Friday, September 30, 2011

New Christian Teen Writing/Art Magazine ~ Aletheia

Aletheia Logo - Black rectangle
Members of the TOS Crew received the fall issue of a new magazine geared towards Christian teens (13-19) to showcase the art and writing skills, Aletheia Writing magazine. Now, first, to answer the question that I know is burning on your lips ~ What does "Aletheia" mean? Aletheia is the Greek word for "truth" or "unveiling", and is pronounced Ah-LAY-thei-uh. 

OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way... :)

Aletheia Spring 2011 Magazine CoverThis is a very new publication (I understand that the fall issue was their third, of 4 quarterly printings), with a desire to reach out to Christian teens and give them an opportunity to share their voice and talent with others.

I realize that the title emphasizes writing, but there are opportunities to share photography and other artwork. 

The magazine has a number of short stories and poems penned by young ladies and gentlemen in many genres including allegory, fantasy, fable, historical fiction, and more. 

I appreciated the artwork in the magazine, and was impressed with the talent of the artists. I thought it was interesting that the magazine solicits art sample submissions, and keeps them on file in order to pair up authors with appropriate illustrators. Very neat! 

Much of the prose and poetry we read was often dark or dealt with heavy or intense topics. There is validity in this expression, as teens are experiencing some of the most turbulent years of their lives from a maturing standpoint, physically, mentally and emotionally. I do feel it is worth mentioning, tho', as my daughter was not that enamored of the struggles in many of the submissions (She's kind of a rose-colored glasses sort of girl~ which is fine by me) in spite of a final resolution of hope . Indeed, there is a warning  put out by the magazine itself~ *Aletheia Writing Magazine is geared toward youth ages 13 to 19. Because contributors’ ages vary, the maturity level of situational content may likewise vary.

While this wasn't a great fit for our family, Aletheia Writing Magazine looks like it would be a very interesting resource for those families with aspiring artists or writers, who are fans of darker allegories, as well as budding photographers.

One neat little feature is the "Writer's Challenge" which gives a starting of point of inspiration~ The challenge for the month of October (found at the link above) is to write a story that shows the truth of (Proverbs 11:8 The righteous is delivered from trouble, And it comes to the wicked instead. )
or to write a poem inspired by a sweet picture of a tiny hand holding tight to someone's finger.

Please, read a digital version of the Spring 2011 issue here to get a feel for the content and quality, and check out my fellow TOS Crew member's reviews(There are a variety of opinions and ages represented, which may be very helpful if you are considering a subscription to Aletheia Writing Magazine).

Price: US $26/CAN $29 Four issues per year. 40 pages. Color. As is typical for magazine subscriptions, price includes shipping and handling.

As always, I hope that this review, based on my honest opinion, is helpful to you as you determine where to best spend your homeschool dollars, and find curriculum and items that fit your family's living/learning/teaching style.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Elizabeth George, whose books have sold more than 6.5 million copies, is the author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart® (more than 1 million copies sold) and Breaking the Worry Habit Forever! She’s also a popular speaker at Christian women’s events. Elizabeth and her husband, Jim, are parents and grandparents, and have been active in ministry for more than 30 years.

Visit the author's website.


Elizabeth George, bestselling author and mother of two daughters, provides biblical insight and guidance for every mom who wants to lead their daughter to a godly life through example, study, and prayer. Elizabeth includes questions to draw moms and daughter closer as together they pursue spiritual priorities and God’s heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736917721
ISBN-13: 978-0736917728


The Bell Sheep

Part 1  —  Earning Your Bell

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart.

—  Deuteronomy 6:5

On a recent Christmas Sunday, my husband, Jim, and I and our family of 14 arrived at a church service extra early to make sure we didn’t end up in the “Standing Room Only” section for this special occasion. With my bulletin in hand and several minutes to spare before the service started, I opened my Bible and looked up the Scripture passage the pastor would focus on during his message. Then I read through some additional teaching notes and commentary in the margin of my Bible. One article was entitled “The Bell Sheep.”

The bell sheep? What in the world is that? I wondered. I read on. The article explained that when a shepherd noticed a sheep who willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…who, in turn, was following the shepherd.

Knowing I would begin writing Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart as soon as the Christmas holiday was over, I almost jumped out of my seat when I read this. I was shouting out in my mind, “That’s it! That’s it! A mom should be the bell sheep for her daughter!”

And it’s true! When we as mothers stay close to Jesus—as close as close can be, and when we love Him with all our heart just the way Jesus said to, and when we willingly follow Him and His Word, guess what? We become His bell sheep for our daughters to follow. Our girls observe—and copy—our behavior. They can—and will—follow our example. We become their very own personal walking, living, real flesh and blood, visual example of what it means to be a child, girl, tween, teen, and woman after God’s own heart.

How to Be a Bell Sheep…in Three Verses

Finally Christmas was over, meaning it was D-Day for me—or more accurately, W-Day as in Writing Day. So I sat down to begin and wondered and prayed, “Where does Christian childrearing really begin? And what is Thing 1, Goal 1 for a mom?”

