Category Archives: Family

Humans Go on Summer Vacation, Can Goldfish??? (Check out this new book by Sally Lloyd Jones!)

Friends! I’ve got a mini-vacation for you even if you’re not vacationing anywhere any time soon.  After this discovery, you’ll feel as if you’ve been to New York City on a summer vacation…no foolin’.

Author Sally Lloyd Jones has created an adorable children’s book which she says is a “completely true made-up story,” as parts are true, parts are amazing U.S. history, which history buffs will chew on, and the characters represent Sally’s relatives, however they live in England, not in New York City. Us adults will be charmed as well.

The book?  Goldfish on Vacation

I predict those of you anywhere close to NYC will go hunting for this fountain we’re about to learn about. I will for certain next time we visit.

Once again, I learned of this book thanks to Eric Metaxas on his radio show, www.metaxastalk.com This particular show aired 5/3/18. You don’t want to miss Sally and Eric’s banter, how this book came to be, plus her adorable accent.  (She’s the very same author who penned The Jesus Storybook Bible among many other books.)

Goldfish on Vacation opens with three children, “H, Little O, and Baby Em,” proud owners of three goldfish, “Barracuda, Patch, and Fiss.” The children go round and round in their New York City apartment just like the goldfish go round and round in their bowl. Not such a fun way to start your summer vacation.  Stuck.

At the end of the street where the children live, there’s an old, abandoned fountain which in its day was a place for horses to drink from…until cars were invented.

Because of the cars, folks no longer needed horses and the fountain became overgrown, abandoned, and a place for people to dump trash, sadly.

But, a curious thing happens. To the children’s great discovery, a sign is posted one day at the nearby Hamilton Fountain Water Garden:

“COMING IN TWO WEEKS! CALLING ALL GOLDFISH LOOKING FOR A SUMMER HOME!”

Out of the blue, a man begins cleaning up the fountain, restoring it, complete with plants such as lily pads, suitable for a LOT of goldfish to inhabit. The children’s Grandpa marks their calendar accordingly.

The fourteen days fly by and before they know what’s happening, the children can no longer see the man working on the fountain. It appears ALL the children living close by have arrived with their goldfish, swimming in their bowls, more than ready to let them have their own summer vacation.

Let me pause here to say the illustrator, Leo Espinosa, brilliantly captures the  plot of this story, offering the reader of any age to delight at the wonders on every page. (www.studioespinosa.com) You can see and feel the excitement of all the characters!

Scores of parents, grandparents, and children all become friends because of their goldfish. Fever pitch jumping up and down, in and out of the fountain ensues, and suddenly, summer’s over and school’s about to begin.

You may wonder HOW H, Little O, and Baby M get EXACTLY Barracuda, Patch and Fiss back home. Ah, my friend, you must read the book to find out.  You’ll be grinning ear to ear.

If by chance you live in NYC or near, head to Riverside Drive and 76th Street. You’ll find the real-live Hamilton Fountain which is named after Robert Ray Hamilton (who lived from 1850-1890).  He gave the fountain to New York and believe it or not, he just happens to be the great-grandson of one of our founding fathers of the United Sates:  Alexander Hamilton. Don’t you history buffs just love that?

Sally tells us a man by the name of Brad, who’s a volunteer for the Riverside Park Conservancy is who cleaned up the fountain.  Bravo, Brad! Thanks also goes to someone who gave money for the fountain to be restored in 2009.

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Goldfish on Vacation.

You’re welcome.

Smile.

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, children's books, Grandchildren

Books to Help the Grieving Process in the Death of a Loved One (with help from Anne Riley) Part 1 of 2

Friends!  Anyone besides me ever feel helpless when your friends lose loved ones?  Sorry to say I’m the babbling fool at visitations where the bereaved has to comfort me.

I know.

Good news!  I have a few remedies up my sleeve I’d like to share in the form of a children’s book this week, and several other books for us grown-ups next week.

John and I were blessed to have dinner with old and new friends in Lexington this past April.  We learned about a book where a family lost two of their children. I immediately thought of Nancy Guthrie in Nashville who experienced such. (We’ll talk about her books next week.)

