Friday, May 20, 2011

In The Shelter of God's Promises DVD-Based Bible Study: A Review





Title: In The Shelter of God's Promises DVD-Based Bible Study

Author:  Sheila Walsh

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson, Inc


Publishers Synopsis:  In a world of uncertainty, pain, and struggle, where do you find solid assurance and unshakeable truth?  In The Shelter of God's Promises DVD-Based Bible Study, gifted Bible teacher and inspiring speaker Sheila Walsh primes Scripture for what God has promised us, what God's promises mean, and how these promises provide the foundation for daily confidence, joy, and hope.  With engaging video and rich Bible study content, Sheila weaves powerful personal testimony with Scripture to help you gain a trust in God that will sustain you for a lifetime.  Features include: Ten, 20-minute sessions, Participant's Guide for digging deeper into the study, Leader's Guide for facilitating group study, Promotional resources for your Bible study or small group campaign. Follows and complements Sheila's book with the same title which should be read along with the program, but is not necessary.

My Thoughts: I received " The Shelter of God's Promises: DVD Based Bible Study " by Sheila Walsh in e-galley format from Thomas Nelson Publishing through NetGalley for review purposes.  (Note: I did not receive the DVD for review, just the participant's guide.)

This bible study package includes a participant's guide, leader's guide and other materials, making this a wonderful way to host a home bible study at a reasonable price.  Walsh discusses God’s Promises to us. God promised us: Jesus, Provision, Peace, Confidence, Love, Grace, Hope, Strength, More and Home.  Sheila Walsh presents God's Promises to you in a way that leaves you with peace.  Through a home group setting participants are able to bring their own experiences to share with other group members and together all can share in the realization that God’s promises are faithful.  I enjoyed this study.  I recommend this bible study to any church or home bible study group.


Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title for review purposes, free of charge, from  NetGalley. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. This Review is my honest opinion.
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Monday, May 16, 2011

The Well Behaved Child: A Review


Title:  The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works


Author:  John Rosemond


Publisher:  Thomas Nelson




Publisher’s Synopsis:  The biggest frustration felt by today's parents is in the area of discipline. Family psychologist, best-selling author, and parenting expert John Rosemond uses his thirty-six years of professional experience working with families to develop the quintessential "how to" book for parents. Rosemond's step-by-step program, based on biblical principles, traditional parenting approaches, and common sense, covers a wide range of discipline problems applicable to children from toddler to teen.

My Thoughts:  As a working mom of six I would love to take away some wonderful piece of parental advice to make my life easier.  This book may help first time parents who are trying to get their bearings about how to discipline.  A more “experienced” parent, like myself, may not gain anything from the old school methods explained in this book.  Rosemond is also very critical to anyone who might not agree with his methodology.

I do agree wholeheartedly that every parent must find his/her own parenting “voice”.  This is something a lot of parents struggle with.  Rosemond supports a very stern, strict, strong hand in child rearing.  But there are softer ways of teaching consequences. I believe a more nurturing approach is best.

Not my cup of tea.  I do not recommend this book.  I give this book only two stars out of five.



Disclaimer: I am a BookSneeze Book Reviewer and received my copy in return for reviewing it. This post relates my own unbiased opinions and experience with it. Yours may differ.


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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Calm My Anxious Heart

Title:  Calm My Anxious Heart


Author: Linda Dillow


Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group


Publication Date: October 1998


Publisher’s Synopsis:  Women worry a lot. We worry about our children, our friends, our careers, our families, our spouses-the list could go on and on. Yes, we want to be content and trust God with our worries, but it's a struggle to let go and free ourselves from the burden of anxiety. If you're tired of worrying about all the "what-ifs" in your life and want to experience the calm and contentment promised in Scripture, Calm My Anxious Heart is what you've been looking for. Filled with encouragement and practical help for overcoming anxiety, this book includes a twelve-week Bible study to help you discover what the Bible says about contentment and ways to apply it to your daily life. A companion journal is also available to record your thoughts as you listen to God's teaching on this subject. With Calm My Anxious Heart you can let go of your anxiety and experience the contentment that comes from trusting God.
My Thoughts:  Fantastic, Absolute MUST READ!  Get it, read it, live it. I love this book.  This review opportunity came to me just when I needed it. I have a digital copy of this book but I just may need to purchase a hard copy! I love how the author uses scripture consistently throughout the book and uses real life stories that are so easy for me to associate with.


