Thursday, February 28, 2013

Five Minute Friday: {Ordinary}

Five Minute Friday

Just a bunch of friends hanging out writing together on the same prompt.  5 minutes, no pre-thinking, no editing.  Link up at Lisa Jo's and remember to go encourage someone else.  That's it.

Today's prompt:  Ordinary


Ordinary.  I don't think I've ever quite liked ordinary.  That is what I am.  Ordinary height, ordinary build, ordinary hair, ordinary size, ordinary intelligence.

Why just ordinary?

Why not extra-ordinary?

Am I not that already.  My family needs me to be ordinary right now.  If I was being called away I don't think we could handle it.

Ordinary means stability for my kiddos.

Ordinary means less demands on me for the moment.

Jesus was ordinary for most of his life.  He didn't stand out much.  Got up, went to work, came home - every day.  When he was 12 he did something unusual that made people notice him...then nothing until he hit 30.

I think I might be okay with his kind of ordinary.  Meeting up with his dad on a daily basis, doing the work in front of him and when the time came...doing what He was called to do. He was being faithful to what He was here for.

I want to be faithful, ordinary, doing what I'm called to do, however mundane that might look just at the moment, because one day, the Father might show up and say, "Now, tell them why you're here." and perhaps I'll know what to say.

That I'm just an ordinary person with and extra-ordinary Dad.


I don't usually write at midnite but hey, I was up anyway and guess what...thanks to my sweet friend I have an early-bird Allume ticket!  Yes, I am going again!

Book Review: A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

Who is friend and who is foe?  Young Errol Stone, the orphan drunk, doesn't know whom to trust.  His life is marked by saying good-bye and he would rather not remember the past.  Destiny has other plans for Errol and he finds himself on a journey out of the ale barrel and into the hands of a much greater power that unexpectedly resides in him.

The separation of church and state has not happened in Erinon.  In fact the church wields extensive power and there is much subversion, intrigue and conspiracy happening in the kingdom.  The kingdom is in need of a few good men and much to everyone's surprise Errol is one of them.

Action, adventure, and mystery are encompassed in the pages of A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr.  As you read this fantastical tale you will find yourself pulled into the pages of a kingdom in peril.  The churchmen have plenty of power and know how to use it.  The palace needs a successor and the church has the answer for them but they need all the members of the conclave and they are being killed off or disappearing in a disturbing manner.

Carr weaves a fast-paced story line that keeps you turning the pages.  He doesn't give away any more than he has to and when you finish the last page there is still much waiting to be known.  I am anxiously awaiting the next in the series.  Pick your copy of A Cast of Stones up at your favourite bookstore!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Inspiration from the Past - George and Gladys, 2 of my Heroes!

Who inspires you? What stories do you gravitate towards when you need a lift?  Quite possibly you are inspired by those stories because there is something of your dream in those who have already reached the place you long to be.

I am always inspired by stories of great faith.  People like George Mueller and Gladys Aylward inspire me to go after God, to ask the seemingly impossible things.

There was no breakfast for the children and yet Mr. Mueller had the children gather around the empty table and thanked God for food that wasn't there.  A knock sounded on the door.  The baker had been prompted by God to get up early and bake bread for the children, did they need bread?  Another knock at the door.  The milk wagon's wheel was broken and the milk would be spoiled before they could fix it, could the children please drink the milk?  I so love hearing of God's faithfulness.

If you're unfamiliar with Mr. Mueller there are many books published that describe his life and works. ( has several versions of his biography).  In a nutshell, this man had a heart for the poor.  He saw their need and went with God to try and meet it.  He established orphanages and prayed in the resources, never announcing what was needed.  There are countless stories of his faith and the answers that came.

How could they get the gospel message into the remote villages?  There didn't seem to be a way.  One day they had an elite visitor to the inn.  Could Ms. Aylward become the foot inspector to the remote villages?  The practice of foot-binding had been outlawed and they needed someone to travel and make sure that the gov't orders were being followed.  Ms. Aylward proclaimed that she would share the gospel of Christ as she went.  That didn't matter to their visitor, all he wanted was a foot-inspector.  That job paid the bills and allowed her to share the good news throughout the remote regions of China.

