Friday, January 29, 2010

Linky Love: The River Within

"What am I doing here?" 

It is a question that has haunted Jason ever since he heard his dad utter it prior to his death several years ago. Now, fresh out of law school, and with an upcoming bar exam to prepare for, the highly motivated and strictly disciplined Jason returns to the small Southern town he grew up in to spend the summer studying. He reconnects with Paul - a "shoulda been" actor who has just returned from Los Angeles, and Layla (Jaclyn Friedlander) - an old friend whose childhood crush on Jason returns with his sudden reemergence, sending her engagement into a tailspin.

But it is a chance-encounter with David (Craig Morris) - a pastor at a local church - that changes his life forever. David offers Jason a part time summer job as a youth director, and he reluctantly accepts it, caving into the pressure from Layla and the need for some extra summer cash.

But as he gets to know the kids and their individual struggles, he gradually discovers a passion that he didn't know existed within him; and he soon realizes that his dad's life-long question has now become his own.

The River Within is the feature film debut of writer/director Zac Heath. Shot on location along the Spring River in beautiful Northeast Arkansas, it explores the idea that each of our lives has a purpose; whether we know it or not.

Rebecca Grace, AFA Journal, calls The River Within, "a beautiful film about passion, plans and purpose. It's a reminder of how God has made you who you are for a reason, and, as a result you should surrender your talents and dreams for His glory."

The Dove Foundations awards The River Within 5 out of 5 Doves and recommends it for ages 12 and above.

You can order this video and get free shipping here. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homeschool: Studying Architecture

 Last semester the boys asked if we could study architecture after Christmas.   I promised that we would and began digging and exploring.      Architecture seemed so simple when they mentioned it, but I have now realized that there are just so many tie ins for this one subject.      Science, math, technology, engineering, and history are the first obvious ones that come to mind, but I have realized that we can tie this unit into just about every subject area.       I thought I would share with you some of the links, projects and ideas I gathered that we are using for our architecture study.     

The best part of this unit is that I let the boys kind of direct the unit by choosing the people and places they wanted to study.     The only requirement is that if I let them choose then I got to choose at least one "weird" one for them to research.    Their involvement means that they will want to learn more and more and more!

Some People To Study:   Frank Lloyd Wright, Marion Mahonney Griffin, William Le Baron Jenney, Louis Sullivan, Thomas Jefferson, Noah (my choice)

Some Places to Study:   Big Ben,  Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Monticello, The Gherkin (my choice)

Lesson Plans
We are pulling bits and pieces of information from the various lesson plans I found on the internet.  

Huntsville City Schools Architecture Lesson Plans
(K-5)  Great vocabulary and great art lessons.      

MTSU Architecture Lesson Plans
Bag buildings, building with bricks, construction work, etc...

Construction, Trade and Building Lesson Plans
This is not something you would normally include in lesson plans at school, but the boys are eating it up!!   Cabinet installation, drawing a floor plan, folk toy projects, measuring and marking wood.... There are a lot of good lessons here.

Architecture:  It's Elementary

Teaching with Historic Places
These lessons, based on sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places, are free and ready for immediate classroom use by students in history and social studies classes.

Architecture in Mississippi
I have to include our home state in our architecture studies.    This lesson encourages investigation of a variety of architectural styles used throughout the state’s history.


Uberstix are touted to be the building tool of future architects.      My boys enjoy these a lot.    They do not have enough to build a entire building because we haven't found any of these kits on sale.

I just can't see spending a lot of money when we already have so many great architectural basics around the house.    It is all in how you look at your toys when you are homeschooling, isn't it.   For example what could tie into an architecture unit better than Lincoln Logs?   or a basic set of blocks?   or that giant set of Legos?

One of our favorite things to build with is K'Nex.     They have an AMAZING set for an architecture series.    It includes buildings, structures and machines.    It has enough materials to support two students (perfect for us!).   What does that mean?   Eight of the models can be built two at a time!     The models include:   Eiffel Tower, Seattle Space Needle, Flying Buttress System, Windmill, Big Ben, Crane, Arc de Triomphe, the CN Tower and the first Iron Bridge.     One of the best things about a K'nex education set is the teacher's guide that comes along with it as well!  

There is a great deal of geometry in architecture.    

Math-Kitecture    The boys have been able to use estimation, measuring skills, proportion, and ratios by hand-drafting a floor plan of their classroom to scale. They then use existing classroom software to create a computer-aided design (CAD) version.

Mathline   How much material are you going to need to finish your project?   This calculates the amounts of lots of different materials such as concrete.   

Pyramid Math - Architecture using an algebra basic:  the commutative property!  

