Monday, November 17, 2014

Confessions of a Former Bully

Bullying is such a hot topic right now. We are getting so much information from the school about it: special night events at school about how to stop bullying, letters about how bullying won't be tolerated, special initiatives and on and on.

Most of the information is along the lines of how to teach your child what to do when someone is bullying them.

-Tips on how to report bullying
-How to stand up to a bully
-Strategies to stay safe from bullies
-Helping other kids who are being bullied

But is that all we want to do? Teach our kids how to handle bullies? Are there bullies that they can't do anything about and so we just have to learn how to tolerate them?

Why don't we hear more information about how to teach someone NOT to bully? Wouldn't that be a more productive way to address the issue?

My daughter is a loving, kind, intelligent girl and this week she came home to tell me that one of her classmates is telling others that she is a bully and a snitch (which, isn't that bullying?). As sweet as she is, our girl is a strong willed, confident, first-born who is destined to be a leader one day. She's learned how to use her leadership power to manipulate her younger brother and friends. We've discussed with her how she gets to choose whether her leadership gifts will either be used for good or for bad. She's navigating the elementary years and trying to figure out how she fits in the world.

Being labeled as a bully is a real stigma. I'd say that many kids who bully don't even realize they are bullying others. Being a bully in my day was characterized as the big kid who beat up the little kid and took his lunch money. But now bullying is any kid who is picking on someone else or using their words (not just fists) to get others to do what they want. And there is also cyber-bullying to be concerned about also.

I happened on this book the other day at the library and I want to highly recommend if you are concerned your child might be bullying others you have a child.

It gives a grace filled look at what being a bully really means and how to change. It is written from a child's perspective in a great 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Dear Dumb Diary' style that makes it a fun and engaging read for kids. But it's full of great information on both sides of the bullying issue: How to not bully others and how to deal with someone who bullies.

I really appreciate a look at this issue from the bully's point of view. That the bully is a girl is even better and more helpful for my daughter. The main character of the book talks about how bullying hurts everyone, even the person who bullies.

I think that most kids will probably find themselves on both sides if they are honest. I know mine are learning and growing and hopefully they are learning lessons like these and I'd love it if more people shared this book with their children.

I did NOT receive a copy of this book for my review, just thought it was worth reviewing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Mom's Prayers for Her Son

A few months ago Hubby read through A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter and so when this book came up I was excited to get it:

This year I am becoming increasingly aware of the power of prayer. As a mom there is only so much that I can do for my kids. I can provide a good environment for growth but it's God who does the work of growth in their hearts. Through tough experiences I'm seeing that my prayers are not simply hopes tossed up to heaven but a real, powerful weapon against the work of the enemy in our life. James 5:16b - "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

In my prayers I am going to battle on their behalf, I'm fighting for their hearts. This book has been an encouragement to me in my prayer work for my sons. I'm finding my heart agreeing with the prayers and praying them for my sons, myself and the rest of my family too.

The 77 prayers are not categorized so you could go to any based on what your child might be needing prayer for. There are 15 side stories aside from the prayers and each prayer and story has a few verses of scripture. The prayers are varied on many different areas of his life including:

When He's Angry
When He Goes Online
When He's Stressed
When He Feels Alone
When He Needs Self-Control

Many of them are specific and since I'm reading straight through the book I find that some of them don't apply to his life right now. It would be great to come back to in that time of need or to pray in advance over him. They really could be adapted to any age child, I'm finding that I pray them over my 3 year old and over my 8 year old, but that I most often think of my 8 year old. I can envision the issues he is dealing with today and in the near future.

These prayers are helping me be specific in my prayer work for the boys, not just offering up 'Oh Lord, be with them today, help them, keep them safe.' Through these prayers I'm considering the heart of my boys and how I can bring them before God's throne and ask Him to change their hearts, protect their minds and guide them into His truth.

I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Good News About Marriage

I ran across an article on Facebook a while back about some recent research done on marriage and divorce statistics and the book that detailed the research. It included some startling findings.

