Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Ten Highlights from 2011

2011 was a memorable year for us. We're thankful for all of God's blessings. What a mighty & awesome God we serve!

1. In Jan., we went cross country skiing at Timberline Lodge (admiring Mt. Hood) and Glacier View Snow Park. And in Feb., we went sledding at Bald Peak State Park.

2. In May, our daughter, Alyssa, got inducted into the Steps for Life Hall of Fame since she had raised over $10,000 for the Pregnancy Resource Centers.

3. From July 7th to 10th, we took an all-expense-paid trip to Colorado. I won the Celebrate Life Contest hosted by Focus on the Family the previous year. I posted about our experience here.

4. On July 23rd, Alyssa celebrated her double milestones. She turned 18 and had her high school graduation party. We're so proud of our first homeschool graduate! Eric (my husband/her Daddy) wrote a song for Alyssa, played the piano, and sang to her at the graduation ceremony. Alyssa shared about our Colorado trip and her graduation party on her blog.

5. In Aug., Alyssa left to serve with OM (Operation Mobilization) on the Logos Hope in Malaysia. You can read about the highlights from her mission trip on her blog at http://mylifewithamission.blogspot.com/2011/10/highlights-from-7-12-weeks-onboard.html and watch her slideshow at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFoYAsvXTF0.

6. In Sept., Eric and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on the 7th and we took the boys to Crater Lake for 4 days. We enjoyed fishing, boating, hiking, and playing pool.

7. In Oct., I was blessed with 2 free tickets to attend a Women of Faith event (“Over the Top”) in Portland. My mother-in-law and I had a wonderful time.

8. In Nov., I had the opportunity to attend the 3-day Answers in Genesis conference presented by Dr. Jason Lisle, Astrophysicist and Astronomer.

9. On Fridays, we host a weekly Bible study in our home for the international students who attend our local university. We also hosted a student from China, Tiffany, in our home from July 14th to 31st.

10. This is the first year we've ever hosted both Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner at our home. We also hosted a Christmas party for the international students. Great time was had by all :)!

Extra...Extra...Read all about it :)! Here is a list of Alyssa's writing (and other) accomplishments this year: 
  • Alyssa's poem “Jesus Is Risen” was accepted for publication by Homeschool Literary Quarterly.
  • Alyssa's radio script “One Race” was accepted by Creation Minute. 
  • Her article “To Speak or Not To Speak?” was accepted for publication by Encounter-The Magazine. 
  • Her article “7 Tips for Teaching Preschoolers the Bible” was also accepted for publication by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. 
  • Her article “Secret Family Vacation Spot,” won the Tell Mom-Fun or Not? Writing Contest and was published on Family Travel Files.
  • Alyssa's essay “Courageous Soldier–Faithful Father” won 3rd place in the American Veteran Essay Project.
  • Alyssa won first prize ($250) for our state in the "You Are Here" Teen Video Challenge 2011. Her video was chosen to represent the state of Oregon to promote summer reading at libraries. 
  • Alyssa's poem “God Uses Christian Teens” was accepted for publication by Encounter-The Magazine.
  • Alyssa's article “Making a Statement” was accepted for publication by Encounter-The Magazine. 
  • Alyssa's poem “Trusting Touch” won Aletheia Writing Magazine’s Fall 2011 Writer’s Challenge.
  • Alyssa's article “Polish Your Writing ‘Till It Shines” was accepted for publication by Fellowscript.
  • Alyssa won the Starsongs Character Description Contest. 
  • Alyssa was interviewed to be featured in OM’s newsletter.
Below is the slideshow that sums up our year in pictures :).
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

May you abide in Christ and be filled with joy and peace, hope and strength, faith and contentment as you walk humbly with Him in 2012! May your new year be blessed and be fruitful for His glory and His kingdom!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Top Ten Reads of 2011

Here are my top 10 reads of 2011 (besides the Bible, of course :)).