Some of my favorite highlights from the book:

  • Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
  • Linda Dillow mentions her favorite translation of Philippians 4:13 is from the late Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest:  I am strong for all things in the One who constantly infuses strength in me.
  • The five Nevers from Ella. “Ella possessed a soul sufficiency, a peace separate from her circumstances.” 
  • Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
  • Dillow breaks apart Psalms 139 showing us how we must be content in being ourselves because He made us how we are in His expertise, God did not make a mistake when he created my personality, physical characteristics, and my gifts and abilities.  He made a perfect piece of art when He created me. How can I not be content?  God made my purpose and my talents.  She encourages us to ask God each day how we can glorify Him in our given role.

My current life role is a cancer surviving, working mom of five and step-mom to one. (I certainly have MANY more roles than those listed.)  Sometimes I get high and mighty and feel sorry for myself and how busy I am or the fact that I never can seem to get a moment to myself. I put myself down for not spending enough time with my children, not keeping my house clean enough or losing my temper.  God designed me for this exact role I am living, I need to (and will) embrace it and praise God for the opportunity to serve Him in the exact way He knew I could when He created me.  I think I “got it” Ms. Dillow, and I am only on page 47!!!  I will trust that His portion for me is best and I will indeed be content. I will live with all my might.


To Do:  Make a Gratitude Notebook, Make an Anxiety box, Complete the Twelve Week Bible Study for Calm My Anxious Heart that was supplied at the end of this wonderful book.


This was my first read by this author but definitely will not be my last!


Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.



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Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Review: HOW TO SQUEEZE A LEMON: 1,023 Kitchen Tips, Food Fixes, and Handy Techniques

TITLE:  HOW TO SQUEEZE A LEMON: 1,023 Kitchen Tips, Food Fixes, and Handy Techniques 

AUTHORS:  FINE COOKING MAGAZINE

PUBLISHER: THE TAUNTON PRESS

PUBLISH DATE: 11/09/2010

Publisher's Synopsis:  Ever wonder how to cut lemon wedges so they won't squirt you in the eye? Or what to do with those overgrown zucchinis from the garden? How to save that bread that just won't rise? In How to Squeeze a Lemon, home cooks and chefs alike will find a delightful and nearly endless source of cooking information reference. The follow-up to the IACP-award winning, How to Break an Egg, the wonderfully informative and entertaining How to Squeeze a Lemon is chock full of more than 1,000 fresh tips, kitchen-tested techniques, and smart substitutions that bedevil cooks every day, and all from the readers, contributors, and editors of Fine Cooking, one of America's favorite cooking magazines.
MY THOUGHTS:As a working mom of 6, I am all about tips and shortcuts in the kitchen.  This book is chock full of tips and tricks.  It is not necessary to read it in one sitting, it is easy to flip few a few pages as you find the time.  Many of these tips I had already discovered but several new ones I have incorporated into my cooking routine now.   My favorite tip was: use to the bottom edge of a ceramic coffee mug to sharpen your kitchen knives, I LOVE this tip, so easy and practical. I use it nearly every day.  Some other great tips are:  Protect your magazine while cooking by inserting it into a gallon-size zip-top bag, use a spoonful of flour keeps raisins from sinking, and use marbles to warn you when boiling water is too low.

This book is filled with enough tips to assure that you will find one to solve most every kitchen dilemma. The book has seven sections covering: kitchen gear, fruits/vegetables, meat/fish/poultry, techniques, the pantry, wine/beer, and what to do when things go wrong.
 


This was a useful book. It was definitely worth the read, anything to save some money, time or frustration in the kitchen. 