Bucky's Blueprints and Geometry Workshop at are both great!     


 Creation - God was the greatest architect ever.   He CREATED the world!     I strongly recommend Answers in Genesis for all your creation studies.

Solomon's Temple - It took 7 years to build!

Tower of Babel  

Noah's Ark - What were the most important factors in Ark construction? First stability. Then, efficient use of material.  The plan God gave Noah was amazing, but the shapes shown in children’s books and elsewhere are actually ridiculously unstable.    This great book shows the truth.  

3D Bible Project - Tour Solomon's Temple, Moses' Temple and Noah's Ark

This is a broad subject considering all architecture is really art! 
Draw 50 Buildings  From the Eiffel Tower to the Taj Mahal -- step by step instructions for 50 man-made and natural structures from around the world are drawn here.

Architecture Journal    Since we are studying the different periods and styles in architecture, the boys are taking their cameras around our area and finding examples of those different styles.    They take photos and paste them in their journal.     They are also looking in magazines and newspapers for examples. 

The Sky Is The Limit       This is a great art lesson using skylines as its basis.     Artwork is done on grey paper with white and black pencils.    Instead of highlighting with grey (as is typical), you highlight with white because the paper is grey.   The results are so great!

Box City  When I saw this Advent Calendar on Artist Woman's blog I knew I was going to snag it for our architecture series.      So perfect for studying city layout, isn't it?!?       Such a cheap project too.    Just start saving all those leftover boxes NOW.  


Famous Architects - Great site to read about famous architects and their life's work!

Explore the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, divided here into 10 periods spanning his life of 91 years on this PBS website.

There are so many new terms when you start an architecture unit.   This online illustrated dictionary is great for definitions as well as photo illustrations.     All photos are taken in the Buffalo, NY area.     This sparked an idea for us to do a similar thing in our area. 


Not just an architecture site, but great science and history tie ins on this NOVA website.  

Understand why George Washington was so revered during his lifetime and beyond, and learn why it took 100 years to complete this famous monument in his honor.

Tools and Kits

Architecture Kit
The Architecture and Engineering sets contain the most popular products — two tubes of 2mm Lumograph lead in 4H and H, a Technico 9mm lead holder with clip, one sandpaper lead pointer, a masterbow compass, 6" protractor, an 8" and 10" triangle, a Mars plastic eraser, erasing shield, mini dusting brush, and 12" triangular architect's or engineer's scale in a sturdy plastic carrying case with easy-open zip lock.

Architectural Templates
A variety of templates available for about $10 each including house furnishings, house plan and plumping, and professional builders.

Lego Architecture
The John Hancock Center, The Empire State Center, The Seattle Space Needle are just tip of the architecture gold mine in the Lego Architecture series.     This great website also is a great resource for structural wonders.

I found great puzzles in the Michael's Dollar Bins.    They had several like the one you see in the picture ranging from $3 - $5.    I paid $5 for this puzzle and Amazon is selling exact one for $30.    Michael's is a wonderful thing!

I also found some architecture kits at Pier 1 of all places.   We bought Big Ben, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and The Eiffel Tower (see in pic).     We got them in the clearance section after Christmas for about $3 each.    These 3d kits are put out by "World's Greatest Architecture".

Barnes and Noble was the source of our next two finds....
This balloon architecture kit was a lot of fun for my older son, but quite challenging for my younger son.     The instructions were not always as detailed as we might have needed.     However, the great thing was since it was a kit using balloons we just bought more balloons when we made a mistake!

Finding Four Extraordinary Skyscrapers was a steal from the clearance section in my opinion!   A big bonus was the deck of illustrated cards which formed a tower that shows the famous skyscrapers on each side and functions as a lamp when finished.     Now I wish I had bought two of these kits!

Great Books

The Architecture Pack
A work of art in itself, The Architecture Pack is a highly sophisticated version of the beloved pop-up book that offers a unique, cross-cultural, three-dimensional tour of architecture through the centuries. By flipping the elaborately engineered pages, we learn what architects do, how they do it, and all about the great buildings of the world from antiquity to the present. It's packed with information and hands-on activities, models, fold-outs, pop-ups, and 3-D glasses; readers can even fold out a miniature version of the Colosseum in Rome or a French Gothic cathedral.
My son is fascinated with Frank Lloyd Wright so finding this interactive book which included a CD in the bargain bin at Books A Million was a steal.    It was a wonderful book that includes a collection of his photos, previously unpublished architectural sketches, and copies of various documents written by and to Mr. Wright himself.   