10. True Courage by Steve Farrar
9. Start Here, Go Anywhere by Richie Hughes
8. The House of Hope by Elisabeth Gifford
7. Passion to Action by Jay & Beth Loecken
6. Life of John Newton
5. Life of John Knox
4. Day by Day with the Best of Spurgeon
3. We Shall See God (Charles Spurgeon's classic devotional thoughts on Heaven)
2. Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson and Tricia Goyer
1. Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

You can click on the titles to read my reviews or to get more information about the books. What are some of  your favorite books this year?  Please share.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

25 Songs of CHRISTmas

  1. How Many Kings by Downhere
  2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Latin hymn from 12th century, English translation by John M. Neale, 1818-1866, performed by Selah)
  3. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (written by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788)/ Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Fernando Ortega
  4. O Come All Ye Faithful (Latin hymn from 18th century, English translation by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880, performed by Casting Crowns)
  5. Jesus, Light for the World by Third Day
  6. While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns
  7. When Love Was Born by Mark Schultz
  8. He Made a Way in a Manger
  9. Joy to the World/Joy, Unspeakable Joy by Chris Tomlin (original hymn written by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)
  10. What Child Is This? (written by William C. Dix, 1837-1898, performed by Fernando Ortega)
  11. O Little Town of Bethlehem (written by Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893, performed by Jeremy Camp)/ O Little Town of Bethlehem by Fernando Ortega
  12. Away in a Manger by Cedarmont Kids
  13. O Holy Night by David Phelps
  14. Angels We Have Heard on High by Third Day
  15. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (written by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, performed by Chris Tomlin)
  16. This Gift by Point of Grace
  17. Once Upon a Christmas by Selah and Dolly Parton
  18. Christmas Offering by Paul Baloche and friends
  19. Mary Did You Know by Rescue
  20. The First Noel by Phil Wickham
  21. Immanuel by Michael Card/ Emmanuel (by Michael W Smith and Amy Grant)
  22. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns (written by Henry W. Longfellow, 1807-1882)
  23. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Mercy Me
  24. Silent Night! by Casting Crowns/ Silent Night! by Celtic Thunder
  25. Go Tell It on the Mountain by Tenth Avenue North / Go Tell It on the Mountain by Brentwood Benson

    25 Quotes of CHRISTmas

    1. "The message of Christmas is that the visible material world is bound to the invisible spiritual world." ~Unknown 

    2. "The kindness of Christmas is the kindness of Christ. To know that God so loved us as to give us His Son for our dearest Brother has brought human affection to its highest tide on the day of that Brother's birth. If God so loved us, how can we help loving one another?" ~Maltbie Davenport Babcock

    3. "What makes Christmas?"
        I asked my soul, 
        And this answer came back to me:
        "It is the Glory of heaven 
        Come down in the hearts of humanity--Come in the spirit and heart of a Child,
        And it matters not what we share at Christmas;
        It isn't Christmas at all 
        Unless the Christ Child be there." ~Unknown

    4. "Christ was born in the first century, yet He belongs to all centuries.
        He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races.
        He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries
    ."
        ~George W. Truett


    5. "The real Christmas experience for anyone is the turning on of the light within, which comes from the spirit of the indwelling Christ. It is still His incoming that makes the difference between a darkened inn and a glorified stable.

    Before we go on with our Christmas preparation, let us ask ourselves whether the real Christmas has come to us; whether what we are going through is just a form, a bartering of gifts, a forced holiday, or whether we have a real experience that makes Christmas a joy and not a bore. Christ taken in and then given out, that makes it a genuine Christmas for us and for others; for "God shined in our hearts" that the light might be passed on.
    " ~Albert W. Beaven
     

    6. "Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts." ~George Matthew Adams 

    7. "Christmas, my child, is love in action...
         When you love someone, you give to them as God gives to us.
         The greatest gift He ever gave was the Person of His Son, sent to us in human form so that we might know what God the Father is really like!
         Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas." ~Dale Evans Rogers

    8."You know the story--an infant, born in a stable, worshiped by lowly shepherds and travelers from the East. Sweet story, but does it hold any meaning for your life today? Consider this. The entire Bible pivots on this single event in history. The Old Testament predicts it, and the New Testament confirms it. The Child lying in that tiny manger was no ordinary child--He was God incarnate, who came to live and die for you. The story won't be fully told until you bow your knee to Bethlehem's Babe and call Him the Lord of your life." ~Rebecca Currington 
    9.  "The universal joy of Christmas is certainly wonderful. We ring the bells when princes are born, or toll a mournful dirge when great men pass away. Nations have their red-letter days, their carnivals and festivals, but once in the year, and only once, the whole world stands still to celebrate the advent of a life. Only Jesus of Nazareth claims this worldwide, undying remembrance. You cannot cut Christmas out of the calendar, nor out of the heart of the world." ~Unknown