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this e-galley for review purposes, free of charge, from NetGalley ! No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. This Review is my honest opinion.

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Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series - Day 8

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. II Peter 1.3 (NIV)

Moms, God wants you to know that He has given you everything you need for life --- your unique life. He does not plan to give you what you might need to live the life of your best friend, or your neighbor, or even your favorite mother-model. No, God has called you to the life that He planned. I suspect that for most of us, it didn’t turn out to be the life we thought it might be… so long ago when we were young and dreaming of ‘growing up.’

On Mother’s Day I often recall my own dreams to one day be a mother. I grew up playing with dolls and looking to my own Mama as a model for that particular role in life. However, by the time I reached my thirties I was still not a mother! God did, however, have a plan. It just wasn’t what I imagined.

My own unique life would find me becoming a mother through the adoption of my first three children who were ages 9, 7 and 4; and then much later giving birth to our fourth child. Of course I was shocked when God revealed this to me, but I was ecstatic as well. It’s as though I could hear Him saying, “Well, you’re not getting any younger so I’m just going to just give you a jump start with three at one time!”

A huge blessing! A huge adjustment! A joy and a struggle. Change is often like that, isn’t it? We finally get what we want then we have to deal with it. May I just offer a bit of advice if you just got a great answer to prayer, but perhaps not in the way or form you imagined? Just receive it. Embrace it. And be willing to move forward into a new paradigm for your life. So what if you’re not like all the other mothers you know? So what if you’re not like your own mother? So what if your family unit is different? I guarantee God has a plan.

Not only did he want me to embrace my own story, but He called me as a mother to do perhaps one of the most important tasks of all --- to nurture my children to live their own unique lives. Not for me to try and squeeze them into what I hoped and dreamed they would be. Not for me to try and live my life through them. But to recognize how God made them, gifted them, and called them to their own special place.
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Happy Mother's Day

Photo Courtesy of: hddesktopwallpaper.com

Love ya Mom!

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Review: Love Finds a Home: 3 Historical Romances


Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter

Publisher: Barbour Publishing


Release Date:  July 1, 2011


Publisher's Synopsis:  Bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter brings you three historical stories of finding room for love. Glenna Moore is desperate after she watches her gambling father jump hurriedly from the back of a moving train. Will a young reverend bring stability and love back into her life? Judith King’s life as a new schoolteacher takes an unexpected turn when a widowed father begins to captivate her thoughts. Will she muster enough courage to seek his love? Bev Winters’s job is an answer to prayer until her boss complicates her widowed life. Will her pride allow love after loss?

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this book.  It is a light read. This book is comprised of three short stories of historical fiction and romance.  Each story is unique and easy to read.  I happen to be a mom of six so I really enjoy the short stories compilations, perfect for when I have a little time to escape but not a large time commitment. This was the first book by  Mrs. Brunsetter I have read.  Her “Amish” style of writing is clean and pure.  The final short story in this book was my favorite. Twice Loved.  A position in a used toy shop is an answer to prayer for Bev Winters who finds herself widowed with a young daughter after World War II.  But when her employer shows her surprising kindness and a giving heart, she is unsure how to react and rejects his “pity”.   This is a story of how a widow and widower who found love once and lost their loved ones.  Will God restore their hearts and allow them to find love again.  Read it and see.  I recommend this book.  Love Finds a Home will be released on July 1, 2011 and is available for pre-purchase now.


Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series - Day 6

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

When Mother's Day is Difficult by Holley Gerth

I have a confession (anyone surprised?). I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.

On one hand, I love celebrating all the women who have made a difference in my life (thanks, Mom!).

On the other hand, a long journey of infertility has left my heart with some tender places.

On May 8th, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations.

At one point in my life it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. In addition to infertility, I was facing several other losses. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

As a reminder, I now wear two rings. The one on the fourth finger of my left hand represents my commitment to my husband. The one on the fourth finger of my right hand is a simple silver band inscribed with the word “hope” and it represents the commitment I have made to God and myself to hold onto hope no matter what happens.