In a few seconds I had the answer! And it came from God’s Word. It was packaged in three verses I had discovered as a young mom, and also as a baby Christian. I flashed back on those early new-believer days of excitement, of newness, of need as I hungered to find out for the first time what God teaches about…everything! And especially “What in the world am I supposed to do with two little toddling girls?”

I’m so glad a wise woman had advised me to read in my new Bible every day. Well, the day arrived when I made it to the book of Deuteronomy. And there I hit gold when my eyes landed on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. I was stunned. Amazed. Thrilled! God was actually showing me His guidelines for raising my own little daughters, then only one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half years old. And in only three verses! How practical is that? Here’s what I read over and over again and finally memorized:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

I adore these verses because they are packed with clear communication to moms. God goes straight to the heart of the matter—the parent’s heart, the mom’s heart. He knows we become what we love. So He is utterly straightforward about where we are to place our love: We are to love Him supremely.

Two Questions to Ask Yourself

Believe me, I thought through this powerful passage—a lot! Then I took it apart word by word and thought by thought. And I came up with two questions I constantly asked my heart during those days with little girls, and still ask even today with two married daughters who are now raising their daughters. (After all, a mom is always a mom!)

Heart Question #1: What—and whom—do I love?

We “love” a lot of things for a lot of different reasons. But God prescribes perimeters and scope for our love. He tells us what not to love: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). And He tells us what we are to love and where our love is to be focused—we are to “love the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

But hold on. The Lord goes a step further and demands all of our love. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being—every breath, every ounce of energy, every thought, every emotion and passion, every choice. He wants us to love Him. He wants us to think first of Him and to desire above all else to please Him. And He wants that love to be intense and total, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” As writer Matthew Henry summarizes, “He that is our all demands our all.”

Matthew Henry continues on to point out that our love for God is to be a strong one that is lived out with great enthusiasm and fervency of affection. It is to be a love that burns like a sacred fire, a love that causes our every affection to flow toward Him.

Now, apply this information about the strength of this kind of love for God and think about the love you have for your daughter, for your children. I’m sure you’ve heard others say, “There is no love like a mother’s love.” And it’s true! From the split second we know a baby is on the way, all our thoughts, dreams, prayers, and goals are channeled toward that little one. We are completely consumed and preoccupied by this tiny being. As the baby grows within us, our love blossoms and our commitment to it grows right along with our expanding body.

Immediately we begin to prepare physically for his or her arrival by meticulously taking care of our health. Healthy mom equals healthy baby, we’re told. We also prepare physically by setting up a nursery area for the new little addition. A bassinet or crib. A blanket. A mobile. Clothes. Supplies. Loads of diapers! Sometimes we even paint or remodel a room.

Then we moms get to work preparing our schedule. Maybe we have to quit a job or arrange for a leave of absence. Oh, and we have to find a pediatrician, as well as make time for our own doctor appointments. And, if we’re smart, we begin to prepare by gathering wisdom and information from our own moms, other moms, and from classes, books, and the Internet.

But as much as we obsess and focus on an approaching child, God wants us to obsess and focus even more on Him. That’s because the more we love Him, the more we will know about love. And the more we know about love, the more we will know about how to love. And the more we know about how to love, the more we will love our baby, our child, our daughter. I like what C.S. Lewis wrote about his love for God and how it affected his relationship with his wife: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” Mom, your love for God will prepare you to love your child. The more you love the Lord, the better you shall love your earthly dearest daughter.

So…God’s first assignment to any and every mother is to love Him above all else. If you are a sold-out, on-fire, hot-hearted, committed-to-God woman, you will be infinitely further down the road to being the kind of mom who, by His grace, can raise a daughter after God’s own heart. Because all your love centers upon God, and because you follow Him with all your heart, you will qualify to lead your daughter to follow God too—to be…well…God’s bell sheep for her.

Heart Question #2: What’s in my heart?

I don’t know what’s in your heart, and I’m working on what’s in mine! But God tells both of us what is supposed to be there, what He wants to be there. Here it is: He says, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (verse 6).

And here’s the scene surrounding these words: In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is in the final weeks of his life. It has been 40 years since God’s people left Egypt, 40 years of homeless wanderings in the desert. At last a new generation was poised to enter into the Promised Land. But before they move out, Moses restates the Law one more time to this new generation that had been born in the wilderness. Because this next generation had married and now had—and would have—children, he addresses their spiritual responsibility as parents. As Moses speaks, he doesn’t want these moms and dads to merely hear the words of the Law and the Ten Commandments. No, he wants more, way more! He wants the words of the Law to go beyond their ears and reside in their hearts.

You may want to look again at Deuteronomy 6:6, but it tells us that God’s Word, the Bible, is to be in our hearts. Other passages in the Bible send us this same message:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11).

My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 7:1,3).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).

The message is repeated…and loud, isn’t it? And clear! God’s Word is to be in our heart. He asks this of you and me as moms. Why? Because when truth resides in your heart, then you have something to pass on to your daughter. She benefits! And you benefit too: As a mother you have something to guide you when you need help, strength, wisdom, and perseverance in your role as a mom, as a bell sheep. Don’t get me wrong—having and raising a child is perhaps the greatest earthly blessing you will ever enjoy. But, at the same time, it is the greatest challenge. But take heart, mom! God’s Word will always be there in you, with you, and for you as you guide your daughter in the ways of the Lord.