    10. "You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift." ~John R. Rice
    11. "Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world--stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death--and that the Blessed Life which began in Bethlehem is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas." ~Henry Van Dyke
     
     
    12.Christmas is more than a time of music, merriment and mirth; it is a season of meditation, mangers and miracles. Christmas is more than a time of carols, cards and candy; it is a season of dedication and decision.” ~William Arthur Ward

    13. "Christmas is not a day or a season, but a condition of heart and mind.
          If we love our neighbors as ourselves;

          if in our riches we are poor in spirit and in our poverty we are rich in grace;
          if our charity vaunts not itself, but suffers long and is kind; 
          if when our brother asks for a loaf we give ourselves instead;
          if each day dawns in opportunity and sets in achievement, however small;
          then every day is Christ's day and Christmas is always near." ~ James Wallingford

    14. "Selfishness makes Christmas a burden; love makes it a delight."~Anonymous

    15. "Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. 
    Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. 
    Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. 
    Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. 
    May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen!
    (A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson)

    16. "Blessed be God for His unspeakable Gift, we need Him.
           Souls desire Him as the heart panteth after the water brooks. 
           He came to the world in the fullness of time.
           He comes at this Advent season to us. Today may be for some soul here the fullness of time. 
           Let us open the gates and admit Him, that this Christ may be our Christ forever; that living with Him and dying with Him, we may also be glorified together with Him." ~David James Burrell


    17. "Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts: the gift of God to man--His Son; and the gift of man to God--when we first give ourselves to God." ~Vance Havner

    18. "CHRISTmas is a time for 'giving up' sin, bad habits, and selfish pleasures. 
           CHRISTmas is a time for 'giving in' surrender to CHRIST, acceptance of Him as King. 
           CHRISTmas is a time for 'giving out' real giving, not swapping." ~Anonymous

    19.  "The coming of Christ by way of a Bethlehem manger seems strange and stunning. But when we take Him out of the manger and invite Him into our hearts, then the meaning unfolds and the strangeness vanishes." ~Neil C. Strait

    20. "Hope y'all are having a "Mary"/Merry CHRISTmas (not a Martha type) by focusing on CHRIST, rather than a plethora of activities! Mary sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Jesus said to Martha,"You are worried and upset about many things, but only ONE thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

    3 R's for CHRISTmas:
    - REMEMBER the Reason for the season...remember why Christ was born...remember to reflect on our Emmanuel...and remember to share Christ's love with all
    - RELAX...rest in Jesus...be refreshed by sitting at His feet...and respond by worshiping Him, our Lord and Savior 
    - REJOICE in the joy of Christ's birth...rejoice at God's Greatest Gift: Jesus...rejoice at His redeeming grace...and rejoice that some day Christ will return" ~Me (Urailak Liljequist)


    21. "This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone." (~ Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985), English novelist.) ♥ Rejoice! Christ came not only to be Emmanuel--God with us but also in a more personal way, God in us. Rejoice!♥

    22. "Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live CHRISTmas every day." (~Helen Steiner)
    Want peace? Know the Prince of Peace!

    23. "Great Little One! whose all-embracing birth
            Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth."

    ~Richard Crashaw

    24.  "Love came down at Christmas,
    Love all lovely, Love Divine;
    Love was born at Christmas;
    Star and angels gave the sign
    ."
    ~Christina Rossetti

    25. "Christmas is a time to open our hearts to God and His gifts.  Just like the rest of the year."  ~Author Unknown




    25 Days of CHRISTmas Verses

    Day 1: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Timothy 1:15-17

    Day 2: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth...No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known." John 1:1, 14, 18

    Day 3: "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end." Luke 1:32, 33

    Day 4: "She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12


    Day 5: "When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, 'I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.'" John 8:12

    "For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel." Luke 2: 30-32

    "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

    Day 6:
    "In Him (Jesus Christ) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:4-5, 9-13

    Day 7:  "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." John 3:16-17

    "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 

    "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us." 1 John 3:16

    Day 8: "Jesus answered, 'I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" John 14:6

    Day 9: "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.'" Luke 2:10-11 

    "If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15: 10-11

    Day 10: "When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.' So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child." Luke 2:15-17

    Day 11: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2 

    "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a Child. While they were there, the time came for the Baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7

    Day 12: "Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.'" Matthew 8:20 

    "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:12

    Day 13: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord--and He will delight in the fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:1-3a




    Day 14: "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.'" Luke 2:13-14

    Day 15: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word...When God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, 'Let all God's angels worship Him.'" Hebrews 1:3a, 6

