Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Look Back: My Most Viewed Posts for Every Month of 2014

It's that time of year.

What's left of it.

It's time we all take a look back and reflect upon the previous year. Personally, I haven't had much time to do much of anything..Let alone reflect. My goals for this week have been simple. Take down the Christmas stuff. Catch up on the laundry. Scrub the kitchen. Organize our homeschool. And...plan some stuff for the blog.

And on this very last night of 2014 I can proudly say that I have put up the Christmas stuff. And I really don't think I can admit to that. It is still in boxes and tubs in the front room waiting to go to our storage unit.

It is not for lack of trying. I really need a maid. Or at least the ability to grow an extra set of hands.

I thought it appropriate to share the most popular post of each month of 2014. Some of the results surprised me. There are a few reviews, a smattering of random thoughts and an occasional odd post.

Who am I kidding? All my posts are odd.

On to the Countdown! (I really feel like someone should drop a ball or throw some confetti at me)

The most viewed post of December was from a journal post I found from several years back. Maybe I should start posting more of these. My journal from 6th grade is especially enlightening.

December ~ A Reflection: Down and Out

In November, I shared my story of infertility, loss and adoption. This was really hard for me, but it apparently struck a chord. Part 2 was the most viewed post of the month.

November ~ Born of My Heart (part 2)

October brought many reviews, including this one for iWitness Books. We just visited a Bible museum and got to see some of what we had read about in these books up close and personal!

October ~ A TOS Review: iWitness Books

These Johnny Appleseed Printables I created in September received a lot of love.

September ~ Free Johnny Appleseed Printables

More Printables! I need to make more. I really need to clean my kitchen first!

August ~ Free Grocery Store Printables for the Kiddos

In July, I got to review great products from Diana Waring Presents! So much fun!

July ~ Experience History Through Music

I talk about Josiah's dyslexia quite often on the blog. Here are some of the reading strategies we employ.

June ~ Summer Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers

Another TOS Review for a great product!

May ~ A TOS Review: Logic of English

In April, I posted a series about getting your boys in the kitchen. This particular one was popular!

April ~ 5 Days of Culinary Adventures for Boys (Kitchen Boot Camp)

Need some New Year inspiration and a plan for housework. This review might be for you (the rhyme was free!)

March ~ A TOS Review: Motivated Moms

For the month of love, I wrote about my own personal love story.

February ~ A Love Story

I have no idea why you liked this particular post for January so much. Maybe you were just looking for some random advice from a fruity gal? In any it again. You might need it for 2015!

January ~ Take My Advice (or Not!)

See you in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Letter ~ 2014

So I am sitting here posting from our Christmas headquarter's this year. Somewhere in Illinois at my Bro-in-Law's House.

Instead of stuffing my face with all of the candy and cookies that are just in arm's reach, I thought I would share a end of the year Christmas letter with you.

Such as it is.

When thinking about our comings and goings this year, I really don't have much to report.

We are simply....uninteresting folks. A little crazy. But uninteresting.

But here it goes. You have my permission to make up more colorful adventures if it makes the reading go easier.

This guy turned 13 in November. He's gotten a few zits and grown a few more inches.

This is his 3rd year on the YMCA swim team. He also has taken up cycling with his Dad. During the spring and summer they will ride together every Friday. Generally about 12-15 miles or so. Which gives me plenty of time to sit on the couch and contemplate being busy. I do it well.

We do homeschool and Josiah's favorite subject (other than lunch) is history. He also attends a PE class twice a week at a local university and we have a reading club every Thursday.

Josiah tends to be a Super Fan of his flavor of the moment. For several years, he loved Indiana Jones. He dressed up like Indiana Jones. He recreated his favorite scenes from the movie and wanted to be an archaeologist. Then he went through his Star Wars phase. This year the "flavor" is Football.

Mind you...he doesn't actually play football. He just has decided it is possibly the coolest sport on the planet. He has asked to be called Peyton Manning on more than one occasion and talks football stats like a pro. It is a bit frightening for this Non Sports Fan Mama. I just don't get it.

He is the Master Power Point Technician for Worship Service at church. He does a much better job than I do. I tend to daydream.

But I good reason to.

Isn't he the dreamiest?

The Studly Muffin and I celebrated 23 years of mawage this year!

