Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Turkey Wraps

I recently had a girl night where we wanted finger foods for a tea party. I'm so glad I remembered these wraps; I hadn't made them for years! They were perfect. I love that they are so simple to make, and taste SO GOOD! You could have them for a meal, or as a snack.

turkey wraps

You need tortillas, cream cheese, turkey slices, and some chopped green onions.

I first put a layer of cream cheese on the tortilla, add a few turkey slices, sprinkle the green onions, and then roll them up.

It doesn't get much simpler than that!

Monday, May 28, 2012

4th Annual Graduation Luau

Officially summer vacation has begun! Every year the start of summer is marked by our Annual Graduation Luau. I think out of all the things I do with my extended family, this has to be my favorite. Christmas and Thanksgiving are wonderful, but I LOVE this party. It's a time to dress up, eat some good food, watch some entertainment, and give honor to our children. The weather always cooperates and is beautiful. It makes for an unforgettable night spending quality time as a family!

graduation luau
graduation luau
Every year I like to shop at the dollar store and add new luau decorations to the stock pile. We're starting to get quite a collection! This time of year the dollar store seems to specialize in Luau. Summer is the best time for a party! We found a pack of a dozen or so different luau pictures. Because they were double-sided I couldn't see taping them to a wall. I punched a hole and hung them throughout the trees with yarn. I love how they pop up in various pictures at the party!

graduation luau
Normally we liked to BBQ for this party, but I wanted to go for something different this year. Since our theme was Hawaiian, we went for our family favorite, Waikiki Meatballs. They were delicious! My mom completed the meal by making some fried rice.

Our dessert was adorable graduation caps! I saw the idea on the Family Fun website. They went perfect with punch and were very easy to put together.

Ingredients
Miniature peanut butter cups
Frosting or peanut butter
Chocolate-covered graham crackers
Fruit chews

Instructions
Place a miniature peanut butter cup, bottom up, on a plate. Top with a small dot of frosting or peanut butter, then press on a chocolate-covered graham cracker.

For a tassel, cut fringe on one end and attach the other end to the center of the graham cracker with another dab of frosting or peanut butter.


(My mom made these and added a chocolate chip on top of the fruit chew. I think it added something to the treat!)

graduation caps made of chocolate Reese's peanut butter cup
Our ceremony always begins with the pledge of allegiance. This time all of our children couldn't even remember the words to it. It's a good thing we had a refresher for them!

Ariel led us in the elementary school song and Gabriel led us in the pledge. We included both things in our program so all the adults could follow along.

Our next portion of the evening is always my favorite, TALENTS. Each year the kids get to choose something they have learned to share with us. We've had some pretty fun things in the past. I can remember one year my niece playing the recorder with her nose! Talk about talent.

Gabriel started us off. He had two different things to share with us. His first thing was an optical illusion. If you look closely at the picture below, you will see it is a young girl and also at the same time an old woman. Gabriel shared the secret with us.


optical illusion old lady or young girl

The second trick that Gabe shared was something he called "Math Magic". He first asked for a volunteer from the audience. (We all got a turn in the end.) The volunteer must think of a number between 1 and 63 without saying it out loud. Gabe had six different cards full of numbers. He would hold each one up and ask if your number was on that card. After you answered for all six cards, he could tell you the number you were thinking of. Gabriel loved to dazzle us with this trick!


I found a website that has the trick on it if you'd like to try it for yourself.


Our next performance was done by Ariel. She also had two things to share with us. The first was a science experiment called "Elephant's Toothpaste" and for the second part she gave us an oral report on Hawaii, something she had studied at length this past quarter.

elephant's toothpaste science experiment recipe

Elephant's Toothpaste

The experiment is to be done in the kitchen sink with proper eye protection. We chose to use the grass in the backyard!

1.) Pour 1/2 cup of 6% hydrogen peroxide (found in a beauty supply store) into a clean 2-liter plastic pop bottle. (You can use 3%, but it doesn't work as well.)
2.) Add 1 to 2 squirts of dish detergent
3.) Add food coloring if desired
4.) In a separate container mix 1 package of yeast in 1 cup of warm water
5.) Pour the yeast solution into the pop bottle and watch the bubbles rise
6.) Remember this is an exothermic chemical change, so the pop bottle will be warm

elephant's toothpaste

This is an experiment Ariel learned at her gifted classes. Towards the end of the year they did many chemistry experiments!

