Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: God, Girls, and Getting Connected

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:




and the book:


Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to
Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin Marsh is an Emmy nominated and national award-winning journalist. She anchors the weekday morning newscast at KWTV-News9, the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City. Robin uses her influence from television as a way to share with women and girls about the love of Jesus at retreats for women, students, and churches. She was honored as a “Woman of Distinction” by Girl Scouts of the USA.

Visit the author's website.



Lauren Nelson was crowned Miss America 2007. She received the prestigious TOYA award (Ten Outstanding Young Americans) by the United States Junior Chamber Organization in 2008. Lauren serves many charities including Children's Miracle Network. She is a co-anchor at KWTV-News9, the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City. Lauren loves teaching Bible studies and leading worship with her husband.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Miss America 2007, Lauren Nelson, and award-winning TV news anchor Robin Marsh share a passion to encourage teen girls. In this relevant, engaging devotional they show the cell phone generation of girls why accepting God’s call is the best decision they’ll ever make.



Each devotion includes a question in teen lingo, God’s “text response” from Scripture, insightful reflections, and a daily spiritual app to help girls relate biblical wisdom to everyday needs as they explore:
  • how to deal with the drama of other girls
  • decisions about boys and sexual purity
  • do’s and don’ts of social media
  • the fun of living out a bold faith
  • their identity and uniqueness in Christ
A cleverly presented, timely look at God’s help for the needs young women face today. Perfect for individual faith growth and as group discussion and study material.


Product Details:
List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736945210
ISBN-13: 978-0736945219

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
This devotional was written for the teen girls of today's generation. The devotions are divided into four main sections based on the acronym G-I-R-L: God, Identity, Relationships, Life. Each devotion starts with a text message from a girl in the form of a question, followed by God's Text which is a relevant Bible verse. Each devotion ends with Today's App which consists of questions to reflect upon, suggestions, and/or take-away points for that day's lesson. This book is easy to read; each devotion is about a page long. The authors address the issues that teen girls are facing today and encourage the readers to get connected to God and His Word. Practical and Biblical! This devotional would make a great gift for teen girls in your life.

One of my favorite devotions in the book is "Easy Street?" on p.31. The text message is: "Sometimes the Christian life is so hard. Why don't my troubles just go away?" God's Text is: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) The advice given is very good and encouraging. It presents Biblical truth without sugar-coating. "When we are Christians, our hope, power, and protection come from knowing our loving God and trusting Him to walk with us through the difficulties, heartaches, and trials. In God's text today the apostle Paul is talking about the hardships all people face, especially Christians. But he doesn't stop there. He speaks of hope and resilience. He reminds us that life is hard but not impossible. God is on our side!"

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







Finding Friends

Becca: “Why is Paige hanging out with that group of girls? All they do is trash talk other girls—even the ones who are their friends.”

God’s Text: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7).

Getting Connected

Face it, girl. In today’s culture there’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect guy, have the perfect friends, and look like a celebrity at a photo shoot. It’s easy to get a skewed vision about what is good and what is not so good. So how do you respond when someone warns you about the friends you’ve surrounded yourself with? Do you cover your ears?
It’s natural to want to believe the best about people, but God’s Word reminds you to consistently be on guard in the area of relationships. If someone raises a red flag, even if it’s your mom, pray and ask the Lord to help you determine if the relationship will help you grow in your spiritual journey or pull you down. Loving someone and being nice to others is always a good thing, but the people you choose as close friends and as a boyfriend will affect your future.

Today’s App: Do you have a gut feeling that suggests you need to be cautious in a particular friendship? Do your friends make you a better person? Don’t risk being involved in bad relationships. Be satisfied and secure in the relationship you have with your heavenly Father, and ask Him to give you the strength needed to make the right choices.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DVD Review and Giveaway: Three Hearts


A passionate team of people work to save the lives of three Mongolian children with life-threatening heart defects.
Graduating college senior, Cissie Graham Lynch, granddaughter of evangelist Billy Graham, takes on an internship at Samaritan’s Purse working with the Children’s Heart Project. This project is dedicated to saving the lives of children by providing medical procedures that aren’t available in many countries. Cissie is charged with supervising the arrival and surgeries of three Mongolian children suffering from fatal congenital heart defects. 
But the task is not easy and filled with unexpected challenges. Cissie balances responsibilities as a newly married wife to a professional football player and her tasks with the internship. Meanwhile the Children’s Heart team turns to a Texas family who travels to Mongolia for the adventure of a lifetime to help bring the children to San Antonio for their surgeries.  In Texas, two host families make sacrifices to care for these children and their mothers, while a team of doctors and nurses volunteer their time only to stare directly into the face of life and death. How far would you go to save a life?
It’s a fight for survival, a fight of faith, and a fight for a new life for these three hearts.


MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
My family and I are familiar with Samaritan's Purse because we have participated in the Operation Christmas Child project for years. However, the Children's Heart Project is new to us. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to review this DVD made by Samaritan's Purse. Wow...what a wonderful documentary this is! I was so touched and I cried several times. Three children from Mongolia (Otga, Uugna, and Toggie) suffered from life-threatening heart defects. Through the Children's Heart Project, they and their moms were flown to America for their surgeries. Many lives were greatly affected. It's truly marvelous to see how God transformed people's hearts. Christ's love in action was clearly seen in doctors, nurses, staff, interpreters, host families, Garrett (the boy who raised $8000 for the Children's Heart Project) and his family.


The Children's Heart Project focuses on helping children with heart defects in countries where pediatric heart surgery is not available. They bring these children to North America for the operations they need. They work with hospitals and physicians who donate their services and expertise. They pay for the cost of round-trip airfare for the child, the child's mother or guardian, and an interpreter. They also coordinate host families and churches who provide a loving environment for the children as they go through surgery and recovery. Every step is covered in prayer. The most fantastic aspect of the project is the opportunities for the children and their families to hear the Gospel and give their hearts to Jesus Christ. Right now, there are over 200 children on the project list. Please watch the trailer below and visit http://www.threeheartsmovie.com/ to learn how you can help.


I highly recommend this heart-stirring DVD! Hope. Miracles. Compassion. Love. Community of believers. Lives saved physically and spiritually! My heart was so blessed to see these families come to know Christ. I was shocked and saddened when I found out from the Children's Heart Project Facebook page that Uugna just died last week. "We, as a CHP family, are hurting, yet we rejoice that Uugna spent the last 4 years of his life sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Even until his final moments on earth, he spoke about his desire for everyone to know Jesus. Please join us as we pray for Uugna’s family and friends. We’re praying that his story will glorify the Lord above all, and turn more hearts to Him." I'm thankful that Uugna had the opportunity to give his heart to our Lord and Savior and thus now enjoys eternal life with Jesus.


The DVD's bonus features include the trailer, deleted scenes, video clips about the Children's Heart Project, and 5-part miniseries on the Children's Heart Project in Kurdistan.

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this awesome DVD! Deadline: 3/14/2012
To enter: "Like" the Children's Heart Project page on Facebook and leave a comment here with your email address. 
For Extra Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one that 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."

Monday, February 27, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: 52 Things Wives Need from Their Husbands

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:




and the book:


Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today's Father, Jesus Freaks Radio for The Voice of the Martyrs, Project Angel Tree with Chuck Colson, and many others. He’s also a popular speaker at men's events and the author of the bestselling 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, 365 Ways to Say “I Love You” to Your Kids and, releasing late 2011, 52 Things Wives Need from a Husband. He has also served as an AWANA director, a wrestling coach, and executive director of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Jay and his wife, Rita, make their home in the Chicago area, where they’ve raised five great kids and loved on ten foster babies.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


For the husband who wants to live out God’s plan for his marriage, 52 Things Wives Need from Their Husbands provides a full year’s worth of advice that will put him on the right track without making him feel guilty or criticizing him for acting like a man. A great gift or men’s group resource.







Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736944710
ISBN-13: 978-0736944717

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
It may seem weird that I, a wife, would be reading this book written for husbands. But this book was written by a husband who claimed to know what wives need :). I had to check it out and make sure he got it right. Well, I enjoyed reading it and I do approve Mr. Payleitner's messages. He shares plenty of practical wisdom and insights and he has a great sense of humor. The author covers a variety of topics such as kissing, Valentine's Day, Proverbs 5, empty nest, financial advice, anger, anniversary gifts, small-talk, and even his recipe of Jay's Winter Chicken Soup. Without claiming to know all the answers while acknowledging the real challenges in marital relationship, the author encourages husbands to keep loving, cherishing, and studying their own wife. Husbands, I recommend you get this book; your wife would be truly grateful and your marriage would be definitely strengthened.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




Wives Need Their Husbands…
To Kiss the Girl


A husband and wife are driving down a country road. They’re a few years older than you are now. He’s behind the wheel. The pavement and cornfields are passing by. She breaks the silence with a sigh and says, “Remember when we were younger and we used to sit right next to each other in the car?” “I remember,” the husband replies after a moment. “But you know, I haven’t moved.”
It’s a story from way before seat-belt laws, but the sentiment still carries a bushel of truth. Men—the good ones like you and me—travel down the road of life with a sense of stability and direction. We’re not out drinking every night. We do our best to bring home a paycheck and be a good father. An affair is not an option. Neither is divorce. Our deepest need is for our bride to sit close to us and tell us—just once in a while—that we’re doing a good job. That we’re appreciated. That they look up to us and need us.
Our wives, on the other hand, slide back and forth. Like many women these days, they are getting mixed messages and giving mixed signals. They don’t seem to know what they want. A career or a houseful of babies? A new washer/dryer or a week in Aruba? A bigger house or just bigger closets? Do they want a husband who is sensitive and tender or a tattooed bad boy riding a Harley? While they’re daydreaming about what they want, we’re just two feet away and hoping they’ll ask us for it. We want to fill their every desire. We want to be their shining knight and perfect man. If only they’d slide next to us and tell us what they want.
How did we get here? Two feet and two miles apart.
Think back to not too long ago. Remember that girl you married? The girl who caught your eye. The girl you couldn’t keep your hands off of. The girl who taught you to love in brand-new ways. Romantic love. Committed love. Crazy love. Eternal love. Silly love. You may be thinking, Where did that girl go?
Gentlemen, she’s right there. That girl is inches away. She’s looking down the same road and going the same direction. She’s committed to sharing your life and sharing your bed. By the way, she’s asking the same question. Where did that boy go?
Men of courage, follow your impulse. Pull the car over. Look into her eyes, maybe for the first time in a long time. Tell her she means everything to you. Be the boy. Be the girl. Expect no less than to memorize each other’s hopes and dreams.
Steam up those car windows. With conversation, of course.


Takeaway
You did not marry to live separate lives.
“Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”


Song of Songs 8:6-7

Friday, February 24, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Creative Slow-Cooker Meals

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:




and the book:


Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cheryl Moeller is a seasoned mother and a standup comic. She is also a syndicated columnist with her own blog (www.momlaughs.blogspot.com) and contributes monthly to several online parent websites. Cheryl has coauthored two books on marriage with her husband and has written for www.mops.org and Marriage Partnership. Cheryl does comedy for parenting classes, MOPS groups, wedding or baby showers, church retreats, women’s conferences, and those in line at the grocery store.

Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



From the celebrated coauthor of The Marriage Miracle comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.

Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:


  • Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
  • Salmon and Gingered Carrots
  • Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
  • Indian Chicken Curry
  • Apricot-Pistachio Bread
  • Shrimp Creole
  • Rhubarb Crisp
... and many more! Perfect for the frazzled mom who never has enough time in the day, Creative Slow-Cooker Meals gives readers more time around the table with delicious, healthy, frugal, and easy meals!

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Spiral-bound: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736944915
ISBN-13: 978-0736944915

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
Even though I only have one crockpot, I still really appreciate this wonderful cookbook. There are 10 chapters which cover breakfasts, parties, multi-cultural recipes, vegetarian and vegan recipes, gluten-free recipes, dairy-free recipes, simple meals, and lots more. Over 250 delicious recipes altogether! I tried out Heavenly Hash Browns from page 31. Oh...it was a big hit! So yummy and so easy to make! I can't wait to try more recipes out. They all sound so good. If you're looking for recipes for your slow-cooker(s), check this creative cookbook out.


