Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dinner Game Fun

We played an old game with a new twist at dinner time tonight.  We played the traditional two truths and a lie game, but all the stories had to relate to our days at school or work.  So each child told two truths about their day and one lie about their day (all with a straight face!), and the rest of us tried to guess which was the truth.  I simplified it for my 6-year old, letting her tell one truth and one lie, so she didn't have to juggle all of the stories in her head.  It was a great way to hear stories from the day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

True Rest and Pleasure - Reflections from Susanna Wesley

“I can find no repose, no peace, no joy,

but in loving and being beloved by You.

Help me rest accordingly in You as the center of my being,

the fountain of my pleasure, the origin of all goodness and virtue,

my light, my life, my strength, my all;

everything I want and wish in this world and forever.”

Susanna Wesley, 1669-1743

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yummy & Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish - Hot Broccoli Casserole

Looking for a last-minute easy Thanksgiving side dish?  Try my friend Jill Atchison's Hot Broccoli Casserole:

10oz frozen chopped broccoli
1c minute rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1c milk
1c grated cheddar cheese, divided
1 medium chopped onion

Place broccoli in a 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes.  Add other ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 of the cheese.  Stir ingredients, then sprinkle the other half of the cheese on top of the casserole.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Easy Chocolate Cake Cookies

These are yummy cookies that I almost always have the ingredients to make.  They are easy to throw together for family night, bake sales, soccer games...

1 box chocolate cake mix (with pudding in the mix)

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

Drop by teasponful on ungreased baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.
Yields 2 dozen cookies

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: Bible Detective by Peter Kent

Bible Detective
A Puzzle Search Book b
y Peter Martin; illustrated by Peter Kent

This children's book offers a creative way to get children to explore the Bible - through hidden picture puzzles.

The Bible stories range from Paul to Solomon to Christ.  Each story page has 20ish elements for the children to find.  They are harder than you might imagine!!  Each of the hidden picture icons gives historical context for the story.

This book is good for 7-11 year old boys that enjoy a challenge.

I received a review copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gift Ideas for Children

I've been working with the children on their wish lists to give the grandparents, so I've been thinking a lot about fun, inspiring toys that won't just sit on the shelf.  I especially appreciate products that inspire kids to think, dream and create. 

Crayola products are a great option, and I just found out that they are 30% off at Zulily with free shipping 'til Friday 11/16!


Alphabet Dry-Erase Activity Book - $5.99
Red 2.1 MP Crayola Digital Camera Set - $24.99
United States Chalkboard Floor Puzzle - $9.99
123 Dry-Erase Flash Cards - $5.99
2GB MP3 Player - $34.99
Tadoodles Tub Boat Bathtub Crayon Set - $7.99
Color Wonder Finding Nemo Deluxe Set - $6.49

Some of our family's favorite crayola products include:
washable paint
magic markers (no other brand compares!)
glitter crayons

Click here to see all of the crayola deals at zulily this week!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review - Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Wow!  This book is very well-written - I totally enjoyed this page-turner!

It's about a young woman in 1883, who in searching for her sister, finds herself in a battle to change the logging industry and the society ills surrounding it.  Lily lives her life with passion - sometimes even reckless abandon.  Her rescuers are inevitably drawn into her passionate campaigns.

My professional life revolves around teaching and writing about service, leadership and social justice, so I was drawn to this historical fiction story.

It has light Christian references throughout the book.  I don't recall any scriptures, but there are mentions of prayer, God's love and God's purpose.

It's a great light read that will also educate and inspire.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.


Fill my Cup with You, by Emilie Barnes

Fill my cup with You

“Lord, I’m lonely.  Fill my cup. 

Lord, I’ve been so caught up in myself I can’t even think about anybody else. 

Fill my cup.  Lord, I’ve been

trying to do it all by myself again...

and I don’t want to do it anymore. 

Fill my cup, Lord with communion. 

Fill my cup, Lord, with you.”

Emilie Barnes

Emilie's poem is so good for moms, who's cups so often run dry.  Lord, fill me up!!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Cooking Between Carpools - Italian Beef

4lb roast
2c water
2T Italian seasoning
1t each salt, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, dried parsley and pepper
1 bay leaf
French rolls or tortillas

Cut roast in half; place in a 5qt slow cooker.
Combine the water and seasonings; pour over roast.
Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is very tender.
Discard bay leaf and shred beef with a fork. Return to slow cooker to soak up more juices.
Serve on French rolls or serve with cheddar cheese in tortillas.

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Book Review: Fearless Daughters of the Bible

Women, be ready to be inspired and challenged with J. Lee Grady’s new book, Fearless Daughters of the Bible.  The subtitle describes the book well:  “What you can learn from 22 women who challenged tradition, fought injustice and dared to lead.”

It’s packed with stories of women overcoming personal challenges and defying cultural norms to do God’s work.  There are stories of women in the Bible, ranging from common names like Ruth, Esther and Mary Magdalene, to less told stories of the daughters of Caleb, Philip the Evangelist and the Apostle Paul.  The author takes some liberty to guess the feelings and thoughts of the characters, so it definitely does not read like a traditional Bible story.   There are also stories of women from the last century who are using their gifts to lead boldly in their places around the world. 

It stands against the modern day churches assumption that women should not be leaders in the church, and paints of picture of the many ways God used women to lead communities in the Bible.  But interestingly, the book is written by a male pastor, not a woman.

It challenges women to use their God-given gifts to lead, mentor, protect, forgive, and speak for God.  Each chapter introduces a common hurdle that women must overcome in order to serve God whole-heartedly, such as fear, insecurity, healing from abuse…  He suggests practical steps to grow stronger.

It’s very well-written.  It’s very inspiring.  I think it is a great read for older teens and adult women.  It would also be a great tool for a women’s Bible study.  I would suggest reading a chapter a day, rather than trying to read straight through the text in a few long reading sessions.

Disclosure:  I received this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 05, 2012

God is Our Refuge - Reflections on Psalm 91

“He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 

[Choosing to sit under God’s teaching and listening to His wise counsel will afford us the blessings of His peace and joy from His blessed fountains.] 

He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge;

His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart [barrier wall]. 

You will not fear the terror of the night

[unknown ventures and hazy plans and the protection of your hopes and dreams]

nor the arrow that flies by day. 

[attacks and trials and temptations]

If you make the Most High your dwelling then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in your hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 

(Reflections on Psalm 91)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

poor man's pecan pie

My DH is a Physical Therapist, so he's always meeting people with cool stories and cool recipes. Last month he brought home this "poor man's pecan pie" recipe after enjoying the decadent dessert at his office. We made it for our community group, and we loved it

2/3 c sugar
2/3 c softened butter
2/3 c minute oats
2/3 c dark karo syrup
2 eggs beaten
1 t vanilla
pie crust

mix all ingredients together and bake 30-38 minutes at 350 degrees
sprinkle with pecan pieces