  • rriages are happy.
  • Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.
  • Most remarriages succeed.
  • - See more at:

  • The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent.
  • Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t.
  • Most marriages are happy.
  • Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.
  • Most remarriages succeed.
  • - See more at: actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percen-The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent.

    -The actual divorce rate has never gotten close to 50 percent. 
    -Those who attend church regularly have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t.
    -Most marriages are happy.
    -Simple changes make a big difference in most marriage problems.
    -Most remarriages succeed.

    I was intrigued and jumped at the chance to review the book, "The Good News About Marriage." We've all heard the statistics that 50% of marriages end in divorce, that Christians are just as likely as non-Christians to get divorced and remarriages have a high rate of divorce. Where did these statistics come from and how have they been misinterpreted? explains in the first chapter how she got started on this 8 year project. She was working on an article about marriage and wanted to cite correctly the statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce. She tried to find the study for 2 or 3 hours and finally tossed it to her research assistant, Tally, so she could get back to writing. When Tally got back to her after several more hours without a definitive answer they called an expert on marriage and divorce who told them, 'No one knows and there are many different types of surveys and different ways of tracking divorce.' They found that the Census Bureau stopped projecting divorce rates in 1996 and those projections were based on divorce increasing while it's actually decreased.

    With my background in Psychology I did a lot of work in school on how to conduct research studies and analyze statistics, so this book was especially interesting to me but it may be cumbersome to those who aren't into tracking numbers and statistical research. But the message of the book needs to be spread because these are very discouraging myths about marriage and divorce.

    It was really interesting to see her unpack each of the myths, to show where the statistical studies had been misapplied, misinterpreted or just simply did not exist! There were some studies that were 'projections' that had, over time, become accepted as the reality. According to the most recent authoritative data (Census Bureau 2009) 72% of people are still married to their first spouse. And that data does not account for those who are not still married but their marriage was ended by the death of their spouse, not divorce.

    The myth of 'divorce being equal in the church as it is outside of the church' is based on a Barna study that has been misunderstood. The study in question was looking at divorce trends based on faith based beliefs and self assessment of faith, not faith based practices like worship attendance. So participants were asked if they affiliated themselves as a Christian, not whether they were currently practicing their religion. New tabulations of the data shows that when a person attends church it lowers their chances of divorce by roughly 25-50% compared to those who don't attend. It also found that those who prioritize their faith and/or pray together are dramatically happier and more connected.

    As for the remarriage statistics, she found that a large majority of remarriages last. Among women in their second marriage 65% are still married to their spouse and of those who aren't many of those were widowed rather than divorced (because second marriages tend to happen later in life and thus have a higher likelihood to end because of the death of a partner than marriages at a younger age).

    Why is any of this even important or note worthy? One of the reasons that marriages don't make it is a loss of hope. There is a sense that 'we only have a 50-50 shot of making it' or a couple who is considering divorce thinks 'well, at lease we have a lot of company.' Some people avoid marriage all together thinking, 'Why bother?'

    It's also encouraging for pastors to know there is hope in the church for marriages! To know that studies have shown that couples who attend church, read their bibles, and/or pray together have a lower rate of divorce is a reason to encourage couples to get involved with a supportive church community and that believing in God and acting on your faith does make a difference in practical things like the success of your marriage.

    We have lacked confidence in the institution of marriage for far too long. It's sad to go to a wedding, flip a coin and conclude that this couple only has a 50-50 shot of making it for life. This book really encouraged me by the facts that have been undermined by misunderstandings and incomplete data. Now we can change the way we think about marriage, divorce, and the positive impact that faith can have in the life of a couple.

    I received a copy of this book through the Blogging for Books Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Breathing Room


    I'm going through and deleting old emails. My husband offers up a concerned 'What?' and I bemoan the fact that I've realized that the blog book review I was thinking was in November is actually due this week and I haven't even started the book. 'What book is it?' he asks.

    "It's called, 'Breathing Room.'" We look at each other and just laugh.

    Ah, life's ironies.

    'Keep it all together. Get the to do list tackled. Don't be out of sorts. Be friendly and happy!' Where are these voices coming from? All in my own head.

