Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

I don't know that I'm going to say much about this book because I'm still pondering it. This is the story of what happens when folks start emulating the person saying the prayers instead of the one who is truly answering them. It seems like ALL of Agnes Sparrow's prayers are answered, and most of them pretty miraculously. When the town decides to put up a sign in Agnes' honor, she is not happy - it's all about HIM, not me, she says. Things seem to start falling apart at that point.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

Abingdon Press (September 2009)


Joyce Magnin


The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to the one thing she can do-besides eat. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety along with various minor miracles not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright's Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, "Welcome to Bright's Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow." This is something Agnes doesn't want and sends Griselda to fight city hall.

Griselda's petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle from Agnes. The truth of Agnes's odd motivation comes out when the town reels after a shocking event. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn't she know?

Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God. Agnes has been praying to atone for a sin committed when she was a child. After some tense days, the townsfolk, Griselda, and Agnes decide they all need to find their way back to the true source of the miracles-God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, go HERE

Monday, September 28, 2009

For the boy...

As one might imagine, I have little to no experience in things "boy" save what I have been exposed introduced to by my nephew. However, he and I share a deep love of Star Wars together and so I was very excited to make him these little birthday invitations for his first "friend" party.

Bubby's Invitations 3

R2D2 clip art from here (with a little work in photoshop).

Bubby's Invitations 4

Lightsabers from Wikimedia Commons.

Bubby's Invitations 2

The envelopes were made with scrapbook paper and this template. My apologies as I canNOT find the site that I originally downloaded the template from. If it turns up in my search, I'll fix the link.

Bubby's Invitations 1

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Daily Readings from the Life of Christ (and Giveaway)

Moody Publishing recently sent me Daily Readings from the Life of Christ by John MacArthur. I have several of these types of books lying around the house in various places and to be honest, most sit and pick up dust. However, I have been reading in this one every day since it has arrived and I think it will be one that I won't let slide!

As the title suggests, this book focuses on the life of Christ and each day centers around a verse or two that He spoke. John MacArthur adds a few paragraphs of commentary and then leaves me with a few questions that I find myself mulling on for some time. This book makes a great stop for the busy mama that might only have a few minutes during the day, but wants to clear her head of the buzz of household noise and sit with Jesus for a moment. Each day takes me, literally 5-7 minutes to read, and while I don't want this to become a substitute for my morning time with the Lord, this has been a respite for me as I sit down for a break during the girls' rest time. A gentle reminder during my day that my goal is to ultimately be like Jesus.

Moody generously (and unexpectedly) sent me an extra copy of this wonderful devotional and I will pick a random commenter to receive the copy! Leave comment on this post if you are interested, and I'll close comments next Saturday, October 3, and draw a winner. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you, or I will pick another winner.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Felicities ::: September 25


Things that are making me happy this week...

rainy fall weather
coffee scented candles
burnt orange color of fall
mini pumpkins on the kitchen table
this CUTE digital stationary set
encouraging words from this blog and this one, too
little lefty (see photo) :)

For more felicities, link up at Becky's.

Little Lefty

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fields of Grace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fields Of Grace

Bethany House (October 2009)


Kim Vogel Sawyer


Will their Mennonite faith be shaken or strengthened by the journey to a new land?

With their eldest son nearly to the age when he will be drafted into military service, Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to immigrate to America, the land of liberty, with their three sons and Reinhardt's adopted brother, Eli. But when tragedy strikes during the voyage, Lillian and Eli are forced into an agreement neither desires.

Determined to fulfill his obligation to Reinhardt, Eli plans to see Lillian and her sons safely settled on their Kansas homestead--and he's equally determined that the boys will be reared in the Mennonite faith. What he doesn't expect is his growing affection for Lillian--and the deep desire to be part of a family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fields Of Grace, go HERE

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One Imperfect Christmas

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Imperfect Christmas

Abingdon Press (September 2009)


Myra Johnson


Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, go HERE.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall into Reading 2009

As a new homeschooling Mom, I am learning that I need to not be too overly confident in the amount of reading that I will accomplish anymore. :) That said, I couldn't let the start of Fall slip by with out putting out a few books that I would like to tackle in the next few months. I'm finding that non-fiction reading has been almost non-existent the last few months. I haven't set aside the time (or the energy) to get involved in a book that is going to make me think! I'm feeling the lack of that so you will probably find this list a little heavy on the non-fiction side. :)

My tentative list goes a little something like this:

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham, Jr.