    Day 16: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

    Day 17: "For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

    Day 18: "They (the Samaritans) said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man (Jesus Christ) really is the Savior of the world.'" John 4:42

    Day 19: "'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God...For nothing is impossible with God.'" Luke 1: 34, 35, 36b

    Day 20: "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zechariah 9:9

    "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." Matthew 2:1-2 

    "They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings--and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers." Revelation 17:14

    Day 21: "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with Child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

    "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with Child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel'--which means, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:22-23

    Day 22: "And He will be their peace." Micah 5:5

    "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

    "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

    "For He Himself is our peace." Ephesians 2:14a

    Day 23: "And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'...Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 1:46, 2:19

    "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:20

    Day 24: "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a Child. While they were there, the time came for the Baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7

    Day 25: "After they (Magi) had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and or myrrh." Matthew 2:9-11

    Merry CHRISTmas 2011!

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    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    PhotoHunt: Joy

    It's time for another weekly photo hunt, hosted by Sandi at The Saturday PhotoHunt. This week's theme is Joy.
    "I have no greater JOY than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Giveaway at New Living Translation Facebook Page

    There's an awesome giveaway happening over at the New Living Translation Facebook page. Here are the NLT Facebook page giveaway details:
    Starting on November 29th until December 24th at the New Living Translation Facebook page, they are giving away lots of great prizes and something free for you just for signing up.
    By visiting the giveaway entry page (located on the NLT Facebook page, the link is under the profile picture) and entering your name and e-mail address you'll be entered to win the following prizes:
    • One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).
    • One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!
    Everyone that signs up gets a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    30 Days of Thankfulness 2011

    For the month of November, I posted on Facebook daily what I was thankful for. I'd like to be able to look back someday so I'm reposting all of my 30 thankful status here.
    1. I'm thankful for our woodstove, free firewood (from our kind & generous neighbor), and our boys who enjoy making fire for us (when Dad is not home) :).

    2. I'm thankful that my Dad, his wife, my half-sister (Pinpin), and half-brother (Thanakharn) are safe and sound from the flood in Thailand.

    3. I'm thankful for the library's used book sale. Some of the cool books we bought tonight include Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper, Heaven by Dwight L. Moody, Devotions and Prayers of John Wesley, A Wife After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George, and Becoming A Woman of Excellence by Cynthia Heald.

    4. I'm thankful for the opportunity that the Lord has given us to host a weekly Bible study for international students (including American students) in our home! Great bunch of people! Thanks, CaiYun, Jiekai, Wenlu, Lixin, Edwina, Yeng, and Ping-Yi for coming. We had a wonderful time of fellowship. Alana, Leslie, Ivan, Cong, Shanshan, we miss you and hope to see you next week :).

    5. I'm thankful for the surprises from God that just bless my heart so deeply. He knows what I need/want before I even ask Him and loves to surprise me :). I've seen this again and again...What an awesome God I serve!

    6. I'm thankful that God reveals Himself through His Word and His creation. He does so because He loves us. The more I learn, the less I know...but at the same time, the more I'm overwhelmed by His infinite love, grace, mercy, kindness, and creativity!

    7. I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the 3-day Answers in Genesis conference presented by Dr. Jason Lisle, Astrophysicist and Astronomer. I enjoy Christ-centered apologetics! By the way, I've always thought astronomy is very cool :).
    "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1)
    "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)

    Who can fathom God's infinite wisdom?
    "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom." (Isaiah 40:28)

    8. I'm thankful for simple joys in life...vibrant-colored leaves in autumn, dazzling sunsets, smiles, laughter, cozy cuddling, music, massages, and playing board games (we had lots of fun playing Apples to Apples tonight :)).

    9. I'm thankful that Jesus not only gives us guidance, but He is also our Guide!

    10. I'm thankful that we live in a warm home in a friendly neighborhood in a beautiful state in a free country. Truly grateful for all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect our country/our freedom!

    11. I'm thankful that my children love the Lord and desire to please and honor Him. They often fail (just like their parents :)) but the desire is there (just like their parents :)). "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." ~3 John 4

    12. I'm thankful that Jesus not only paid my debt in full, but also deposited His righteousness in my account. I'm rich indeed :). He is my Treasure!

    13. I'm thankful that my 18 yo daughter and I enjoy talking with each other about anything...everything :). So thankful that the Lord has blessed our relationship to be close and deep. Priceless!