    We try to be strong, to be the person we want to be. 'I am not someone who forgets deadlines,' I tell myself. 'I'll just have to read it...this weekend? No, that won't work...too many other deadlines that are important to not miss also.'

    We have an image of what a woman should look like . 'It's not going to happen,' I realize in my head. 'It's going to be late. They will think I am lazy.'

    We keep striving for pintrest-like perfection but it's always out of our reach. 'Why did this have to be due this week!?'

    Leanna Tankersley's personal and intimate description of her journey of learning to accept her own humanity is an invitation to breathe deeply and exhale, showing us how letting go can help us live more fully. I know I need to RSVP to that and just let go of all my 'shoulds' and just realize that I am not Superwoman and I can't do it all.

    The book is a view into her world of crazy. Living as a wife of a Navy Seal, having twins and a newborn and living in Bahrain. How she just survived and learned to give herself grace instead of condemning herself for not being able to measure up to her own standards.

    Being dysfunctional and real is too vulnerable. There's so much potential for hurt. I am even hesitant to write this blog post because in it I'm admitting that I am not living up to my own expectations of myself. What if I'm not living up to others' expectations either? But this year in particular I've been learning to just do the next thing. I've been doing a lot of 'self-care' and realizing that if I don't I will blow up and it will not be good for anyone.

    She shares some great tips for how to let go. One chapter in particular rang true with me, 'Beginning Again." She shares some of her failures as a mom and how each day and even each moment is a new chance to begin again, to start over. To say I'm sorry and have a clean slate. To be forgiven and to forgive yourself. I have a tough problem with forgiving myself. I think I should know better and not mess up so much, but I'm learning that I'm a human and I need to extend grace to myself like I do to others.

    She discusses grief and her sadness after a miscarriage and so expertly explains grief: 'Grieving is the process of recognizing the loss of what might have been....The bothersome thing about grief is that it rolls in, life a wave, and then rolls back out again. You never know when it's going to hit. Some days it just pooled around my feet. Some days it knocked me over, completely submerged."

    The book reads like a series of insightful blog posts, some I could have skipped over and some I held onto in my mind and camped out on. Part narrative, part reflective, part encouragement, each chapter was a quick few pages and easy to mentally chew on.

    Hopefully I'll be able to give myself some Breathing Room and the grace and space I need to process life through life and encourage others to do the same.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    The Stress Cure

    Once again it seems that books keep coming my way that are just right for what I'm going through. I jumped at the chance to read The Stress Cure by Linda Evans Shepherd because it seems so many things in my life are stressful right now.

    Shepherd introduces the problem of stress as partly a lack of trust in God and a mix of our reaction to life's circumstances. How we react to life and what we do when we encounter stressful situations is the key to understanding how to live in peace in the midst of life's difficult times. Do we turn to pray or do we act out in frustration?

    The chapters are broken into topics of what do do when you are feeling stressed because of feeling: overwhelmed, stuck, frustrated, burdened, hopeless, offended, anxious, negative, distracted or depressed. Each chapter is steeped in  in scripture and practical prayers. There are also some biblical re-tellings of familiar stories. Generally I am not fond of those kinds of things but her way of telling the story was not cheesy and I enjoyed thinking through how biblical characters dealt with stressful situations, positively and negatively. Some of her prayers were repetitive and every chapter ended with prayers on yielding to God, Forgiving, Giving it all to God, Praying for Healing, Exchanging the Enemy's work for God's Peace and Praising God for Freedom from stress. It is a pattern that would be helpful for remembering after you've read the book to learn to deal with stressful situations. Kind of a longer version of stop, drop and pray.

    I enjoyed the reminders to trust God through whatever I'm going through and that he is big enough to deal with all of my crazy days.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Saturday, September 13, 2014

    This. Boy.