We have loved this book so much that I am now anxious to add the Thomas Jefferson book which is done in a similar style.   Thomas Jefferson is known as the architect of America and definitely one of our "architects to know".  

Great Links

Paper Toys    Build Wrigley Field, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Frank Lloyd Wright house, Taj Mahal, the White House, Big Ben, Eiffel Tower and many more out of PAPER!     We LOVE this website  especially on rainy days.    I keep a stash of card stock just so they can print things out from this site.

This quiz sponsored by HGTV determines your architecture personality.   At the end of the quiz it tells you about the different styles of architecture.    This is definitely geared more towards adults than students, but the boys loved taking the tests lots of different ways to see what types of styles they could produce.     

"archKIDecture was established in 1996 to encourage visual literacy and explain math, science and visual arts concepts through the medium of architecture."    I couldn't have described it any better!

Love this website which is broken down by grades:  K-5.      Younger students will design a home to older students designing cities.    All subjects are incorporated into these architecture studies and vocabulary is included.   

Building Big
PBS developed this site for use with the five-part series Building Big by David Macaulay. It covers bridges, domes, skyscrapers, dams, and tunnels. Interactive activities allow children experience with the challenges of design and construction for each of these structure types as well as engineering labs that cover forces, loads, materials, and shapes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hidden Flame

Abigail had lost everything--home--family, and left with little promise of a normal life. When she discovers the Messiah and joins his followers, she also discovers new meaning and purpose. Maybe she does have a future after all. But increasing persecution is scattering the burgeoning group "to the ends of the earth." And Abigail may have given her heart to the wrong man.Abigail, an orphan, has found the young brother she had thought was dead. Along the way she also has found a second family--those brave followers of the Jewish prophet Jesus. Under attack from several groups who hate them for their growing influence, these new Christians are spreading out from Jerusalem, taking their life-changing message with them. This further enrages the religious elite, and they engage whomever they can to stamp out this powerful new sect called The Way.

 This book was provided free by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review
Biblical fiction, when done well, makes you crave Scripture anew.   It makes you grab your Bible off the shelf and want to read the stories all over again with brand new eyes and open ears to what God wants you to hear.     Davis Bunn and Janette Oke have accomplished that again with their second book in the Acts of Faith series, Hidden Flame.     Unlike Centurion's Wife the first book in the series (and is on sale at CBD), which was set in the time period when Jesus is crucified and resurrected, Hidden Flame opens during the days of the early church  following Jesus' ascension into heaven.  

The book centers around Abigail.       The opening scenes of the book find you in the midst of a wedding ceremony (which was so beautifully describes the historical customs the day) of Alban and Leah.     The wedding is interrupted when it is found the couple is in danger and they must run for their lives.

Abigail is left behind.     Such a simple thing in today's world, but so complicated in the culture of that day.     Two suitors begin to ask for Abigail's hand in marriage.      Neither of which she feels is right for her because they are not followers of "The Way" (Christians).

Her life is intertwined with the lives of Martha and Peter.    You will not only recognize people such as Gamaliel, Ananias, Sapphira, and even Saul, but you will "see" them.  However, most important you will discover that her life has significant meaning with Stephen, the first church martyr.

Budding Architects

The boys asked to study architecture this semester.      I am going to be making a huge post of all the great links and books I have found (so far) for our studying, but I thought I would post one of their first projects.

I found these two puzzles in a clearance bin at Pier 1.     It said they only had about 40 pieces a piece which I thought was going to be way too easy for them.   However, these were tough puzzles.    I am not sure if there was an age suggestion on the box, but we definitely got our $4 worth out of these.

On the back of the box was a great historical description of each structure which was a great jumping-off point for their research.    

Excuse the bad pics.    These were taken with my phone because my camera is missing (that is another post).

Little Guy with his Eiffel Tower model

Some of his research challenges for the Eiffel Tower
*  Discover the names of French scientists and mathematicians that were placed on plaques in the Tower more than 100 years ago.
*  Find and visit the official site of the Eiffel Tower

*  List the main features of the Eiffel Tower
*   How far is the Eiffel Tower from our house?
* Draw the Eiffel Tower in your art journal

Big Guy with his Leaning Tower of Pisa

Some of his research challenges for the Leaning Tower
 *  Find and visit the official website
*  What is the legend of Galileo and the leaning tower?
*  Why hasn't the Leaning Tower fallen?
*  What is the "absolute" location?
*   Identify some of the functions of the Leaning Tower
*  How far is the Leaning Tower from our house?
*  How much does it weigh?
Draw the Leaning Tower in your art journal

Both boys must complete the Hands On Bridge Building Project.   They will be working together.  I can't wait to post photos of that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Give Me That Old Time Religion

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to His Holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”    Jude 1:3-4

As long as there have been churches, there have been people who have been "false teachers".     When I was a little girl, I remember seeing Jim and Tammy Faye Baker on television.     All that makeup on her face and all that crying and there was never a single tear or mascara smudge.      Good grief!