AND NOW...THE FIFTH CHAPTER (click on pages to enlarge):


























Monday, February 20, 2012

DVD Review and Giveaway: The Mighty Macs

(DVD releases 2/21/12)

Based on a true story, The Mighty Macs (rated G) is a movie about Cathy Rush who in 1971 became a basketball coach at Immaculata College, a small all-women's Catholic college in Philadelphia run by nuns. She was ambitious and determined to give her team the best chance at competition, even though the team/the school had little prospects. She encouraged the girls (players in her team) to be team players and to pursue their dreams. She coached them in somewhat unconventional ways but it worked. Cathy Rush led the team to win the Women's College Basketball National Championship 3 years in a row (1972, 1973, and 1974).

She had been married for about 3 years when she decided by herself (against her husband's approval) that she wanted to become a basketball coach. Her husband, Ed Rush, who was an NBA referee, wanted to start a family, instead. Obviously, this caused friction in their marriage. I understand that she had unfulfilled dreams but she should have discussed them with her husband before they got married. It seems to me that she insisted on putting her career/goals above her husband's wishes...not being a submissive wife according to the Bible (she claimed to be a Baptist in the movie). In the movie, Ed did come around to be supportive of her.

The Mighty Macs is a clean, feel-good, entertaining family movie. If you like basketball and love to cheer for underdogs, you will enjoy this movie. Team spirit. Perseverance. Dreams come true. Nuns as cheerleaders. One woman who impacted the lives of many women. Too bad...the overtones of feminism have to be there, too. Oh..and a few other negative elements include a lie and deception.

The Mighty Macs stars Carla Gugino as Cathy Rush; David Boreanaz as her husband, NBA referee Ed Rush; Marley Shelton as assistant coach Sister Sunday; and award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn as Mother St. John. The DVD's special features include deleted scenes, the making of The Mighty Macs, and The Mighty Macs ESPN segment.

By the way, the real Cathy Rush was in the movie playing a bank teller :). 
 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mighty-Macs/103765496328333
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/MightyMacsMovie




GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this DVD. Deadline: March 4, 2012 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: "Like" the movie's Facebook page
For Extra Entries (please leave a separate comment for each one you do):
- Follow The Mighty Macs on Twitter
- 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.

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy

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:




and the book:


Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Dannah Gresh is a bestselling author, a speaker, and the creator of the Secret Keeper Girl live events. Her books include Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl, 8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters, And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (coauthored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss). She and her husband have a son and two daughters and live in Pennsylvania.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Bestselling author Dannah Gresh empowers moms of with six proactive ways to raise sons age 8-12 to be honest, confident, and respectful. This encouraging, practical resource shows how the formative years can shape a godly, healthy teen and adult. Includes engaging activity ideas, and Scriptures to pray over sons.







Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736945792
ISBN-13: 978-0736945790


MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
I have 2 sons (13 and 10). I hope and pray that they will be gentlemen after God's own heart...men of honor, integrity, and purity. I'm thankful for a wonderful resource such as this book. Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy is good for helping parents instill goodness in their son's character and guide their son through challenges from his tween years to his teen years. The author talks about the importance of being a connecting mom and understanding male brain. The virtues/goodness coverd in this book include self-control, integrity, honor, responsibility, purpose, purity, family love, and respect. I think it's neat that the author's husband, Bob Gresh shares insights from a dad's perspective and adds his random thoughts. There are also sections just for single moms written by Angela Thomas. The author addresses different hot issues that affect boys such as pornography, aggressive girls, video games, etc. The book also lists some suggested websites and books for readers to check out. There's a bonus section: Seeing the Gift of ADD and ADHD written by Bob Gresh. I really appreciate practical ideas and Biblically sound advice I get from this book. One thing that I think we're more strict on than the Gresh family is the dating standards. Our family prefers courtship :). If you have a son, you will find this book quite helpful.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







Is There a Mouse in
That Cookie Box?