    There is no hiding it. We are pretty much in love with L. Even the big kids are enchanted with his personality. So he fits all the youngest child stereotypes, comedian of the family, etc. We are constantly saying, 'adorable', 'so cute', 'darling'.
    His first joke was before he turned a year old. He put a bowl on his head and said, 'Hat!' and laughed. This day he found my sunglasses and came and told me he was a rockstar. I really wish I had a constant webcam of him so that there would be peace on earth. Really, people could just watch and say, 'Ah, why am I mad, this kid is so cute.'
    We are amazed by his curly hair and have no idea where it came from, had to be Hubby's side of the family. With my super straight hair I never thought I'd have a curly haired kid. The curls have a life of their own. Sometimes when he gets up in the morning his hair is a little unruly. We say he looks like a lion with a messy mane. This day his hair was sticking to the climber with static electricity.
    Out of control cuteness.

    I think it's most adorable when he has a hat on and the curls just kind of pop out to the sides. 
    Oh! The ringlets!

     We joke that we are going to eat his curls. The other night we were sitting at dinner admiring a particular curl that had formed right above his nose. He noticed we were all watching him and he started bouncing his head around so his curls would bounce. Stop! Cuteness overload! Cannot handle the cuteness!!

    Saturday, September 6, 2014

    Resurrection Sunday!

    We were really looking forward to Easter Sunday this year because we had planned a luncheon after church for international students. A few days before we made 'Resurrection Rolls'. They were supposed to help tell the story of Jesus's death and resurrection. We took a marshmallow that represented Jesus (white to represent his sinless nature) and dipped it in melted butter and cinnamon and sugar (to represent the oil and spices used for his burial). Then we wrapped it in a crescent roll to make little tombs like he was buried in. We made sure to seal all the edges and then we cooked them. A was in high anticipation as to what would happen.

     They were both surprised when we cut them open and the marshmallow was gone! It represented how Jesus arose and the tomb was empty.
     So yeah, Jesus kind of melted into the tomb but he was very yummy. Just a fun thing to do with the kids. We also like to dye eggs. Even L got to help....wait buddy, don't try to balance it on the dipper thing...
     "Mommy, it has a dent in it."
     Finally the day arrived and we got all dressed and headed to church. I wore my new $4 dress I got at the thrift store. Score! The kids looked sweet in their dressy clothes. I thought back on all those times my mom had to deal with me complaining about 'it's too tight!' or 'I don't like it, it's itching me!' I got paybacks because A complained all the day before about her dress itching her and she didn't want to wear it. So I stayed up late the night before sewing a piece of fleece around the itchy part and she was a happy girl.

    After a lovely worship service we headed home and I got a few pictures snapped before the group got back home.

     As they were posing for this picture G looked at A and said, 'You look really pretty A." Ah, sweet boy. I just love him.
     And my beautiful girl, such a sweet, kind, lovely...
     oh, wait, that's more like normal. What was I saying? Oh yes, feisty, active, amazing girl...

    Mommy-son moment
     Okay L, your turn for some pictures. I know you've been running around this whole time but we gotta go stand by the tree cause momma needs pictures for the album.
     Nooooo Mommy! I'm riding on my car.
     L, get out of the bush. I want you to stand by this tree.
     Ahh, reinforcements are here.
     And now lunch can begin! These two ladies helped me set up my appetizers. Since I was cooking a lot of roast lunch wasn't ready until a little bit later so we had to have a few things to snack on.
     The whole group, minus G who took the picture for us.
     After everyone left we realized we should probably do an egg hunt for the kids. So I went out and hid three sets of eggs, pink/purple for A, blue/green for G, and orange/yellow for L. They each had to find their own colors and I made the big kids' pretty tough to find. A walked by this one several times before she saw it.
     L's eggs were pretty much just laying on the ground in plain sight, with maybe a few tricky ones hidden under his toys on the porch.
      Daddy hid one in his pocket as a tricky one. We told them it was outside but they couldn't see it and we'd tell them 'colder, colder' or 'hotter, hotter' as they got closer to him, but then he'd walk away and then they'd try to look around and then we'd switch it up. So they were getting very frustrated because at first we'd say hot and then later on in the same spot we'd be saying cold. They finally figured it out and thought it was a good trick.