That first introduction to "false teachers" made me very aware of those around me.     It made me very conscious of what people are teaching, what they are basing it on and what they're motivations are.

I have mentioned before that if something or someone becomes extremely popular in today's culture then I am very wary about it.       Books like "The Shack" and "The Purpose Driven Life" have risen to the top of the best selling charts among Christians and non-Christians alike.       "The Shack" is a fiction book but people are using it in churches are supplements for Sunday Schools.      I am astounded by that fact considering the amount of heresy in the book.      This book actually states:   1.   There is no such thing as judgement or torment in hell.   Hmmm.   Ever read Luke 12:5?    2.   Everyone will make it to heaven.     And we spent all that time learning John 3:15-16 in Sunday School.    3.    Jesus is constantly being changed right along with us.     I beg to differ.    The Bible says He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

It isn't just books.     There are preachers too.    Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, Doug Pagitt and so many others.     They are part of the emergent church movement.   These pastors are wildly successful preaching a prosperity gospel.   However, more than that they are preaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented to make it more relevant to this generation.        These preachers are also promoting a trend of preaching "world peace" through claiming other religions as valid and  there being many ways to God.     They know that today's culture doesn't like to be uncomfortable so they do not preach on hell, the cross or anything that prick their congregations conscious.    During a radio interview,  Doug Pagitt was recently quoted as saying, "there is no place of eternal conscious torment for persons who die apart from faith in Jesus Christ."

It isn't just the big publicized churches that are leading people astray.     Our local churches are just as at fault.     The Bible says we are not to be conformed to this world.       Some churches have tried to make their "doors" so welcoming that they are not set apart at all.       What does it mean when your church offers things to your children that you won't let them do at home?     What does it mean when evening services are cancelled and football games are shown in the sanctuary?

I have always been told that nothing worth having comes easy.     I know that is true with the Christian walk.    How do I know that is true?    Because Jesus died on the cross to make it possible.      He didn't die on the cross to promise me prosperity, an easy life, or any of the other things being promoted in these false doctrines we are surrounded with today.     He died on the cross so that if I believe in Him, and Him alone, I can have eternal life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kelly's Chance

Life for Kelly McGregor is a daily drudge of driving her overbearing father’s mules along Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Canal. She dreams of one day owning an art gallery where her own drawings and paintings are on display. But these dreams don’t include marriage. . .not after seeing what her father has done to her mother. How then can Mike Cooper, a general store owner, make her realize he is different than her father and wants to support her artistic talent? Will Kelly learn that dreams can walk hand in hand with a love created by God?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Kelly’s Chance , go HERE.

Book Review
I so wish I could review this book for you.   Wanda Brunstetter writes wonderful books!    If you have read her books, you probably associate her mostly with books set in the Amish community.      I hope this book finally lands in my mailbox because I would really love to read it.

Live FREE or Die

On Friday, Glenn Beck did an hour long documentary on The Progressive Movement. If you have not familiarized yourself with The Progressive Movement, may I suggest that you take the time to do it NOW! "Progressive" doesn't sound intimidating until you realize that it is rooted and based on socialism and communism. The freedoms which we are enjoying today are being threatened as you sit here reading this blog.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that viewer discretion is definitely advised.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Linky Love: The Daily Digi

I love to scrapbook.    I used to buy scrapbook supplies like crazy.     Every paper, sticker, brad, vellum, and adhesive just made me "ooh and ahhh".     The problem was that I could never bring myself to use my supplies.    I didn't want to mess them up.    What if I put them down on the paper and then didn't like what I did?     The whole time I was creating my page I was mentally calculating how much that page was costing.

I was so excited when I discovered digital scrapbooking.      You can buy papers, stickers, brads, vellums, quotes and brushes, but you get to use them over and over and over again.

By far the best digital scrapbooking find is The Daily Digi.   

Once a month they put out a scrapbooking kit that only costs $5.00.     Can you say PERFECT???     This is no skimpy scrapbooking kit either.     It is HUGE!!

I just bought January's kit which included SEVEN huge collections and ELEVEN completely layered quick pages.     Could you put together 11 pages for $5.00?     I doubt it.     Without The Daily Digi, I couldn't get 11 pages finished at all.

The cute little things all came from this month's contributors...