So…God’s second assignment for you as a mom is to be committed to His Word. You are to do whatever it takes to embed the teachings of the Bible in your heart, soul, and mind. As the saying goes, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” The same is true of moms. To teach and guide, lead and raise a daughter after God’s own heart presupposes and requires that God’s truth be in your heart first. Then you possess something to impart. Then you have the most important thing to pass on to your precious daughter—the truth about God and the grace He extends through His Son, Jesus.

Becoming the Bell Sheep

I hope your heart is responding fervently to our initial glimpse at this primary role in the life of a mom after God’s own heart—that of being your daughter’s very own bell sheep. But maybe you are feeling like you need a little help. Well, read on to find out how to become the bell sheep. Practical help is on the way!

Part 2  —  Ringing Your Bell

You shall teach them diligently to your children,

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

when you walk by the way, when you lie down,

and when you rise up.

—  Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When my girls were young, I didn’t know about the bell sheep. But if I had, I would have wanted with all my heart to be one. And I would have been praying, “Oh, dear Father! You know how much I desire to be a bell sheep for my daughters. My greatest goal in life is to lead them to Jesus and teach them His ways.” I’m imagining this same heart-cry is being lifted heavenward from your soul’s core too.

As you’ve probably learned, knowing there is something God wants you to do is crucial. And wanting to do what God wants you to do is vital. But if you don’t know how to do what it is God wants you to do, you can become extremely frustrated.

So now we come to the big issue of how do I do this thing God wants—and expects—me to do? Well, here we go!

Yes, but How?

How does a mom help her daughter develop a heart for God? Deuteronomy 6:7 comes to the rescue and answers this question for you and me. God says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children” (verse 7). A mom who wholeheartedly loves the Lord and holds God’s words in her heart is to teach them to her sons and daughters.

—  “To teach”   There are two key ways to teach—by model and by mouth. And there are some basic practices you can follow for teaching effectively. I have a degree in education and have taught preschoolers, students from grades seven through twelve, and adults taking night school classes. Teaching was a job and I took it seriously. I developed my lesson plans for each day, week, month, semester, and school year. And I studied and prepared in advance for each day’s classes.

I also have a daughter who homeschools. I am in constant awe of her commitment. She plans out each year. She searches for materials for five children and their respective grade levels. She orders curriculum to arrive well before back-to-school day so she can preview it. Then she plans in advance the best way to teach, lead, and guide the five of them through each day of study.

Now picture this: I taught subjects that had nothing to do with God or with being a Christian, and so does my daughter. Imagine the effort we both put into teaching information and facts. And here in Deuteronomy 6:7, God is telling both of us—and all moms—to teach our children His Word, His ways, His truth. Now, this is life-changing stuff! The Bible is wisdom that will guide their lives and their choices. It is truth that will pierce a heart and bring a daughter to Christ. So be aware that every time you teach God’s Word you, the bell sheep, are ringing your bell! You are signaling to your daughter the priceless value of the treasure of the Scriptures.

This is exactly what happened in the New Testament to Timothy. As the apostle Paul said of Timothy, his trusted associate in ministry, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). God’s Word is dynamite! And Timothy’s mom and grandmom, a mother/daughter tag team after God’s own heart, were faithful to ring their bells! They were faithful to teach him the sacred truths of the Bible, which paved the way for Timothy’s salvation. Mom and grandmom did their part—they fulfilled their mission to teach God’s saving truth. And God certainly did His part!

Time out for a second. I’m thinking as we pause here, shouldn’t a mom after God’s own heart who wants to raise a daughter after God’s own heart take her teaching of Scripture seriously? If you are in this position, shouldn’t you be committed to…

…instructing your daughter in God’s ways?

…planning to some extent how you will accomplish this goal?

…scheduling a time each day for some kind of formal Bible time with her?

…encouraging her to have some time alone with God, a quiet time?

…coaching her in ways to have daily devotions?

…searching for age-appropriate materials and talking with other moms about how they teach their children biblical truth?

…praying daily about this mission from God, this teacher role He has personally given you?

—  “To teach diligently”   Next God tells us in verse 7 to “teach them diligently to your children.” The “them” is what you are to teach—God’s Word and His commands. And “diligently” is how you are to teach—being purposeful and conscientious in a task or duty.

Think about this for a minute: What are you diligent about? Some women diligently floss their teeth. Others are so diligent they would never miss their daily exercise or walk, or be late to work, or fail to pay a bill on time. I know women who are so serious about every bite of food they put into their mouths that they diligently record what they eat in a daily log. On and on goes the list of life instances in which women choose to be diligent instead of careless, or lazy, or negligent.

