Friday, April 30, 2010

Just Like You: Beautiful Babies Around the World by Marla Stewart Konrad FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:


Just Like You: Beautiful Babies Around the World

Zonderkidz (March 9, 2010)

***Special thanks to Pam Mettler, Associate Director of Public Relations, ZonderKidz for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Marla Stewart Konrad is keenly interested in global issues and has a special concern for the well-being of children. Her career as a speechwriter and communications professional has taken her to numerous countries in Asia and Africa. She lives near Toronto, Canada, with her family, and is the author of several books for children.



Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (March 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714788
ISBN-13: 978-0310714781

Please Click the Button to Browse Inside the Book:


Foodie Friday Turkey Cranberry Wreath Pillsbury Crescents "Spring Celebrations" Get-Together Review

I recently got an email from the Pssst...Network from General Mills, Inc. to host a house party called Pillsbury Crescents "Spring Celebrations" Get-Together. I signed up and I received a free kit which included:

* 4 free Crescent coupons I redeemed these coupons for free Pillsbury Crescents at my grocery store so I could make a recipe with them or one of these yummy recipes the: Easy Veggie Pizza, Bacon Cheese Tartlets or Cherry Cream Coffee Crescent Braid.
* $20 cash card – I used this card at my grocery store to purchase additional
recipe ingredients
* 2 Pillsbury Crescents aprons
* 15 recipe booklets – to share with guests
* 15 product information sheets with coupon – to share with guests
* Allergen fact sheet – That I displayed where my guests could easily see it

I made a recipe with the Pillsbury crescents that I absolutely love which is from Pampered Chef. The Turkey Cranberry Wreath I made didn't really turn out like a wreath, but it was yummy!! I will be making this recipe again which is good since I guess I need the practice, LOL! I loved sharing the recipe with my guests. I will try the other three recipes they suggested above at a later date. My guests and I had a fabulous time and took home a recipe booklet that has a bunch of great recipes in it also. Pillsbury crescents are so versatile and easy to prepare. They make so many great recipes and I love how they taste!

You can also go to the Pillsbury Crescents website to see more recipes and download valuable coupons. For more great Crescent Recipes, you can also sign up for a FREE Email Newsletter & get a FREE Digital Recipe Magazine on the same website. They also have a whole section on there with spring tips.

Fan Pillsbury on Facebook.


Turkey Cranberry Wreath
Pampered Chef Recipe

2 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 C. mayonnaise
2 T. honey Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
2 C. cooked turkey, chopped
1/2 C. celery, sliced
3 T. fresh parsley, snipped
1/2 C. dried cranberries
4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded (1cup)
1/4 C. walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 egg, separated

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles. With wide ends of triangles toward the center. arrange 8 triangles in a circle on Large Round Stone. Corners of wide ends will touch and points will extend 1 inch beyond of baking stone. Arrange remaining 8 triangles in center. matching ends. Seal seams using pizza roller. (Points will overlap in center; do not seal.)

Measure mayonnaise, mustard and black pepper into a bowl. Grate cheese into a bowl. Mix filling. Scoop filling over seams of dough, forming a circle.

Coarsely chop walnuts; sprinkle over filling. Beginning in center, lift one dough triangle across mixture. Continue alternating with outer triangle, slightly overlapping to form wreath. Tuck last end under first.

Separate egg over bowl. Beat egg white lightly; brush over dough. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 10 servings.

Per serving: 363 calories; 17 g protein; 24g fat; 20g carbohydrates; 521 mg sodium

I am participating in Foodie Friday and contributing to this weeks Foodie Friday.


DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Pssst...Network from General Mills, Inc. for letting me host the Pillsbury Crescents "Spring Celebrations" Get-Together, for giving me information about the products, and for providing me with a free kit to host. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Glaen by Fred Lybrand FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:


Glaen

The Barnabas Agency (February 14, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings - Senior Media Specialist - The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Maybe it’s because his dad was a lawyer and state legislator, or maybe it’s because he grew up in Alabama with something to prove, or maybe he just found a good use for his self-proclaimed ADHD, but whatever the cause, Fred Lybrand has become a careful thinker in a number of disciplines. If you are looking at a topic with Dr. Lybrand, then you are guaranteed to see things like you never have before. “I finally discovered that I’m one of those unfocused students that just likes to learn everything. I guess God made me to be a knowledge broker—I learn some hopefully useful information and then give it to others who need it,” Lybrand describes of his own love for learning and teaching.