A box of cookies and a dead mouse.
The combination conjures up one of the proudest memories of mothering my wonderful son, Robby. (If you meet him, you can call him Rob. But I can’t. He’s still my Robby even if he’s the size of a linebacker.) He was a freshman at Grace Prep high school and was just returning from a school-assigned Random Act of Kindness when these two mismatched objects—mouse and cookies—mingled together to create an equally odd mixture of emotions.
Just hours earlier, armed with nothing more than a few boxes of cookies and several rakes, he and a few friends had set out to do some good. They’d come back a little flustered, but laughing their experience off like four cool 15-year-old boys should.
“We just got yelled at,” said Robby, wearing the words like a badge of courage.
“By whom?” I asked.
“Some crazy woman who thought there must be a mouse in the cookies we were trying to give her,” he answered defensively.
“What!” I was just a little aggravated, having been the one who had issued the assignment. How could anyone react with anger and suspicion (particularly in our small, friendly town) to a box of cookies and an offer to do yard work? Surely they must have misunderstood. “Tell me what happened. Play-by-play,” I said.
“Well, we knocked on the lady’s door to give her the cookies and ask permission to rake her leaves,” Robby answered. “When we tried to hand her the cookies she looked afraid and angrily said, ‘Is there a dead mouse in that box?’   ”
The other boys snickered. I could see that they thought it was funny, but that it also bothered them.
I was having a hard time believing it.
“We promised there wasn’t a mouse in there, but she just couldn’t believe we were there to do anything good. So one of the guys said, ‘Look, we just want to show you God’s love in a practical way.’   ”
This made me smile. It was what they’d been taught. “Transfer the credit of this good act to God,” I’d said in class.
“What’d she say when you said that?” I asked.
“She grabbed the cookies, said, ‘Rake if you want to,’ and slammed the door in our faces!” said Robby. “So, we raked.”
I could tell that the guys were still a bit shaken, and I was a bit angry that they hadn’t been met with the reward of a simple “thank you.”
A few weeks later, God brought the whole thing full circle with a letter that came in the mail. One of the members of Robby’s group got to read it out loud in chapel. I wish I still had it. It went something like this:
Dear Grace Prep:
Recently some boys from your school came here to deliver cookies to my daughter and me. They also raked our leaves. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t trust them. I am sorry. (For the record, they were really yummy cookies.)
I think God sent those boys here.
You see, my husband—my daughter’s father—died recently and it has been tough. Just that morning my daughter and I kind of put a test out there for God. We prayed, saying, “If you’re really there and you really see us, show up!”
When he did, we didn’t recognize him right away. But I have no doubt that God sent those high-school boys to remind us that he sees us.
Thank you.
You could have heard a pin drop in that room of high-school kids when the letter was read. We were all simply struck with the power of goodness.
But here’s why this wonderful memory not only floods my heart with pride, but also makes me sad: We’ve lost our faith in the goodness of boys and men. And not wholly without reason.
Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

A title of a recent Wall Street Journal article inquired, “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” A current Amazon bestseller seeks to answer the question, Is There Anything Good About Men? Since the 2004 coining of the word “adultescent,”  1 we’ve had something to call the young adult male who is so busy playing Call of Duty on his PlayStation 4 that he has no real-life call of duty. No honor. No integrity. No goodness. Just a seventh-grade mind-set and responsibility level trapped in the flabby body of an adult who often still lives at home or in a tacky bachelor pad with other adultescents. The phenomenon is what caused Kay S. Hymowitz to pen the book Manning Up, in which she writes,
Not so long ago, average mid-twentysomethings, both male and female, had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: high school diploma, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days [the males] hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.  2
High-school English teacher Joe Carmichiel has written a book entitled Permanent Adolescence: Why Boys Don’t Grow Up, because “a large number of today’s teenagers, especially boys, see no reason to accept or pursue adulthood since it is of so little value to the larger culture.”  3 So, with no motivation todo anything, many of these young men remain in a state of wimpy complacency well into their twenties, even thirties.
Along with this state of immaturity that many boys will embrace as they grow older is a culturally acceptable pressure for boys to be bad—both complacent and void of character. By the time a boy is finished with high school, he is likely to have three crucial areas of character ripped right out of him:
  1. Over 50 percent of young men will have become sexually active in a casual-sex culture where they’re likely to have an average of 9.7 sexual partners before they graduate from college.  4 (There goes his purity.)
  2. Most of them will be exposed to porn as a tween or early teen, with the median age of first exposure being about 11. This catapults many of them into a world of double-mindedness where they are one boy at home and in public—and another entirely in their private world. (There goes his integrity.)
  3. Many will have succumbed to an emasculated version of manhood that strips them of their drive to be leaders and protectors who do good. (There goes his honor.)