My kids love this version of her story.
Ms. Aylward is a similar type of character.  She was told she was unfit for missionary service, but her indomitable spirit pushed her forward.  She managed to take a rather large herd of children through the mountains in China and get them to safety, putting her own health in peril.  She, too, had faith to believe that God was more than able to supply what they needed and He did.

When I look at how these people put their faith into action, believing God for the impossible, it encourages me to do the same.  The dreams I have for our family and the ministry we long for with them seems impossible to me.  Yet our God says that with Him, nothing is impossible.  We have already seen answers to prayer that looked impossible from the a human perspective.

Sometimes we get discouraged by the mountains that are in front of us.  We have to move around roadblocks, climb over obstacles and find new pathways to the goal.  However, God says to look at the mountain and not be dismayed.  He made that mountain and He can move it if need be.

Be encouraged today friend.  If that dream you have is put there by the almighty God, know that the resources you need to accomplish it are on their way.  The current circumstance may seem bleak and unfavourable but know that the God of heaven has heard your prayer and is on His way to answer it.

Come on over to Holley Gerth's site see what inspires God-Sized Dreamers to go forward in their dreams.

Friday, February 22, 2013

FMF - My Mama's Hands

oh yes, today I must participate in Five Minute Friday because we get to go on about our mamas!  And I have one that I simply must write about.

Five Minute Friday is a community of people who simply write, unedited for five minutes on a given prompt. We all link up at Lisa Jo's and that's how it goes...


Introducing my mama...Maria.

If I can only talk about one thing about my mama, it must be her hands.  Those beautiful hands of hers who raised four children to love Jesus and serve.  Those hands that have cooked thousands of meals and changed thousands of diapers and grown endless numbers of vegetables and flowers.  Those hands that she uses to cover her mouth when she laughs.  Those hands that have sat at business meetings and recorded numbers in books and written out paycheques.

At a sewing retreat

 These are the hands that taught me how to be creative.  Those hands have pursued drawing, painting with oils and watercolors, ceramics, knitting, crocheting, and sewing, so much sewing.  She has guided me and so many of her grandchildren into straight seams and little blankets, doll clothes and quilts.

The quilt she made for my son when he graduates.  Each of her  18 grandchildren will receive one.
She sketches with her grandsons who love to do so.  She picks up creative pursuits to give as gifts, always encouraging them to try their hand at something new.

Those hands clap to the music they play and cheer through their sporting events.  Those hands have patted backs that needed comfort and smoothed out troubled foreheads.
At a concert we surprised her with for her 70th birthday.

My mama's hands are a gift that has never stopped giving.
At yet another crafty retreat...scrapbooking this time!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Picture Perfect

What happens when you mix a fiesty Irish girl with a camera an Italian wedding planner's family, stiff competition, 'Jacquie Goldfarb' and some big name stars?  A perfect mess and a lovely story line!

Picture Perfect is a modern story filled with quirky characters and a thread of romance.  I am thankful that author did not employ the boy-meets-girl + fight + happy-ending scenario.  I do not make it a habit of reading romantically inclined novels, however, I don't hesitate to recommend this one.  The characterization is delightful and the story line has some lessons that all of us can learn.

Our 'enemies' are friends waiting to be found.  Our heroine, Hannah, realizes this as she finally has to disassemble the image of her high school nemesis and not make assume that everyone is out to get her.  Not everyone is Jacquie Goldfarb, not even Jacquie Goldfarb.

Perseverance and honesty pays off.  When faced with tricky, professional and ethical issues, Hannah must find a way through while possibly losing the opportunity of a lifetime.

Having a positive outlook rather than being a gloomy gus can give us a very different perspective on our circumstances.  Hannah looks at her situation through her own gloomy eyes, however, as her friends, new and old help her see, her life is much more rosy than she realizes.