The story of an inspiring woman named Terrie also reminds me to hold onto hope. She endured the loss of four pregnancies and waited seventeen years before adopting a little girl. She told me, “I think one of the most important parts of this journey is learning to trust God. I don’t mean the flippant kind of trust. It’s easy for people to say, ‘You just need to trust God.’ It’s much harder when you’re in the middle of all this pain. But he is trustworthy. Through it all, God has given us an amazing story. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but he has been with us. I can look back and truly say every step was worth it.”

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together on May 8th. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this Mother’s Day, you’re not facing it alone. As King David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May God surround you with love, fill you with hope, and give you strength for each moment—especially this Mother’s Day.

Excerpted from When Mother’s Day is Difficult.

Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer for DaySpring, a cofounder of the popular web site (in)courage, and licensed counselor. Holley loves chocolate, coffee, Jesus and connecting with the hearts of women through words. Her next book, a devotional titled God's Heart for You: Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman (Harvest House) will release this July. You can find Holley online through her blog Heart to Heart with Holley.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series - Day 5

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother's Day Wish by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Heads up: Margaret McSweeney deserves a medal, or at least a commendation for giving everyone a much deserved Mother’s Day rest. Okay, y’all can be seated. I’m glad you agree, but you’re supposed to be taking a load off, remember? Oh, and full disclosure—Margaret didn’t know I was going to say that so I hope she leaves it in, and no, I didn’t do it just because I’m ridiculously nostalgic about the theme of her community, although I am. As the Belle of All Things Southern, one who is southern to the bone, I have a thing about pearls.

When I was a teenager, add-a-pearl necklaces were all the rage. They may not be as wildly popular anymore as they were back in the day but I still say they’ll always be a classic concept: a gift of a single pearl on a dainty chain given with the intentions of adding other pearls on important holidays and special occasions. Today, I see add-a-pearls as a beautiful reminder of the accumulated wisdom we learn from our mamas.  Oh, sure, we snicker as young girls because not all of their advice strikes us as useful and some of it seems positively fossilized, but hopefully, over time and with the Father’s blessing, we gain enough perspective to see that these mama-isms—the important values and the silly little lagniappe— are all increasing in value with the years.  By the way, that’s my Mother’s Day wish for each of you, that we’d each take the time and the responsibility to thread these precious heirlooms into treasures worthy of bequeathing to the next generation. Mother’s Day...

May I be honest? I’m looking ahead to the annual celebration with somewhat mixed emotions. I’m not feeling very Mother of the Year. Instead of cooking dinner for my most deserving mama and enjoying her company, instead of reveling in the love of my husband, kids, and grands, (known as the Baby Czars of All Things Southern), I’ll be on the road, touring with my latest book “Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy.” I’ve got Mama’s gift bought, wrapped, and ready to be delivered by my beloved hubby, and my grown kids understand that I didn’t choose the release date, but the facts remain:  I won’t be there. (Shameless plugs time, anyone? My daughter blogs at Kitchen Belleicious and is raising funds to build an orphanage in Rwanda at Shelter a Child http://www.shelterachild.com/ and my daughter-in-law celebrates the daily details of getting to know the Holy One at Providence, http://providence-carey.blogspot.com). I won’t get to enjoy Mama tickling the ivory from the piano bench of Melbourne Baptist Church and I won’t be overdosing on baby sugah. Sigh.

But, then, I mentioned mixed emotions earlier, didn’t I? Well, before some sweet soul cues the violin music, perhaps I should lighten up and come clean on what Mr. Harvey would call “the rest of the story.”  It so happens that while the 8th of May will find me miles from home, it’ll also find me in Savannah, Georgia where I’ve secured myself a little reservation at that famous establishment belonging to Mrs. Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cooking. Indeed, y’all, I’ll be suffering for Jesus at The Lady and Sons. I know. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Regardless of where you spend it, I wish you each a Happy Mother’s Day. I’d love to think that everyone reading my words had a mother like mine, a woman of faith who taught me from childhood of the Risen Savior who saves souls and anchors lives. But, dear reader, if that’s not your past, I hope you know it can be your future. I pray you’ll be the one that begins such a legacy, and that you’ll be moved to start building that heritage today.

