Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths ...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mother's Day Movie Night Giveaway!

We think that most can agree... Moms are the best - and they do a lot for us! Now it’s time to return the favor and celebrate this Mother’s Day by giving mom the movie night she deserves! Celebrate Sunday, May 12th in the best way possible by spending quality time with your family and watch one of YOUR favorite classic films! Watching a classic flick together tells the story of a different time and place, and is the perfect opportunity to catch up and share stories with your family... tell them something that they never knew about Mom! 

One person who enters the contest below will win the Mother’s Day Movie Night Blog App And We will give you one of the following Blu-ray titles to give away to your readers! (Prize will be chosen randomly from the titles below!)
- A Star is Born (1976) (Blu-ray)
- Cabaret (1972) (Blu-ray)

You can enter by leaving a separate comment to answer each of the questions below.    You'll receive one entry for each comment that you leave.  Contest closes on Monday, May 6th at noon EST.  No PO boxes, please.  Prizes will be sent via UPS or FedEx and are being supplied by Warner Bros.

  • Share your score from the Guess-the-Scene game in the widget above.
  • What's your all-time family-favorite movie of all time?
  • What are your Mother's Day plans?
  • Use the story below and fill in the blanks.  Leave a comment sharing your answers.
  • Share this post via your favorite social media and tell how you shared in the comments.
Warner Bros.  supplied the widgets and prizes for this giveaway.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Duchess by @SusanMayWarren || Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!

Susan May Warren is celebrating the release of Duchess with a Kindle Fire HD Giveaway.

One "glam" winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HD
  • Signed copies of Duchess, Baroness and Heiress
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 4th. Winner will be announced on 5/7/13 at Susan's blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVP for 5/8 Facebook Party!

Jody Hedlund is celebrating the release of A Noble Groom by giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting a Facebook Author Chat Party {5/8}! 


One "noble" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A copy of A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 7th. Winner will be announced at the "A Noble Groom" Author Chat Party on May 8th. Connect with Jody, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of A Noble Groom and join Jody on the evening of May 8th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 8th!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

15 Ideas For Keeping Kids' Birthdays Simple

A few years ago we decided that birthday parties were getting out of hand.  We wanted to simplify them somehow but still make them be a special day for the birthday kid.

We decided to keep the celebration group at a minimum - grandparents only.  Since we live away from all of my family, my parents usually visit for a weekend near each birthday, and this became the basis for our plans.

On Saturday we take a trip.  It could be something simple, like a picnic or hiking at a park.  We've also done more elaborate things, like purchased tickets to a play or gone to the zoo.  Whatever the plan, we aim for something that we think the birthday kid will really enjoy.  These trips make great surprises, but having their input is a definite plus.

Our Little Man on this year's birthday hike.

On Sunday we have the actual "party."  This consists of the birthday cake and a treat chosen by the birthday kid.  Usually this means the traditional ice cream, but My Little Man is a fruit fiend, and several times he's asked for a variety of fruit instead.  We invite both sets of grandparents to this, as well.

Our Little Man enjoying his requested hot dogs, fruit, and salad in front of the campfire.

This usually means that we're celebrating their special day on a day other than their actual birthday.  They understand that it's easier to travel over a weekend and that Daddy works during the week, but we try to make the actual birthday special, too.  Often this includes a simple playdate with friends and their choice of foods for a birthday dinner.  This is when they open the gifts from us, as well.

While this spreads out the celebration over several days, none of it is overwhelming.  I no longer have to prepare meals or snacks for 20+ people.  We don't have a crazy amount of presents to find homes or uses for, we don't have to worry about RSVPs or treat bags, and I don't have to pull any all-nighters to prep for the big day.

We started this new plan when our kids were still rather small, and so they don't remember anything different.  While it may be more complicated to transition older children to a simpler style of celebrating, it's definitely possible.