    After they found all the eggs they had a little egg party in the backyard.

    Monday, September 1, 2014

    What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

    Got this cute little devotional in the mail one day I was having a rough day. I showed it to Hubby and said, 'Hey, this is exactly what I need today isn't it?' I read the back, 'We all have days that make us want to pull the covers over our heads and eat a dozen cupcakes.'  Yup.

    It has 52 devotionals based on the Psalms and each are about 2 or 3 pages long, just enough to get some encouragement for the day and start things off on a positive note. It also has about 3 suggested Psalms to read to go along with the devotional so if you read each three by the end of the book you would have read all 150 Psalms. It's perfect for keeping by your bed and with its small size I've kept it in my purse and read it while waiting for appointments.

    Each chapter is a quick reminder of a truth from the Psalms like, 'God calls you his own', 'God's ways are best for you' and 'God is preparing you.' We can get in such a tizzy when things are going wrong. We can get so upset by our circumstances and our mind can have our feelings going crazy. We can change our feelings by remembering the truth about the things going on in our life-that God is with us and will give us courage and protects us and is our defender. When we focus on the truth of God's word then things around us don't seem as stressful and unmanageable.

    I need these reminders. Things have been stressful and crazy in my life this year. But I can can see how God has been so good to me through it all. Having these reminders help me get through when the days are tough and circumstances are stressful.

    I read Holley's "You Are Going to be Okay" and really appreciated her style of writing. I feel like she's a good friend and we are talking over a cup of chai. This devotional is the companion book and it's been a great way to remember each day that God is with me and I can make it through whatever comes my way.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Debt Proof Living (2014)

    When we were first married I got a nifty little software called Microsoft Money. In it we could input our purchases and track our spending. I love to be organized and we were trying to save up to buy our first house so it was fun to track all our purchases and watch our savings grow. I kept all my receipts and input the information into the right account. Now, 13 years later I could pull up a file and tell you how much we've spent at McDonald's or what we've spent on car maintenance. It takes some work each month to put in all the files and reconcile the balances but I think we'd be lost financially if we didn't keep track of things. There is a lot of freedom in knowing where your money is going.

    After reading Debt-Proof Living, I realized that tracking spending is not something that most people do. I didn't realize that just knowing where your money goes is one of the biggest things you can do to stay out of debt. She also had some surprising tips for staying out of debt including making giving and saving priorities, even before you are out of debt. She recommends living off 80% of your income and using 10% towards savings and 10% for giving away. To some that might seem crazy to give money away if you owe it to others but she said that giving money to a charitable cause helps you to get a better perspective on your money and not just to use it all up. She says that saving 10% of your income is necessary even before you are out of debt to insure against unforeseen future expenses instead of just relying on credit cards or loans.

    This book does give a concrete plan for getting out of debt but also a whole new way to look at finances. I didn't get as much out of it as I'd hoped and some of the advice she gave was counter to what I do, but overall I thought it was a good book for someone who needs the steps to help get and stay out of debt.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

    i need some help here!

    Parenting is tough. It's not like a recipe where you just add the right amount of ingredients and your food turns out great each time. In parenting you can do all the right things and your kids can turn out totally opposite of what you were hoping.

    I just finished a book by the hilarious Kathi Lipp and it is an encouragement to all those parents who are struggling with how things are going with their kids. She offers grace to moms who are discouraged and feeling guilty. She enables us to look at the bright side and see the spiritual gifts that result when your kids don't go according to your plan. She steeps each chapter in scripture and offers sample prayers for your child and for yourself.

    I've heard a lot of people say, "I was such a good parent before I had children." Kathi offers a similar saying for judgmental people and how to determine other 'safe' people you can be real with...or rather who not to seek sympathy from. She says, "There are some people who feel that if only you had done everything right, your child wouldn't have problems. These people usually fall into three categories: those who have never had kids and think they could do better, parents who have one child under the age of three and think that the same principles of discipline apply to teens, and parents of children over age thirty who have blocked out all the bad years."