To my surprise, Nancy was not who our friends were talking about.  Surely there’s not another family who’s also lost two of their children? Sadly, there is, and a family friend has written a beautiful children’s book to help families cope with losing a child.

The book?  Voyage to the Star Kingdom

Author Anne Riley was so moved by her friends’ story, she and her cousin, Amy Grimes (who’s also friends with the family), put this beautiful book together.  Anne wrote the story (www.annerileybooks.com ) while Amy created the beautifully charming illustrations. (www.storypaintings.net ) Anne says Amy came up with the “essential story elements” and God wove the rest of it together.

When Anne first heard of Frazer and Dana Gieselmann and their plight to fight Batten Disease, she was so moved she literally couldn’t move.  She kept praying about how or what she could do.  It was in church the Holy Spirit convinced her to use her gift of writing to tell their story.

Blessed with three beautiful daughters, Frazer and Dana were completely thrown off guard when their daughter, Milla, began having seizures in August of 2013.  By October of 2014, Milla was diagnosed with a disease that’s very rare, and so far, incurable. It attacks the brain, causing loss of sight, mental impairment, worsening seizures, and a decline in motor skills. The dreaded disease is known as Batten Disease. Milla passed away November 26, 2016, just three weeks after her 6th birthday.

Unbelievably, Batten Disease possesses a genetic nature, thus docs suggested Frazer and Dana have their other two daughters tested.  Soon afterward, they learned their youngest daughter, Elle, also has the disease. Elle began having seizures not long after the discovery. You see now why Annie felt compelled to do something. (Miraculously, their eldest daughter, Ann Carlyle, does not have the disease.)

Thanks to extensive research at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Elle is receiving new treatments, infusions, and surgeries. Their long, hard, ongoing fight is explained in detail on their blog:  www.thegieselmann5.blogspot.com

Warning:  The family’s daily battle will tear your heart out, however the book is so well done, you’ll want to share it with your friends. Huge favor:  Please pray for this precious family.

The Gieselmann’s live in Memphis, Tennessee, so upon discovering Milla was treated at Le Bonheur Hospital, I immediately reached out to a friend of our kiddos who went thru’ an excruciating ordeal, also at LeBonheur, when their baby boy only lived two months.  I told her about this book and she said her NICU nurse gave her a copy. She and her husband, like the Gieselmanns, thankfully live with an eternal perspective. (See Revelation 21:1-5)

The grandest news of these sad stories comes as a reminder from Anne: “Milla and Elle will receive their prize early. Yes, we will suffer greatly in their absence. But this life is so short compared with eternity, and one day very soon, Frazer, Dana, and Ann Carlyle will be with Milla and Elle forever.”

My other favorite aspect of this book is it speaks matter-of-factly about real-life issues.  You’ll see the family undergoing multiple storms.  Two of their three daughters have to leave their family on earth, per the request of the Star King. Anne emphasizes, “The rest of the family will follow soon, but for now, they must say a temporary farewell.”

A beautiful angelfish escorts the girls to Heaven. (Don’t miss the part where they learn about how to fight evil on their journey.) Upon their approach, they see a man coming out of the Radiant Palace, waiting for them.  “Are you the Star King?” the youngest girl asked.

He smiled and said, “I have many names: Elohim, Jehovah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd. And yes, the Star King.

Oh, my beloved children, I am so glad you’re here.”

The story gets even better as the King shows them He’s set a table for five. You must read this book to witness something beautiful!

One hint arrives from the Angelfish: “You will be together again sooner than you think. The Star King is not bound by time.”

This is a beautiful picture of 2 Peter 3:8 in the NIV that says,

That verse reminds me of a time when I read about a young Mom who knew she was dying of cancer. She asked her pastor to verify the above Scripture, promptly proceeding to do some mind-blowing math.

She said, “I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like an hour. I’ll be leaving my husband and children soon. He may live another forty years, but that’ll be just like an hour to me in heaven.