Some ideas for simple birthday celebrations:

  • museum passes
  • a zoo trip
  • hiking at a local park
  • exploring a landmark
  • attending a festival or street fair
  • visiting a farm
  • a tour pertaining to a special interest - a race track, a business, etc.
  • taking a class & learning how to do something new - make candles, cheese, soap, etc.
  • attending a ball game
  • visiting a special restaurant
  • having a game night
  • having a movie night
  • having a crafty night
  • going on a picnic
  • going to a DIY shop - make your own ceramics, baseball bats, tie-dye clothing, etc.
How do you celebrate your kids' birthdays?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Inspired Wednesday - Make-Your-Own Birthday Cake

When I was a kid my mom worked really hard on birthday cakes for my sister.  I remember one year when my sister wanted a Minnie Mouse cake, and my mom labored to get icing to be black and then created a Minnie shape.  Another year she made a carousel, complete with animal cookie animals.  Her creativity and the hard work she put into our cakes made us feel very special.

I've wanted to do that same thing for my kids, and so each year I try to create a cake for them in the shape or style of something they currently really like.  They're now old enough to remember their cakes from year to year and to begin asking for a certain thing.

This year My Big Helper had a very interesting request:  he wanted a 'wedding' cake with dinosaurs on each tier.

I wasn't sure how to do that.

He enlisted his big sister to draw this cake, and he proceeded to explain the entire thing to me - in great detail.

I was afraid I would disappoint him if I couldn't create his confectionery vision.

At the last minute, feeling somewhat desperate, I asked, "Do you want to help decorate your cake?"

His eyes lit up. 

I prepared.  I baked the cake layers he requested, purchased a few new dinosaur toys for fun, and threw both the new and some old ones into the dishwasher to ensure their super-cleanliness.  I asked him what sort of icing he wanted, and he wanted green grass and a blue river cascading from the top tier.  I covered the cake as best I could, then called him in.

The sight of the washed dinos excited him, and he eagerly began sizing up dinos and cake.  He placed his favorite dragon on top and then started placing others on the second tier.  When he couldn't fit another dino on the cake, he proudly announced, "It's done!" and ran off to play.

The entire process took about two minutes.

In years past, I've stayed up half the night attempting to create something I thought they'd like.  I've made some really neat cakes and had a few colossal failures.  I think that the kids really get a kick out of their cakes - at least, judging from their eagerness to place a request and see what we make.  It's fun to surprise them with it.

But maybe it's not so bad to let them help sometimes.  It was certainly much faster, it got cut just as quickly, and My Little Man is just as happy to remove the dino toys and go play as he was with some of the fancier cakes I've made.

I don't think any of us will forget his dino wedding cake anytime soon, and it thrilled him. 

There may be some more 'make-your-own birthday cakes' in our future.

Last week Rosanna at NextGen Homeschool linked up a post about whether you need to finish every textbook.  I agree with this author's point - not only do you not need to finish each book, you don't necessarily need to try!  To find out more, visit NextGen Homeschool - and Rosanna, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

A Nest in the Rocks
If you have a post about an encouraging activity, project, or trip that you've taken, please link up below and add a link back to this post.  Either way, please read on to find out more about a fun activity that we enjoy here in our nest, and be sure to hop over to Where He Leads, We Follow to check out Stephanie's  Inspiring Wednesday post, too. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

GratiTuesday - Joy in the Simple

My Little Man turned six yesterday, and we celebrated his birthday with family over the weekend.  He loves being outside more than anything else, so we've been praying for good weather, and God blessed us with that in abundance.

After the breakfast of his choice - pancakes and mountains of fruit - we headed to a local park that surrounds a big lake for hiking.  Of course, we had to gather lots of rocks to throw into the water, too.  The air was cool with a slightly chilly breeze, but the sun was warm, and we were able to hike for quite a while, as well as hang out on a dock and feed the fish swimming underneath it.  He loved that!

We picnicked in a pavilion, played catch on the playground, and hiked a bit more.  He even ran part of the way back with me - and my Little Man is not a fan of running.  I love to run with him, though!

When we returned home, my husband set to work on our campfire.  It was soon ready for the big birthday dinner - roasted hot dogs, more mountains of fruit, and salad, all to be followed by birthday cake.

He was wildly excited to be running around outside all day and eating all of his favorite foods.  It was so fun to watch him!