Our boys need to be taught to grow up.
And to be good.


While Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl    cried
out for us to band together against the culture’s pressure for our little girls to grow up too fast, this book pleads with you to join us in raising sons who are prepared to embrace the responsibility of growing up.
It’s been our goal to create a character base for our son to be a man of integrity, honor, and purity. Bob and I want him to be good. Fortunately, our life work led me into the depths of research, and I learned that we had to start building a foundation for our son to rise to the call of manhood…when he was still just our “good boy”! Raising a son to reflect your value system when he is a man is—in part—a matter of introducing those values to him in an age-appropriate manner when he is a tween. Social science offers us statistical lines of footprints showing how a boy will turn out based on what he is exposed to and when. Sadly, our boys have got a tough battle ahead. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen anything but “adultescent” or “bad” examples of manhood dominating our culture.
Why Are Boys “Bad”?

Robert Coles, a pioneer in the field of moral intelligence, brings clarity to the definition badness when he writes,
Bad boys display a “heightened destructive self-absorption, in all its melancholy stages.” In essence, we go bad when “we lose sight of our obligation to others.”  5
Badness is not simply the loss of innocence, purity, integrity, and honor, but also the loss of vision to see the needs of others and to act on them. It’s a complacent, self-absorbed lifestyle that is void of character.
I think we have a bad-boy mentality in our culture for two primary reasons.
The first reason boys become bad is that the feminist movement has told us they are bad. Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys, though seeming to embrace the feminist movement as a whole, points out a few devastating myths it introduced to convince our boys that they are “bad.” Here are two that resonate with me:
Myth Number One: “that masculinity is responsible for the world’s ills and femininity is the world’s salvation.”  6
Myth Number Two: “males destroy, females create; males stand in the way of positive spiritual/social values; males are inherently violent.”  7
While a deeper study of the feminist movement would betray an agenda to introduce these fallacies, we don’t have to get that academic to see how much we are influenced to believe these myths in our politically correct culture.
Just consider how prevalently they are portrayed in the media. Television alone reinforces them. Two and a Half Men, “the biggest hit comedy of the past decade” according to the New York Times, features a hedonist formerly played by Charlie Sheen. After eight seasons, the show was stalled when Sheen went into rehab for drug use. He was then fired for making disparaging remarks about the show’s producers. On and off screen he was self-absorbed and void of character. Other shows display the contrast of the valuable female to the valueless male. Reruns of The Simpsons portray Lisa as bright and beautiful and Bart as out of shape and selfish. Co-ed television commercials often portray the guy as a doofus and the girl as smart. It’s funny. It really is. But how much of it can we expose ourselves to before we believe it? And that takes me to my next concern.
The second reason boys are “bad” is that they have become what has been expected of them, just like any individual tends to fulfill what has been prophesied about them. Of course, they’ve had help from their parents (or lack thereof), their culture (and its emasculation), their economy (and its consumeristic “me” mentality), and their churches (who haven’t done much to stand against the feminist untruths). But today’s men as a whole have pretty much rolled over and taken it.
It’s probably a good idea for me, Bob, to step in here. I’m a guy. If anyone’s going to throw us under the bus, it should be me. It has always befuddled me that the prettiest, nicest girls are always attracted to the bad boys. From the jock who bullies everyone at school to the kid in a leather jacket who doles out drugs after school, nice girls often go after the bad boys. In the Twilight series, bad boy Edward Cullen makes good girl Bella Swan swoon. In real life, the stars live out the scenario. Kevin Federline was the top bad boy of the tabloids when he nabbed the most famous girl on the planet at the height of her career, Britney Spears. Katy Perry, former Christian music artist gone sexual tease, pledged herself to bad boy Russell Brand.
I think that the constant drip of these scenarios into our spirits makes us want to be bad boys. Let’s be real: A guy desires a beautiful girl, and while the ones in the headlines might not be all that chaste, they’re often portrayed as the good girl taken by the bad boy. And guess what? Guys want nice girls. So, we begin to believe that maybe we’re supposed to be bad.
And if we’re not, we’re boring.
Come on. The media glorifies the bad boys—from Grease’s Danny Zuko to Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow—not the plain-vanilla good guys. I didn’t watch this show, but Dannah says Gilmore Girls played to this big time when Rory fell for beautiful boy Dean until bad boy Jess came to town. The bad boy is so often the one the girl wants and celebrates.
Conversely, there aren’t a lot of movies being made about Billy Graham, the kid who called 9-1-1 and delivered his mom’s baby, or the apostle Paul. These are true heroes…but they’re good. And good is boring, according to movie producers. Since no one rises up to celebrate the good, most guys—though innately built to be conquerors—roll over and become boring.
In some twisted place in our minds, we’d much rather be bad than boring because that’s how you get the girl. But many of us are afraid of being the real bad boy. So we just get complacent. We roll over and stay in some limbo—a state of in-between. Not really bad. Not really good. Or so we think.
In reality, this complacency is the absolute root of badness.
The Tree