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt (hopefully in conjunction with Joanne's read-along)

A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

A favorite children's book for October's Children's Classic at Five Minutes for Books (My husband just bought me Island of the Blue Dolphins so I might re-read that, or I might pick up a Gene Stratton-Porter book. She is new-to-me and have a couple of her books on my shelf).

The temptation is there to make this list much longer, but I'm going to stop. :) My daughter and I are reading Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill and I'd like to see us finish that book and start a new chapter book - two possibilities for her are a book by Dick King-Smith (he wrote chapter books about animals - you might recognize Babe) or Nutmeg and Tumtum. In December, I'm planning on us reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe aloud as well.

For more reading lists, head over to Callapidder Days and join in the Fall into Reading Challenge! This book is also linked with What's on Your Nightstand over at Five Minutes for Books.

Previous Nightstands posts, if you still need more ideas of what to read:
August 09
November 08

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mid-September Daybook

My apologies on all the typos ... obviously I am out of blogging practice!

Outside my Window ... the sun is shining after the rain. Lots and lots of rain the last few days. I have loved the cooler fall temps that have arrived and would perfectly happy if they just stayed.

I am thinking
... that there is laundry and dusting that needs to be done before T gets home tonight. But first ... and update here. :)

I am thankful for ... my almost-six-year-old asking Jesus into her heart a few weeks ago at church! She and I prayed together during communion that Sunday and it will forever be a wonderful memory for me. God is good!

In the learning room ... we are travelling to France this week through the book Madeline. My daughter informed me (as we sat down to read this morning) that she didn't like Madeline so I'm hoping to change her views of this fun series this week. We will be reading a lot of Madeline in the next few days.

From the kitchen ... tonight is leftovers taco salad (from Sunday lunch) and homemade chocolate chip cookies that N1 made (with supervision) this afternoon. Yum.

I am creating ... girl scout forms and paperwork. (And quite a bit of mess as well). I had a parent meeting last night for N1's Daisy troop which I said I would help co-lead. We are still short a few girls to actually pull a troop together but the two moms that came to the meeting were more than enthusiastic and I think the three of us will enjoy getting to know each other this year.

I am going ... to strive for making our life simple this week and next. My husband has two big back-to-back church events the next two weekend, so my goal will be to make the homefront smooth sailing. (I hope anyway). :)

I am wearing
... capri pants and a white t-shirt.

I am reading
... I just finished reading The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow for CFBA to review. I am not sure what I think about that book ... I didn't dislike it, but it has left a funny taste in my mouth. I am eager to read Family-Driven Faith and N1 and I are working our way through Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill. I hope to have a post up tomorrow for the Fall into Reading Challenge, but I'm learning that with homeschooling, I need to not promise too much in the way of blogging. I'm still running out of time at the end of the day.

I am hoping ... for some time to read said chapter book with N1 this evening. Reworking our evening routine some and still tweaking a bit.

I am hearing
... the sounds of little girls telling their Daddy about their day - T is home early this evening!

Around the house ... a few princesses laying on the floor, a couple empty boxes that the girls have climbed in and out of all day long, a big basket of library books, and our "happy autumn" banner has been hung in honor of the first day of fall tomorrow!

One of my favorite things
... pulling out the longer sleeved shirts and my comfy broken in jeans as the weather is a little bit cooler.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ...
nothing too exciting this week for the majority of the family. :) N1 has a dentist appointment this week for a regular cleaning and we have our church's missions conference this weekend (with a Saturday night potluck. I *LOVE* church potlucks!)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you ...

Fall is coming!!! Photo by my Dad; I can't take the credit for this one. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

FYI - the army men are not protecting Snow White. They are just all friends, and one of the soldiers has a pet monkey!

Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson

This book was a welcome read as I've been up to my ears in school stuff. The story of Lydia Sellers who, newly widowed, moves to Alaska looking for a fresh start to her turbulent life. The story is set right after Alaska has been purchased by the United States and there is much unknown about this untamed land. I enjoy historical fiction and this book (and Tracie Peterson) did not disappoint. :)

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dawn's Prelude

(Bethany House - October 2009)


Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Ephesians 1:18 has become a cornerstone verse for a new non-fiction book she's been working on -- its also become a cornerstone in her life. The verse reads, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."

Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana.


Newly widowed Lydia Sellers discovers that through an unforeseen fluke, she is the sole recipient of her husband's fortune. But instead of granting her security, it only causes strife as her adult stepchildren battle to regain the inheritance for themselves.