We stayed outside by the fire past the point of total darkness.  He even opened his presents out there, despite the fact that we couldn't tell what color anything was.  It was a cool evening by a warm fire, and he reveled in every bit of it.

My Little Man has been especially excited about his birthday this year, and I'm not sure what caused the extra excitement.  It has been wonderful to see him be so excited about these simple things, though - a day spent outside, time with family, fresh fruit, a warm fire - and know that he's happy.  He neither needed nor wanted expensive toys, new gadgets, or elaborate plans; he was happy to share his favorite things with us.

That made us pretty happy, too.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - April 22, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY LITTLE MAN!  He's turning six today- where does the time go?

We're preparing for a big trip and have lots of school things happening this week, so our menu plan feels a bit different to me than usual.  We're also preparing for a trip, so I'm stashing leftovers in the freezer for my husband to eat while I'm away.  

Here's the plan:


- leftover pancakes and fruit from birthday celebrations
- scrambled eggs and toast
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal


- Out to dinner for a birthday celebration, location TBD
- pizza with a gift certificate, fruit, salad
- tacos, Spanish rice, salad
- breakfast pizza, fruit
- Leftovers
- Cheesy Chicken Taquitos, salad

I'm also hoping to make these things to take on our trip:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Cinnamon Almond Granola
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (CCC)

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie!

"Duchess" by Susan May Warren

When her country needs her, will she have the courage to surrender her glittering world and her one true love?

The golden age of Hollywood is in the business of creating stars. Rosie Worth, now starlet Roxy Price, has found everything she's wanted in the glamour of the silver screen. With adoring fans and a studio-mogul husband, she's finally silenced the voices-and grief-of the past. Her future shines bright...until the fated Black Friday when it all comes crashing down. When Roxy loses everything, she finds herself disgraced and penniless. Her only hope is to join forces with Belgian duke Rolfe Van Horne, a longtime film investor. But Rolfe is not who he seems, and he has other plans for Roxy and her movies-plans to support a growing unrest in Europe, plans that could break her heart and endanger her life. Find out more about the series by clicking on these links. HeiressBaroness.

Duchess is all about Rosie Worth's search for significance - and significant it is.  Written in a sweeping epic style, traveling through history with unforgettable movie star Rosie, she puts her value in all the wrong places.  As she makes mistake after mistake, chasing all that glitters in an attempt to find value and meaning, Rosie learns that nothing of this world will ultimately give us peace.

Warren's way of crafting this story - and ultimately this series - is wonderful.  Rosie's background and current fame allow her to meet a few famous people and to rub elbows with many others.  She is perfectly positioned to play a large role in world affairs, and in that way she begins to realize that joy is found in service.

I loved Rosie's transformation in this book.  As interested as I was at the beginning to learn about Rosie's choices and how they might play out, the Hollywood starlet angle holds little appeal for me.  The lifestyle - including Rosie's choices - felt shallow and pointless, but as time passes for Rosie, her choices improve.  

The final third of the book is riveting.  Set in Europe, where the second book began, the family drama that begins to unfold alongside the world events will fascinate.  To this history buff, this was by far the best part of the series.  Matching Rosie's story so closely with history, not just with one novel but three, was brilliant - the perfect ending to a dramatic and sweeping saga.

As a hobby-ist historian, I appreciate the attention to detail and historical lessons woven throughout this book.  As a Christian, I love the story for its redemptive quality and worthwhile lessons shared.  As a woman, I can relate to the lessons learned by Jinx, Lily, and Rosie as they crave love.  As a book reviewer, I think Duchess has wide appeal.  Don't miss it.

To read more reviews in this blog hop, click here.  To order your own copy now, click here.

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at

I received a free copy of Duchess in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Heiress of Winterwood | Enter to win a “Downton Abbey Kindle Fire Prize Pack from @SarahLaddAuthor

Sarah Ladd is celebrating the release of The Heiress of Winterwood with a Downton Abbey Kindle Prize Pack Giveaway!
 One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Downton Abbey, seasons 1-3
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 30th. Winner will be announced on 5/2/13 {HERE}.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"The Heiress of Winterwood" by Sarah E. Ladd

Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend's baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word-even to the point of proposing to the child's father-a sea captain she's never met.
When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting at her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.
Amelia's detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she's forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.
Graham's strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.
Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them. 