Now switch your thoughts to doing what God says, to being diligent to teach spiritual truth to your daughter…versus leaving this all-important assignment to someone else, such as a church leader or a Christian school or a grandparent. Don’t get me wrong! These are wonderful and needed resources. But they are to be your partners in imparting truth, not your substitutes. You as a mother are to be the bell sheep who rings the bell of truth like crazy! You, mom, are to be the primary model and teacher of truth to your daughter.

Well, thank the Lord He doesn’t leave moms on their own. This isn’t mission impossible. No, it’s mission possible. God knows most moms don’t have a degree in education or training in teaching. And, whew, God doesn’t expect this or demand it! Aren’t you glad? Instead, He tells us how to teach and what this teaching involves. He says, “You…shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (verse 7).

No matter who you are, or what you do or don’t know about teaching—or how busy you are!—God expects you to pour God’s Word out of your heart and into your daughter’s heart. All you have to do is:

Step 1, love the Lord with all your heart;

Step 2, have God’s Word in your heart; and now

Step 3, teach His truths diligently.

By…what? Talking?! You mean that’s all? That’s it? Yes, that’s it—by talking.

Now I ask you, you’re a woman. How hard can talking be? Why, we girls are the world’s experts when it comes to talking!

And note where all our mother-to-daughter talking and teaching is to take place—at home. Nothing could be easier or more natural or more convenient than home sweet home! You don’t need elaborate plans. You don’t need to dress up or go anywhere. You don’t need to start the car. And you don’t need to spend any money. No. God simply says that “when you sit in your house,” you are to talk about Him.

Whew again—this one’s easy! You sit to relax. You sit to eat. You sit to visit. You sit to read. You sit to work on a craft together. And you sit whenever you’re in the car together. No matter what your daughter’s age is, these natural, low-key, sitting instances provide prime opportunities to talk about the Lord and His love and His promises…and His Son.

And “when you walk by the way” you are to talk about the Lord. From babyhood, to toddler times, to little girl, to schoolgirl, you’ll be walking with your daughter. That’s your special time for talking about the Lord. So…

Got a newborn? You will walk…and walk…and walk each time you calm your crying, ill, or restless baby. And you’ll put in miles pushing her stroller. And you’ll find yourself talking baby talk to her. I laughed out loud when I read this true-to-motherhood quip: “Being a mom means talking to your baby all the time.” So go ahead and talk all you want. It will develop the habit in you—and tune your baby girl’s heart to your voice.

How about a school-age daughter? If you walk your young daughter to school or to and from the school bus stop, you get to talk about the Lord. Tell her how He will help her through her time at school, with her test or report, with making friends. If you walk to the mailbox down the road, take your daughter along and chat about the wonders of the Lord and what it means to know Him. Let her know how she can trust Him and talk to Him anytime, anywhere, and ask for His help. When you walk together through the grocery store or the mall, again, make that an opportunity to talk about God and His provision and blessings. If there’s a breathtaking sunrise, sunset, rainbow, or wonder of nature—a bird’s nest, blooming flowers, even something as small as a dandelion, go outside and marvel at God’s handiwork together. And while you’re at it, do as the psalmist did and “talk” of His doings. “Praise” the Lord for His mighty acts and His greatness. “Declare” His faithfulness.

And then come the teen years. Hopefully you and your daughter have developed the habit of talking to each other about any and every thing, and especially about the Lord. So during her teen years, when things can get a little weird, and she may even see you as a little weird, you can still talk because of your history of talking. Believe me, if you are available, and care, and give her your love and attention, she will spill all!

And if you haven’t developed this early habit of talking, don’t worry and don’t give up. Just be sure you start now. Start talking, even if your daughter doesn’t seem to be listening. She is hearing, and what you say in loving wisdom will be filed away in her mind and heart. And it won’t go away. She won’t be able to shake it or forget it. Draw your strength from the Lord and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). And if your daughter won’t talk to you, that’s okay. Just know before God that you talked, just like He asked you to do. You faithfully rang your bell. You shared truth from His Word. And take comfort in the fact that God promises His Word will not go forth in vain but will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11).

And to end each day and start the next, God tells you what to do in Deuteronomy 6:7: “When you lie down, and when you rise up,” talk! Talk about the Lord, and keep on talking about Him. You can help even your tiny young daughter start her days and end them with thoughts of God in her mind. You can greet your waking girl with, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Or you can call out, “There you are, my precious blessing from the Lord! Good morning!” And at night, prayer is the perfect way to put a little—and big!—girl to bed. It puts her day and all that happened to rest. It calms all sorrows and soothes every hurt from the day. And it quells her fears. Like David testified, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me,” and “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 3:5 and 4:8).

So…another of God’s assignments to any and every mom is to constantly be teaching and talking to your daughter about the Lord you love. Teaching and talking. And talking and teaching. Or put another way, ringing your bell! I hope you are grasping that being a Christian mom is more than taking your children to church. Home is a sort of church too. Home is the natural 24/7, morning-to-evening place to impress truth upon your daughter. Home is where she gets to see and hear every day how important the Lord is to you. Wherever and whenever the two of you are together is God’s opportunity for you to tell her about Him. So take advantage of the gift of such times. And if they are too few and far between, make it happen. Create the times together. In his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, author Tedd Tripp gives this challenge to parents:

You shepherd your child in God’s behalf. The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your children. Whether waking, walking, talking or resting, you must be involved in helping your child to understand life, himself and his needs from a biblical perspective.