    14. I'm thankful that our God is holy yet accessible, just yet merciful, Lord of all yet personal.

    15. I'm thankful that my family has a great sense of humor :).

    16. I'm thankful that God is my Comfort and Strength. Truly grateful for God's presence with me and within me.

    17. I'm thankful that my sons are best buddies.

    18. I'm thankful that my husband is brilliant at math and teaches our kids higher math (anything higher than 6th grade :)). Math and I are at odds :).

    19. I'm thankful for God's provision, protection, and profusion of love, grace and mercy.

    20. I'm thankful for God's Word which is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. His love letter to me...my daily bread...my life manual...my always reliable/trustworthy/accurate GPS (Guiding Principled Standards).

    21. I'm thankful that in Christ, I have hope that's eternal, joy that's complete, and peace that's out of this world, in spite of my circumstances.

    22. I'm thankful for God's blessings...big and small...obvious and behind the scene...physical and spiritual. Today we were wonderfully surprised to receive in the mail a beautiful scrapbook filled with pictures taken from our visit at Focus on the Family.

    23. I'm thankful for my family...they're thankful, helpful, and joyful :).

    24. I'm thankful for each breath that I take...each day that the Lord has made. Thankful that the Lord allowed me to be healthy to be able to cook and serve my family. The rest of my family is all under the weather.

    25. I'm thankful that my husband loves me as Christ loves the church. He is a man/husband/daddy after God's own heart. He is my hero of faith and integrity. How blessed I am!

    26. I'm thankful for God's unlimited forgiveness. Also thankful that I live with very forgiving people :).

    27. I'm thankful for leftovers. I may not have to do any major cooking until Christmas :).

    28. I'm thankful for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, my Redeemer and Deliverer, my Advocate and Mediator, my Hope of Glory, my Forever Faithful Friend, the Author and Finisher of my faith, my Life!

    29. I'm thankful that I have the most fun and rewarding job in the world: being a homeschool mom :). I enjoy learning along with my kids and spending time with them. "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2-3

    30. I'm thankful that I'm saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by works through faith in man-made religions. So thankful that I live under grace, not under law.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    FIRST Wild Card Tour: Triple Dog Dare Devotional by Jeremy V. Jones

    It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

    You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


    Today's Wild Card author is:

    Jeremy Jones

    and the book:

    David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
    ***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    Jeremy V. Jones is an award-winning journalist who has served as senior associate editor of Breakaway magazine. He has authored several books, including Toward the Goal: The Kaka Story and The Keeper: The Tim Hoard Story. He also writes for magazines such as Clubhouse and Christianity Today. He resides with his wife and two children in Colorado.



    SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

    Boys want action. They don’t want to sit around and talk—that’s for grown-ups and girls. They engage life and relationships by doing something: skateboarding, playing games or re-creating favorite movie scenes. So why should faith be any different? That’s why Jeremy V. Jones created Triple Dog Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys—to provide the action boys need in order to grow their faith.

    The Bible is full of action. Remember how David slew Goliath, Daniel faced those lions, Paul survived a shipwreck and Jesus stood up for a woman about to be killed? God made boys to take His truth and do something with it, to man up and change the world. These action-packed devotions for boys ages 9 to 12 are filled with godly truth and bold spiritual challenges that transform time with God into the adventure of the day.

    Triple Dog Dare connects God’s Word to boys’ hearts and hands with real-life scenarios and activities. Each day is filled with short Scriptures, concise biblical truth and a daily dare, all challenging them to put their faith into practice. Scripture readings from every book of the Bible open up the action-packed Word of God. Whether it’s drawing comic strips of biblical battles, dreaming up a life list of goals, making snack packs for the homeless or producing Bible-based movies, boys will go on daily dynamic experiences with God, taking faith off the page and setting it into motion. Themes cover the daily realities of pre-teen males, including bullying, peer pressure, girls, sibling rivalry, honesty and more.

    These exciting devotions will inspire boys’ hearts toward godly characteristics such as integrity, generosity and kindness. Parents will appreciate watching Christ-like traits emerge as each dare is undertaken. It is a manual that will deepen boys’ friendships with Jesus as they look forward to spending time with Him every day. So if you know a boy who is up for the challenge, triple dog dare him!

    MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
    I collect devotionals. However, it's hard to find one that interests my sons. They usually read the Bible or listen to the Bible CDs for their quiet time. I've taught my boys not to fall into the trap of dares which usually lead to bad decisions. However, I'm totally happy to make an exception for this book. The dares in this book are character-building, Bible-applying, and God-serving kinds of dares. Boys are little men; like men, they thrive on action, adventure, and challenges. Pre-teens will enjoy this faith-filled, action-packed, and virtue-laden devotional. Each weekday's devotion includes one Bible verse or passage, relevant message, triple dog dares (3 bullet points which are suggested activities), and a space to write down answers to two questions: "What did you do? What did you learn?". Each weekend's devotion includes either Make Triple Dog Tracks section (which gives fun, creative ideas such as making a movie, comic strip, or life list) or From the Triple Dog Pound section (which talks about men in the Bible who did great things for God plus ideas of how readers can do the same). Learning God's Word should be exciting and life-changing; living for God should be the greatest adventure. Triple Dog Dare Devotional will help boys move into the right direction and put their faith into action.

    Examples of dares: 
    • When you play a game or do some work you're really good at, look for a way to help someone who's not as good.
    • Trust and go. If your decision lines up with God's Word, give it all you've got for God.
    • Raise money and awareness to stop slavery through organizations like Loose Change to Loosen Chains or the International Justice Mission.



    Product Details:
    List Price: $14.99
    Reading level: Ages 9 and up
    Paperback: 432 pages
    Publisher: David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0781404576
    ISBN-13: 978-0781404570

    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER (Click on images to enlarge):
























    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Give Me Your Eyes


    My 18 year old daughter, Alyssa, put together a slideshow of her short term mission trip onboard the Logos Hope in Malaysia. The song is Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath.

    "Blessed is he who is kind to the needy." Proverbs 14:21b
    "Whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31b
    "Be kind and compassionate to one another." Ephesians 4:32a
    "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

    "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God." ~Bob Pierce

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Blog Tour and Giveaway: The House of Hope


    About The House of Hope
    One couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

    In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

    They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

    What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here: http://www.hopefosterhome.com/.

    "I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
    --Steven Curtis Chapman

    "I had the privilege of going to China and witnessing the work that God is doing through Robin and Joyce Hill. They are wonderful servants of God who lovingly care for the 'least of these.' I hope that many will read this book and consider their example."
    --Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love

    About Elisabeth Gifford: Elisabeth Gifford is a journalist who has written for the London Times and the Independent Newspapers. She lives in Kingston, England, and teaches children with dyslexia.

    My Thoughts and Review: 
    My family and I have always wanted to someday open an orphanage (perhaps in Thailand). God loves the orphans and we do, too. The House of Hope is a fascinating book. My heart was saddened to read about how so many precious children have been abandoned and uncared for. At the same time, I was encouraged to see how God used the Hills and many others to love and care for the orphans of China. Thanks to the Hills' obedience and relentless faith, many lives have been saved! Robin (previously worked as an engineer) and Joyce (previously worked as a doctor) put Christ's love in action by taking great care of the orphans, especially the ones who need urgent surgeries and the ones who are dying. I was excited each time I read that the children whom many thought would not survive...received medical help and loving attention via New Hope Foundation and became even healthy enough for adoption. God continues to work through people like the Hills to give the orphans in China hope when it seems hopeless at times. In this book, you will read about the Hills' struggles, triumphs, and heart-wrenching decisions. They are ordinary people (dealing with pain and sorrow) who are doing extraordinary things for God and for the forgotten little ones. At the end of the book, you will find a list of sponsors and friends of New Hope Foundation and how you can get involved with New Hope Foundation's work in China. I highly recommend you buy this book; 100% of the proceeds of this book go to fund the work at HOPE FOSTER HOME.

    "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God." ~Bob Pierce


    About the Giveaway!
    The publisher is sponsoring a $50 "GET / GIVE" GIVEAWAY: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate for themselves AND $50 will be given in the winner's name to Hope Foster Home.

    To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #HFH) about The House of Hope or share about it on Facebook!
    If you tweet, we'll capture your entry when you use #HFH. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=4005868524349891185). 

    Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea:
    TWEET THIS:  Couple gives all to rescue babies in China! 100% proceeds go to #HopeFosterHome http://ow.ly/7qR3e RT 4 $50 to @amazon & $50 to #HFH (must use hashtage #HFH to be entered)

    FACEBOOK THIS: The House of Hope: One couple abandons a comfortable life to rescue abandoned children. Robin and Joyce Hill have helped over 1300 Chinese orphans with severe medical problems. Purchase a copy for everyone you know - the book is a gift that gives a gift. 100% proceeds to help support the work at Hope Foster Home! Learn more here: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13438821 Share this for a chance to get a $50 Amazon.com GC and $50 in your name to Hope Foster Home! Click For Details.


    ~ I was given a free copy of this book via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. To read other reviews of this book, please visit the blog tour list here.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    FIRST Wild Card Tour: Truth Tats: The Christmas Story

    It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

    You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


    Today's Wild Card is developed by:


    and the Advent idea:

    B&H Publishing Group
    ***Special thanks to Susan Otis of Creative Resources, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

    SHORT PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:


    Truth Tats: The Christmas Story
    Celebrating the Season of Advent with Truth Tats

    Designed just for the season, Christmas Truth Tats present a new way of telling the story of Christ’s birth. Truth Tats are temporarily on your skin, permanently on your heart.

    This is a five week program leading up to Christmas day, each packet of Truth Tats includes a family devotional booklet that kicks off each memory scripture of the week. The twenty accompanying Scripture tattoos are a visual way to continually applying and memorize God’s word. Each week opens with a set of four identical Scripture tattoo designs so that each family member can have his or her own tattoo! Week two, there is a new Scripture for memorization and four new tattoo designs, again identical designs so each person is memorizing the same Scripture.

    For over 1,000 years Christians worldwide have been celebrating Advent, a time of spiritual preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus meaning “coming toward”. So it is entirely appropriate that the four weeks prior to Christmas we will be preparing our hearts for His Advent.

    Truth Tats are a unique way to celebrate the season as well as to “show and tell” God’s word to others. This is ideal for the classroom, family devotion time, and in personal Scripture memorization

    Product Details:
    List Price: $3.99
    Unbound
    Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
    Language: English
    ASIN: B005LDDJ1S

    MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
    I love celebrating Christ's birth and I love Bible memorization! Truth Tats are a fun way that helps me do both. I'm not a fan of tattoos but I'm okay with Truth Tats because these are temporary tattoos. It is really easy to apply Truth Tats on back of hand. I know the first week of Advent is not here yet but I tried Week 1 verse (John 8:12) Truth Tat on my right hand. It looks cool :) and it may give me opportunities to share with others about the true meaning of Christmas. I'm excited about that! I'm looking forward to using the devotional guide and Truth Tats with my family during this year's Advent. Christ-centered Advent is what we enjoy.



    AND NOW...WEEK ONE OF ADVENT (Click on pictures to enlarge):




    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    There's No Place Like HOMEschool

    Here are my reasons why I believe...when it comes to school, there’s no place like home:
    • At home…I have the opportunity (everyday…all day long) to teach & train my kids, and instill Biblical values in them. "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 My kids are taught about priorities in life: GOD first, family second. My kids are taught to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and to "love your neighbor as yourself."
    • At home…my kids and I can pray anytime, can read the Bible anytime, can praise and worship God anytime, can quote Bible verses anytime, and can discuss about God & His Word anytime. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on YOUR CHILDREN. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7
    • At home…my kids are taught to realize that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."
    • At home…my kids see that Jesus Christ is our ultimate Role Model!
    • At home…my kids embrace eternal perspective/Biblical perspective and a heart for the Great Commission.
    • At home…my kids are equipped and prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks them to give the reason for the hope that they have.  They are encouraged to boldly proclaim the Gospel and to faithfully serve the King of kings.
    • At home…my kids’ character is of greater importance than their academic achievement.
    • At home…I get to spend time with my kids. I treasure every moment (good and bad). They grow so fast. I love to witness their different stages. I love listening to my kids talk. I love hearing them laugh, joke around, and encourage one another.
    • At home…I get to know my kids more and more each day. I get to know and appreciate their likes, their dislikes, their interests, their talents, their learning styles, and their unique personalities.
    • At home…my kids are safe & secure and are learning in a loving, non-judgmental environment.
    • At home…my kids are free to be themselves…to be who God wants them to be. Free to question, free to explore, free to discuss, free to pursue what they’re interested in, free to sing (make a joyful noise in class), free to lie down on the floor while studying, free to jump up and down or play basketball while doing spelling tests (orally), free to have snacks while reading, free to get mom’s hugs anytime they want :) , etc.  
    • At home…we can be flexible with our time management. We don’t have to rush (go..go..go) in the morning. We can take breaks when we need or want to. We can take our vacation during the school year.
    • At home…my kids are not exposed to all the awful things that are going on in public schools and even in some Christian private schools (drugs, swearing, immodesty, violence, bullies, inappropriate talks/discussion, cheating, lying, name-calling, bad manners, disrespectfulness, defiance against authority, peer pressure, bad influences, etc.)
    • At home…my kids are not constantly exposed to sicknesses/germs.
    • At home…I get to learn right along with my kids. It’s a lot of fun!
    • At home…my kids learn to help one another out. The older ones help teach the younger ones. They have developed such a strong bond. Precious memories…precious relationship, indeed!
    • At home…my kids love & trust their teachers (Mom & Dad); their teachers love & genuinely care about them.  Hugs and kisses are not only allowed but also very welcome :) .
    " My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2-3  At home…we work towards that goal!  For us…when it comes to school, there’s no other place but HOME!