Complacency was at the root of the first bad move among men. (Yes—the bad move of all time.) Adam had the most complacent moment of all when he stood at the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was Eve who wore the pants in the first family during this catastrophic moment. She took the lead and reached for the fruit of the Tree. Adam just got all quiet, passive and…well, boring. The Scriptures don’t note that he was deceived, tempted, or lied to like Eve. Just that he went along with it.
Some theologians believe that there was something in the way that Eve was crafted which made her more vulnerable to deception. (Just consider how often we women are prone to think things like “I’m fat!” Haven’t seen too many guys obsessing over that thought. Or maybe you’ve been prone to believe the lie “No one really likes me.” Men don’t struggle with that as often or as easily. Women are just prone to believing lies.) However, many believe that Satan approached Eve because he was attempting to throw over the created order by getting her to take leadership over her husband. And Adam seemed to passively accept this evil situation to gratify his flesh. Sounds a bit too much like many men of today.
Complacency led to the first sin. (Perhaps, had Adam chosen to speak truth to Eve, he could have led her away from that horrible original sin.) His failure to lead changed the course of history. We believe that the same kind of complacency that showed itself at the foot of the Tree still leads men to badness.
Goodness vs. Badness

While a bad boy’s greatest desire is to live according to his desires, a good boy, according to Robert Coles, has an outward focus:
Good…boys…have learned to take seriously the very notion, the desirability of goodness—living up to the Golden Rule.  8
The Greek word for goodness (used in our take-to-heart verse, Romans 12:21) appears in the New Testament in three forms, all of which are rooted in the Hebrew word tod, which means “usefulness” or “beneficialness.” Are we bringing up boys who understand their call of duty to be useful contributors to society, to be beneficial to others?
Goodness is the quality that makes us put others ahead of ourselves. It’s the moral compass that keeps the world safe, happy, and working. It’s the drive that makes us want to function in families rather than isolation. It’s the internal road sign that takes us away from our own desires and toward the destiny of meeting the needs of others. Without it, we are “bad.” That’s probably why all of us—male and female—are called to goodness.
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21
God is good
The ultimate reason we must raise our boys to be good is that it reflects the character of God. His goodness is a bedrock truth of Scripture and is inseparable from his nature. If we are to be a picture of him, we must possess goodness. He is good not only in a general sense, but he is good to us and forus. This element of his character expresses his selflessness and desire to exist on behalf of others. When people are good, they act toward and for others, as opposed to losing sight of others as their own needs and desires consume them.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

PhotoHunt: Point


It's time for another weekly photo hunt, hosted by Sandi at The Saturday PhotoHunt. This week's theme is Point.


 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

14 Days of Love Verses

1. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love ♥, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

2. "This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another ♥
." 1 John 3:11

3. "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love ♥
... Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:7-8, 16b

4. "But I trust in Your unfailing love ♥; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me." Psalm 13:5-6
"The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love ♥." Psalm 33:5
"How priceless is Your unfailing love ♥! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 36:7
"The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love ♥." Psalm 147:11

5.
"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 God showed His love among us ♥: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love ♥: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10
6. "This is how we know what love is ♥: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16
7. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love ♥ with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18
8. "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love ♥, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love ♥, being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 2:1-2