…My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that’ll be like two hours to me.” Just before she died, she told her husband, “I love you. Take care of our children and I’ll see you in an hour.” (from One Month to Live:  30 Days to a No-Regrets Life by Kerry and Chris Shook.) Now that’s some sweet eternal perspective!

Soak in 2 Peter 3:8, and you will sleep well tonight. And every other night.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life Lessons

Let’s Get to Know Marlon Bundo (Best Discovery Ever, Thanks to Charlotte Pence!)

Friends!  How many of you know there’s a real-live rabbit living at the home of our Vice President, Mike Pence?

Today we shall meet a handsome, black and white rabbit named Marlon Bundo, a/k/a BOTUS (Bunny of the United States). The story gets more fun by the minute.

I recently heard an interview (check it out via www.metaxastalk.com from 3/27/18) of our Vice President’s daughter, Charlotte, and her mother, Karen, our Second Lady, about Charlotte’s newest book, Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President.  Charlotte penned the prose while Karen created the illustrations.

Charlotte got Marlon for a school project when she was in college, but Marlon still lives with the Pences in their residence, along with Harley and Hazel, a puppy and a kitten, and we mustn’t forget about Saphira, their pet snake.  You think I’m kidding.

Equally astonishing, Marlon Bundo has his own Instagram account with a mere 33,000+ followers as of this writing. (@marlonbundo) The pictures are adorable.  I’m a fan, clearly.

Oh, but the book!  Yes, I’ve bought one for our little Claire even tho’ she’s not quite old enough, yet.  I also got one for our daughter-in-love, Lauren, who’s a second-grade teacher.  Second graders are exactly the age group this book is geared toward. (However, every single adult I’ve shared this with has become quite enamored with it.)

Remember the Where’s Waldo books?  Charlotte’s book reminds me of finding Waldo as you try to find Marlon on each page, also thanks to Karen’s engaging watercolors.

We get to accompany Marlon and Vice President Pence to see what a day holds for them in Washington, D.C.  We go to the West Wing of the White House, the Oval Office (where Marlon’s found munching on a carrot on the carpet!), the Capitol, and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

I love that Charlotte includes a shout out to artist, T.C. Steele, who also hails from Indiana.  Marlon looks at the painting while perched on Vice President Pence’s shoulder.

We learn the Pence’s residence is right by the Naval Observatory where we get to see a special telescope. The Pences actually live at the Naval Observatory Base. The back of the book shares many additional fun facts you’ll love learning.

My favorite part of the book happens to be the last page of the story.  Marlon and Vice President Pence are finally home after a very long day:

Karen’s illustration on this page is so endearing with Marlon’s paws on Vice President Pence’s hand, which is on top of an open Bible.  He’s reading in the Book of Jeremiah and my guess is he’ll land on Jeremiah 29:11:

Spread the word about this wonderful book!

Proceeds go to two super endeavors:  1 – to a pediatric art therapy project, Tracy’s Kids,  and 2 – to www.A21.org , which Christine Caine started, working to end slavery and human trafficking.

Since school’s nearly out, for the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about a couple more children’s books as well as books for adults filled with suggested reading.  Think summer reading potential!

‘Til next time!

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How to Be Mom Strong for Mother’s Day and Every Other Day (with help from author Heidi St. John)

Friends! Cheers to all you Moms, Grandmoms, Aunts, and Neighbor-like-practically-Moms this Mother’s Day week. I pray you’ll all feel super celebrated on Sunday.

While we may not always feel celebrated, much less strong and eager to tackle each day, author Heidi St. John has a book and a Bible study to help us do exactly that:  Becoming Mom Strong:  How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith.

Here’s the book:

 

And here’s the Bible study, Becoming Mom Strong: A Six-Week Journey to Discover Your God-given Calling:

You may be saying, “Yeah, right.  I may be a strong Mom if one were grading on the curve, but I’m certainly not a strong Mom every single day!” To which I’ll strongly suggest you grab this book ASAP, because if Heidi can do this while raising her seven children (all the while homeschooling them!), we’d do quite well by listening to her. I only wish she lived in my neighborhood.