    She offers a quote from Rob Teigen as instruction for us, "I think as parents we take way too much credit when things go right with our kids and take way too much blame when things go wrong." She helps parents see that we are not the only ones who are dealing with issues and gives encouragement and practical steps for a variety of different situations. The last chapters are broken into headings-'when my child is....different, overwhelmed, making poor choices, struggling' etc.

    From the cover (loved it!) it seemed like a book for parents of young children but as I started reading it I worried that it would only deal with teens and young adults. But I found plenty to apply to parenting young children as well and it also gives me plenty to chew on and a good foundation as we head into the teenage years in a few years (eek!)

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Finding Spiritual Whitespace

    As I write this I am packing up to go out of town. I barely have time to sit down and write a review as our babysitter gets here in 15 ....oops, 12 minutes. I'm answering questions in between typing. 'Do we need this?' 'Where are the sunglasses?' 'Where is the suitcase?'

    I live life so fragmented, so out to the edge. I can't do things as well as I want to because I want to do everything and there's just not time. I rush around trying to get out of the house then drop something and have to stop to clean it up, so in the end I would have gotten ready faster if had I gone slower. It doesn't make sense to me, go slow in order to move forward faster. It doesn't make sense in my day to day life and it doesn't make sense in my relationship with God. But time is one of God's creations and I'm living in it and have to abide by the rules he made it with, not the 'rules' that make sense to me.

    Finding Spiritual Whitespace is one woman's journey to find space in her life for rest. But it doesn't come easy for her. She wrote 10 chapters of the book before breaking down, her past coming back as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and halting her efforts. "Sometimes we can't rest until we look at why our hearts feel torn." She didn't want to work through her past, she wanted to ignore it. She found that she couldn't write the book as she originally planned so what results is a picture of how God takes broken things and makes them beautiful.

    Each chapter allows for reflection and discussion questions if a group was going through this together. I found it difficult to pause at each chapter because I was so curious about the details of her story. She had a 'cliffhanger' of sorts on many chapters and it made me want to skip the reflection and see what happened next.

    I found her suggestions for carving out spiritual whitespace to be so important for a busy woman today. We have to force ourselves to go against the cultural current that says our worth is based what we do and how much we can get done. We have to intentionally stop and be 'unproductive' so that we can have a more balanced and healthy life. We have to go slower in order to move forward or else we will have to go back and do things over again.

    Some quotes from the book really stuck with me:

    "In art, whitespace is often referred to as 'negative space.' It's the space on the page absent of marks or images...It is the key element of design that gives balance to a composition, transforming a cluttered collection of objects into an aesthetic expression of what we do see."

    "Finding spiritual whitespace isn't about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us. It's the opposite. It's getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden pieces-in order to nurture our soul. It's getting away from the lie that spiritual rest is something we have to work hard at in order to get closer to God."

    "We've been taught our feelings are not reliable, so we throw them to the wayside. Trouble is, there is a part of ourselves we throw to the side too. Sometimes the harder path to rest is following your heart and holding on to nothing but Jesus."


    So after reading this book and the journey that I'm going on right now in my life, I am trying to loosen the grip of my control on situations and hold on to Jesus instead. I am learning to trust him more deeply and with my heart and my mind. I'm enjoying things more and stressing about things less. I am listening to and following my feelings and trying to stop being so strong and competent. I'm admitting my faults and trusting that Jesus can take the broken parts of me and make me beautiful.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

    A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter

    So, I've got my first guest blogger today! I'd like to think that my blog is just so popular that I need to hire people to write posts for me. But in reality I got a book for 'Dads' and I thought I'd farm out a review to a dad who could more accurately review the book. My guest blogger is none other than my lovely husband (who was not paid anything for his time, ha!). Take it away, Hubby!

    Hey readers! This is Lark’s husband, guest blogging about a great new book called A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter by Rob & Joanna Teigen, the same husband and wife team that wrote 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates.