Sweet Shoppe Design is the store contributor 
with an EXCLUSIVE kit!

Each kit is only available for one month and once it is gone it is gone.    Sad.
So... run, run, fast as you can!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Lady Like Sarah

Sarah Prescott has never known a respectable life; just a hardscrabble childhood and brothers who taught her to shoot straight.

Justin Wells left Boston in disgrace, heading out alone on the dusty trail to Texas. But when the once-respected clergyman encounters a feisty redhead in handcuffs with a dying US Marshall at her side, their journey takes a dramatic turn.

His high society expectations and Sarah's outlaw habits clash from the start. With a price on her head and a sweet orphan in tow, Justin and Sarah make the difficult journey toward Rocky Creek. There justice will be meted out hopefully with a portion of grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Lady Like Sarah, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:

Book Review:

When I was a little girl we would watch Hee Haw.   Do you remember that show?    It had a song that said, "Gloom, despair and agony on me.   Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.   If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.    Gloom, despair, and agony on me."    When I started reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking about that snog.     Poor Sarah just had it rough.    

She had jumped off into quicksand in her life and every move just got her deeper and deeper in the "excessive misery".      She needs someone to help her out.   Give her a chance.    Who is that person?    A pastor who is thrown into the quicksand with her.      Kind of reminded me of a quirky western version of the Good Samaritan.    

Prayers for Phil & Lonnie

Our friends are missionaries to Haiti.     Obviously this is a very difficult time for them as they watch their family,  friends and neighbors experience loss and devastation like never before.    

Last night they experienced another blow and need our prayers.    Phil and Lonnie were trying to bring their grandchildren back into the United States where they could stay in safety.       Phil and Lonnie's grandchildren are Haitian.      When they arrived, immigration would not let them through.     They locked them in a detection room all night.    At 3:00 am, armed guards arrived and took their grandchildren away from them and escorted them to Miami.    They wouldn't tell Phil and Lonnie anything.      All they did was hand them a map and a phone number.       Can you imagine how horrific that was for them and their grandchildren?      Phil and Lonnie are driving to Miami right now and have no idea what faces them when they get there.       They need our prayers desperately.

To get to know Phil and Lonnie and their ministry in Haiti better, visit Haiti's House of Blessing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help Wanted: Science Project

Big Guy and Little Guy are working on a science project.      They are researching the disposal of prescription drugs and its effects on the environment.       They need your assistance to gather some data about how people  dispose of their prescription drugs.     

There is a poll in the sidebar.    Would you take just a second and enter your results?

Thanks so much!

For Sale: 11 Jennifer Court

Sweet friends of ours are selling their home.   If you are looking or know someone who is looking, let them know about this wonderful home in the Madison area that is within walking distance to Strawberry Park.

1780 sqft
3 bedroom - 2 bath
updated kitchen (stainless steel)   *    spacious great room with trayed ceiling
foyer   *  walk-in closet(s)   *  ceiling fans throughout
2 car garage *  covered front and back porch
front and back porch swings *    screened in back porch
fenced in back yard   *  3\4 acre lot
2 walk-up floored attics
500 sqft shed with electricity and water

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Little About Meme

I saw this meme over at Stacy's blog.     I agreed with her when she said that meme's used to be a weekly thing in blog world, but now they are an occasional thing.     This one had some interesting questions!

1. When was the last time you craved a food–what was it, and did you cave?    On Saturday morning I wanted a Seattle Drip "Summit" coffee so much.     Hubs surprised me and brought me one and I hadn't even mentioned it to him.     It was so wonderful and so is he!

2. M & M’s or Skittles?   Definitely M&M's!    

3. Have you ever read the Bible completely through?     Yes, but completely absorbing everything I read is another thing.     Reading the Bible is like revealing layers of God to me.    There are some verses in the Bible I have 100 times that I get something new from every time I read it.    

4. How long does it take you to really wake up in the morning?     To be fully awake to where you can trust what I am saying it takes about an hour.

5. Have you ever been on a cruise? If not, would you like to?   I haven't ever been on a cruise.    I think I want to, but I am not sure.

6. Who is your favorite actress?    Hmmmm.    I haven't ever thought about having a favorite, but I really like Sandra Bullock especially after seeing her in "The Blind Side".

7. ______ is something that I will just never understand.
There are a lot of things I don't understand.      Some things are big:   Why God loved me so much He would send His Son to die on a cross for our sins?       Some things are small:    Why my cat wants to be let out at 3:45 every morning?     Some things just have no answers:    Like parents driving around with their kids not buckled.      