You also don’t want to miss Heidi’s blog, www.thebusymom.com

Right or wrong, I generally judge a book not only by its cover, but also by its take-home value. I’m delighted to report Heidi’s book and Bible study are loaded with excellent take-home material and are well worth your time. Each chapter ends with a succinct summary/challenge.

Right after the summary, Heidi includes prayer points with Scripture to back them up. Each and every one of these is excellent. Multiply that by fifteen chapters, and you’ve got a valuable resource I predict you’ll return to time and time again.

Right from the get-go Heidi reminds us we as parents (or grandparents) are, “preparing warriors.” She adds, “You are preparing warriors who at some point will be asked to choose between following God’s law and following the culture. And in order to prepare warriors, YOU have to become a warrior yourself.”

Heidi is brutally honest, telling on herself. She makes us readers feel better for our own faux pas.  In fact, I felt 100% better after learning she, too, forgot to be the tooth fairy for one of her children.  (Sorry again, Woody.) You will laugh out loud in each chapter.

Additionally, Heidi equips us with powerful Scripture. When Heidi gently tells us we can’t make warriors or hope for our kids to have a deep relationship with the Lord unless we ourselves have that, she reminds us to keep our faces planted in the Word daily as well as keep a continual conversation/prayer going with Him.  This verse was new to me from the New Living Translation:

 

Surely that verse will encourage us in our prayer lives!

All throughout the book neat little quotes are set apart for further encouragement.  This is one of my favorites:

“Bad days do not make bad moms.” 

I so wish I’d had this book when we were raising our boys, but glory be we now have a granddaughter to love on and show her how to love the Lord and her friends.

Heidi closes her book with 3 John 1:4. May it be a goal for each and every one of us:

“I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” 3 John 1:4 (NLT)

Finally, I’d like to share a snippet about Heidi’s accompanying Bible study, Becoming Mom Strong: A Six-Week Journey to Discover Your God-Given Calling.  Each week’s lesson has “A Voice from the Bible” section where you get to learn from someone in the Bible, i.e. Ruth, Elizabeth, Rahab, Hagar, Mary and Priscilla. I also love the titles of each week:

Becoming Brave and Wise,
Becoming a Mom with a Mission,
Becoming Free,
Becoming Emotionally Strong,
Becoming Beautiful and
Becoming Unshakable.

Each week’s lesson also concludes with a prayer.  This one is my favorite:

Obviously, I recommend Heidi’s book as well as the Bible study.  I hope and pray many young Moms will take this study and take it to heart with their little ones. The potential effect could be wildly powerful!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Holidays

When You Get to be Cinderella for 2.5 Hours… (2 Louisville Artists You MUST Know!)

Friends! Have you ever found yourself luxuriating in the Land of Denial?  Then POOF!  Back to reality?

Paralleling one of my all-time favorite stories, Cinderella, Yours Truly was blessed to escape for two and a half hours recently.

Why, you may be asking? I’ll blame it on my writer friends who strongly suggested I have a professional photo taken for a head shot for my upcoming book.

I’m beyond blessed to share with you two, count ‘em two, crazy talented artists right here in Louisville.  One’s a make-up and hair artist and the other’s a professional photographer.  These incredible people happen to be friends with our children.

Both of these young adults are completely in their sweet spot.  They could be a case in point in Max Lucado’s book, Cure for the Common Life—Living in Your Sweet Spot.

First, allow me to introduce you to these artistes extraordinaire, and then I’ll show you a little trick to see if YOU are in your sweet spot.

The first miracle worker (!) is Carley Brooks.  Her company is Carley Randall. www.carleyrandall.com She does hair and make-up primarily for weddings and has teamed up with two other gals, one who’s a photographer, and one who’s a wedding coordinator so they can take wedding parties thru’ the entire event, sans angst.

Our kids went to Christian Academy of Louisville with Carley. She’s also great friends with our daughter-in-love, LT, and even helped choose LT’s wedding dress when she worked at Rebecca’s.

When LT gave me Carley’s number, I called and asked if she’d entertain such a “pushin’-60-project” as myself and she said, “No problem!  I can have you outta here in 90 minutes.”