I’d love to see y’all on the road somewhere. Watch for me, and I’ll watch for you. I’ll be the one with an empty glass of sweet tea looking, always looking, for a refill.

Hugs,
Shellie

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, known as the Belle of All Things Southern is a radio host, columnist, author, speaker and founder of the All Things Southern online community, www.allthingssouthern.com. She loves meeting, greeting, laughing and learning with the whole wide world or as many who wander her way. Shellie once dreamed of writing great important things that changed the world, only once she started writing the world grinned and christened her a humorist. Shellie saw this as a problem at first, until she discovered that the laughter softens hearts, builds relationships, and invites her into people’s hurting hearts where she can share her own, which is exactly where she wanted to be all along. Look for Shellie’s latest book, Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy wherever fine books are sold.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series - Day 4

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Adoption, a Mother's Greatest Gift by Tricia Goyer

I held the small baby in my arms, wrapped up in a receiving blanket to keep her warm from the chill of the delivery room, and a voice spoke to me. "Congratulations, Mom."

The congratulations came from an unlikely source--the grandmother of this child, the mother of the sweet birth mother who chose adoption for her baby girl.

To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Thankfulness filled my heart--to God who'd answered my prayers and to the birth mom who'd chosen our family for her daughter. I also ached that my joy would be another's heartache. Working with teen moms for ten years, I was often an advocate for the young mother. I knew that while the weeks and months ahead would be a time of celebration for our family, they would be ones of heartache and grieving for this woman.

Adoption is a wonder and the beauty, and the sacrifice of it is never so clear as on Mother's Day. My new daughter is one-years-old now and she huge is a part of my heart. Her life is a gift to my days and her smile can make even the most dreary afternoon bright. I can honestly say there is no difference in the love I feel between her and my three other children. If anything the love feels even more special because she was an unexpected gift. John and I learned about her life just 2 ½ months prior to her being born. The years of prayers to expand our family were answered quickly and beautifully.

The sacrifice of adoption makes my heart ache, for I know on this Mother's Day another woman will be thinking about my daughter—her daughter. As I rejoice, I'll be crying tears for her. I'll also be sending up prayers that God will wrap His arms around her in a special way.

This Mother's Day I cannot help to think about Christ's sacrifice to make our adoption into God's family possible. Maybe it's because just a few weeks ago we were celebrating Easter, but I'm reminded anew that my gain required His loss, His pain. The greatest love, it seems, is not shown with flowers, chocolate or a diamond bracelet. The greatest love is shown when, because of your love for another, your desires and comfort are laid down for the greater good of someone else.

As Ephesians 1:3 says, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son” (The Message).

Perhaps you know an adoptive mother. Take time this Mother's Day to let her know that the beauty of her gift is not missed by you. Also, take time to thank God for adopting you into His forever family, thanking Jesus Christ for His sacrifice. I wouldn't be the mother I am without this Gift of Love.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Beside Still Waters, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. www.triciagoyer.com
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series - Day 3

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Merry Heart ... by Megan Alexander

Sometimes family is really all you need. This was reinforced to me when my Mother shared a story a few days ago about her mother, my Grandma. You see, when my Grandma was a very young girl, around age 10, she was diagnosed with polio. This meant long hospital stays, extremely limited interaction with children her own age and lonely days staring out the window from her hospital bed. In those days, with polio, they felt keeping the children very subdued and quiet was best, and this particular hospital was as drab as can be. It was also during the time of the Depression, which meant money was tight and life was tough. Day in and day out, she was given the best medicine and treatment, but she wasn’t thriving and recovering. Daily visits from adult doctors and specialists is not exactly stimulating for a young girl. Her health was so poor, at one point, a Catholic Priest had administered the "last rites" at her bedside.