Mikaela read us a report she wrote on her hero. It was so good! I was very proud of her, and I asked for my own special copy of it for my keepsake box. Her first hero she told about was Tim Tebow, and she concluded with her hero who by far surpasses him, Jesus Christ. For the fun part, she read the report with a British/ Australian accent.

You can't have a graduation ceremony without some diplomas. We always like to give out awards for the special things they have done through the year.

Zechariah was awarded for "doing an awesome job learning A-B-C-D, being Mom's special leader and for entering a new level of obedience!"

We always try to give out a spiritual growth award too. This area is just as important as feeding the mind.

"This honor was bestowed upon Zechariah for excellent participation with Grandma in Bible Study and nurturing your spirit through daily prayer journaling with Mom."

Gabriel got the High Achiever Award for "the successful completion of 2nd grade and for having 3 books published with a 4th awaiting final publisher's approval!!" His spiritual growth award read the same as Zechariah's.

Ariel received an All Star Student for ACADEMICS award in recognition of "your completion of elementary school and the gifted program with exemplary excellence."

Grandma read a note written about Ariel from the overseer of the gifted education program. "Ariel is an all-around great student! She has very good academic skills in all subject areas. Her strengths include both language arts and math. Ariel demonstrates good control of the English language; she is able to speak and write extremely well. In reading, Ariel displays good comprehension and she reads all types of books. Ariel is a good thinker and problem solver. If there is something she does not know, she will find a way to figure it out. She sets her goals high and is a hard worker. Ariel has outstanding leadership qualities; she has many friends and she is kind and respectful to everyone. Ariel is fair, kind, understanding, and makes good decisions. Ariel is a wonderful young lady!" What high praise for her!

Ariel's spiritual growth award was a little different than the boys. 5th grade marks the end of many things, but also the beginning. "This honor is bestowed upon Ariel for excellent participation with Grandma in Bible study and nurturing your spirit through daily Prayer Journaling with Mom. You are now leaving behind E.K.A.P Club (elementary age prayer club at our church) and before school prayer and are entering into a new level of prayer- personal prayer journaling!"

Since kindergarten I have been doing prayer journaling with my daughter every day before school starts. Middle school begins minutes after my boys are just waking up. We will no longer be able to have our prayer time at 8am as a family. Ariel will be on her own, learning to put into practice all that she has learned! New beginnings!

Congratulations, Graduates, for a job well done!!

I thought this picture was hilarious! When Gabe threw his hat up, it got stuck in the luau sign. After that he kept jumping to see if he could fit his head into it. It looks like he's being hung by the hat!


I believe we will be doing this graduation ceremony until all my kids graduate from high school. I was contemplating this year if my kids would ever outgrow it, but I believe even if they feel they have, it will still be a necessity. Humility is always good for a person. We may not always make paper hats. We may change the style a little. But we will always celebrate all that they have accomplished. I love giving them a night where we the parents and grandparents take time to honor all their hard work. They have earned it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kids Do The Darndest Things

Last night was spaghetti night, which means Zechariah was fasting. For some reason, he hates spaghetti. I've never heard of such a thing.

If the kids refuse to eat dinner, we make them wait until morning for their next meal. They don't get to choose something different. It's always been a rule in our home. We'll save their dinner, and keep it hot.

He cried to me, "Mommy. I need some food. Please, I need food." with his bottom lip protruding.

A little while later, I noticed him lifting all the couch cushions up excitedly searching for food.

"Yum! A Jelly Bean!

"Candy!"

"Hmm.. Popcorn!"


I couldn't resist letting him eat what he found. He went through both couches, every single cushion. That was ingenuity!

For anyone who's curious, Zech ended up getting hungry enough to eat his spaghetti noodles before bed. It works every time!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lay Down My Pride

How much do you love the people around you?

“This is what I tell you to do: Love each other just as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than to give his life for his friends."
John 15:12-13

How many times have you heard that verse quoted? Hundreds of times? All my life people have been saying that, yet it doesn't seem possible to live it out. Well, maybe it's possible, but I believe extremely rare.

Most of the time, we are very selfish. At least I know I am. I want to get what I want out of a relationship, and I go into it with the wrong attitude. Too often my first thought is me, me, ME. I am extremely selfish. I don't always choose to be the person they need, but often times I am who I want to be. It's about my feelings and my happiness. God hasn't asked me to literally lay down my life for a friend, but He often asks me to lay down my own selfish pride.