My visit to Carley’s adorable studio was a blast and seemed to last nine minutes, not ninety. Complete with false eyelashes (a first), I could hardly see to drive home.

Enter artist #2, gifted photographer Lang Thomas. www.langthomasphotography.com   Lang and his wife, Kate, who’s also an accomplished photographer, shoot weddings together. When you book Lang for a wedding, it’s like getting two for one as he and Kate are shooting photo opps all over the wedding venue.  It’s wild seeing them in action.

 

Here they are with their two beautiful daughters, Leonelle and Dolly. Our little Claire was mesmerized by both of them at church on Easter Sunday.

Lang and Kate shot Woody and LT’s wedding, and several other of our friend’s kid’s weddings.  He was recently named “one of the top wedding photographers in the country” by Martha Stewart Weddings. The Thomas Duo also take family photographs, and even grandchildren.  Oh, yes.

This is one of my favorite shots Lang snapped before Woody and LT got married.  They didn’t want to see each other before the wedding, but wanted to pray together. (Note the plaque on the wall.)

Hair and make-up tackled, I got home in time to meet Lang for the photo shoot.  It was a dreary, cloudy day, so most shots were taken inside.  It was over before I knew it. Alas, my glass slipper turned into an Asics tennis shoe.

Here’s a sample of one of the shots which I’ll use for my website once my book is out. (Working Title:  Let’s Be Friends—What My Sister-Friends Taught Me About Faith, Food, and Fun. Stay tuned!)

Happy to report my Cinderella moments weren’t all lost as Hubster and I dashed to Bonefish for dinner. Eating out is more our m.o. than eating in, thus the shots Lang took in the kitchen should have the caption, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

Thanks again to two of Louisville’s finest artists, Carley and Lang.  Y’all are WAY in your sweet spots and our gracious Lord is smiling over you.

Speaking of sweet spots, see if YOU can write YOUR “S.T.O.R.Y?”

Max Lucado spells this out for you in his book Cure for the Common Life and here’s a peek to get you rollin’:

“S = Strengths: how you get things done using your unique gifts. The verbs you use to describe your activities reveal these strengths.

T = Topics:  what you want to work with. You feel completely absorbed when you get involved in this, whatever it is—be it a person, a group, a car, a concept, food, music, fabric, furniture, or anything else in God’s creation. The nouns you use reveal these topics.

O = Optimal conditions:  the conditions in our environments that make things best for us. For example, some people work best under pressure; some need challenges; some like structure; some like an audience. What triggers you, gets you started, sustains your drive, defines the tasks, and provides the setting for you to feel highly motivated to effectively accomplish the task is part of your optimal conditions.

R = Relationships: what kind of role and relationships to others you seek in the task.

Y = Yes! You achieve this joyous affirmation when you fulfill the purpose for which you were designed. At that moment your sweet spot experience tastes ever so sweet!” (From Part One:  The First Step Toward Finding Your Sweet Spot)

‘Til next time!

P.S.  Thanks to Val Manley, who gave me Max’ book in 2006!  The BEST!

 

 

 

 

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Love and Chocolate Treats for February (Part 2 of 4)When You’re STUNNED about your Valentine’s Day Gift…

Friends! Happy Belated Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! Please enjoy two wild tales…

FLASHBACK:  Valentine’s Day 1993…

“No babysitter for Valentine’s Day???” I whined, coupled with a proficient pout…

“Now honey…” my way-too-practical hubby began…”You know restaurants jack up their prices on Valentine’s Day, and the boys are too little to take out…”

Translation:  “Why don’t you just cook us up somethin’?

Silent thought while heaving an extra loud sigh for future Oscar potential:  “Oh boy, grocery shopping with three boys is such a trip…literally….”

Determined to create fun and education for our Valentine meal, I hunted down ingredients for everything RED:  cherry cool-aid, red spaghetti sauce, cherry jello,  red sprinkles to go on the ice cream with the not-so-red-but-filled-with-a-boatload-of-chocolate brownies.

