Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Before Amen by Max Lucado Book Review

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with my own copy of Before Amen by Max Lucado to facilitate my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 We have all heard the phrase, "Dance like no one is watching" but what if we changed that to "Pray like no one is listening" or better yet "Pray knowing the One is listening".  This is the freedom felt after reading Max Lucado's new book, Before Amen.  If you haven't figured it out, it is a book about prayer but it is much more than that as well.  It is a book that encourages a lifestyle of prayer.  It is more about one's heart and the need for prayer.  If you read my blog then you know that I am hoping 2015 is a year full of transformation for me personally.  In college I realized that God has gifted me with an intercessory calling but it has been far too long since I have really pressed into this or exercised that gift with intensity very much more than what Max calls PWA - Prayer Wimps Anonymous prayers.  I am praying that 2015 will bring about a change in my prayer life as I press into the Lord and free myself from having to say the perfect words during prayers and let go into the depths of my heart.

It was eye opening for me to be reminded that the first followers of Jesus asked for prayer guidance, not a million other things.  And what did Jesus give them?  He gave them a prayer.  As Max says, "a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer" found in Luke 11:1-4.


you are good.  I need help.  Heal me and forgive me.  They need help.  Thank you.  In Jesus' name, amen"

Simple, right?  And easy to remember.  Max expands on each of the portable prayer elements and shows you how this prayer can become a cherished friend.


I loved the chapter on gratitude and alphabetizing your blessings.  I feel as though I have been vulnerable to negativity lately and that can be poison to a person.  As Max states in his book, "gratitude is a dialysis of sorts, it flushes the self-pity out of our systems".   So, I am going to alphabetize my thankfulness right now.

I am thankful for...

Art, animals, and asparagus
Butterflies, belly laughs, and birthdays
Cats, cuddles, and crafts
Dish washers, dark chocolate, and David
Eyeglasses, elevators, and eggs
Fly swatters, funny jokes, and first moments
Giggles, guitars, and grapes
Hearts, health, and healing
Ice, Imaginations, and ice cream
Juggling, jars, and jewelry
Kids, kitchens, and kites
Ladybugs, lamps and letters
Mom, milk, and music
Nurses, nuts, and numbers
Oranges, onions, and origami
Parades, picnics, and personality
Quiche, quilts, and quarters
Roses, rainbows and rabbits
Sun, scissors, and sweaters
Tea, trees, and triangles
Underwear, umbrellas, and utensils
Vacations, visitors and vegetables
Water, women, and wind
X-rays, xylophones, and xtra
Yahtzee, yellow and you
Zippers, zig-zags, and zeroes

Wow, I feel better.  I want to be one with a grateful heart, one that prepares the way for the Lord.

I enjoy Max Lucado's work so much - Punchinello and Hermie and Friends are some of my kids favorites.  I love that Max is so simple with his writing and yet so profound.  This book is not just words, it is truly about life application and I really believe that it could help inspire a prayer movement!

Also, Before Amen is not intimidating: 100 pages, plus a 60 page study guide included.  It's no surprise to me that this book is Family Christian's book of the year.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Children Are All Odd

A and B at Austin Aquarium

In age that is!  The kids are now 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and today 11.  Happy, Happy Birthday to my sweet, sweet A.  I have had the joy and privilege of watching you blossom and grow these last 11 years.  I hope to have many more with you!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 My Year of Transformation

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  By sharing this information with you I will be eligible to possibly attend this conference myself.  Yep, Family Christian will be selecting one lucky blogger to have a VIP opportunity at the Heart to Home Conference.  Wish me luck!

The Robertson Women

One word resolutions, they are popping up everywhere.  Instead of making lists and ways to change behaviors, habits and the like you choose ONE WORD that you would like to focus on for the next twelve months.  I have been thinking, writing, and praying for what my word should be.  My list was various and long but after much deliberation my word for 2015 is TRANSFORMATION.  I hope that 2015 transforms me into a better wife, mother, teacher, friend, blogger, and follower of Christ.

I cannot think of a better way to help me do just that than attending the Heart to Home Christian women's conference in Monroe, LA next month.  When I heard about this conference I literally screamed!  David and I have been watching Duck Dynasty for the last two years now.  I find it funny, entertaining and uplifting all in one.  Remember, we even took a little side trip last September because I wanted to visit Duck Commander.  (I looked for Robertson family members, but none were to be found!)

 The kids and I outside of Duck Commander Sept. 2014.

 E posing inside the gift shop.

The Duck Commander Women are coming together with Dr. Joneal S. Kirby, creator of Heart to Home Ministry, to encourage, inspire and uplift others.  I love that these women are real, full of integrity, and passionate about their families and the Lord.  Do I want to be there?  Absolutely, and so should you!
“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond this cycle. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD.
This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future. So, we invite you to join us and pick one word for the next twelve months.
- See more at: http://myoneword.org/#sthash.hEtnRdrg.dpuf

 The Conference is happening Feb 6-7, 2015.