God has been asking me this question, "Are you doing what's best for them, or are you selfishly trying to hold onto them? Do you not challenge others because you worry it will work out badly for their sake, or is it your own sake? I told you before; I am constantly turning from God to seek the approval of man.

If we can't even lay down our selfish pride, how could we give them our life?

how could we give them our life? If we can't lay down our own selfish pride?

"Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. " Proverbs 27:6

Another verse that people love to quote, but do they really want to live it out? Who really wants to be corrected? And who really wants to do the correcting? We just want to hear those positive things. "You're doing a great job! Keep it up! I'll be behind you no matter what!"

In truth, don't you see things in others that you would change if you only could be given the chance? Maybe you see them struggling with something and you know a better way of accomplishing the goal? So many times we are too close to the situation and can't see what's right in front of us. It takes an outsider to point out the mistake.

Take for example a blog post. You write it out, and read it again and again to make sure it doesn't contain spelling or grammar errors. You put your heart into it. Then someone else comes along, and can point out one or two things you did wrong. Why didn't you see it yourself? You were too close. You knew what the goal was, and what you wanted it to say, so you read it back exactly how it was supposed to be. You had the inside track. However, you were still wrong. You really did have an error. Not intentionally, of course. You just couldn't see it because you were too close. Or maybe spelling and grammar is a weakness of yours. Sometimes we need that outside person to say, "Hey, you're not making sense." It's not an insult. They are just a few feet back and can see it like it is.

In our lives, we always need an outsider. We are too close and can't see our flaws. We have the inside track, and know what the heart of the matter is; however, we can't always get from point A to point B without a little assistance.

Sometimes I think relationships would go a lot better if we saw it through a parent's eyes. You love your kids enough to help them out, no matter how upset it makes them. You know it's all for their benefit. It's not unkind, or mean. You have their best interest at heart.

Many of you know that my son, Gabriel, is an author. He loves to spend all his time writing. For hours and hours he can sit at the dining room table, with a pencil and notebook, spilling out a spectacular story. Sometimes his stories are really good, and I'm impressed. But then there are times where I can't understand what he's talking about. He has this wonderful brain, but it can be hard for him to express himself in a way that other people can understand.

This week we were working on his next story to be published on my blog entitled, "Dinosaurs in Elementary School." I think it's really good. However, he was switching too much between first and second person. The book started off in first person, "I found a research book. I checked it out." Then confusingly it switches to, "He saw this. He did this." I misunderstood him and thought when Gabriel used the pronoun "he", that he was referring to the dinosaur, not the boy. I tried to explain that he needed to have continuity throughout the story; otherwise people just won't get it.

Gabriel got so angry at me. He thought I was insulting him and didn't think his story was good enough. I tried to explain that was far from the case, but he couldn't listen anymore. His feelings were hurt. He threw the book into the trash can. I forced him to take it out.

I thought he might understand it a little better if I used some writing terms. I told him if he was a published author, he still would have an editor who had the final say. If the editor didn't approve, he would be asked to rewrite it. Even professionals have to get a second opinion. I still didn't get through to him.

Last night, I told him I would be typing up the story on my laptop whether or not it was going to be published. I forced him to work with me for the sake of practice. The more he worked, the more excited he became. He may never voice that he appreciated my opinion, but it helped his writing skills for the better. When he dictated the book, I noticed he was very careful to change the words to make sure it was written entirely in first person.

Did I enjoy the pain I caused my son? No, of course not. But would it have been helpful for me to lie to him, and say, "What a great job you're doing. Keep it up!" Definitely not. If he wants to become a world famous author, he's going to need the help and constructive criticism of others around him. Nobody is born with all the knowledge of the world. We all need each other.

Who do you love enough to get correction from? Who do you love enough to risk giving it to? Your children? Your spouse? These are usually the people we are most comfortable with. We know they love us unconditionally and we can take their advice... or give them advice. Nobody wants to hear that they are coming up short in an area. But we all need to hear it.

I want to be a selfless parent, wife, and friend. I want to love unconditionally. I don't want to hold selfishly onto them, always telling them what I think they want to hear, so I don't risk their anger.