He is still working as the Associate Pastor at our church and at Gospel Publishing House. His big hobby is Cycling. During warm weather he rides approx. 60 miles every weekend.

In September, Troy completed his 2nd Bike MS. It is 150 mile ride from Springfield to Joplin and back. I'm so proud of him. He has all of the dedication and discipline I only wish I had.

He was able to purchase a new bike this year. It's current home is in our living room. Yep. We love that bike.

Obviously, my guys love to be together. They are my loves.

And then there is me.

If you read my blog at all you probably know everything there is to know about me.

I have been busy doing the usual things. Housework, laundry, dishes.

Okay. You got me. At least I try and do those things. Sometimes a nap calls.

We didn't get to go on vacation this year, but we did have visits from family.

We also got to participate in a Fun Walk. I know that for most of you walking a Mile is not a big deal. For me, however, it was everything. There was a time that I didn't know if I would be able to walk at all. It has taken many years, but the fact is that I made it. I was last....even the tiny kids out walked me. But I got there!

You can see my cheering section below. Fun Walk's are serious business. 

And my view was pretty great. I have some pretty neat opportunities this year. I got to speak to a group of YMCA employees and our local Y used me in a promo video. I got to talk about some of my experiences. I promise I barely embarrassed myself. I did forget to put an earring in. Yep. I wore one dangly earring through the whole piece.

I can't end a Christmas Letter without talking about our Pirate Cousin Camp.

My Mom and I hosted the 4th Annual Cousin Camp. We had more fun than anybody should have.

We are already planning this next Summer's cousin camp. We have the theme and everything!

You  might have to just stay tuned. I'm not ready to give away all my secrets.

This next year we are hoping for great things. God has been so good!

Mom and I are starting a new little online cottage shop (more info soon). This is a brand new venture so please keep us in  your prayers.

Troy and I  are praying that God just uses us and continues to grow our faith. We are always amazed at His faithfulness.

Our prayer for all of you is that everyone finds a real relationship with God. That you are blessed beyond measure and that you and yours treasure each moment together.

Merry Christmas (and have a piece of fudge on me...I am considering applying duct tape to my mouth)!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Reflection: Down and Out

I was cleaning out a shelf the other day. This is not news in itself, but I was applying my usual "cleaning out" technique I have used since childhood.

As I pulled things off the shelf, I looked through every single item. I might have even read a book. It's hard to resist such treasures.

While looking through the books, I ran across a journal. I have journaled quite a bit through my life...though not as frequently over the past few years. I tend to leave my rambling for the blog.


This journal wasn't filled with my day to day lamentations. Instead it was filled with reflections. One particularly touched me. Not because I had written so eloquently, but because I remember the occasion vividly.

We were living in the Memphis, TN area at the time. I dated my entry January 19, 2000.

I think it's appropriate during this time of year to count our blessings. To be thankful for what we have and use what we have to bless others. I see so many suffering in our world. How can I possibly be discontent with my warm home, full belly and fuzzy socks?

Here is what I wrote.

I had seen the homeless before. Shabby, ragged, grizzled. Old men, old women. Grizzled young men, frazzled young women. I knew the moment I saw him that he was somewhere in between the old and the young. Shabby, ragged, grizzled....hopeless. 

He was sitting on the green iron patio furniture outside the health food market. What an odd combination. The busy professionals in their suits and ties picking up their bottled water and sushi. The enlightened college crowd with their organic yogurt and sprouted grains. 

Then there was the homeless man with his torn coat and matted hair. He spoke to me softly. All he needed was $1.20. He assured me he didn't drink and thanked me for being so polite to him. 

Was I polite? Could he sense that I was uncomfortable? His eyes. They were infected. Swollen and runny. I wondered at the past indignations he had suffered. I sat down my recycled paper bag full of grains and nuts and quickly scrapped up every spare cent from the bottom of my purse, the pockets. I dumped the assorted coins into his cupped hand and apologized for all the change. 

He continued to thank me profusely and wandered back to the green patio furniture to sit back down. He hunkered over that bit of change...carefully counting it. 

Then he was gone. 

I imagined this was a daily routine for him. Begging for his breakfast, lunch and supper. I wondered about his life. Had his life before the streets been a normal one? Had he been happy? I wondered about what could have pushed to the streets. Dependency? Insanity? Life? 