Lydia, longing to put the memories of her painful marriage behind her, determines to travel to Alaska to join her aunt. Lydia's arrival in Sitka, however, brings two things she didn't expect.

One is the acquaintance of Kjell Bjorklund, the handsome owner of the sawmill. Second is the discovery that she is pregnant with her dead husband's child. What will this mean for her budding relationship with Kjell? And what lengths will her stepchildren go to reclaim their father's fortune? Lydia soon finds her life--and that of her child's--on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dawn's Prelude, go HERE

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Felicities ::: 9/11


A list of things I am thankful for on this Friday, September 11. So much to be thankful for, including my country and the military that protects me and mine. Thank you.

Route 44 Diet Cokes
little girls with bangs
the return of Bible study
plans for coffee with Andra
knowing how excited N1 will be to go with her Daddy to this
Dunkin' Donuts coffee ... brewed at home
PepperJack Cheese-its
doing the next thing
birthdays to celebrate
surprises to plan
Share your list and link up over at Becky's.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado

I was recently sent a copy of Max Lucado's Fearless to review. This is the first Max Lucado's book that I've ever read. I don't know what I was expecting ... but this book was a breath of fresh air (and amazingly practical! I love that in a book!). From the book's website:

Each sunrise seems to bring fresh reasons for fear.

They're talking layoffs at work, slowdowns in the economy, flare-ups in the Middle East, turnovers at headquarters, downturns in the housing market, upswings in global warming. The plague of our day, terrorism, begins with the word terror. Fear, it seems, has taken up a hundred-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversized and rude, fear herds us into a prison of unlocked doors. Wouldn't it be great to walk out?

Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, or doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, where you could trust more and fear less.

Can you imagine your life without fear?

Lucado tackles many of that areas that can trap us with fear - our children, our financial security, our salvation - and one by one offers scripture after scripture to take to heart and remind us who really is in control. Some were verses that were very familiar to me, but others were ones that I had not yet discovered (or seen in this light). A couple favorites:

When praying for our children: "Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children." Lamentations 2:19

When overwhelmed by challenges: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him'." Lamentations 3:21-24 (This verse was by my side constantly after my 2nd daughter was born ... taped even to the side of the bed so I could read it and think on it's words as I fell asleep at night).

In chapter one, I thought Mr. Lucado summed up the problem with fear so succinctly for me: Fear corrodes our confidence in God's goodness. (p.9) It's next to impossible to trust in someone or something when we are consumed by fear. And if that something is fallable, inconsistent, and of man, then it is guaranteed to fail us and let us down.

However. :)

God is righteous and deserving of our trust in Him, in the face of insurmountable fears. With great strength and amazing tenderness, He will care for us and walk with us through valleys of fear.

Behold, the Lord God with come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His recompense before Him.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs,
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
Isaiah 40:10-11

Friday, September 04, 2009

Studying Japan

Over the last two weeks we have spent time in and around Japan, specifically through the books A Pair of Red Clogs and Grandfather's Journey. Before these books go back to the library today, I would share with you some of the other books that we had enjoyed over the last two weeks in our studies. :)

Grandfather's Journey was written by Allan Say about his grandfather and his family. He has several other books published about his family and their life in Japan and we enjoyed all of them. Other titles by him to look for include:
  • Tea with Milk (the story of Allan's mother who moves from American to Japan as an older teen)
  • Tree of Cranes (the story of Allan himself learning of Christmas for the first time)
  • Kamishibai Man (about a Japanese storyteller and his paper theater)
  • Erika-San (a girl from California moves to Japan to teach and what she learns about the country)
  • The Bicycle Man (set after World War II when American soldiers were in Japan)

Other books that we read with Japanese settings or culture were:

  • Little Oh! (somewhat of a Japanese version of Pinnochio - a little origami girl comes to life).
  • The Magic Fan (the story of a boy who could make anything and how he saved his village)
  • How My Parents Learned to Eat (the story of a how the American Dad learned to use chopsticks and the Japanese Mom learned to use a knife and fork ... cute story). :)
  • Japan ABCs (we didn't read this aloud but looks to be a good one for facts about Japan)
  • Zen Shorts (another one we didn't get to about a panda bear)

A word about A Pair of Red Clogs - such a wonderful book about honesty that I think is a must for any little girl's shelf. We couldn't find any other books by the author (I may have just missed them), but this one is now a new favorite.