At the beginning this book reminded me of one I read from this era when in high school:  a book in which a simpering female desperately wanted to catch a man.  I soon decided that the only thing these two books shared was the time period!  The Heiress of Winterwood is much, much better, and Amelia Barrett is no greedy, conniving husband hunter.  Willing to put her life, her own future, and her fortune at someone else's mercy to keep the child she loves nearby, she epitomizes a strong and loving character.  

Graham's no slouch, either.  With demons in his past and an uncertain future, he needn't bother with acquiring a wife, running an estate, or dealing with a crazed ex-fiance, but he takes it all on willingly to provide the best future possible for his daughter - whom he has just met.  Graham puts aside his own feelings and makes the best choices that he can for those around him.  He makes a fabulous male lead as he is a great leader.

I couldn't put this book down.  It's a great love story with a bit of adventure and suspense thrown in for good measure, all swirled around with wise faith lessons.  Relationships are key in this book - those between husband and wife, parent and child, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, mentor to mentee, even master and servant.  Ladd writes each one with wisdom and drama by turn so that each interaction provides action to the plot.  While in some books this type of 'action' makes for a dull read, in The Heiress of Winterwood it is these very relationships that provide both the action, the suspense, the drama, and the lessons learned.

This is definitely a top book of 2013 so far.

To read more reviews in this blog hop, click here, or purchase your own copy here.

Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Heiress ofWinterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.
Find out more about Sarah at

I received a free copy of The Heiress of Winterwood from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Custom Planner Review by Tatorbug Creations

A few weeks ago I received an exciting email:  the offer of a custom planner by Tatorbug Creations!  I had been eyeing them rather greedily for some time and looked forward to finding out more about it.

Tatorbug Creation's planners are custom in several ways:  first, you choose how many and what headings you want on your weekly planning pages.  Each week spans two full-sized pages, so your spaces for writing are large.  You can also choose the pattern for your cover and dividing pages, a photograph for your cover, and how to assemble it.

Yes, how to assemble it:  These planners are designed and sent to you via digital file, so it's up to you to print and put them together.  This saves on shipping but also allows you to put them together in a way that works for you.

Honestly, at first I'd heard that some people were using a binder, and I wasn't thrilled with that idea.  I don't like trying to write around the rings in the middle, although being able to add folders would've been fun.  I didn't want to take mine to a printer for spiral binding, either.  After a bit of thought, I decided to bind mine with an old-fashioned pronged folder.  Then I could turn the pages but still have pockets for storage.

I have had an ongoing love-hate relationship with my printers for years, so when I opened the email with my planner and saw many files to print (including instructions for printing on the back!) I was worried.  I hadn't considered exactly how I was going to make this printing happen, but Stephanie explained each step well in the directions, and once I began, I saw that it was not nearly as complex as I expected.

As for the planner itself, I love the font.  It's loopy and airy, easy to read, and makes each page attractive.  Stephanie has organized each page in a visually-appealing way that leaves lots of room for writing.  

Because you can choose your own headings for the weekly pages, this can be your all-in-one planner.  You can include your home organization, lesson plans, family appointments, and work all in one place.  You can structure this portion of the planner and make it work for you.  No more separate notebooks or calendars for each!

You also have many choices as to border pattern for the front and divider pages, which is just plain fun.  Many of the patterns reminded me of 31 Gifts fabrics, and who doesn't love those?

If you're in need of a planner or are tired of using multiple books to stay organized, these custom planners from Tatorbug Creations are definitely the way to go!

*I received a free custom planner from Tatorbug Creations in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Inspired Wednesday - Build a Squirrel House; er, Go With It

A few weeks ago My Big Helper was sitting on the couch with me early one morning when she realized that there was a squirrel in the tree outside.  She had him named 'Henry' in short order and started looking for him each morning.

We had some extra dried corn left over from a project, and so she put an ear in Henry's tree for him. Soon she noticed another squirrel hanging out with Henry and decided that must be his girlfriend Victoria.