One day, her older brother and sister decided to sneak some brand new baby kittens into her hospital room. Their cat Fitzy had just had babies, and the cute kittens were small enough to put in a basket. Upon entering her room, my mother says they quietly took off the lid and showed my Grandma the sweet little kittens and let her cuddle with them. Her mother, my Great Grandmother, observed my Grandma’s mood instantly lift. Her eyes sparkled and she squealed with delight at the cute kitties! Her whole demeanor changed and she came to life.

My Great Grandma took all this in and made a decision that day. She decided that my Grandma would heal much better at home. She promptly checked my Grandma out of the hospital and brought her home with her family. My Grandma did gradually recover, among the love and warmth of her family. You know what Proverbs 17 says “ A merry heart does good like a medicine.” Also, I can imagine that she healed emotionally and physically and spiritually as well and that combined strength wouldn't have been possible in the hospital alone.

When they left that day, the hospital instructed my Great Grandmother to massage my Grandma’s legs everyday, something she promised the hospital she would do, and she did. My Grandma was one of the few people we know who did not have a limp or shortened leg due to polio. And perhaps most importantly, the entire family was always praying for my Grandma.

I’m not saying that medicine is bad or not necessary. But there is no cure quite like the warmth of your family. Its like milk, it simply does a body good. As a pregnant Mom about to give birth to a baby boy, I am inspired to provide this same love to my child. May he feel the same warm love from his family that my Grandma felt from her’s.

And in this same way, we are called sons and daughters of God. Galatians 4:1-7
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

God claims you and I as his children. This is a wonderful gift and identity that is good for our heart and soul, and something that is more powerful than all the medicine in the world.
 
Megan Alexander can be seen nightly as a television correspondent for the top rated news magazine show “Inside Edition”.  She also appears on the CNN program “Showbiz Tonight”. She especially enjoys reporting on stories with a heart. She graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Political Science. She loves speaking to youth and works with Girls Inc and National American Miss. She and her husband reside in the New York City area and attend Redeemer Church of Manhattan. For more on Megan, go to www.meganalexander.com. Megan’s mother, Mary, resides in Seattle and provided insight into this essay.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series - Day 2

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

3 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts that Celebrate Family By Beth Engelman

This Mother’s Day, celebrate family with this crafty games the whole family can enjoy.  


Block Photo Puzzle
Not only does this 6-sided photo puzzle provide hours of family fun, but it’s also a great way to reuse favorite family photos.

Materials:
•    9 - Wooden Blocks (Use old alphabet blocks)
•    6 - 8 x 10 Photograph Prints or Colored Copies
•    Ruler
•    Scissors
•    Mod Podge and Paintbrush

Directions:
1.  Arrange blocks in a square and measure the length and width of the square.
2. Measure and cut print to the exact same size as the 9-block square.
3. Place blocks in a square on top of print. Position blocks so they’re lined up neatly and as close together as possible.
4. Trace and cut the outline of each block.
5. Glue print pieces to blocks using Mod Podge. Set aside to dry and then seal with 1-2 top layers of Mod Podge.
6. Repeat process until all 6 sides of the blocks are covered with different photographs.
Thank you to the creative folks at www.photojojo.com for sharing this idea!

 “Go Fish with the Family” Card Game

This gift is perfect for Moms who like card games. Another bonus?  There’s always room to “grow” the deck.

Materials:
•    Camera
•    Double stick tape, or a glue stick
•    Several pieces of cardstock (one color)
•    Scissors

Directions:
1.    Take pictures of each family member and develop the pictures in duplicates (3x5 or 4x6 is fine, just make sure all the pictures are the same size).
2.    Turn the pictures into playing cards by gluing or taping a piece of card-stock to the backside of each picture.
3.    Game ideas include “Go Fishing with the Family” which is similar to “Go Fish” but, instead of matching numbers, the object is to collect matching pairs of photos. “Memory” is another fun game to play.  Place the cards face down in a grid and try to find matching pairs of photos.

Family Bingo
In my house, Bingo is always a big hit because regardless of age or skill level, everyone has the same chance to win.  However this version is extra special because the playing boards are populated with pictures of family members.