So, why the conference?  Dr. Kirby founded Heart to Home Ministry to help Christian women connect and develop meaningful relationships as well as encourage spiritual growth.  And that is what this conference is for.  Are you looking for some encouragement and inspiration?  I know I am.  An opportunity to sit back and hear from these amazing women and "be transformed by the renewing of [my] mind" by the grace of God.  I have a feeling that this conference is going to be fun, encouraging and full of depth - the best kind.

Are you thinking, "That sounds great but I cannot make it to Monroe, La."?  Well, you are in luck.  There will be a Simulcast.  Check out more about the conference and Simulcast here and don't miss the promo clip below. 

A big thanks to Family Christian for this opportunity and for your Heart to Home Conference sponsorship.  And Sadie, you were amazing on Dancing with the Stars.

When The Game Stands Tall Movie Review

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with my own copy of When The Game Stands Tall to facilitate my review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

I am a sucker for inspirational stories.  And when you tell me that it is based on a true story and it involves sports - well, you had me at inspirational already.  Growing up Hoosiers was one of those movies for me.  I loved watching the small town Indiana basketball team rise to the championships.  Maybe it is because I played a lot of sports, but really I think it was more about faith and possibilities.

David and I just finished watching When The Game Stands Tall which shares the inspiring and incredible journey of coach Bob Ladouceur and his high school football team, the De Le Salle Spartans.  Incredibly they pulled off a 151 game winning streak.  Yes, this movie talked about and showed us that amazing streak but it did much more than that too.  I loved that coach Bob was focused more on putting forth your best effort every game than the actual win itself.  Sure he wanted to win football games, what coach doesn't?  But he was striving and training these boys for so much more than football - he was helping his players truly become men.  There is success, there are obstacles, there is tragedy and through all of these life issues the players and the team are ultimately forced to examine their own values and what is truly important.

To Our Boys (C and F) - I am praying you two will grow up to be Godly men!

As a Christian it can be challenging at times to know when ministry and when family comes first.  Sometimes those lines are blurred.  One challenging aspect of the film is the tension in coach Bob's own family.  He has spent so much time investing in his players and the football program that ultimately his own family has suffered.  This can be seen in his marriage as well as his relationship with his son, one of his players.  This comes to a head when coach Bob must step away from coaching for a period of time due to health issues.  While I think that these issues were addressed well, I didn't feel like they were completely healed or wrapped up at the conclusion of the movie.  In fact, I was hoping for a reconciliation scene of sorts.  Even without that, I really enjoyed this movie and I did find it positive and inspirational.  But personally, I would like to add it in :).

To learn more about this movie and/or purchase it from Family Christian go here and you can check out the companion devotional here as well.  This companion contains 52 devotionals that are based on Scripture and each relate to an aspect of the game of football.

If you have seen this movie already let me know what you thought.  And you can check out the trailer of the movie below - you're welcome!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Checkmate by Steven James Book Review & Family Christian Giveaway

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with my own copy of Checkmate by Steven James to facilitate my review and Family Christian is sponsoring this giveaway.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 Finished reading Checkmate!

I have another book to tell you about, Checkmate by Steven James.  Checkmate is the seventh installment of James' bestselling series, The Bowers Files.  Now I have not read the previous titles, this was a stand-alone for me and it really did work.  Of course, I didn't have all the background information or previous character information but James did a great job of including the relevant information and catching everyone up to speed throughout this book.

In this book, Special Agent Pat Bowers is thrust into a crime that brings his present and past into collision.  It is definitely a thriller full of unexpected twists and turns.  I also want to add that the content can be graphic at times as this books content is high on crimes, crime scenes, killers and the agents that seek to bring them to justice.  If you love murder mysteries and thrillers this is definitely a book you should check out.

 Lego Chess Board the kids made 

I am assuming from the title that this book will be the last in this series.  Checkmate is a chess move that ultimately ends the game and one opponent is defeated.  This visualization worked really well for this novel. 

You can find out more about this book and/or purchase it from Family Christian here.

Ready for a giveaway?  Family Christian is generously providing a $10 Appreciation Certificate to one of you.  Just enter the giveaway below and good luck!

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Baby F's 1st Birthday Bouncy Ball Bash

Baby F when we opened the balls.

I cannot believe it but Baby F is officially 1 and he has been for over a week now!  Eight days ago my baby had his birthday.  We chose to have a bouncy ball party.  It was simple and so much fun - perfect for a 1 year old.

 Hanging bouncy balls was easy and had a great effect

Party Wall - The top paper reads Happy Birthday while the bottom more dominant paper is packed full of bouncy balls.