I first must be obedient to Christ. If He asks me to do or say something, I must obey. It's His approval I strive to seek, not mans. And if He asks that I confront someone, no matter how painful on either part, I want to be willing to do it.

Sometimes this can be one of the hardest things you have to do. Life with God is not always the easiest path to take. Yesterday I read the words of Paul to the church in Corinth, in 2 Corinthians 7: 8-9 and I was greatly encouraged. "I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don't feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I'm glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss."

I wish every situation turned out the way it did for Paul, but it doesn't. Let's face it; some people really do only want to hear positive things about themselves. They don't want to hear the honest truth, and you run the risk of losing them. Does that mean we were wrong in following God's command? No. We may never see the fruit of our obedience. "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at the way he looks on the outside or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. For the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A man looks at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.

Not only do I want to be one who can lay down my pride for the sake of others, but I want to lay down my pride when I am wrong. Believe me this happens a lot! Unfortunately, I have very few people in my life who love me enough to tell me. It can only mean one of two things. I either have no one in my life willing to do this, or I've reacted very badly in the past and no one wants to risk my wrath. I pray its number two. I cannot change others, however I can change myself.

I try to pray a prayer daily that God would show me the error of my ways. I don't want to be stubborn and unchanging. I want to be a light in the darkness. And what kind of a light would I be if I wouldn't change. I know I am not where I need to be, but God willing I'm headed there...

"We do not preach about ourselves. We preach Christ Jesus the Lord. We are your servants because of Jesus. It was God Who said, “The light will shine in darkness.”

He is the One Who made His light shine in our hearts. This brings us the light of knowing God’s shining-greatness which is seen in Christ’s face.

We have this light from God in our human bodies. This shows that the power is from God. It is not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ghost-gods

I was reading the Bible with my husband the other night and I got so frustrated. We're working our way through the one year Bible plan and we're in the Old Testament reading about the Israelites. I am shocked at the amount of times they turn from God and start worshiping idols. You would think these people who have seen miracles with their own eyes would get a clue. Then I got to thinking about it, and in actuality it's hundreds of years passing since the Israelites first left Egypt. They probably just get to hear about the miracles from their parents and grandparents.

Still, they must witness some kind of miracle in their lifetime, and they worship idols. I mean, come on, IDOLS? To me that seems like spitting in God's face. Then some catastrophe happens and they cry out to God, HELP. He fixes it, and then they turn their back on Him again. Repeatedly this happens. I remarked to Titus, you'd think God would get a clue here. Why does He help them, when they're going to eventually reject Him? He's only a matter of convenience for them... or so it seems. Why does God put up with it?

As I was angry with them for turning to idols once again, I read the words of Samuel to the people and it finally made sense to me, "Don't be fearful. It's true that you have done something very wrong. All the same, don't turn your back on God. Worship and serve him heart and soul! Don't chase after ghost-gods. There's nothing to them. They can't help you. They're nothing but ghost-gods! God, simply because of who he is, is not going to walk off and leave his people. God took delight in making you into his very own people." 1 Samuel 12: 20-22 (The Message)

Remember that judgmental attitude I struggle with, here it comes. I was judging them for their idols, when I have idols of my own. I am exactly like them. My idols may not be bronze or golden statues, but they are idols just the same.

I have erected an idol of friendship. I continually thank God for all that He has done in my life, and then I turn around and seek adoration from my friends instead of Him. He wants to be my fulfillment, yet I seek to fulfill myself with people who will inevitably fail me. I find myself blindly following a friend, wanting their approval so badly. And I am crushed when I don't get it in the way that I think is necessary. It's become an idol with the face of my girlfriend.

Church. Another idol for me. Why do I go? Is it because I want to spend time with God, or is it just because I'm supposed to. Or maybe it's so I can hang out with my friends... those other idols. Even church can become an idol. When you get into a routine of always going, or always doing something, you take it for granted and forget the purpose behind it all.

To me, church is about challenge. It's seeing a standard, and showing me guidelines that I can follow. It's not about always doing the right thing, but it is about having the right heart attitude. I daily know that I am falling short of what God intended for my life. It's not a once a week thing, or once a month, it's literally day after day. I know I am not the person I am supposed to be. That's hard to take in. I want to be perfect and always do the right thing. Impossible, right? With God, I'm possible. God is the factor in the equation that makes the difference.