    I’m glad Lark got a copy of A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter for me because praying for my daughter has been a priority since she was born 9+ years ago. And because I tend to be rather rote with my prayers, this book was much appreciated. It’s a well-done prayer guide, especially for dads who need help keeping their prayers for their daughter fresh, relevant, and thorough. Each of the 88 prayers (I sense a pattern, and a shrewd marketing job here…more on that later) is between one and two pages, easy to read, and helpful to use in our ongoing prayers for our little—or grown up—girls.

    Many evangelicals aren’t accustomed to using written prayers in their devotional life, and I’m no exception. Having grown up in a traditional, mainline denomination I’ve experienced the danger of pre-written prayers becoming dull, heartless, and detached in both personal and corporate worship. Since college I have almost exclusively prayed extemporaneous prayers. Thus, when I picked up this book to use in my prayer time for my daughter, I expected to struggle with the fact that, well, they were pre-written. I expected to be taken back to my traditional, mainline days and become bored and unengaged.

    Thankfully, nothing could have been further from the truth. In reading and praying these prayers I found my heart deeply resonating with them and my soul agreeing with what was written. Rather than becoming dull they added life and color to my prayers for my daughter.

    The prayers themselves definitely have the feel of informal, non-liturgical prayers, the style you would hear in an average evangelical church in Anytown, USA on a Sunday morning. They use non-technical and what I would call “typically evangelical” language. If you are a person more accustomed to the prayer language of a liturgical church (Anglican, Catholic, or Orthodox) or if you are a fan of the King James Version and can’t imagine prayers being spoken without “Thees, Thous and Thines” then this book may be a little too folksy for you. I found them warm, heartfelt, and personal.

    If there is anything negative to note about the book it would be just one thing: the choice of 88 prayers. Were 88 prayers really necessary? I get that the first book contained 88 great daddy-daughter dates. Its cute. It rhymes. But 88 prayers felt a little forced. There was enough overlap of prayer topics that the book could have been shorter.

    I’m probably making too big a deal out of this, and I’m probably being overly critical. I think the couple that authors this book is creative and I’d love to see them keep writing. But are they going to get stuck being branded into that-couple-whose-books-all-contain-88-things?

    That minor point aside, I found this to be a really enjoyable read with a very practical and spiritually enriching result: praying for every aspect of your daughter’s life. I trust that the Lord will use this book in the lives of many fathers and daughters and I would recommend it to any friend I know who has the privilege of raising a little girl.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    You're Going to Be Okay

    'It's going to be okay.'  Sometimes those are the most comforting words that someone can say to me in the middle of a stressful situation. Not that it makes the stress go away but it is a reminder that whatever it is I'm going through is not permanent and we will figure out a way to make it through. I especially appreciate it when it's said in the middle of a big hug.

    The book 'You're Going to Be Okay' is like a good hug from a girlfriend with encouraging words and not just a pep talk, but real solutions to dealing with difficult issues in your life.

    We are going through a stressful situation in our lives now and this book spoke so much to my heart about how I can deal with it well. You don't have to be desperate and at your wits end to be able to benefit from it, and it's probably better to read it before going through stressful times so that you can be better prepared.

    There are too many things to list that I gleaned and took from the book to list here, it will likely be a book I return to as I'll need a reminder of all the things I'd learned. One thing I'll mention is how she discussed our emotions and recognizing what is going on in our brain. She said to 'Stop, Drop, and Roll.' So now when I encounter a stressful situation instead of just freaking out,  I'm going to try to stop and take a deep breath and notice what my body is doing-do I feel tears welling up? Is my heart beating fast? Next I'll drop the expectation that has just been shattered and acknowledge what is making me feel stressed. Then I'll start to consider how I'm going to roll with this new situation.