Materials:
•    Color Coordinated Game Boards (download here)
•    Images of Family Members (use photographs, drawings or clip art)
•    Bingo Markers (pennies, pebbles or buttons)
•    Glue and Scissors

Directions:
1.    Create the game boards:  Download and print desired number of game-boards. Remember each player gets a different game board.
2.    Color-copy and paste images of family members onto each game board.  Remember to paste one person per square and make each board slightly different.
3.    Make “call-out cards” by writing the name of each family member in yellow, green, blue, purple and pink (which coordinates with the colors on the board)
4.    To Play: Game play is similar to traditional Bingo except the caller will randomly select a call-out card and then read the color and person.  For example, “Blue, Grandma Mary” means there is a picture of Grandma Mary in a blue square.  Just like Bingo, the first person to get 5 in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) wins!

Beth Engelman is a columnist for the Sun Times News Group’s Pioneer Press. Her column “Mommy on a Shoestring,” appears in over 30 local papers around Chicago area as well as on the Sun-times website where you can also view her Mommy on a Shoestring video series. She is also a regular on “You and Me this Morning” on WCIU and is frequent contributor for WGN America’s Midday News at Noon.  Recently, Beth was chosen by a celebrity panel from NBC Universal and iVillage to become one of 15 national  “mom” correspondents for NBC’s popular website, www.ivillage.com (over 3 million visitors a day) where she reports on issues that affect moms, families and communities such as bullying, divorce and weight loss.  For more information visit Beth at www.mommyonashoestring.com
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Mother of Pearl - Mother's Day Series

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

PEARL PINS by Margaret McSweeney

At age 49, I am a mom without a mom. This deep longing for my mother continues to surprise me. During milestone moments, I imagine phone conversations with her.

“Can you believe that Melissa is graduating from high school in June? I’m so glad you will be flying to Chicago to be here with us.” 

“Wasn’t that a fun family dinner we all had last weekend to celebrate Katie’s ‘sweet sixteen?’ I am so glad you could join us.”

“Isn’t this exciting? I just got a new book contract. Will you please edit my manuscript before I send it in?”

Sadly, this will be my eighth Mother’s Day to spend without my mother. She has missed some poignant milestones in my life and in the lives of my daughters. Both Melissa and Katie were very young when she died so they don’t have a full reservoir of memories about Grandmommy Rhea. However, they do have the legacy of faith that she helped instill in them as toddlers. She loved to send Veggie Tales tapes, Children’s Bibles and devotional books. 

Melissa and Katie were blessed to have Nana, (Dave’s mother) around for much longer. Nana passed away two years ago. A few years before Nana died, she gave me a beautiful necklace with a diamond pendant made from her wedding ring along with a pair of diamond earrings. She asked me to give these special gifts to Melissa and Katie for their sixteenth birthdays. Even though Nana wasn’t around to celebrate, my daughters were so happy to receive such special keepsakes from her. Hugs from heaven.

Last week on Katie’s 16th birthday, I discovered an unexpected blessing that had been tucked away in a cardboard container of my mother’s things. A jewelry box with three pearl pins! I gave one to Melissa as a belated 16th birthday gift, and I presented one to Katie for her 16th birthday. This Mother’s Day, I will wear my mother’s pearl pin as a tangible reminder that a mother’s love (and a grandmother’s love) is an everlasting gift from God.  

Finding these gifts made me think about what I might leave for my own daughters someday. It isn’t the external value of the gift that matters, but rather the love that it represents.

Is there a special gift or letter that you would like to leave your children?

Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband, David and two teenage daughters in the Chicago suburbs.  After earning a master’s degree in international business from the University of South Carolina, Margaret moved to New York City to work at a large bank where she met David.  Margaret is the editor of Pearl Girls, author of A Mother’s Heart Knows and co-author of Go Back and Be Happy. Charity and community involvement are very important to Margaret. She has served on the board of directors for WINGS (Women in Need Growing Stronger) for over eight years. For more information, find Margaret at www.pearlgirls.info and www.kitchenchat.info
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