But What If…

I realize this ideal scenario does not happen in every mother/daughter relationship. Maybe the family you grew up in was not a Christian family. God knows that. He knows all about it—all about what you missed, and all about what you know and don’t know about being a Christian family and mom. So know that your mission is to begin where you are to follow the Lord. It’s never too late to receive Christ as Savior, to begin loving the Lord and growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him and His Word. You can choose any day—today, if you haven’t already—to begin diligently teaching the daughter you love, and talking to her about the God you love and who loves her. Point her to God. Encourage her in the Lord. Teach her what you know about Him from experience and from study. Pray for her with your every heartbeat. See her spiritual growth into a daughter after God’s own heart as your calling, your mission assignment from God. Commit to doing your part, and trust God to do His.

Perhaps you are thinking, This woman is crazy! Well, I wouldn’t blame you. But I will tell you I am crazy about God, crazy about my two daughters, and crazy about my four granddaughters. I will also tell you that I am passionate and passionately sold out to my role as a woman, mom, and grandmom after God’s own heart. It’s just so clear what God wants His moms to be and do. Your daughter has no other mother. You are the one He has chosen to teach her. And if you don’t, what if no one does?

Here’s a powerful description of what an all-out, all-or-nothing love for God and our daughters looks like. Let it encourage you today and in the decades of mothering to come:

…my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity…I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or slow up.

You Can Do It!

Each of the following suggestions is something you can do to contribute toward becoming the mom you dream of being. And each one betters your life…and your daughter’s too. Here we go:

Analyze your day.

Think through the rhythm of your day and pinpoint your discretionary time, the time when you have a choice about how it is used, when you can choose how it’s spent. There is always time to do what’s important to you. You’ll need to find the time to get to know God—to put first things first.

Design a quiet time.

Once you’ve carved out a special time to be with God, begin reading your Bible—even for just ten minutes. It’s been calculated that if you simply read your Bible for ten minutes a day, you will read through all of it in one year. That’s a doable task for you as a bell sheep whose life goal is leading your daughter to Jesus. There are scores of activities that fill your day. So steal ten minutes from a nonimportant activity like time on the Internet, time talking on the phone, time watching TV. Make a daily appointment with God and allow Him to speak to your heart from His Word.

Memorize Scripture.

Here’s a statistic for you: People remember about 40 percent of what they read. Wouldn’t it be nice to remember 100 percent? Well, you can if you memorize verses from the Bible. That’s what someone told me as a new Christian, and I followed their advice. As I shared earlier, as soon as I read Deuteronomy 6:5-7, I learned it by heart. I also picked out some verses that would help me with my daily life, including the daily challenge of being a mom after God’s own heart. Like “I can do all things [including be a mom!] through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Once you store up some verses in your heart, you’ll find that wherever you are and whatever is happening, you can remember God’s words to you. And just think—as a bell sheep, you can draw your daughter to Jesus as you speak His words to her.

Read about parenting.

In my mentoring ministry, one of my assignments for the women I meet with and give my time to is that they read five minutes a day on a variety of topics. They can pick the topics and the books. They can buy them, borrow them, or check them out of the church library. I do this because I’ve been reading on my own topics for five minutes a day for decades! For instance, I’ve been reading five minutes a day on marriage and family for what seems like forever. The same goes for time and life management. And health.

If you do this too, you will amaze yourself as you become an expert on your subjects by merely reading five minutes a day on them. You will also be super motivated because the topic and your new knowledge is fresh in your mind. Instead of dreading something, you’ll look forward to approaching it differently and trying some new techniques or methods. Your reading will serve as a reminder and an instructor to pay attention to the areas of your life you targeted for growth. Pray, and then choose your subjects. Just be sure as a mom that childrearing is one of them.

Write a letter to God about your daughter.

Then read the letter to Him as a prayer. Prayer involves God. So now there are two of you taking on the challenge of raising a daughter after God’s own heart. It will seal your commitment to becoming God’s kind of mom so, Lord willing and by His grace, your daughter grows to be God’s kind of girl. File your “My Prayer to Be a Mom After God’s Own Heart” away where it is handy and can be prayed often, even daily. Your prayer is another good reminder each day to keep on keeping on in your goals as a mom and your goals for your daughter. And here’s an idea: Each year on your daughter’s birthday, slip a copy of your prayer into her birthday card. Be sure to tell her where you were and what you were feeling when you wrote it. What a gift!

Mom’s Think Pad

Before you move on to your next Mom Mission, take a minute or two to think about what you can do to track with God as a mom. Make some plans of your own to take a few small steps that make a big difference.

I’m awfully busy, but I want to be the mom God wants me to be! What are several things I can do—or not do—to create some time to get into God’s Word? I want to be a mom after God’s own heart!
I want to set a goal to memorize Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Here’s my checklist:
Write these verses on an index card and carry it with me.