Lybrand attended the University of Alabama and majored in English Literature, with a double-minor emphasis in speech communication and fiction writing. He went on to teach the introductory speech communications class while also attending law school at Alabama. A hunger to understand the Word of God, however, led him to withdraw in order to pursue theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Lybrand graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1989 and received a doctorate from Phoenix Seminary, 2007.

In January 2010, Dr. Lybrand retired from a 24-year career as a pastor of two churches in Texas. At Midland Bible Church he helped build a church which has launched ministries in several continents (including successful church-planting efforts in Uganda), as well as serving as a founding board (and faculty) member for Midland Classical Academy, a Socratic-method based high school. The school provides a “classical education” focused on teaching students through the Socratic Method using classical books, interactive science and math, logic, fine arts, and the creative process—all built on the foundation of the Bible. At Northeast Bible Church (Evangelical Free Church) in the San Antonio area, Dr. Lybrand helped redesign the church to grow as a disciple-making center for promoting the grace of God. Teaching and counseling in the church context has been a long-term focus of Lybrand’s labors.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: The Barnabas Agency (February 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0578046520
ISBN-13: 978-0578046525

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Mother called the week before I met Glaen Breuch.


“So, that's it?” I said with a tinge of anger.


“I'm afraid it is, dear,” a soft and matter-of-fact voice responded.


“Mom, you just want a divorce? You don't want to work at it or get some counseling or something?” I pleaded.


“No Annie, it's over. I've tried and tried, but your father just isn't what I want for the rest of my life. Can't you just be happy for me?” Mother asked.


Suddenly Annie found herself floating, feather-like, away from the phone and experiencing what most people think a drowning person experiences; a life full of joy and promise, in the last moments of gasping for air, she sees a replay of that life. Annie saw the day her baby sister came home from the hospital. Mom and Dad were so happy, and Annie as a little girl couldn't find her sister's feet; she kept looking under the baby-carrier instead of under the blanket. They all laughed for days.


Next, Annie remembered her granddaddy's death and how her mother was so kind to her dad, and how her dad praised mother to everyone in the small town where he grew up. Other memories flooded her mind, moving from ancient black-and-white scenes to vivid full-color images. Most recently she had been in church, seated between her parents, and basking in the wonder of family; hoping for a marriage like theirs. But Annie snapped awake.


“Be happy for you?” I said with amazement. “How can I be happy for you? You are running away to ruin your relationship with Dad and mess up our family forever. You seem happy enough. I don't think you need my help.”


“Annie, my relationship with your dad is already ruined. Honey, the one way I've failed you was to not really help you understand about love. You were always your Daddy's girl anyway, so I never could really tell you how I felt. I don't think I understand relationships, but I'm going to learn about them. Honey, I know you don't understand relationships; just look at what's happened with your boyfriends.”


“Boyfriends?” Annie thought to herself. There were just two; one in high school and one in college. Both of the boys were nice guys who doted, and spent, on Annie. She just wanted to have fun, and she did, for a while. In the same six month period with each guy, Rodney and Pierre, they both turned to the same serious conversation with her about “dating just each other.” Annie could still feel the panic as her stomach tightened and her lungs closed off from the air in the room. She had mysteriously decided she didn't like either of them; and in time she believed it deeply. The only hint she had that perhaps a mistake lived on, was that she saved the letter from Pierre in her dresser drawer back home. Both guys were married now, at least she had heard about their engagements. But now the thought of her past brought Annie back to the room, and to the moment. “Mother, what about your relationship with God? What about your marriage vow before Him?” I asked as a sincere question.


“God wants us happy, dear. I've been miserable for years. I love you children, and now that you're grown, I can follow my dreams. I felt dead, but now I feel alive. Annie, I know it is hard to understand, but I just know God is in this because I'm so wonderfully happy now.”


“Mom…I love you, but what you're doing can't be right. I'm not going to do this to my family,” I said.


“Well, good luck, Honey. I'm going out to dinner and I haven't finished dressing,” she said in a mother-knows-best way.


“Could I give you one piece of advice that would have changed all of this for me?”


“Sure Mom,” I said.