Accepting help is not a sign of weakness.  She has fought hard to achieve her situation and Hannah wants to keep her head above water - all on her own.  When help comes she has to decide whether or not her 'enemy' is really someone who can help her achieve her goals by working together rather than competing.

Don't misunderstand, this is not a deep theological treatise, however, spiritual truth is woven into the story in an uncontrived way.  Mixing Italian and Irish personalities and family dynamics must have been a fun assignment for Thompson.  Picture Perfect is light-hearted and fast-paced, enjoy a copy today at your favorite bookseller.

Book Review:  Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson, published by Revell.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moving Forward - a progress report

God-sized Dream = A desire in your heart for more of what God has for you
Holley Gerth        

Our assignment as God Sized Dreamers is to talk about what we're going to stop delaying and start doing.  For me it's simply to keep moving forward.  To quit 'dis-believing' that anything will happen.  I am so easily discouraged, both by the fear of success and the fear of failure, just as Holley posted yesterday on her blog - I encourage you to go back and read that one, it sure nailed me!

What I needed to do this week was to go look and see if anything at all had changed since I put that ridiculous dream scheme up on my blog weeks ago - it looks a little more like a manifesto.  Anyways, I took a look the other night and I thought I'd share the progress here today.  Because that's what my little thing I need to do - see where I've come from and that change is really happening and simply KEEP MOVING FORWARD even if it's a tiny step.


1. Debt Freedom - we got our accounting all up to date and now those books are at the accountant getting corrected in the places we can't fix and we will have a much more accurate financial picture.  We have been talking to our financial advisers about how to lower interest rates, consolidate and over all use what equity we have to make things easier to manage.

2. Travelling Ministry with our family - we led worship at my sister's church and realized some of our kids are definitely ready to begin leading in worship, we have asked and been granted permission to form a worship team in our church with our kids.

3. Adoption from Asia - no forward progress here as of yet besides finding out that one of our friends that we went to university with runs an orphanage and care home for teen moms in Taiwan - we purchased one of their calendars and those little ones are hanging on our wall staring us in the face each day - so precious. We have seeded into some other families' dreams for adoption, so we'll see what sprouts.

4. Wholeness for our family - We may possibly have found the counselor we have been praying for through a wonderful coordinating of circumstance - I will meet with her today.

5. Homeschool - we met with the director of Progressive Discover-E to talk about their online school system that may just be the ticket for us.

6.  Ministry to other families - finding that counselor may be a step in this direction.

7. Teaching/writing/speaking - I continue to lead the women's ministry in our church and will begin a bible study soon - not one I've written but that's okay.

8. Author - I have committed to writing more reviews - which forces me into writing something beyond the top of my head.

9. My own business - I went out on a limb and started a little doll business, "Button Beauties"  I had six orders in the week that I publicized it and will open the cart after I get back from holidays.

10. Soup/tea shop - nothing here yet, though my husband has found a building that might work and I have at least one friend with the same dream.

11. Website - I found a class online that will teach me how to set this thing up.  Abby and I are going to take it together and we'll go from there.

12. Renovation to our house - working out the debt payment plan will bring this closer to reality.

13. Self-sustaining farm - we'll probably plant the gardens again this year and can and freeze and do all those things that allow us to eat our own food - and we'll probably be able to eat our own beef and pork this year, too - maybe even chickens.

14.  A holiday - we sail for the Eastern Caribbean on March 8!!!  I am over-the-moon excited and have a pile of clothes out on my bed to prove it. The reason we get to go is because we worked hard on #1 and the money was released to go.  Such big smiles are here on my face.

Don't delay your dream.  It might not all come true today or even next week, but if there is something you can do to move it forward even a little then do it.  It may mean sacrifice or hard work or laying down something that has been keeping you from it, but don't wait any longer - KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

5 Days to a Clutter Free House - Review

Today I am writing a review of 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House - Quick, Easy Ways to Clear Up Your Space by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishers.