Pick a daily five-minute time slot that works for my schedule, during which I can memorize these verses.

Write out each verse ten times.

Copy these verses on several more index cards and post them on the refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, computer, car dashboard.

Ask my daughter to help me memorize these verses, to listen to me recite them, to be my audience, my checker, my best helper!

What are some ways I can “teach” my daughter about God and His Word by “talking” about Him…
…when we are sitting together?

…when we are walking together?

…when she is going to bed or going down for her nap?

…when she gets up?

What are some ways I can be more faithful and “diligent” in passing on God’s truth to my daughter?
Do I need to be mentored in my own spiritual growth? Who could help me? Or is there a class I can take? A group I can join? A book I can read?

Have you ever gone to Bible Camp or to a Faith-based conference of some sort? Remember the high that you experienced before you left~ the feeling of being filled, fed and inspired? That is the sort of feeling I get as I read the chapters in this book. I have not had it long enough to have worked through the entire book, but I expect to be blessed the whole way through. 
This is especially helpful to me right now as I am in a time of life where attending a Sunday School class, Bible study, or even sitting through a sermon are infrequent happenings (Sunday School and Bible Study are not practical for me right now, and currently, I *am* the Sunday School teacher during regular service times for the preschool crowd). I appreciate the chance to be fed and challenged, even if it is on my own, going through this most excellent book. 

In case you're interested, the chapters are:
  • Chapter 1: The Bell Sheep ~ Earning Your Bell and Ringing Your Bell
  • Chapter 2: The Prayer Warrior ~ Remembering to Pray and Gearing Up for Battle
  • Chapter 3: The Sower of Seed ~ The Heart of the Sower and The Work of a Sower
  • Chapter 4: The Coach
  • Chapter 5: The Church Lady
  • Chapter 6: The Social Secretary
  • Chapter 7: The Teacher ~ The Model and The Mentor
  • Chapter 8: The Homebuilder
  • Chapter 9: The Cheerleader
  • Chapter 10: The Shepherd
  • Chapter 11: The Marathon Runner
Regardless of your circumstance, you may be blessed as well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of theFIRST Wild Card Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strategy Games Rule! (Tri-Cross Game Review)

The TOS Crew has been on the receiving end of some very FUN packages this year.  In spite of "The word on the street"(at least in OUR neighborhood) regarding education's image, there are many folks out there determined to share with the world how agreeable exercising your brain can be.
Tri-Cross Logo

We were very excited to be on the review list for the Tri-Cross Strategy Game. Games are a favorite pastime in our home, especially those that are reasonably quick, and adaptable to a wide variety of ages. I think that Tri-Cross Strategy Game is good on both counts.

Tri-Cross~ What was in the package Our package contained not only the standard box version of the game, but also the Dr. Toy Best Green Product of 2010 winner, the travel/eco-version of the game in a nifty drawstring bag.

Considering that we were expecting only the travel/eco version, this was a delightful surprise. I especially appreciated it because in our family of 5, someone is invariably left out of those 4-player games, or required to team up, which isn't always desirable.

Travel Edition and Contents of Tri-Cross boardgame box The play is fairly quick, and reminds me of a number of card and board games, but at the same time is something unique and new.

The basic concept is to either eliminate your opponent's pieces (By jumping over them almost checkers-style ~ the difference being that play is always either horizontal or vertical, never diagonal~ ), or maintain the position of your piece on the center space of the board for 4 of your consecutive turns.

There are multiple variations on the game, and I'm not going to try to explain how to play it here, as I am not fond of re-inventing the wheel, so here is a video from the good folks at Tri-Cross: Games for Competitors, themselves.

I WILL emphasize that there are variations on how to place the pieces, and whether they are facing up or hidden~ This makes a huge difference in the way the game is approached, and sometimes how much it is appreciated :)

Tri-Cross Travel GameThe game is deceptively simple, and can be adapted up or down based on the ability of your players. For instance, even my 4 year old got in on the play, when we chose to try 3-player for the first time. When playing the "face-down" version, there is that element of "Chance", which suits those with younger players, like my son, very well. As a matter of fact, he knocked me out of the game, and then handily beat his sister. She was disgusted(in a rather funny way) that he won the first game (And he was rather delighted)! :) Now,  I admit that I might have helped him as far as knowing when to jump, but other than that, he chose which pieces to move, and in which direction.

TriCross Board GameThe playing pieces are a delightful heft~ similar in quality and weight to good playing dice. but half the height. I really liked the feel of them in my hand. :) And the Travel/Eco version is just the right size to pop into a back-pack or bag for a camping trip, a picnic, or a day at the park.

I am especially happy with this game as I had already determined that Middlest could use some honing of his logic skills. This is a great little item to have on hand for "Fun Friday" if you do such a thing, and also just for rainy day fun, or family game nights.