8. How much of a technology junkie are you?    I love gadgets!    Kitchen gadgets, computer gadgets, car gadgets, home gadgets, etc....    I love new technology!      It just fascinates me.      

9. Do you enjoy selecting greeting cards for people, or is it more of a cultural “have to” for you?       If I "have" to pick a greeting card then I spend a lot of time picking the one that has the right wording, but in general I hate buying greeting cards.    They fall into the same category as flowers for me.    A waste of money.

10. When was the last time you got a new style/haircut?     My hairstylist is Vicki.     What my hair does is up to her.     If she says, "I think your hair would like cute..."   I say do it!    I have naturally curly hair and on the average day it does what it wants!

11. What do you enjoy shopping for most?     Books and clearance stuff.    I love looking through the clearance aisles of stores.     

12. What’s the last thing you think of before you leave the house?    Is Kit Kat (our cat) out? Is the alarm set?    Do I have my cell phone?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Judas Ride


Peggy Sue Yarber, PhD in psychology, lives in central California with her husband, two daughters, six turtles and two dogs. She works in the field of education.

The Judas Ride was inspired by her current and previous students. She has seen and experienced and seen similarities between the students and Jesus’ traitor, Judas Iscariot. She has always been fascinated with Judas. Yarber went to a catholic school when she was young and Judas was always portrayed like a mysterious rebel.

She ventures to say, “I guess he was my James Dean of the Bible. But in a good way! In the way that…he did something so wrong so that the entire world could be saved. He had to betray Jesus in order for the rest of the story. I have always wondered what it would be like to not do that one bad thing that would lead to that one great thing. So I had the Vader character sort of run through the paces of Judas.”

Redemption and reality are the two distinguishing features about Yarber’s writing. Not all teens find redemption in The Judas Ride. Yarber considered trying to show the negative outcomes as much as the positive. She wasn’t thinking in terms of positive and negative but she did try to balance the two sides. Yarber says she often sees people daily that , “…have even more screwed up lives than these characters.” Yarber admits sometimes there is not an ending to the madness unless someone dies and then even after the death the ripples still linger. She has written another novel TARE and a children’s book Rocketships to Heaven and the SOS Fuel Station. She loves to run, read, shoot guns and watch her daughters play soccer.


An unwed (and unwanted) teen pregnancy with two possible fathers. Abusive relationships. Drug and alcohol addiction. Rape and molestation. The struggle to understand grace, forgiveness, and free will versus predestination. The Judas Ride hits the road running in the opening pages, where Sonia and Xavier argue explosively about whether Sonia should have their unborn child and about who the father is: Xavier, a struggling Christian, or Vader, an abusive and abused drug dealer. As the pages turn, readers continue to meet a hodgepodge of troubled teens and eclectic characters, including Pastor Manny, a quirky immigrant pastor infatuated with John Wayne. Pastor Manny desires to help the tortured souls in his community but finds that it takes more than unconditional love to reach them. Secrets literally kill in The Judas Ride, an edgy, in-your-your face Christian novel that boldly explores the struggles of modern-day young people.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judas Ride, go HERE

Book Review
Deciding to go on "The Judas Ride" is not a Sunday afternoon ride through the country.     It is a jumping into a car without your seatbelt going 110 mph on the streets of New York.      There is nothing comfortable about it.      It will take many readers out of their comfort zone.      It explores subjects that few people have to deal with on a day to day basis.     Much less as young teenagers. 

Our world is very much like this book today.    Raw.   Edgy.  Desperate for hope.    There is a LOT of desperation in this book.   What I find lacking is hope which is sad for a book of Christian fiction.     One of the main characters is a pastor and even he is as lacking and confused as the rest of the characters in the book.     I realize that pastors are human and have their "moments", but Pastor Manny truly disappointed me.

I wish I could say I recommend this book, however the "Judas Ride" is one I would just skip.

Coaster Thanks

Once we made the soap to go in the thank you box for our host homes, we decided it needed something more.    Big Guy and I were walking through Lowe's one day to grab a few things and I decided to grab a few tiles to just see how hard it would be to make coasters.     After making a few samples, we decided we would make them for our host homes.   

We went and bought a bunch more tiles, brought them home and got to work.     First of all, we laid them out and wiped them all down really well with a Clorox wet wipe.     Once they were dry, we picked out the paper we liked.     We decided to go with a black and white theme.   

After we traced our papers to be the of the tiles, the boys applied a thin coat of Mod Podge to the tile.

Then they carefully placed the paper on top of the Mod Podge and then rolled it out so no air bubbles were underneath using our Pampered Chef pastry roller.     It wasn't its intended use, but it works!