Initially I thought this would be a fabulous book - who doesn't want to have a clutter free house in five days? I've been working at de-cluttering for what seems like forever and I am still not done - five days seemed a little like a miracle.

It didn't take me long to figure out that this could be a fabulous way to go about de-cluttering, but not for me.  This system is designed for those whose clutter has literally taken over the house.  Because of all of the work we've done already this isn't true of my house (Praise the Lord!).  Let me give you a quick synopsis and then I'll share the gems I gleaned from these pages.

1.  This may be a benefit to you if you have a significant clutter issue in one or more areas of your home.
2.  You need to gather a team around you to make this happen.
3.  Once the system of the five day de-clutter has taken place there will still be significant work to do to re-order your home and maintain that order.
4.  The authors address the issues that may prevent you from maintaining the new regime and give great suggestions as to how to actually do the work of maintaining it and give you some idea of how you got here in the first place.

I decided to try their de-clutter plan on a very small scale.  My living room had been taken over for several days by some very messy children.  I decided to corral those same children as my 'team' and employ the system.  In the five day plan they work at a certain 'level' each day.

Day 1 - knees to floor
Day 2 - knees to shoulders
Day 3 - shoulders and up
Day 4 - inside areas
Day 5 - storage areas

I instructed the kids to work in the same fashion, we followed the order and had the room ship shape in about 30 minutes, including vacuuming and dusting.

The deciding factor for someone implementing this plan would be your 'want-to'.  I believe that this could really be an excellent tool if applied with determination to follow through to the end of the plan and then continuing to maintain the desired order.  Felton and Sims are experienced organizers and self-proclaimed 'messies' - they know whereof they speak.  There are also plenty of examples sprinkled throughout of the right and wrong ways to accomplish this mammoth task.

If you have a mammoth de-cluttering task, whether it be just the garage or your whole house there is beneficial information contained within the pages of 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House.

Places to Purchase this item: - CLICK HERE - CLICK HERE

Barnes & Noble - CLICK HERE - CLICK HERE

The Adventure - {guest post}

This week I will be inviting the sweetest little guest poster ever to join me.  My 9 year old son Sasha is keeping a log of our adventures this week.  This is his first installment - the undedited version!

                                                Hotel Crazy!!! By Sasha

Chapter 1: The Adventure Begins

Hi this is Sasha,Sam,Lizzy,and mom. We are on our way to an awesome Hotel. We are stoping at my grandmas house to get my sketch pad because i like to draw. right now Lizzy is reading her bible and Sam is drawing a "spy plane" my mom is getting my sketch pad and when she gets in the car she will of course drive:). Dang! my brother took it. my mom has left town and we are now on our way to the hotel of awesomeness. We are staying at the four point Sheraton. right now we are going to listen to a story. And the hotel has a water slide!!!!. We got chips and pop at Carters at Lucky Lake.

We are in the city and going to Boston Pizza. after that we are going to the hotel and going swimming. Lots and lots of traffic it is taking really long to get there. Mmmmmm that was good i had chicken fingers and now for desert i am having a chocolate pizza and the wader is very nice. Lizzy is have jell-o and so is Sam they think it is soooooooo good my pizza was really good but now i feel sick and next we are going swimming. Oh i almost forgot we had staring contests and mom won to every one and then she lost to every one.

out of the restaurant and to the swimming pool!!! yay its time to go the swimming pool we are having a snack at Safeway. We are listening to terrier from the sky on the CD player. on the cd their is an alien attack. My mom is in Safeway and she is taking a long time.

Chapter 2:the hotel sleep over!!!

We finished swimming we are in bed watching a movie called Jessie. Its a really funny movie. We are going to bed now but it's not comfortable. I like the pillows. I am sharing a bed with mom and Lizzy. We now are watching a movie called " Say Yes To The Dress" it is a good movie at least thats what my mom says. She found her dress for her wedding at least that is what i think Lizzy and Sam are going to bed and i get to keep typing. my mom and i are staying up.I cant fall asleep and its 12:55 at night.its almost time to get up now and we are going to watch T.V. while we eat breakfast. After we watch T.V. and have breakfast we will go swimming again.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love Never Fails

I don't usually post on Sundays but this morning I felt that I needed to share this amazing song with all of you.  It's simple truth that I need to remember each and every day (especially on the hard ones that seem far too thick lately)...Let it speak to your soul.