Our Big Helper was happy to find that "Henry" had left a squirrel feeder in the care of her aunt for her birthday.  Immediately after relocating it to Henry's tree, the pair was joined by Annie and Cottontail, two skinny squirrels.

A few more days of squirrel watching spawned a dream of a Henry House - a full-fledged squirrel mansion complete with windows, wall paintings, and even curtains.  She began to diagram her plans, adding in measurements, estimating squirrel tail sizes, and to ask when construction could begin.

She informed me that she "could hardly hold in her excitement" when she realized that there was a free Saturday on the schedule in which her daddy might be available for building help.  When he confirmed these plans, she was beside herself!

It took two Saturdays, but Henry's Squirrel Mansion is nearly complete - and it even has a 'squirrel buffet' on the front porch.

She's now looking for squirrels each morning, tracking at what time she sees which squirrel, and estimating how long each ear of corn will last.  She laughs when she sees one and looks for squirrel books in the library.  She even has a squirrel lapbook waiting in her schoolwork queue.

This is one project I just couldn't dream up.  I never would have thought to have my little girl become a squirrel monitor, but she's loving it.  She's actively using science, math, reading, and construction skills, all in the name of feeding a supposedly-hungry mammal in the front yard. 

Other than enjoy the frequent giggles from the couch, I've had to do very little to direct this educational endeavor, but we've all reaped the benefits.

Sometimes it seems as if letting our children follow their dreams is scary.  We don't know what they'll find or how it will turn out.  We're not sure if they'll learn the lessons that are written into our "goals" or "curriculum," but sometimes they need the freedom to go and explore.  Sometimes their ideas will take them places that we couldn't have imagined, and that's okay.

Who knows what God has planned for them around the next corner?

Maybe she'll become the founder of the Henry Homes, the latest in Squirrel Development.  

Or something like that.

Last week Teaching Little Ones at Home linked up a post about creating celtic knot tutorials.  Would anyone else like to learn how to make these?  If so, or to find out more, visit Teaching Little Ones at Home - and please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

A Nest in the Rocks
If you have a post about an encouraging activity, project, or trip that you've taken, please link up below and add a link back to this post.  Either way, please read on to find out more about a fun activity that we enjoy here in our nest, and be sure to hop over to Where He Leads, We Follow to check out Stephanie's  Inspiring Wednesday post, too. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Waiting in Wonder" by Catherine Larson & a Giveaway

Waiting in Wonder : Growing in Faith While You're Expecting, Catherine Claire Larson

Waiting in Wonder releases today.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to see one of these wonderful pregnancy journals (and no, we're not expecting any more little people).  

When I was pregnant, especially with our first, I wanted to remember every miraculous step.  I wanted to record every kick and hiccup, to remember every ache and pain, to while away time snuggled up on the couch dreaming about who this little person might turn out to be.

I wondered what God had planned for her.  I couldn't begin to imagine the path He had planned for me as her mother.

At the time, I was working full-time, and that didn't leave a lot of time for creating something new.  I didn't have time to create anything other than a few rushed journal entries in a notebook I already kept, and so I have nothing from that period except some scribbles and memories.

Those who have the Waiting in Wonder pregnancy journal will have so much more.

This journal begins at about five weeks when it becomes possible to identify pregnancy.  It moves step-by-step through pregnancy, focusing both on the growth of the new life inside you by comparing its size to produce (a fun way to look at it!) and studying scripture, preparing you for the changes coming in your life ahead.

The journal is well planned.  With lots of space for writing, with wide, clear spaces and big margins, you'll have plenty of room for your thoughts.  The pages themselves are beautiful in soft colors and pretty washes.  It's a hard-backed book, durable enough to handle going through life with you for nearly a year, but it's beautiful, too - it will make a precious keepsake.  I can see this book being a way both to process your own changing emotions and as a way to connect with your baby as s/he becomes a parent.  Wouldn't a journal of your own hopes and dreams be a wonderful gift someday to your baby?

The kind people at Thomas Nelson sent me a copy of the Waiting in Wonder journal, and they've offered to send two of you your very own!  Use the rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a free copy of Waiting in Wonder from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.