We tried to come up with some "Cons" to this game to share with you, but weren't successful. Here is a quick recap of the "Pros" that we found: 
  • Quick and easy enough to learn the basics that my 4 year old can join in
  • Enough variation to make it challenging as skill increases
  • A great little "logic" exercise to encourage those that think "learning" isn't fun
  • Quick game play~ Monopoly and Risk this is most definitely NOT! One of those "just right" for 10-30 minutes of engaging play.
  • Aesthetically pleasing in all areas, visual and tactile. 
The Nitty Gritty~
Tri-Cross Games for Competitors
Recommended age~ 10-Adult (Obviously~ your mileage will vary, but it is certainly most beneficial for those 10+...)
  • Standard, Boxed Edition $24.95
  • Travel/Eco Edition $19.95 and for the real strategy game enthusiast in your home...
  • The Wood Edition $35.95
The  games can be purchased online or from your local specialty toy store (Retail locations by state).

For other TOS Crew Reviewer opinions, please visit the TOS Crew Blog
As always, I hope that this review was helpful to you as you choose where best to allocate your homeschool and gift budgets (Isn't it grand when the two coincide???).
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fulfillment Principle (FIRST Wild Card Tour)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Leafwood Publishers (July 5, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Bob Westfall is president of the Westfall Group which serves charities and Christian ministries in financial stewardship and communications. He frequently speaks at national conferences and to charity boards, philanthropists, churches and other groups. Previously he served as the director of development for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries (WTB). He currently lives in Suwanee, Georgia, with his wife, Kim, and is the parent of four children.

Visit the author's website.


Bob Westfall asks readers, “Are you ready to dream God’s Dream?” in his new book The Fulfillment Principle: Experiencing a Life of Pure Joy and Fulfillment. He invites those who are overwhelmed and unfulfilled to realize this simple but profound truth: “When you use the gifts God gives you to live out the dream He has birthed in you, then you experience the joy of fulfillment that comes straight from heaven.”

Drawing on the challenge from Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, Westfall shows readers how the creator of the universe hands his children a clear, concise blueprint for pure joy. They will see the extraordinary impact individuals can have when they choose to use their gifts and not bury them. They will learn:

How to discover their God given talents
How to invest the talents God has given them and
How to realize a life of joy and fulfillment

The Fulfillment Principle is packed with stories, encouragement, and motivation to help readers pursue their God given gifts in order to experience the joy of a lifetime—for a lifetime. Fulfillment isn’t impossible or unreachable. It starts with the understanding that God created each of us with a glorious dream for who we are. Westfall encourages, “It is not up to you and me to worry about results. It is up to you and me to figure out what God wants us to do—and to do it. If he is with you in the dream he has placed in your heart, nothing can stop it from unfolding the way he wants it to, no matter how impossible it may seem.”

“The Fulfillment Principle will find you wherever you are on the path to joy, meet you there, continue on the journey with you, and lend some remarkable energy and inspiration along the way. Whether your joy has been wearied from circumstances, disappointments, waylaid dreams—or if you are simply searching for a way to expand the broad shoulders of already-present joy in your life - this book is for you,” says Bruce Wilkinson, a New York Times #1 bestselling author.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers (July 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0891122877
ISBN-13: 978-0891122876



God wants you to “enter in”

It is vanity to love that which passeth away, and not to hasten where eternal joy abideth.

— The Imitation of Christ 1:4, Thomas รก Kempis

There’s something you want, we all want. In fact, our hearts ache for it. Some of us realize it sooner than others. Unfortunately, some of us never realize it at all.

It’s joy. It’s fulfillment.
It’s a pleasure and contentment and peace—an unending spring of living water—that runs deep within our very being.

Do you have it?
Books have been written about going from “good to great” and from “success to significance.” But this little book is different. It’s intentionally written not to give you a temporary high or take you on a mountaintop experience, only to let you fall back to reality again, unchanged, trying in your flesh to cling to the concepts you read in some manual.
The 100-proof fulfillment principle conveyed through the stories and scriptures in this book is bulletproof. Fears arise, uncertainty looms, storms hit, but the joy is there, inside you—a rock that can’t be rolled, a fire that can’t be quenched, a contentment that can’t be contaminated.
Many people have heard the story of the talents in the Bible. A man—who is a picture of Jesus—is about

to go on a journey. Before he leaves, he calls his servants— a picture of us—and doles out his possessions

to them. One servant is given five talents, one is given two talents, another is given one talent.
Before I get further into the details of the parable, however, allow me to jump to a segment of the story that most people overlook. I did, until the winter of 2001 when a life-changing nugget from this tale hit me like a semi-truck sent from heaven, proverbially altering the way I live and move and have my being.

You see, at the time I was experiencing some incredible personal challenges with my life feeling unfulfilled. I was successful at work, but feeling as though I had missed my mark and my calling.

The words I’m referring to—the ones that changed the landscape of my life once and for all—are those of the man who went on the journey, the man who represents Jesus in the parable.

When that man returns from his long trip, he sees that the men who were given five talents and two talents had invested the money, each making double what he’d left them. In response, the master says: “‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master’” (Matt. 25:21, emphasis mine).
Hold it right there.
“Enter into the joy of your master?”

Where did that come from?
Everyone knows the part that says, “Well done, good and faithful slave.” And some people know about the, “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” But how many people realize that in this oft-repeated text, the creator of the universe hands his children a clear, concise blueprint for pure joy?