It disturbed more than I would have thought.  I lay cuddled in my safe warm bed, in front of my color television set with my faithful cat. I am anticipating breakfast from a stocked fridge. I am ashamed of my discontentment, my anxiety, of my worry. Regardless of my trials and tests I have been blessed. Though not with health, but with healing. Though not with riches, but with comfort. Mostly, I've been blessed with hope. I pray that hope for that suffering man. May he find peace.

A Book Review: Parenting Unchained!

I am excited to be a member of the “Parenting Unchained” launch team.

This is a terrific book that is not only for new parents, but seasoned folks as well.

Here is a little bit more about the book.

In Parenting Unchained – Overcoming the TenDeceptions that Shackle Christian Parents, Dr. James D. Dempsey reveals the ten most destructive lies about parenting. He writes from the heart about the way these lies infected his own parenting, and illuminates the Bible's powerful truths that counter each lie. Both Biblical and practical, each section ends with home activities to help parents take immediate steps to develop their kids' character--character that lasts when they leave home. 

The last chapters focus on the most important adjustments parents must make with teenagers to prepare them for independence. Weaving humor into strong warnings, Parenting Unchained points out the hazards that derail the parenting journey.

Here’s the honest truth. Parenting is a tough job. I also need to tell you that I spent the first 10 years of my adult life teaching other people’s children before Josiah came into our lives. I had 125 hours of Early Childhood Education under my belt as well as a decade of practical teaching experience. There were times I have looked that this child of mine and thought….”All that experience and education did not prepare me for this!” I have made my fair share of mistakes.

Parenting Unchained gets to the nitty gritty. Are you just a bit curious about some of those destructive lies Dr. Dempsey lays out in his book? I can tell you I have been guilty (or am guilty!) of more than believing one of them.

Here is an example. “You’re Capable; You Can Do This”

This is Deception #2 from Chapter Two: The Lie of Self-Reliance. How often have I relied on my own wisdom instead of God’s? The practical Home Activities at the end of the chapter were something I could really sink my teeth into. From the task of listing all of those people God has placed in your life to help you to finding a balance between “prideful self-reliance and unhealthy dependence.

This is another Deception that convicted me. God Only Cares About Rules. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Dr. Dempsey refuted this point by talking about God’s love relationship with us. Parenting in God’s Model Requires a Love Relationship.

So many times we focus on the obedience…not on the relationship.

The last few chapters really ministered to me. They all did, but Josiah turned 13 just a few weeks ago. I feel completely inadequate to parent a teen. I just don’t think I am doing it right. Where do my husband and I draw the line between sheltering him and preparing him?

Consider this deception. Life Should Be Easy. How many times have I personally fallen into that deceptive mindset…even though in my heart and circumstances I know it not to be true? This chapter (chapter 10) is entitled “Sheltered or Sent?” Dr. Dempsey encourages us to not just let our children go into the world, but to prepare them and send them. Send them a strong foundation of relationship and the unconditional love that God has shown us. And to send them out with a mental imprint of a genuine life lived before Christ. We all have a mission in this life. We are followers of Christ and we must prepare our children for this mission.

This is such a mighty call.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I know that there is something in it that will bless and challenge every Christian parent. Right now you can grab a Kindle version of the book on Amazon for only .99! Act quickly because I’m not sure how long it will be that price. However, I think it is well worth the splurge, not matter the cost.

About the Author…

Dr. James Dempsey and his wife Gail live in Austin Texas.He is a presenter and Family Ministry Consultant for National Center for Biblical Parenting. You can find out more about his ministry at

You can find Dr. Dempsey on these Social Media outlets. 
Dr. Dempsey on Facebook
Dr. Dempsey on Twitter

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's in the Bible Sale!

(aff. link below)

How's the Christmas shopping going? I'm almost done...yay! In the meantime, here is a good deal from What's in the Bible? We love these videos!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Random Thoughts (The Expired Tags Edition)

So I've been a bit of a turkey coma. And I've been stuck at home 'cause my car is illegal. At least it's illegal for me to tags are expired. More on that in a minute.

In honor of my Expired Tags I am going to provide you with a few Random Thoughts.

You've been warned.

1. So The Muffin took my car last week to get it inspected. Yes. I know that we were pushing it to the limit; That's how we roll. It was the end of November and my tags expired in November. We should of known better. But again...That's how we roll.