GratiTuesday - Jesus-Lovin' Kids

Our homeschool group recently held "Demonstration Night," a show-and-tell type event held cafe-style where the kids could share what they've learned throughout this school year.

We had no idea what to expect from this event.  Our Big Helper was excited to participate and decided to double up - she displayed the pillow that she created during her Life with Lily book club party and to wear the dress that she sewed at the most recent one (more information coming soon).

To my surprise, there were only a few items on display - but the stage's roster was full.  

After a skit performed by the drama class, a brother and sister duo took the stage.  They began by acting out a Bible story and then sang a few songs.  Subsequent acts involved the playing of instruments and poem recitations.  The final three solo acts, however, matched the first skit in flavor:  Three siblings each took the stage in turn, singing songs in clear voices lifted high, all singing praise to God.

The very last one, a sweet girl of four years, sang a song reciting the books of the Old Testament in order.  Hearing her share something that is obviously important to her family and which has become a priority for them all was amazing.  

Realizing that the entire evening had been filled with scripture, prayer, and praise was even better.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to homeschool our children and be able to choose what each school day looks like.  Having a strong community of believers around us elevates this experience to a whole 'nother level - it is wonderful to know that our children have friends in faith who taking this journey through life, too.  Having other parents who are walking this parenting road and trying to figure out how best to avoid the many potholes and rocks in the path is invaluable.  Knowing that there are so many out there in this little town is inspiring.

As a mom at home, we often see how wrong our society has gotten and we wonder how to teach our children best so that they make wise decisions.  We see dangers in the news every day and we wonder how to keep them safe.  These dark and scary scenes make us feel alone, but we aren't.

We're not alone.  Parents all over the world are trying to make the same decisions.  They're wondering the same things that we are, and it all boils down to the same thing: we're each doing the very best we can.

Last Thursday night, that was evidenced by some Jesus-loving kids.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - April 15, 2013

We're heading into the home stretch of our school year, and right now our life reflects it. With some sickness last week and the baseball craziness picking up, we're staying pretty busy.  It's the good busyness of spring, though, and we're fitting in lots of outside time.

We're keeping things simple in the kitchen once again.  Last week we saw temperatures soar to near 90 most days, so we're moving into a summer-style plan that won't heat up the house but will be healthy and filling.

Here's our plan:

- Scrambled eggs, canteloupe, and toast
- Pancakes and fruit

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls, fruit


Betsy's Baked Mac 'n' Cheese, salad, Healthy Molten Lava Brownies

- Rotini with Easy Bolognese Sauce, salad
- Sliced ham, Mom's Baked Corn, rolls, and baked (sweet) potatoes
- Family Movie night/snack supper to celebrate the completion of Swiss Family Robinson by our Big Helper  :-)
- Leftovers
- Campfire cookout with roasted hot dogs, fresh fruit, and birthday cake
- Grilled Chicken with veggies and salad

What spring things are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Mondays, visit OrgJunkie.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Enter to win an iPad Mini and RSVP for Facebook Chat {4/25}

Beth Guckenberger is celebrating the release of her new book in the Storyweaver series, Tales of the Defended Ones, with an iPad giveaway and Facebook party {4/25}. 


 One fortunate winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A Tales of the Defended Ones small group kit (books and DVD)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 24th. Winner will be announced at the "Storyweaver" Author Chat Party on April 25th. Beth will be chatting with guests, answering questions, and offering tips about beginning a dialog with children and youth about the orphans around the world, the basic needs of children living in poverty, and what we can all do to help. (It’s okay if you haven’t read the book – who knows, you might WIN a copy!) Beth will also be hosting a fun trivia contest and giving away tons of great stuff! (Gift certificates, books, and more!)

So grab your copy of Tales of the Defended Ones and join Beth and friends on the evening of the April 25th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 25th!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

@RichardMabry’s “Stress Test” Nook HD Giveaway!

Richard Mabry is celebrating the release of Stress Test with a Nook HD Giveaway! Enter today.