Spreading out papers for the boys to color, my scary cooking commenced…

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Quickly into our “project”, something was not quite right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Our oldest son, John Jr., was way too excited about helping with his brothers. They were coloring at lightening speed, wanting more and more “Valentines” to make for Daddy.

Dinner pulled together, Hubster now home and seated,  John Jr. and Gordy seated, Woody in his high-chair, the following proclamation ensued:

“Mommy!  We have a huge surprise for you! Daddy’s gotten a babysitter and everything!”

Visions of an escape to a hotel sans les enfants rolled thru’ my head….

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Fantasy interrupted, my mischievous husband said, “John Jr., why don’t you tell Mommy about her Valentine’s Day gift?”

“Mommy”, John Jr. continued with wildly excited eyes, “Daddy and I got a babysitter for Woody…

so that the four of us can go to…..

…the Truck and Tractor Pull!!!”…

Taken from www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

Taken from http://www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

“The what?”  I managed to ask…feigning interest…

“THE TRUCK AND TRACTOR PULL!!!” John Jr.  repeated, now standing, voice at high decibels.

Fabulous hotel fantasy comes to a screeching halt.

Pivotal moment in Mother/Wife Career:

Enter a God moment…”You’d better put on a sense of humor while raising these boys, being a Godly, cheery, loving  wife and mom, or you’ll never make it.” (Guessing The Lord didn’t say “or you’ll never make it”, that’s just my translation.)

3boys

Bidding adieu to my very-sheltered-only-child background, it was time to buck up.  Riding a perpetual roller coaster comes to mind. Nevertheless, I will still praise you, Lord.

That year was a turning point for me.  Ups and downs, yes, but with a sense of humor.  Which segues beautifully into one of the funniest books on marriage I’ve read lately.

Allow me to share snippets of The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  by Melanie Shankle.

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You’ve probably heard of Melanie.  She’s one in the same who wrote Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. She reports receiving countless pairs of earrings after the book published.  (There’s an idea!  She said she really wanted her next book to be Louis Vuitton Purse with Matching Wallet!!!  I’m thinkin’ A Caribbean Villa…could be swell.) Check out her way popular blog at www.thebigmamablog.com.

With killer humor, Melanie shares good times and not-so-good ones with her husband, Perry.  Melanie and Perry define opposites attract.  She puts it like this:  “Perry loves the outdoors and I love air-conditioning.”

She says,  “There are days filled with laughter and compromise.  And then there are days filled with silence and anger.  But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together

… For  better or for worse.  In hunting season and in health.”

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My  wild-n-adventurous husband, John, used to ride motorcycles.  Shouts of praise he’s not riding anymore.  (At least for today.)  I poked fun at all the “accessories” a bike could have, not to mention the “gear”.  They make that in leather???

But guess what Melanie’s husband’s hobby is?  In addition to hunting, he makes homemade ammunition. You go, Perry.

In addition to humor, Melanie includes the importance of their faith.  She alludes to not following God and making bad choices prior to meeting Perry.

She and Perry met at a Bible study at Texas A &  M.  She said, “There was something about Perry that intrigued me.  He was different from other guys I’d met.  And he had a heart for God I hadn’t seen in many other guys.”

Making a list of husband qualities, Melanie realized, “What you really need is someone you’d want to be in battle next to you, someone who can make you laugh even in the tough times, someone who will encourage you to be the best  you can be…” (Sounds just like our “Balcony People” from a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Trish says her husband looks at her with “husband eyes”.  Same concept.)

Since surgery seems to be in the air at our house (we’ll go there later), I cried from laughing so hard over an incident when Perry had yet another surgery for his back.  After a night in the hospital, Melanie got Perry secured in the car for the drive home.  Spying a Chik-fil-A and craving one of their chicken biscuits, Melanie pulled into the drive-thru’ only to be informed they were no longer serving breakfast.

Seven minutes past the breakfast hour caused her to jump the curb to get out of the drive-thru’ lane.  Never mind Perry was in the passenger seat, barely twenty-four hours post-op from back surgery.  This is only the beginning…

Melanie gets Perry home and situated on the couch, somewhat still sedated.  She reports: “According to Perry, the Clemson Tigers band marched thru’ our living room to dispense his pain medication at some point that afternoon.  Which is weird, because we’re not even Clemson fans, not to mention that South Carolina is a pretty good haul from Texas.  So I took this as an indication that maybe it was time to cut back on the meds just a tad.”