And we’re talking about you and me, entering in to his joy—a joy unspeakable and unending—right now.

Not tomorrow.
Not next week or month.
But today.
Not only pastors or missionaries.
Not only scholars and saints.
But you and me. School teachers and business people, housewives and home school moms, mechanics and mill workers, computer geeks and career women.

How many people realize that in this oft-repeated text, the creator of the universe hands his children a clear, concise blueprint for pure joy?
How do you get to that place where you can almost see God smiling as he whispers those words: “Enter

into the joy of your master”?
Perhaps the easiest way to get you there is by going in the opposite direction. . . .
Discussion Questions

1) Do you believe God wants you to have joy here on earth?

2) Read the parable of the talents in Mathew 25: 14-30. What, in your opinion, is the main overall message in this passage?

3) In the parable of the talents, what do you think the Master means when he says, “Enter into the joy of your Master?” Is it meant for you, today? How do you attain it?

4) Are you fulfilled in your current work or occupation?

Due to a variety of circumstances, please look for MY review of this book at a later date. In the meantime, read the first chapter above and see whatYOU think!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Beverly Lewis' "The Shunning" Hallmark Movie Review and Giveaway

Growing up in Montana, and having only 2 TV stations, my family almost always made a point of watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. Sometimes they were classics ( I remember them playing an old black and white movie, "The Black Swan" starring Tyrone Power...), and other times made-for-tv movies.  However, it has been a long time since we've been able to watch any Hallmark movies. That is one reason why I was excited to be asked to review The Hallmark Channel's The Shunning, based on the book by Beverly Lewis.

Here is some information about the movie from the publisher: 

Beverly Lewis' The Shunning - About the Movie 

Before she succumbs to cancer, the dying wish of Laura Mayfield-Bennett is to be reunited with the daughter she never knew. Unfortunately, that daughter, Katie Lapp, is a member of the Amish order. Katie is about to be married, but uneasy about the path ahead.  Now she discovers the secret her parents have kept from her: she's adopted. 

The film is based on the celebrated first novel of the best-selling "The Heritage of Lancaster County" book series from author Beverly Lewis. Stars Danielle Panabaker & Sherry Stringfield.

BEVERLY LEWIS - Author of "The Shunning" 

Beverly Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, is The New York Times bestselling author of more than eighty books.  Her stories have been published in eleven languages worldwide.  A keen interest in her mother's Plain heritage has inspired Lewis to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with "The Shunning," which has sold more than one million copies.  In 2007, Lewis' "The Brethren" was honored with a Christy Award. Lewis lives with her husband, David, in Colorado.

You can watch the Trailer here  and you can also check out The Shunning on Facebook if that is your speed. 

The Shunning is a beautifully filmed story. Michael Landon Jr. carries on his father's legacy quite well. The cast is well chosen and very emotively talented.  The subject of the Amish makes it feel like something set in another time and place. For someone who doesn't live in Lancaster County, PA, or another Amish community, it is amazing to realize that the story is set in the present time. I felt it was very authentic, however. The farmhouses made me recall with fondness our visit to a friend's home in Ohio in Amish Country a few years ago. 
As Katie Lapp struggles to discover her identity, wise words are given by Ella Mae Zook in one of my favorite scenes. She advises her that miracles are found in the life you HAVE, not the life you miss. Good advice, fancy or plain~ to look for God where you ARE, not where you wish to be.

This is a movie that I've found myself thinking about after watching it, which is always a good sign. :) I am glad to have added this to our family's library, and think it would make a great gift (think Christmas) for the movie-lover in your life. 

Now, here's the good news~ if you don't get the Hallmark Channel, you can purchase the DVD (Check out Family Christian, among other retailers), and you can also sign up for a giveaway here on my blog! :) 

Details:Giveaway is open till 12 noon, EST October 3, 2011  October 7, 2011due to technical difficulties @ Blogger.....

IMPORTANT~ you MUST leave me a way to contact you if are the winner~ so please, make sure that I can email you from your profile or leave your email in your comment. Thanks! :) and FYI~ this giveaway is open everywhere, not US only! :D Yay!
  1. Mandatory entry~(2 step) Leave a comment telling me where you heard about this giveaway, AND what Beverly Lewis Title is your favorite, or which title you would most like to read :) 
Optional entries:
  1. Follow me via GFC (Leave a comment)
  2. Follow me via Blog Frog(Leave a comment)
  3. Like my page on Facebook (Please like me with your personal page, and leave a comment with your FB name)
  4. Follow me on Twitter (Leave a comment with your Twitter ID) 
  5. Post about this giveaway on Facebook(including a link to this post) and leave me a link to your post (up to 3 entries, one/day)
  6. Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter leave me a link to the tweet (up to 5 entries, one/day)  Please include the following 5 items in your tweet~ @acornsofgold #giveaway #theshunning #BeverlyLewis , and a link to this post.
  7. Post a "Thoughtful" comment on one of my previous blog posts~
OK, that's about it~ plenty of ways to enter~

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.



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