Hmmmm.... I wonder how it would look if we painted the edges black?    Let's find out!  

Oooh, pretty!   Well, if that looks good.    I wonder what it would look like if we slightly distressed the edge of the paper.

Still loving it!   But it still seems to be missing something.    What to do?    What to do?    I know!

We coated the entire thing with mod podge again to seal it.    Then we decided we needed to do something to keep it from clinking.    So Little Guy sat down and cut out some felt to go on the back of the tiles.

Do you see that tool Little Guy is using?     Those are Black and Decker Cordless Power Scissors.     I can't profess my love for those babies enough!     If you don't have a pair of those you NEED a pair.     He cut the felt backings for all 48 tiles in 10 minutes.     I will be doing another post about the table squares I made for our dinner and you won't believe what he cut out for me using these.      We bought these for Little Guy for Christmas but I am going to buy me one too.   Love it!    Love it!   Love it!  

Our tiles are finished and hopefully our host homes will see these and know how much we appreciate them!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Linky Love: Samaritan's Purse

Seeing the devastation on the news from Haiti has been so hard to watch.     It brings back to mind the images of Hurricane Katrina, but I realize that what is happening in Haiti is so much worse.   

Our Country is a very, very generous Country.      We have $3 billion dollars in foreign aid to Haiti in the past three years.      I am sure that we will send whatever it takes to help during this catastrophe as well.    The problem with sending money through the government is that it goes through government channels which means so much of the money never makes it to the people who truly need it.    

That is why my Linky Love this week is for Samaritan's Purse.    They were one of the first relief teams to arrive in Haiti with supplies and, even as seasoned relief workers, they were shocked at what they faced.

Below is the plea from Franklin Graham and how you can help the people of Haiti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Do You Say Thanks

How do thank a group of people who are willing to host 8 middle school youth in their homes for an entire weekend?      I know!    That is a tall order.     However, as one of the directors of housing and food for our Disciple Now weekend it is my job to find ways to thank these wonderful host families.

Because my budget for these thank yous is pretty small, I wanted to incorporate it into things we already needed for the weekend.     One of the things we do for our host families is put together a box of paper products (plates, napkins, forks, toilet paper, etc...).     I found this cute soap idea over at The Idea Room and thought it fit really well with our host box.

What do you think?      Didn't it turn out cute?     For a full tutorial on how to make these visit here.

Project Cost:

1 Bottle of Soap  $10.00 (I made 10 bottles.)
Transparency of saying  $3.00 (you get four per transparency)
Ribbon  $1.00 (bought this in the dollar bin)
Ornaments  .50 (bought in after Christmas sales)
Total  $14.50

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Congrats Sharkbait!

We are SO proud of you for making black belt!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The King and Dr. Nick

Book Description

The truth about Elvis’s death from the doctor who spent eleven years as “the King’s” personal physician, father-figure, and confidant—"Dr. Nick."
Dr. Nichopoulos spent a decade with Elvis on the road and at Graceland, trying to maintain the precarious health of one of the world’s greatest entertainers. But on August 16, 1977, he found himself in the ambulance with Elvis on that fateful last trip to the ER. He signed the death certificate.
From that day forward, Dr. Nick became the focus of a media witch hunt which threatened his life and all but destroyed his professional reputation. Now, for the first time, Dr. Nick reveals the true story behind Elvis’s drug use and final days—not the version formed by years of tabloid journalism and gross speculation. Put aside what you’ve learned about Elvis’s final days and understand for the first time the inner workings of “the king of rock n’ roll.”

Book Review
My 8 year old son is an avid Elvis fan.     Where he developed his admiration for Elvis I am not sure, but he saved his money and bought his first CD collection of his music when he was only 5 years old.     He was 7 when he realized the circumstances surrounding his death.      We recently took him to Graceland on a trip to Memphis.      When this book by Elvis' personal physician came up for review, I decided I wanted to read it out of curiosity.     

Although many years have passed since Elvis' death, it is very clear from Dr. Nichopoulos' writings that the events are as real as yesterday.      Elvis was more than his patient.    He was a very dear friend.      He admits from the very beginning that his recollections may be somewhat tainted because of his love and admiration of his friend.

I casually picked up this book to just read the first couple of pages and found myself still reading three chapters later.   (Sorry I was late, honey!)       I realized that many of my ideas surrounding Elvis' death were fueled by media hype and tabloid "bytes" instead of reality.      I was surprised to enjoy reading this book.
If you are an Elvis fan, this is a must.     However, whether you are an official Elvis fan or not, this was quite a great read. 
Disclaimer: I received the book "The King and Dr. Nick" from the Thomas Nelson Blogger Review Program in exchange for a review.