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So for a guy who creates his own ammunition, hearing him suggest they try “radiant barrier paint” one day doesn’t seem so far fetched.  When Melanie asked him what he was talking about, he explained:  “It’s paint that makes a surface heat resistant.  They use it on the space shuttle, and I’m thinking about buyin’ some.”

Melanie replies, “Well, of course you are.  I’ve always said that if it’s good enough for the space shuttle, then it’s good enough for us.” 

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John and I aren’t the only ones having fun with this book!  Guess who else was caught laughing out loud reading this?  Ann Voskamp’s husband!  “The Farmer”, as she often calls him, got side-tracked while paying bills, and read some from The Antelope in the Living Room.  Picture Ann and the Farmer  howling, all the way up in Canada.

Melanie also sprinkles in a few stories about their daughter, Caroline.  She discusses leaving a legacy for Caroline and her future children.  A prayer she prays continually comes from Deuteronomy 30:6—“that the Lord would circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our descendants so that we will love God with all our heart and with all our souls.”

“That’s the legacy that’s worth working thru’ the hard times to leave for our daughter.”   She adds, “In this world that sometimes treats marriage like it’s a disposable commodity we can throw away when it no longer seems to serve our purposes, a world that whispers to us that the grass might be greener on the other side, that’s something worth keeping in mind…”  Oh, someone please shout hallelujah over that one!  May we press on…

Finally, soak in this visual:  In one particular scenario, Perry offered Melanie some inexplicable kind of grace.  She said,    “…even tho’ I thought I understood what grace looked like, I really had no idea how deep and wide the mercy of Christ is.  That he looks at us when we lay ourselves bare before him, with all our ugly truths and realities, and says, ‘And?’”

“In Psalm 103 we are told that God redeems our lives from the pit.  Verses 11-12 proclaim, ‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’”

Melanie adds, “I once heard someone say that those words (of Psalm 103) represent the beams of the cross—reaching all the way up to the heavens with his love and stretching out to remove our sins as far as from where the sun rises to where it sets.”  Grasping the picture???  Beautiful!!!

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I pray you’re encouraged and enlightened by these glimpses of The Antelope in the Living Room.  There’s twenty-four lovely chapters to keep you that way!!!  And don’t forget this Valentine’s week:  Marriage is fueled by fun and forgiveness.

‘Til next time!

Our chocolate treat this week comes from another Kentucky cookbook called “Splendor in the  Bluegrass” by the Junior League of Louisville.  Its’ Chocolate Chess Bars on p. 245 are not to be missed!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life Lessons

Three Last Minute Gift Ideas and One Killer Question…(Part 4 of 4)

Friends! I pray this post finds you skipping and singing, altho’ by the looks of some shoppers at the mall yesterday, several Scrooges were spotted.  Sigh…

Good news is if you need a couple of last minute things, I’ve got three ideas for you.  One devotional for, say teens to centenarians, another for wee ones, plus a very cool way to help you and your friends get your face in the Word every day. (And in a perfect world, perhaps memorize a Scripture or two. Hey, no groaning now, it’s Christmas time!)

First up, allow me to give you a glimpse of a gorgeous coffee table book that’s also a lovely devotional.  Artist and author Ruth Chou Simons’ book, Gracelaced—Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart will bless the socks off you and anyone else you happen to give it to.

From its’ beautiful cover and on into the book, you’ll be met with splendid artwork and photographs divided into the four seasons of the year.  Each season has eight words/entries for you to pour over, including extra Scriptures to look up to help you “delve deeper” as well as a section at the end with questions to help you consider how you’ll respond once you’ve read it.