9. "My command is this: ♥ Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command...This is My command: ♥ Love each other." John 15:12-14, 17
10. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord ♥." Romans 8:38-39

11. "Jesus replied: " '♥ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: '♥ Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."" Matthew 22:37-40
"'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31

12. "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love ♥, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ ♥, and to know this love ♥ that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17b-19
13. "♥Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. ♥Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ♥Love never fails....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 12:4-8a, 13

14.
"For God so loVed the world,
                That He gAve
                      His onLy
                      begottEn
                            SoN
                                That whosoever believeth
                                In Him
                    should Not perish,
                 but have Everlasting life.
"
                                               John 3:16 KJV

14 Days of Love Quotes

1. "Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." ~Albert Einstein

2. "♥ Love doesn't make the world go round,
    Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.♥
"  ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

3. "♥ Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." ~Peter Ustinov

4. "♥ Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle :)." ~Sam Levenson

5. "In family life, love ♥ is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony." ~Eva Burrows

6. "The essence of love ♥ is kindness." ~Robert Louis Stevenson

7. "♥ Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots.:)" ~A Hoosier farmer (p. 253, Everything Romance)

8. "♥ Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.♥" ~Saint Augustine

9. "Law makes us act from outward compulsion, but love makes us serve from inward compassion ♥." ~Unknown


10. "♥ Love is the doorway through which man passes from selfishness to service." ~Unknown


11. "Life is ripe with opportunities to learn love...The world is not a playground; it's a classroom, and the eternal lesson is learning how to love better." ~Henry Drummond


12. "True love begins when nothing is looked for in return." ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery


13. "We cannot choose whom we will love if we claim to be Christians." ~Anonymous


14. "Love sent my Lord to the cross of shame,
       Love found a way, O praise His holy name!" ~Unknown






Saturday, February 11, 2012

PhotoHunt: Heart

It's time for another weekly photo hunt, hosted by Sandi at The Saturday PhotoHunt. This week's theme is Heart. My family knows that I like anything with a heart shape :) so when they find something resembling a heart shape, they are quick to show me. They're so sweet.
My youngest son showed me a heart-shaped chip that he found.

My husband found a heart shape in a cucumber when he was slicing it.
My youngest son spotted this heart shape on a piece of bark.
I made this heart shape and painted it for my husband. I wrote "Rao Mee Rao" (in Thai) which means "We have us."
This picture was taken in 1989 when my husband and I were dating. I was holding the roses he gave me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review: Making Sense When Life Doesn't by Cecil Murphey

I was surprised to receive this book in the mail. I don't think I requested it for a review. However, the title sounded interesting to me so I started to read the book. I'm glad I did :). This book reminds me a lot of The Noticer by Andy Andrews. “After all, every one of us is always in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for a crisis. Crisis? That's just part of being on this planet.” (The Noticer, page 83)

It seems that life gets messy, sooner or later :). You may even be experiencing its messiness right now. Don't lose hope. In Making Sense When Life Doesn't: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times, Cecil Murphey offers wisdom, practical insights, and encouragement to help readers get excited about living their lives, not in spite of crises, but because of crises. We can use our trials as lessons from which we learn and grow stronger.

There are 59 chapters in the book. Each chapter is short and concise. When I was reading, I felt like I was being given a pep talk by a coach on the game of life. Each chapter ends with a sentence or two that captures the heart of that chapter (a take-away point). I'm a bit curious why the author who used to be a pastor, scarcely quotes Scriptures in his book. Maybe he doesn't want to appear too preachy? Mr. Murphey uses real-life stories (of his own and others) as examples to demonstrate his points. He repeats several times that he is a serious Christian and for the most part, he seems to have Biblical worldview on life in general. This book covers many topics such as failure, change, rejection, pain, mistakes, waiting, exercise, forgiveness, secrets, jealousy, anger, enemies, power, success, principles, and more. It's an easy read and it's motivational. I appreciate the author's transparency and his sensible advice.

"My hurting friends don't need my advice; they need my compassion. I want to remember that the next time my friend's life turns upside down." (page 77)

"If I expect certain behavior that I don't get, I can become angry. Or, I can change my expectations." (page 122)

"I need my opponents. They often speak the truths that my friends won't." (page 140)

~ I received a complimentary of this book from Summerside Press in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own.