These are only two of the idols I have built. There's a lot more that enter into my life on occasions. Children. Family. Money. Stats. Me. I live in a world where it's so easy to take the focus off of God and put it on me. Whatever I am feeling at the moment becomes the thing I obsess over. I worship it until it controls me, and I must cry out to God. HELP!

Maybe we're the same way as those Israelites. We take our eyes off of God, put it on the problem, and up goes the idol. We need to have something tangible take His place. We need our friends to be our god. Then we realize the error of our ways, and we go crawling back to God. HELP! I need you to fix this problem. It's not workin' for me. And the really great thing is, He listens. He doesn't do the natural human reaction. You got yourself in this mess, you fix it. No. When we call on Him, He literally runs to our aid.

Don't chase after ghost-gods! They don't work. They leave you unhappy, frustrated, confused, and angry. God is the only one who can meet your needs. It may appear like the ghost-gods are working for you, but it's all an illusion. Sooner or later, it will come crashing down and you will be on your knees crying out for the true God. And He will be faithful to answer you every time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

"Who can find a virtuous woman?
She is far more precious than jewels...

Strength and honor are her clothing,
and she can laugh at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.
Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
Many women are capable, but you surpass them all!

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised
."
Proverbs 31:10, 25-30


"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God upon every remembrance of you." Philippians 1:2-3


"You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:4 (I love you, Mom!)


"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26


pencil drawing daisy petals blowing away in wind

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed."
Psalm 139:13-16



"Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kids Believe the Darndest Things

Yesterday was field day for both my children. It was a beautiful day outside! The weather couldn't have been any nicer. It was warm, with a slight breeze, perfect for water games and running around outside. As we were driving to school in the morning, I was discussing how nice the weather was with Ariel and Gabriel.

"What a beautiful day for field day!"

Ariel informed me, "That's why Mr. Lohse picked today."

I had to laugh. "Ariel, field day has been on the calendar for a year now. Mr. Lohse had no idea what the weather was going to be."

"No!!" insisted my daughter, "He said he checked the weather first!"

The joke was completely lost on my children...





Friday, May 11, 2012

Animal Bookmarks

This week Ariel came to me with some bookmarks she had made herself. I thought they were fantastic! I love how cute they look eating the pages of a book. She has made lots of different animals, mostly birds. I took a couple pictures to share with you.

If you love to read, this is a perfect craft to make with your children! It's so simple. All you need is a couple different colored sheets of paper, scissors and some glue sticks.

These are the first two she put together, a dragon and a blue bird. I love the dragon! He's so cute!

animal bookmarks

A cat and an iguana!

animal bookmarks

Two more birds... They are, of course, Ariel's favorite to make. I think she should add some wings to the birds.

animal bookmarks

First, you can print out the template here, or make your own. It's a pretty basic, easy shape to cut out. You can make it as large or as small as you want. This is going to make a medium size animal.

animal bookmark template


On the side with the two triangles, you want to fold each of them in towards the middle. They will make the head of your animal.


Now we're going to work on the mouth of your animal. It is the part you will see outside of your book giving it the appearance of eating. You can add some sharp teeth, a tongue, a beak... Whatever your animal needs to complete their mouth. You want to make sure to glue it in between the two triangle pieces of the head.


The fun part is adding all the accessories to make it your animal. Ariel is making this one a penguin, so she's adding a white stomach.


You can draw eyes on, or make them out of paper. Ariel really likes to make hers with three different colors, the white of the eye, the iris color, and the pupil. I think the more detail you put into it, the nicer it comes out.



Simply adorable! We had to showcase our bookmark on a book of penguins. It only seemed appropriate.

penguin animal bookmark

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Treasure Trove

"I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That's it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift." Ecclesiastes 3:13 (The Message)

Thank you, God, for the pleasure of reading. There are often days that I get to the end of where I can do nothing but fall into the couch or a bed and sleep. I am exhausted. There are also days where I spend my mornings running errands, driving kids to and from school, cleaning the house, where I LOVE to take the afternoon for myself reading. Books are one of God's special gifts to me.

Last weekend, we had another Bag Day Book Sale at the library. I love these! I will literally plan around this sale. Nothing can keep me from it. This time the selection was a bit sparse and I had to search for my treasure more carefully. The first time walking through I found one book! Every book I took home, with the exception of one, I've never read before. That makes it truly a treasure hunt.