Enjoy the week.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

On the Hard Days...

I am not a fan of days like this, and there have been a lot of them in the last few years.  Days where motivation is hard to come by. Days where getting out of bed is such a struggle.  Days where being positive is almost impossible.  Days where making lunch is such a daunting task I could cry.
image source:

I know my husband is concerned for me.  His mom had a physical breakdown when she was about my age and he doesn't want that to happen to me.  He's a little scared and I can't blame him.

I have no idea yet what the answer to all this is. The medical community seems to think that my six kids are the answer to all my problems.  That doesn't quite fly with me since the youngest is almost seven.  My thyroid is fine, I'm not significantly overweight.  I'm healthy as a horse according to all the tests...but I know that things aren't as they should be.

There's a very good chance that my adrenal glands are a wee bit overloaded.  It could be that I'm going into pre-menopause (I am in my mid-40's).  I don't know.  Hormones, glands, body chemistry - it's a bit of a mystery. What I do know is that I don't like not feeling like myself, not having the energy to do the things I normally do.  I don't like that it is a Herculean effort to make it through the day.

These are the things I know.
image source:

And then there are some other things I know and am thankful for and on days like this I need to remember them more than ever.

* I have an amazing, Godly husband who takes super good care of me
* I've got some kids who are very willing to do their share of house work and child care.
* I have a wonderful, caring community of online peeps who pray for and encourage me.
* I have both my mom and mil living right here and a sis-in-law that help me out when I am low.
* I am the daughter of a King who is kind and knows my needs.
* I have an excellent pastor who keeps tabs on me to make sure I'm not saying yes to too many activities outside my home.
* I've got some super sweet friends in RL who are fun to be with and make me laugh.
* I have some great resources that God has placed in my lap recently that are helping tremendously.

Despite all these cloudy thoughts and days the brightness of the Son is there and this, too, shall pass.  I didn't intend to be a downer today, but I am aware that there are more people than just me who suffer from days like this.  In the midst of overflowing sinks and dryers that quit, hurting children that hurt others and an aching body I cling to my Saviour. I take help as it comes and give myself grace for the hard days.

These are the resources I was talking about:
* I love Ann Voskamp's "Sanity Manifesto" - it has been walking me through the days lately.  There's a great printable that I have plastered on many of my walls to remind of what comes next.

* The Confident Mom's day planner.  It is a gift to have someone else tell you what to do when your brain just can't seem to get it together.

* My Journible that I got from the Allume prayer room.  I'm working on Psalm 119 and then I'm going to get this one next:
available at Amazon

* Have you tried Scripture Typer?  It's a great way to memorize scripture and get God's word into your heart.

And maybe this evening I'll treat myself to something that looks like this:

when it's all you can do to carry on...where do you run?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Review: Focus on the Family's, Les Miserables

The story of redemption, mercy, justice and changed lives, this is Les Miserables.  Written by Victor Hugo and told over and over again on pages, stages and screens, the story is still fresh and needs to be heard.  I was eager to do a review on Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre version of this classic tale {I received a complimentary copy from Tydale Publishers }.  We loved what they did with Narnia and were eager to hear their latest production. 

Excellent sound effects, a stirring musical score and an excellent cast of voices provided a rich tapestry for the imagination as the listener was transported back to another time and another place.  My only criticism was that I was supposed to be in France and every character had a British accent – that was an unfortunate oversight which seems to be quite prevalent these days (the movie “Hugo” and the newest film version of Les Mis also use British accents for all their French characters in Paris – sad but true).

Despite that one flaw my children, husband and I enjoyed listening to Jean Val Jean’s confession to his ‘daughter’ Cosette.  The producers used a series of flashbacks, narrated by Val Jean as a backdrop to the story.  He bares his soul telling her vignettes from the past that allow her to see how the two of them got to the point where they are and why they lived the secluded life they did.