    Which Dwarf Are You :)?

    When my daughter (now 18) was about 2 years old, I babysat two kids at their house a few times a week. The mom picked my daughter and me up early each morning. One day while at their house, I read to the kids several books, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Later that day, when I was putting my daughter down for her nap, she was rubbing her eyes so I either said, "You must be sleepy." or asked her, "Are you sleepy?" She replied, "No, Mommy, I’m not ‘Sleepy’…I’m ‘Happy’" (she thought I was referring to one of the seven dwarfs). She has certainly been a happy child!

    My Favorite Things

    These are a few of my favorite things (that song from the Sound of Music is now stuck in my head):-
    1. My Bible with all the colorful highlights (I have tons of favorite verses :) )
    2. Hugs and kisses from my sweetheart and kids
    3. The pictures/photos of my kids and of my husband and me & home videos
    4. "Special treasure box" where I keep all the love notes, cards, poems, & other keepsakes that my beloved husband has given me
    5. My kids’ notes and artwork
    6. The songs that my talented husband composed just for me and the songs he composed for our kids, plus all of his CDs :)
    7. My wedding ring
    8. My CD collection (especially hymn, praise & worship, and Keith Green CDs)
    9. My book collection
    10. Thai food (especially Hoh Mok, Tod Mun, most curry dishes)
    11. Snow
    12. Dark chocolate
                                     
    What are some of your favorite things?

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    DVD Review and Giveaway: Christmas Lodge

    SYNOPSIS: 
    Thomas Kinkade presents Christmas Lodge: a place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people. During a weekend trip to the mountains, Mary (Erin Karpluk) finds herself at the now- dilapidated lodge where she spent the holidays with her family growing up. She becomes determined to restore the building to its former glory. Inspired by her grandfather and guided by her grandmother in heaven, Mary throws herself into the project, and during the process finds herself drawn to Jack (Michael Shanks), a handsome man who loves the lodge as much as she does. Historically unlucky in love, this chance encounter allows Mary to renew her faith in life and discover her one true love. For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge.

    MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
    Can you believe that Christmas is just around the corner :)? Christmas Lodge is a clean Christian family movie about fond memories leading to new love and a family reunion at the Christmas Lodge. With resolute support from her ill grandfather, Mary (the lead character) is determined to help Jack and his young daughter renovate their Christmas Lodge. It holds precious memories for Mary and her family. The plot is quite predictable; the acting is pretty good. In the movie, the characters pray (without saying "in Jesus's name" though) and speak about God and the Bible several times. However, I find it odd that they keep referring to God and Grandmother in heaven (never just God) talking to Mary and her grandfather and that the true meaning of Christmas (Christ's birth to save sinners) is never mentioned. Two female characters were dressed immodestly in tight/revealing clothes. Besides that, it's a feel-good movie that promotes family, faith, kindness, memory-making, and hiking :).
     
    You can watch the Christmas Lodge trailer at http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi1554553881/

    GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this DVD. Ends 11/19 at midnight Pacific time. One winner will be chosen via random.org. Please make sure you leave your email address with your comment(s).

    To Enter: Leave a comment sharing about your favorite Christmas tradition, song, or movie.
    For Extra Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one you do):
    - Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
    - "Like" my page "Christ Alone" on Facebook
    - Follow me on Twitter: @treasuredbyGod
    - Share the link to this giveaway post on Facebook
    - Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter


    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."