For example, in the Winter section, Ruth shows us what resting in God’s character looks like, “reminding us that true rest comes when we rest in Him.” The next eight entries help us:

“Rest in God our Refuge,
Rest in God’s Faithfulness,(two different times)
Rest in Christ’s Sufficient Grace,
Rest in God’s Nearness,
Rest in God’s Wisdom,
Rest in God’s Mercy, and
Rest in God’s Power.”

I was stunned to discover Ruth and her husband, Troy, have quite the full quiver:  SIX BOYS. After raising three, I can only imagine TWO three-ring circuses!!!

Ruth’s down to earth writing style is relatable and she tells on herself more than once.  She gifts readers with the courage to press on.

Don’t miss her website.  She includes opportunities to order her artwork in the form of printables, notecards, journals, along with some fun recipes. Go to her Shoppe and see what’s available!

Second idea is a devotional for wee ones entitled Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  My friend, Aletia, gifted me with this when our first granddaughter, Claire, was born. While it’s for children, I’m enjoying reading it before Claire’s old enough to understand it!

There are 101 thoughts on faith which include spiritual truths straight out of the Bible. One of many favorites is “Bless You!”. Sally teaches, “When God promises to bless you, He is saying,’I’m going to make you into everything I ever meant for you to be!’ It means God is taking every day and every single thing that happens in it—good or bad—to make you stronger, to mend  whatever is broken inside, to change you into the person you were always meant to be.”

Tim Keller wrote the Foreword saying this book “may be the best, first introduction for children to have their own time with Jesus which has long been a missing piece that has direct effect on whether a child grows up with a balanced spiritual life or one that is dangerously one sided.”

Many of you know Sally from her infamous Jesus Storybook Bible.  Jago did the illustrations for both of these books. I learned of this book from our middle son, Gordy, when he was in college. Campus Outreach leaders introduced the kids to it. When he asked for a copy I bought one for us too. Kathy Keller, Tim’s wife, says she gives college students and many visitors to their church copies as it’s so easy to understand.

Sally has also written other numerous children’s books, my favorite being Skip to the Loo, My Darling! Grand for potty training your kiddos and it’s illustrated by Anita Jeram who also illustrated Guess How Much I Love You.  The book is beyond clever. Whether you’re successful at potty training or not, you’ll find yourself howling.

I’ve caught Sally on the Eric Metaxas show several times.  They’re good friends and are hilarious in each of the interviews they’ve done.  Many times she’ll read one of her children’s books which is delightful getting to hear her British accent. (www.metaxastalk.net)

Checkout Sally’s website to see all the books she’s written:

The third gift idea was discovered at a store here in Louisville called Lulubelle’s in Norton Commons, thanks to our daughter-in-love, LT.  It’s called “Small Squares with Mighty Words…” I bought all they had(!!!), but LT tells me they’re getting more in.  I gave these to my friends at our Favorite Things party, plus got more for stocking stuffers, and well, figured I could use one too.

I found two of a few color options in these little square boxes.  You get 50 multi-colored cards with Scripture verses on the front and back. (You math geniuses have already figured out you’ll get to read 100 verses.)

The white box includes a clear acrylic stand, with Scripture cards in muted, pastel colors, packaged as “Small Squares with Mighty Words of Love.” The brown box includes a brown, wooden stand with primary colored cards.

I’ve placed mine on my bathroom vanity where I’ll see it every morning.  Others have put theirs in their kitchen window or by the kitchen sink.

If you live in Louisville, head to Lulubelle’s (www.lulubelles.com). If you live out of town, visit the manufacturer’s website: www.thimblepress.com

Finally, while I’ve talked about gifts all month, the fact is we’re fast approaching Christmas and the birth of our Savior… Here’s your killer question to keep you focused in the midst of the mayhem (I heard this on the radio and it stopped me in my tracks.):

What are YOU giving YOUR KING this year for His birthday? (Share your answer with friends and family.)

May you and your family and friends have a most blessed Merry Christmas as you savor the season and have a lovely, healthy, Happy New Year as well!

 

‘Til next time!

FYI:  This computer and its’ operator (Moi) are shutting down for a couple of weeks…on purpose.  We’ll do a fun series come the second week of January on starting the New Year off slowly. No stress allowed!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Holidays