The poignant dichotomy between Val Jean and Javert provided the angst that is needed in any good story.  That Val Jean was transformed by one act of mercy is a beautiful message to the world.  One cannot help but weep for the tormented Javert who cannot understand that mercy overcomes justice – without the law he is nothing and cannot accept that. Marius, Cosette and Fantene are but a few of the many who were changed by Val Jean's compassion and integrity.  Les Miserables is the kind of story that we need to keep on hearing.  

If you have a road trip coming up or a long commute I would highly recommend Focus on the Family's version of Les Miserables, told in such a way as to make it accessible to the whole family.  Enjoy!

This resource is available through Amazon, Focus on the Family, Christianbook and other places.

Fear and Pride

"There's nothing but fear and pride stopping you!"

I have a friend who used to say that to me all the time.  We are on a year long team together which was full of things to be fearful of, for me anyway.  I was (and still am to a lesser degree...I hope) an insecure, introverted, people-pleasing good girl who was heading out on a year long trip with a bunch of strangers.  We were going to be sharing God's good news through music, drama and puppets for a whole year.  We traveled across our country, down into the states and over to Indonesia and Australia.  There was plenty to be scared of.

What if that cute guy on our team started liking me?  What if he didn't?  What if I really screwed something up?  What if I got sick?  What if our plane crashed?  What if I'm not all that great at meeting new people constantly?
Image by J. Astra Brinkmann

I was one scared little girl.  But this was a dream I had been after for awhile.  I wanted to share the gospel.  I wanted to be part of a performing arts team and here I was at LAX phoning home telling my mom that it might just be better if they came and picked me up.  Of course that wasn't possible because L.A. and Saskatchewan are a long ways apart.  Then something happened.

Remember that cute guy?  Well, he didn't like me, he was dating another girl on the team, but he became my champion.  He got on the phone with my mom and reassured her that he would walk me through this and that she had nothing to worry about.  Then he took me in hand and marched my hyperventilating self onto the plane.

The seven of us lived together for a year, learning how to deal with conflict, learning who had what was needed in the moment.  Learning how to use our gifts and talents to encourage and challenge the people that we met. And we learned how to overcome fear and pride and do what God had sent us there to do.

Fear and pride.  Two enemies of our souls that keep us from doing the thing that is needed to walk into our dream.  I still battle those two enemies and sometimes, unfortunately, they win.  Some days I 'forget' to make that phone call.  Some days I hide behind some imagined need that my kids may have so I don't have to take my introverted self out there again.  Some days my pride won't allow me to put myself out there one more time because fear is screaming at me how stupid I would be to try.

But on other days, God sends along an encourager,  some one who will take you in hand and say, "You can do this thing.  Just one more step and you'll be there. I will walk with you."  Jesus didn't send his disciples out on there own, he sent them in groups.  In Ecclesiastes it says that two are better than one.  Apparently we need each other!

If fear is causing you to shut the door to your dream you may need to swallow that pride of yours and ask someone to help you.  You may just need a partner, someone to shoulder the load and help hold up your hands when you are having a hard time believing anymore.  God told us that we need one another for a reason, because we do.

Perhaps you are the one in a sweet spot where dreams are bursting with reality all around you, then look for that one who is struggling and sitting with the dark cloud, the one who needs you to say, "I've been there before, let me give you a hand."

Don't let fear and pride stop you from reaching for the dream.
  It may seem hard to believe but someone, somewhere needs you to realize that dream, 
because their dream is depending on yours to succeed. 
{put that in your pipe and smoke it!}

May I just give a shout out to my peeps who help me keep dreaming!  You ladies rock my world - and I think ya know who you are... you are amazing.  Why not share below someone who has helped you overcome your fear and/or pride to help you walk into your dream, I'd love to hear about it.

I am linked up with others from the God-sized dream team over here:  CLICK LINK