“Annie dear, be sure you marry the right person; don't stand in your wedding dress with doubts in your bouquet.”


We hung up, and I cried for a long time before I could pray. “God, my mother says she doesn't understand relationships, and she's my mom! Then she says I don't understand them either. Please help me to understand.”


Back then I had no idea that prayer was the sort of thing God took seriously.

___________________________________________________


Glaen Breuch was unusual, even for a college professor.


It was only two weeks before that I had signed up for his Masters class called, “Original Non-Fiction.” Jennah and I had been sitting at Polmier's Coffee Shoppe, a little place with hardwood floors full of serious students and a few silly girls. “What are you going to take for your last class?” Jennah asked. I was irritated. “Gee, Jennah, I just decided now to take classes at all.” She knew how upset I was about Mom and Dad's sudden divorce announcement, so she ignored it and asked again.


“I've prayed all week about it. I wish I could take a class on how relationships really work, but nothing in school is ever practical.” I still remember saying those words when Glaen walked in the Shoppe. He had striking white hair that made a great wave until it crashed above his right eye. Wire-rimmed glasses, herringbone jacket, too many books; all these made Glaen look like the ideal professor. He insisted on being called Glaen rather than “professor” or “mister,” but I didn't know why until months later.


Exactly fifteen years ago I saw Glaen in the Shoppe. Now I am about to see him again. I bet he hasn't changed a bit, but of course how could he?


That day in Polmier's, Glaen walked up to us as an answer to prayer. “Hi ladies,” he said. “I couldn't help overhearing your conversation about classes. I'm a new instructor here at St. Michael's, but I'm a bit late in arriving.” Suddenly his awkward grasp gave way and all of his books and papers clamored to the wood floor. Only one pink sheet remained in his hand. “Oh, here it is,” ignoring the pile at his feet. “I'm teaching this class over the next two semesters. If you're interested, just show up as it says here.” With that Glaen gathered his books and left the Shoppe, cluttered but unembarrassed. From that moment on, all I could think about was how curious both the class and the professor seemed. I was in!


“Welcome class. My name is Glaen, pronounced with a long 'a' as in 'gain.'” He started the Original Non-Fiction class, ONF101 as the flier labeled it, right on time. Without skipping a beat he handed out the syllabus and asked with eyes that swept the room, “Are there any questions before we begin?”


I looked around totally bewildered as I raised my hand. “Yes, and your name is Anne?” he asked. “Well, they call me Annie, but I do have a question,” I said.


“OK Annie, what's your question?” I was still in a self-absorbed mood, so I put a little “dumb blonde” in my voice. “Like…ah…I'm the only student in the room…and, ah…is the class going to make or something?” I wanted to ask why in heaven's name he was acting like the room was full, but it seemed like a dumb move on the first day.


“Well Annie, since it's a new class the powers-that-be have given me permission to teach it even if you're the only one. Ready to start?” he asked, taking my silence for a “yes.”


Glaen wrote the following on the board and asked, “What do you think?”


“JUST DEFINITIONS EITHER PREVENT OR PUT AN END TO DISPUTES”

- Emmons


“Who's Emmons?” I said.


“Does it matter? What if I said it was written by Poe, or Shelley, or Whitman? Would it make a difference? Is it what is said or who said it?” suddenly Glaen had me thinking.


“I guess it doesn't matter,” I said.


“Then what do you think?” he returned.


“I think it sounds reasonable,” I admitted.


“Great!” Glaen took off with a quick lecture on the importance of words and their meanings. He finally got to the point.


“Annie, I've watched conflict for a long time. Seldom is there a conflict that can withstand agreed-to definitions. The reason is pretty simple: Truth still wins out. It's bad enough when two people disagree about what is expected in a relationship. It's even worse when they aren't using the same language. A dictionary or the question, 'What do you mean?' can do more to end conflict than almost anything else on the planet. One of my favorite authors once wrote, 'Truth is the lifeblood of real relationships.'”


“Why?” I asked.


“Well, let me ask you a question. If you change your behavior from how you really are to what they want; is it you relating, or is it the character you're playing?”


With that Glaen started to put his books in a much-needed satchel.


“Is that it?” I asked.


“There's nothing else to know for today,” he said.


“Nothing else to know! What about non-fiction? What about writing? What's the assignment?” I said with a little contempt.