    I gained many tools for dealing with stress through the book. It's steeped in scripture and each chapter is written in such a readable way. I felt like my girlfriend and I were chatting together as I read it, Holley comes across as friendly and engaging, challenging and humble. Just the kind of friend you need on difficult days.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    Sweet Dreams

    At night we usually have a little bedtime routine we do with L. We read a few stories, sometimes a Bible story, tell a pretend story, pray, and sing Silent Night and Amazing Grace. We use the pretend stories as a way to transition from the fun reading book time to turning off the light and one more little story. We usually make the story about L. Hubby does great stories and has a whole line up of characters and voices. My stories are more simple, have a little moral to them (brainwashing) and somehow often have to do with food. Sometimes I pause let L add in the details-like the classic story of Mommy and L go to Publix:

    Mommy: "...and L was a good boy the whole shopping trip and stayed in the cart and didn't fuss. So then mommy and L went to the bakery and L picked out a..... "(pause for him to answer)
    L: Sprinkle!
    Mommy: ...cookie. And then L let Mommy have a little bite too. The End.

    I hope I never forget tonight's story-

    Mommy: Okay tonight I'm going to tell you 'The Story of a Precious Little Boy Named L.' Once upon a time there was a Precious Little Boy named.... (pause)
    L: L!
    Mommy: He had a Precious Little nose (cue-kiss nose), and Precious Little curls, and a Precious Little tummy and (no pause, but he just chimes right in)
    L: and a Precious Little Mommy!
    (Cue Mommy melting)

    Seriously, we are so blessed with this boy. We can't imagine life without the joy he brings to each day and we are so thankful to God for him.

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    The Big Book of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids (A 3-in-1 Collection)

    One of our Family Rules is to laugh.....a lot. And we take that 'rule' pretty seriously around here. So when I got this:

    I was pretty stoked to have some all new material to laugh with the kids. We've checked out books from the library but they've all been just 'so-so' and some of the jokes have been questionable to telling to kids.

    The first section has a Q&A jokes like:

    Q: Where did the general put his armies?
    A: In his sleevies!


    Q: What do you call four bullfighters in quicksand?
    A: Quatro-sinko!

    The kids have loved them. We've read a couple of pages during dinner and all giggled, groaned and laughed until we cried. I haven't laughed like that in a while. We haven't even made our way though the first of the three sections of the book but it has been great. I've loved telling these jokes to the kids because so many remind me of the kind I used to find on Popsicle sticks.

    Many of the jokes rely on a play on words, or a similar sounding word to make it funny.  That's been good to discuss with the kids because some we have to explain that there are different spellings of the words or different meanings with the same spelling.

    The next two sections of the book have animal jokes and knock-knock jokes.

    Even though they can get corny and we only do a few pages at a time, it's great having some new material around the house so the kids aren't always telling us the same tired jokes.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    Everyday Confetti

    Our family makes a point to celebrate birthdays and we have special traditions for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. So when I got the book, Everyday Confetti, I was intrigued. It is a guide to how to celebrate year-round, by putting emphasis on some of the forgotten holidays and regular days.

    The book starts with an overview of how to celebrate special occasions and gives fun ideas on things you may not think about like 'Golden Birthdays' when a person's birthday is the same as the age they are turning, like turning 10 on the 10th. Then it goes through the whole year and highlights the holidays for each season and gives ideas on things to do, ways to decorate or how to make that day special. There are also some interesting looking recipes, like the Navy Bean soup they serve in the House Senate each day or ideas on how to have a colonial Thanksgiving.

    I think it does a good job in helping us see how the ordinary can become special when we put a little thought into it. I think the danger is for people who Pinterest perfectionists to feel bad because they didn't make a special Cherry Granola for President's day. But for someone who is wanting to create traditions and memories with her family this book can be a one-stop-shop for ideas and recipes without getting overwhelmed by the gazillion ideas on Pinterest. It's good to be able to just flip to that month or holiday, pick and choose an idea and go with that, knowing that no one could do everything listed in the book.

    One think I really did like was the emphasis on service. Many of the ideas were just about how it was important to celebrate things like Veteran's Day by honoring veterans in our life, either just in acknowledging their sacrifice or by doing something special for them or for their family. We do often just drift through those kinds of holidays with no more than a general Facebook post of thanks, or worse, nothing at all. And the book is decidedly Christian in style with verses and devotionals concerning the holidays.

    This was a quick read and would be a good reference to keep on hand for ideas.

    I received a copy of this book through the Revell Blogger Review Program, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.