fears/guilt/shame to Him.  She is one of my favorite speakers because she brings her teaching down to my level!  You  have to realize, she has 2 Master Degrees behind her name!


Anita Renfroe

My all-time favorite is Anita Renfroe.. Need I say more!  Christian, comedian, mother, wife (pastor's), singer.. all rolled into one fun-filled lady!  I have 3 DVD's and when I'm feeling down, I'll put them in and laugh all over again.  Her insights into human nature are amazing and she doesn't shy away from the hard issues like.... mammograms, caffeine, and underwire!  She is my all-time pick-me-up!

Dramas are always life-changing. Deborah Winans' were no different. She touched on the issue of abortion and the need for counseling. She opened the door for those experiencing the loss of a child by abortion to seek help and healing. Her other skit touched on our desires to get our way, anyway we can. We put our "hook" in others to get them to do our bidding. A timely reminder especially while raising 3 teenagers!


I have looked forward to the Women of Faith Conferences each year because I was able to spend time with just my mom.  This year, my sister was able to join us.  We were away from all our daily activies and stress and had a ball!  I wonder what next year will bring!


Ellen





Thursday, November 4, 2010

The American Patriot's Almanac

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The American Patriot's Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb, published by Thomas Nelson, was everything I expected and more!  This newly revised, updated and expanded almanac includes a slice of our great country's history alongside the daily "American History Parade."

I enjoyed reading through the historical events which left such in impact on our country.  My whole family enjoyed looking up their birthday to see who had the most exciting historical events. 

Since we are learning US History this year, we have been able to review such documents as: The Declaration of Independence (and how it was written and signed), The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights, and the American Creed - just to name of few.

Each year our students in the public schools are learning a different US History from previous generations.  This Almanac helps bridge that gap and gives an insight into the Christian founding principles of America. 

Per the author, "Our nation's founding principles of liberty and equality are among humanity's noblest aspirations.  As long as the United States is a place dedicated to those principles, then to be an American patriot is to love something noble and good.  By loving America, we lift our own sights."  Let us be a country filled with PATRIOTS who love this country, take pride in what America has accomplished, are active in their communities, and are involved in the election process - voting, reading up on the issues, and being an active participant.

Join in on the US History revolution... take your dose of US History daily alongside your multivitamin!

Book rating:  5 out of 5

Ellen


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.”

Encouragement from Online Communities

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Today's question from The Home School Village is, "Why are you thankful for online communities! Do you love making connections, sharing knowledge or just socializing in your jammies? Have you ever received special encouragement or support from online communities? Do share!"

I began blogging because of a friend's blog was IS awesome!  Kris walked me through the baby steps of blogging and I still ask for her input.  She is an encourager both in person and online. 

I have made connections with other women who also home educate, try to seek God daily, and like need to save money.  There are so many creative, intelligent, wisdom-filled blogs; I just can't follow them all, all the time.  SHUCKS!  I am in awe of their writing skills and humor as they walk through the good times and the bad.

How are you encouraged by your online community?

Ellen

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Simulation of Plastic Rock

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Plastic Rock is a rock that behaves like something between a liquid and a solid.  Scientists believe that the earth's mantle has this type of rock flowing through its asthenosphere. 

A simple experiment using water and corn starch will simulate the properties of Plastic Rock.  Follow these simple steps and enjoy your experiment!

1)  Put one cup of cornstarch into a shallow pan (pie plate works well).

2)  Add 2/3 cup of water.


3)  Stir until you have an evenly mixed, white liquid. (it should be hard to stir in the beginning)


4)  Add another 1/2 cup cornstarch to the mixture.



5)  As you stir the mixture, you should begin to see some interesting properties.  As you stir, the mixture should solidify, making it more difficult to mix.  However, when you stop, the mixture should liquify again.

6)  Play with this mixture!  Pick some up and squeeze it in your hand... it should harden.  Open your hand and see what happens!



7)  When you are done having fun - we played with it for about 30 minutes- clean up with hot water.

Plastic Rock is slowly liquifying from hand above to below.

8)  The excited students writing up their Laboratory Reports!



Note: if you don't see this behavior, your mixture may be incorrect.  If it remains liquidy, add more cornstarch; if it is too hard, add water a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.

Happy home schooling!

  Ellen

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