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Nook HD
  • A $15 gift certificate to
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 27th. Winner will be announced on 4/29/13 at Richard's blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Event & Giveaway!

It's time for another great Chick-fil-A Leadercast Event!

What is Chick-fil-A Leadercast?

Chick-fil-A Leadercast is a one-day leadership event broadcast LIVE from Atlanta, GA to hundreds of locations around the world on May 10, 2013. Strengthen your leadership by simplifying your life. SIMPLY LEAD.

Full. Our lives are full of things that we think will grow our businesses and increase our influence. We are busy - and that may, unknowingly, be holding us back.  What if there was potential impact in simplifying our lives so our leadership could thrive? Leading in a complex world requires simplicity to cut through the clutter. Saying NO to what may seem good could help increase your capacity to live your life to the fullest. Join us at Chick-fil-A Leadercast as we learn to Simply Lead.

You'll learn from these great speakers:

•   Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric

•   Andy Stanley, Best-selling leadership author and communicator

•   Mike Krzyzewski, Head men's basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA

•   John Maxwell, Best-selling author and leadership expert

•   Dr. Henry Cloud, Best-selling author and leadership consultant

•   LCDR Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie Act of Valor

•   Sanya Richards-Ross, 2012 London Olympic gold medalist, track & field

•   David Allen, Best-selling author of Getting Things Done and productivity expert

•   Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State (2005-2009), via exclusive Simply Lead video interview

So, who's ready to hit up a LeaderCast?  Enter your zip code in the widget below to find the simulcast nearest you.

WAIT!  That's not all!

I've been given the opportunity to give away a Chick-fil-A Leadercast Prize Pack.  One lucky winner will receive:
  • 1 Copy of John C. Maxwell’s book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
  • 1 Chick-fil-A Leadercast Exclusive Content Access Card, includes:

•                         Exclusive access to segments from past & present events

•                         Leadership articles & practical resources

•                         Backstage content & interviews

•                         Digital downloads... & more!

  • 3 Chick-fil-A Digital offer cards for a free Chick-fil-A Sandwich EntrĂ©e of our choice. 
I don't know about you, but they had me at the Chick-fil-A gift cards.  ;-) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Stress Test" by Richard Mabry

Stress Test

They may not have enough evidence to convict him, but they have enough to ruin his life.

Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. But the kidnappers who attacked him as he left his last shift in the ER have no such plans—they just want him dead. Bound and in the trunk of his car, Matt’s only thought is escape. He does so, but at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU . . . where he awakens to discover he’s being charged with murder.

Sandra Murray is a fiery, redheaded lawyer who swore she was done with doctors. But when Matt calls, she knows she can’t walk away from defending someone who is truly innocent.

Matt’s career is going down the drain. His freedom and perhaps his life may be next. But with the police convinced he’s a murderer and the kidnappers still trying to finish what they started, finding the truth—and the faith to keep going—will be the toughest stress test Matt has ever endured.

What would you do when someone is systematically attacking every facet of your life - trying to destroy you before killing you?  Would your meager faith sustain you, or would you trust only what you could see?

That's the dilemma that Dr. Matt Newman faces, and it's a fascinating one.  From the very first sentence you're handcuffed to Matt, totally invested in his character and wanting to find an escape from the one trying to ruin him.  The plot is very fast-paced and full of action, with death, crime, and hope surgically implanted into every page.  This is definitely a book that I'll be passing off to my husband, for while there is a side romance and emotional moments, this is an action story on every level - of the body, mind, and soul.

Mabry used a fairly wide cast of characters to keep his story moving right along, switching from each perspective seamlessly.  I enjoyed the way that he drew his net ever closer to the heart of the matter, keeping the action high but providing enough clues to keep your mind working on overdrive.  One character's choices were more obvious than the others, I felt, and so you could see where that person was heading; but the others had dark and unpredictable journeys ahead.

I've read Mabry before, and I hope I'll read his again.  Stress Test will make you need one, but if you're a fan of action and suspense, this story will thrill you.

You can read other reviews of this story here, or purchase a copy here.

Richard Mabry

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of four critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award. He is a past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.

Find out more about Richard at

I received a free copy of Stress Test from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.