We purchased colorful balls that you would use for a ball pit only we didn't bother having the pit.  We hung some of the balls from the ceiling using string and push pins as decoration and had the balls available in buckets on the floor for children to play with.  I also found some fun wrapping paper and wrapped what is now known as our party wall for added decor. 

David made the cake as if the blue ball bounced off the cake, fun right?

Ball Cake from another view

The white cake was served to everyone and Baby F was given the blue ball as his smash cake.  It was funny to watch him because he really didn't know what to do.  And he was sad until we gave him a fork!

Baby F getting his cake.

Yay, a fork!


First cake ever...

Finished cake, pretty smashed!

If you are looking for a fun party idea for a 1 year old you might want to consider bouncy balls!  Happy, Happy Birthday F - we love you :).

What's In The Bible #13 Review & Family Christian Giveaway

Disclosure: I am proud to be a Family Christian Blogger and Affiliate.  I was provided with my own copy of What's In The Bible #13 to facilitate my review and Family Christian is sponsoring this giveaway.  All opinions expressed are my own.

What's In The Bible? Vol 13 God's Kingdom Comes!

If you read my blog you know that we are huge VeggieTales and What's In The Bible fans.  We are working our way through the series with our kids in our weekly small group and it has been exciting and fun to do the lessons with all the kids.  Right now I want to talk about the last volume in this series, Volume 13 (run time ~ 60 minutes).

Family Movie Night

In Vol 13. God's Kingdom Comes, the last books of the Bible (God's Book) are discussed - this is Hebrews, James, the last of the general Epistles and Revelation.  I love that this series is funny, creative, and full of both Biblical truth and life application. 

This series definitely builds on each other - characters, terminology, repetition, explanations so while I would recommend watching the series in order, you could skip ahead and watch this series if you are teaching or explaining the Epistles and Revelation.  Obviously if you start at the beginning you will be more familiar with the characters throughout.  You will meet Buck Denver, Chuck Waggin, Marcy, Pastor Paul, Sunday School Lady, The Bentley Brothers, and even Phil Vischer himself just to name a few.  So there are live people alongside with "muppetish" characters in this series.

 The kids reading the New Testament in the car on the way to church.

David started a great practice in our family.  On the way to church every Sunday the kids read through some of the New Testament.  B and C have matching Bibles so they can easily follow along.  A's translation is slightly different but I like having that in there too.  The kids read the passages aloud taking turns and then David discusses it with them.  I chime in every now and then.  I love listening to these conversations.  What's In The Bible is a great way of adding additional explanation of the Bible in a fun way and I appreciate having it to discuss it with our children! 

Watching WITB Vol 13 at Grandma and Grandpa's house

The kids and I have watched this episode a few times now.  Revelation can sometimes be confusing and is not always seen as straightforward.  This episode does a great job at explaining this last book and wrapping up the Bible as a whole and connecting all the pieces.  If you are looking for a great children's Bible curriculum this is a fabulous option.  It also works well to have at home to watch and discuss as a family.  We currently have 3 episodes and I plan on purchasing the rest to complete our series.  It is that good!  I am not ashamed to say that I have even learned a few things myself and I love the way Phil Vischer explains God's book to children.

Ready for a giveaway?  Family Christian is generously providing a $10 Appreciation Certificate to one of you.  Just enter the giveaway below and good luck!  Open to US/CAN residents.
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Kobert Exercise Armband Review

 Front side of the Kobert Armband

I have been running again!  I am slowly training for a 10K.  I say slowly because I need to pick up the program a bit.  I have actually been following a training program with C and it has been a lot of fun.  He gets to log some extra miles for Marathon Kids and we get to spend some quality time together.

Backside of the Kobert Armband

When I had the opportunity to review a Kobert Exercise Armband I jumped on it.  Before the armband I would have to hold my phone during my workout and it was a bit awkward at times.  I was a little fearful that I might actually drop my phone and we know that wouldn't be good.  The Kobert Exercise Armband is great because it holds your phone for you, making it much easier to complete your workout and of course takes the pressure away to not drop your phone!

 C and I about to go for a run.

Benefits of having the armband include: having your phone in case of emergency, full phone functionality through the clear plastic protector, ability to utilize music or fitness apps, protects your phone from scratches/dirt, and it is easy to maintain/hand washable.  

After a work out

This armband will fit iPhone 6, 5, 5c, 5s, 4, 4s, Samsung Galaxy s3, s4, s5 without a case.  I currently have an iPhone 4s and it fits great.  The band is comfortable and it is not a problem wearing it during my runs or using my running apps.  Both C and I can hear the instructions easily.  There is also a small extra pocket for a key.  I haven't used this since I complete my runs in my neighborhood but I think it is a great addition to have.  The strap is also adjustable and fits a large range - arm circumference 12"-15.5".  The material used is soft Neoprene and Velcro.  If you workout or run and need a place for your phone this is a great option.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.