2. 9 times out of 10 my car will not pass inspection. The realities of driving an older car are grim. But cheap. Bertha the Buick is paid off. This time she needs an inner tie rod and some sort of back light. I called our family mechanic (who is my brother...who by the way is not really a mechanic at all, but just a whiz at fixing things). He was working double shifts and told me he couldn't get to it until this weekend. Being that it is now December....

3. You know how you have wonderful plans and then...BAM! Well. My experience hasn't been that dramatic. I was actually excited to have a week at home. I had a really good excuse for staying home. No Wheels! I was going to do laundry. Clean off my table. Wrap Christmas presents. Do crafty stuff. And make my family yummy meals. Sigh.

4. I am really one of those kinds of people who need to eat holiday meals at other people's houses and then just go home. Otherwise I eat leftovers. You know what I mean. Leftover turkey. Leftover mashed potatoes. Leftover gravy. Leftover pie. And more pie. We had 9 pies! And a birthday cake.

5. I have spent this week in a fog and with achy bones. My corner of the couch has been well-used. I need to clarify something, I suppose. We actually went to my Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving. We all cooked (when I mean "we" I mean the girls). Then we stayed put. Mom and Dad went to OHHH-Klahoma to watch Baby Sister's Middle cutie in The Nutcracker. She was performing with the Moscow Ballet. Very special stuff. Meanwhile, The Muffin, Josiah and Cousin Maddy had the run of the farm...and the leftovers.

6. I'm simple. Nothing I like better than a good book, some quiet and a piece of pie.

7. Sadly, Pie doesn't like me.

8. And then there was my Birthday Boy. 13 on Thanksgiving!!!! We celebrated with Grandma Teague's Redcake Recipe (only I made it green). I could say I made it green because I wanted it to match his "Football themed" birthday, but I made it green because I found .49 green food coloring at the Discount Grocery. Which is just about as good as The Thrift Store.

9. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures. At least not right now. We took pictures on my Mom's camera. I was digging frantically in my purse for my camera. Never found it until we got home Sunday night. I'll share ASAP. Josiah is a bit obsessed with Football. Just a bit.

10. Do you have your tree up? We don't. So sad. Our Christmas stuff is in a storage building in another town. We were going to go out tomorrow morning to get it, but The Muffin is working overtime. The plan is to go Saturday some time. After, of course, my brother takes a look at Bertha the Buick. Such drama! I've told myself I at least need to get my table cleaned off before bringing home the Christmas buckets. Instead I've been doing a little bit of this and that(while sitting on my corner of the couch).

11. So Thanksgiving evening the Girls (my Sis-in-law, my nieces, my mom and me) all sat around the table and colored. We were some coloring machines. My mom has started designing some beautiful Zentangle coloring pages. Part of her job is teaching Art to Seniors at the Nursing Home.There are some therapeutic benefits to Zentangles.

Isn't he just as cute as he could be?

This is one of my favorites. She can't keep enough copied for her sweet old folks. Anyhoo. We spent Thanksgiving night just coloring and laughing. It was a precious time.

12. As part of my devotions and quiet time, I doodle. I have been doing it a while. It helps me focus and meditate. Right now I am doodling Scripture for Advent. I think this is Day 3.

This is Day 1.

This is Day 4 (which was today). I'm still not quite done. It has been a wonderful way for me to really get the Scripture in my heart.

13. They don't take me too long....but can you imagine the laundry I could have been doing? It is hard to look around and see things undone when you have made a commitment to spend time in the Word and Prayer. But it is so important to make that time the priority.

14. We had a sad loss on Tuesday.

My sweet Great-Aunt Nadine passed away. She and Josiah adored each other. They were great friends. We actually got to see her on Sunday. Josiah got to hug her neck and even wheel her back to her room. I can't tell you what a blessing it has been to be able to share this precious lady with Josiah. Every time she saw him she said, "You know I love you, don't you?" Those who knew her loved her. She was kind and funny. Josiah has been sad. He's asked a few more questions about death. He is worried what would happen to him if something happened to his Dad and me. This morning he came in and told me, "At least, I will be able to see her in heaven."

Isn't that a wonderful thought?

Have a beautiful and blessed evening, my friends.

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