Before I leave for the sale, I always tell myself I'm not going to post the books on my blog. Everyone must be tired of reading those posts. Then as soon as I get home from the sale, I can't wait to take pictures and share them. So for the sake of myself, I cannot contain my enthusiasm, here are the treasures I have found.

The book with quotations I am really excited about. When I write certain lengthy blog posts I love to add a quote at the beginning or end, or even in the middle. I'm constantly Googling things. This book is full of scriptures and quotes. The scriptures are all in King James Version, but I can easily look them up on BibleGateway and get the version that says it best. The verse at the beginning of this post came from a suggestion in this book.

Grace is something I can always use more of in my life, for myself and for me to extend to others. Right now our pastor has been spending the past several Wednesday nights talking about the book of Romans. I have found it so interesting! I'm motivated to see what this book has to say about Ephesians.

Anna Karenina is the one book I've read, but it was years ago. I can't remember anything about the book except for the sad part. Titus and I have always had the dream of having a room full of books in our home, our very own library. We've talked of owning the old classic books. We are on our way of making that dream come true.

A Man Called Peter is written by Catherine Marshall about her husband. I look forward to this one! She is the author of a couple books I loved when I was in junior high. This is going to sound funny, but I remember reading her book Christy for the first in the bathtub when I was learning to shave my legs. I felt so grown up reading a book relaxing in the tub. (It's probably because that's what my mother always does.)

I've never read these two, but I am familiar with the authors. I thought I would give them a try.

I have no clue about the next two. Ariel was helping me choose books this time since she didn't raise enough money to buy herself a bag. She knew I liked Mary Higgins Clark, and Mary Jane Clark is very similar. I thought it was cute, and took the book anyways. Funny thing, Mary Jane Clark appears to be a murder mystery author also. We'll see if she's a "clean" author.

This book cracked me up! I grabbed it because it was Max Lucado and he's pretty good. The funny part, there is a dedication in it to "Dear Amanda" and it's signed from a "J Vaughn." It's also a book for graduations and it's not too far off from the year I graduated high school, 2000. (Our youth pastor is Josh Vaughn so you can understand the humor in it.)

I couldn't wait to give these books a try. This week I already finished both of the Mary Higgins Clark ones. I really enjoyed The Cradle Will Fall. She does a wonderful job on the creepy factor.

All three of these are Christmas stories. I don't care if it's 100 degrees outside in the middle of summer, I love Christmas. I read Christmas books all year long!

These next two books might surprise you, and then they might not. I have a Jehovah Witness who has been visiting me since we bought this house 7 years ago. She comes faithfully every month or two, I think. I don't actually pay attention to how frequently it is. I just know it feels like a lot. I never quite know how to answer her, or talk to her. She knows where I go to church; in fact I've invited her before. I'm hoping this book will give me a little bit of insight. It was not written by a Jehovah Witness; it was written about Jehovah Witnesses. We'll see...

The Gospel of Gabriel I chose for two different reasons. Number one, it's my son's name and I knew he would be thrilled to see it because it had a picture of Jesus on the cross. Gabriel is obsessed with crosses and anything that appears "spiritual" to him. When we go to Hobby Lobby he will stand and stare at the pictures of Jesus and the crosses, most of the time begging me to buy one for his room.

My second reason, Titus loves to read stuff like this. He has read several of the Gnostic Gospels. Titus loves to gather information. If he hears something is controversial, he always wants to know why. And rather than take some other person's word for it, he figures it out for himself.

The first book I had to laugh when I read the title because it reminded me of my most dreaded movie, Titus' favorite, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The title When God Doesn't Make Sense seemed liked it would go perfectly in that movie. I am certain the book I chose will be nothing like the books the movie is referring to. Here's the quote I'm talking about from the movie:

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. More popular, certainly more successful than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty-Three More Things to do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters: Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?"

Randy Alcorn is an amazing author. I read a series of his awhile back and it completely changed my perspective on heaven. Of course, I've wanted to go there, but it was never my intent to go right now. I wanted to go much much later. His book I read gets you excited enough to drop everything here and take the next flight in to heaven. He describes it better than anyone I have ever met!! I can't wait to read this book. I've seen it several times at Lifeway but didn't have the funds to take it home with me. Now I've got it!

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