Monday, January 11, 2010

16 Years...

I was diagnosed in 1994.     It sounds easy, but it wasn't.      I literally woke up one morning and my whole life had changed.     I thought it was the flu.     The doctor said the flu test was negative.      Everything hurt.   My muscles, my bones, my teeth, my toenails.... even my hair.     It went on for days.  Weeks.   Months.     We saw doctor after doctor after doctor.   

It wasn't just the pain.    It was the exhaustion.   I was tired when I woke up.    Going to the grocery store meant having to lay down for a two hour nap.     I barely had the energy to get the clothes from the dryer to the couch much less fold them.

Finally, we saw a doctor that diagnosed me.    Fibromyalgia.     Those were the early days when the disease was so new.     So little was known.  

I will never forget the doctor's compassionate words, "It won't kill you, but it will make you wish you were dead."      I didn't think I could live the rest of my life like this.      I couldn't imagine waking up the rest of my life in this kind of pain and this kind of exhaustion.

I was wrong.    It has been 16 years and not only am I living with fibromyalgia, but I am controlling it instead of it controlling me.      Do I hurt?    Every single day.     Am I tired?    24 hours a day.      But as weird as it sounds, I eventually forgot what it felt like to not hurt.  

I did what I knew to do.    I turned to God.    It is His strength that has gotten me through so many days.      Because of Him and my loving husband.

If you have never heard of fibromyalgia or know of someone who has it, let me tell you what you should know.

First, other than pain and exhaustion, people with fibromyalgia have to deal with the other fun symptoms associated with it.    These include chronic headaches, memory problems (I call it fibro fog), tmj, pelvic pain, noise sensitivity, tingling in hands and feet, temperature sensitivity, restless leg syndrome, depression, anxiety, irritable bladder and/or bowel.    Sounds fun, huh?

Second, I think the single most frustrating comment I heard in the beginning was, "You don't look sick."     Or the lady at my previous church who told me I was just being lazy.     It was tough, but I knew she didn't understand.     It frustrated me too that I wake up some days, get up to get dressed and then only have enough energy to crawl back into bed.

Third, encourage your friend to find a creative outlet.    One that forces them to have a goal.    Staying busy has been a lifesaver for me.     It pushes me to going.     My boys have been a wonderful blessing from God.    They accept me for my limitations with my fibromyalgia, but also give me motivation to move, move, move to be the Mom I want to be for them.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Investing in Hot Chocolate

Little Guy had his first Upward Basketball game this morning.    When we left the house the thermostat said 21 degrees.       When we walked into the gym the thermostat wasn't much different.      For whatever reason, the heat wasn't working!     Not only that, but the the fans kept turning on and blowing cold air through the gym.    The only people who were warm were the kids running up and down and court.     Oh my goodness it was so cold.      

Despite the icicles hanging off our fingers, the boys did a great job and we all  had fun cheering them on.      Little Guy scored points for his team and we were excited for him.    Basketball at this level is a lot of fun.     You know boys on both teams so you are cheering for everyone.

To say we were ready for hot chocolate and the roaring fire hubs built when we got home was an understatement.      We all grabbed blankets and cranked up the heat to try to get our bodies warmed up.

After our bodies were warmed, our hearts were chilled when we received news that Jesus decided it was time for our precious Uncle Currin to come home to heaven.     Hubs is lucky to come from a family of men of God who influenced him.    Uncle Currin is one of those men.     When we were struggling to get pregnant, Uncle C told us that God was going to give us a baby.       Oh he was so happy when we delivered news of our pregnancy and I will never forget his face when we brought Big Guy as a two week old to the family reunion and let Uncle C be the first to hold him.       What a happy day for heaven and such a sad day for our family.

Hope you are enjoying your family AND staying warm.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Key To Exercise

Linky Love: Researching Purchases

Little Guy really wants a food processor.    I really would like a sewing machine.    My Dad is looking for a new washing machine for my Mom.     

None of us are buying anything until we read everything we can get our hands on about every available model, how it works and what people think about it.     There are a LOT of websites out there, but the one I have found that I really like is Consumer Search. 

When you go to the site, pick what you want to read about.   In my case it was food processors.    The page on food processors gave me the top three in this category.      However, what I loved was the tap that says "what to look for".       They also give you other sites to go read reviews as well!

This place reviews a little bit of EVERYTHING.    When browsing through the kitchen and food section they even reviews food and hot chocolate.     (Although, I disagreed with their hot chocolate review.    I HATE Swiss Miss hot chocolate.    Blech!)