Over the next two weeks we will be headed to Italy in our school work and reading through the books The Clown of God by Tomie dePaolo (one of my favorites!) and Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley. But, for now, as we conclude Japan, we say "Sayonara!" and hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


That BooMama ... she is brilliant. Today is the DipTacular bloggy link-up where folks have been invited to share their favorite dips. I love dips and appetizer-y type foods ... so I'm going to share two favorites from our household. The second dip is one of my favorites for fall so I'm glad BooMama reminded me of it. We'll be enjoying it soon! Anyway, on to the recipes...

Peanut Butter Hummus

My all time favorite hummus recipe ... mostly because it's the only one that I have ever made, but it is super easy and I usually always have all the ingredients on hand. Plus, this can be served with either bread (pita pieces, bagel chips, etc.) or with fruits and veggies (I like apples, carrots and celery with hummus) and it's ALMOST healthy. :)

1 can of chickpeas (15-19 oz)

1/3 cup warm water

2 T. olive oil

3 T lemon or lime juice

4 T. peanut butter

1 clove garlic, crushed (I have been known to substitute garlic powder in a pinch)

1/4 t. salt

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend to a dip consistency. If it is too thick, add more warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Serve immediately or store in the refridgerator up to 3 days.

Pizza Fondue
Recipe credit goes to the A Year of Slow Cooking Blog

1 cup pasta sauce

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

10 pieces pepperoni, diced

1 cup shredded cheese (use whatever you want or have! I haven't tried it, but I think you *could* substitute cream cheese instead of the shredded cheese with equal success.)

Count out 10 pieces of pepperoni. Put the pasta sauce into a small crockpot, and plug it in. Add the Italian seasoning and diced pepperoni. Add the shredded cheese. Cover and leave plugged in for 45 min or so until melty and wonderful. Stir well and serve with tortilla chips, bread or bagel chips, pizza bread sticks - whatever!

*My note ... I have made this one several times and it is always a hit with guys. You can make sure to use a pizza sauce that is heavy on the meat and then this is VERY filling.

For more DipTacular dips, head over to BooMama's!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bullet Train

Just in case you don't see how clever the blog title is ... it could mean that I'm going to post in bullets OR it could mean that I'm going to tell you about what we have been doing to study Japan the last two weeks. (See this link if that is still confusing). :)

We're going to go with the bullet list this time and save Japan for later. :)
  • Life is good, good, good here, but this homeschooling thing has changed a lot of thing.
  • One is that our days are FULL.
  • Because I am spending most of my mornings sitting with N1 working on school with her (and some preschool things with N2), it means that other things are not getting done when they used to.
  • Things like: dinner prep, laundry, housecleaning, laundry.
  • You get the picture.
  • However, school is going very well, so I am thankful for that. And, we have spent the last two weeks reading and studying about Japan so hopefully I can share some books we have enjoyed soon.
  • This past weekend BBoo went for her first all-by-herself overnight to the grandparents house. Big stuff.
  • We missed her like crazy over here - but I have to say T and I got a ton of stuff done around here without our favorite two year old around. He took N1 and ran a bunch of errands for our fall garden he's putting in, and N2 and I did a massive grocery run.
  • I think N1 said it best as I was tucking them into bed on Saturday night:

N1: Mama, it sure is boring around here with Betsy gone.
Me: Yes, it is.
N1: Mama, what does boring mean?
Me: In this case, it means "quiet." :)

  • And now, I'm off to do a few things while the girls are finishing up a late rest time. I have a feeling that blogging may slip on my list a bit while we are heavily schooling ... we'll see what happens.
  • I met with my co-leader for N1's girl scout troop and we have a tentative plan of action for our parents' meeting that is in two weeks. Not sure what I have gotten myself into quite yet, but we're going to try it out for this year and just see how it goes.

Gone to Green Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gone To Green

Abingdon Press (August 2009)


Judy Christie


Judy Pace Christie, after working as a journalist for twenty-five years, left the daily news business to open a consulting firm that works with individuals, businesses, and churches on strategies for meaningful life and work, including goal-setting, living fully, and balancing personal and professional lives. She is the author of Hurry Less, Worry Less; Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmastime; and co-author of Awesome Altars. Judy and her husband live in northwest Louisiana.


Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

While secretly preparing the paper for a sale, Lois begins to realize that God might indeed have a plan for her life and that perhaps the allure of city life and career ambition are not what she wants after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gone To Green, go HERE