“Oh, that,” he said flatly.


“Well, you need to write an original work of non-fiction, offering original insights on a useful topic. It doesn't matter what the topic is, but I would suggest you write about something you care about, something you'd like to understand. I'll be in this room every week at this same moment. I'm available to help you when you want it.”


Glaen looked at me for a long time, staring right through me with his steady blue eyes, framed by his white hair and white button-down shirt.


“Annie,” he added. “Decide on your topic by next week and I'll show you the secret of good non-fiction. There's a book in your future, and I want to show it to you.” Glaen turned and moved out of the room with the grace of a ballet dancer. I just sat there for a long time before I left. The Coffee Shoppe was finally calling.



SUMMARY

Truth is the lifeblood of real relationships.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yoplait Simply... Go-Gurt Review and Giveaway


New Simply... Go-Gurt is made from simple ingredients moms look for and contains no high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors or flavors. They are a convenient and portable yogurt tube that is great for taking just about anywhere. They contain a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Simply... Go-Gurt is a good-for-you, low fat yogurt snack that you can really feel good about giving to your kids. It is available now in the dairy case! Available in two kid-friendly flavors, Strawberry and Mixed Berry.

I was sent a coupon* for a free sample of Simply... Go-Gurt as well as a Go-Gurt "Simplify Your Life" prize pack that included a pocket Etch a Sketch, weekly planner and a seat back organizer from MyBlogSpark and Yoplait. These Go-Gurts are very yummy and I love them even better because they are healthy for my kids!

*This coupon offer for free Simply... Go-Gurt is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Tennessee.

Simply...Go-Gurt Savings

* After the 30 free coupons are claimed, the micro site will include a link to a $1.10 off coupon so everyone who visits can share in the savings.



WIN IT:
Jessica at MyBlogSpark has has generously offered a Yoplait Go-Gurt "Simplify Your Life" gift pack to one of my readers to win.

Mandatory:
1. Go to the Yoplait Simply... Go-Gurt website and tell me by commenting on this post your wholesome snacking tips that make your child(ren) smile.

Additional entries:
1. Subscribe to my blog by email and let me know. (2 extra entries)

2. Become my fan on facebook and write that you are entering this giveaway on my wall. (1 extra entry)

3. Blog about this giveaway on your blog and provide me with the link. Make sure you have the link to this post and Yoplait Simply... Go-Gurt in your blog entry or it won't count. (2 extra entries)

4. Grab My Button (see sidebar to the left) AND/OR Put My Blog URL in Your Blogroll - Leave Your Link. (1 extra entry)

5. Technorati my blog and let me know your link. (1 extra entry)

6. List this giveaway on any giveaway listing website or blog and tell me where you listed it. (2 extra)

7. Add me on Twitter and Tweet this: @finamoon: @YoplaitYogurt WIN A Yoplait Go-Gurt "Simplify Your Life" Gift Pack #giveaway http://bit.ly/avVTVX (Daily Extras are Available)

8. Fan Yoplait on Facebook. (1 extra entry)

9. Follow Yoplait on Twitter. (1 extra entry)

Make sure you leave me your email in all posts so that I can contact you. This contest ends on Friday May 28, 2010 at midnight (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada). This Giveaway is open to U.S. Only!!

DISCLAIMER: The Simply... Go-Gurt coupon, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me free from Yoplait and MyBlogSpark. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Wordless Wednesday Teela's New Friend and Us Mommies

Teela and her new friend, Melody, playing ring around the rosy.

Teela and Melody hugging a tree :)

I and my long term blogging friend Erin from Connected2Christ blog and Through My Daughter's Eyes blog (we were friends long before we were blogging or had children).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yoplait Greek Yogurt Review and Giveaway


Yoplait Greek yogurt has 12 grams of protein, twice that found in leading yogurts. It is available in four delicious flavors: Strawberry, Blueberry, Honey Vanilla and Plain. This yogurt is a lot thicker than other yogurts, but is still creamy.

To celebrate its new Greek yogurt and to encourage women to nourish their inner goddess, Yoplait has teamed up with actress Izabella Miko, who plays Greek Goddess Athena in the epic adventure new Warner Bros. Pictures´ and Legendary Pictures´ film "Clash of the Titans," in theaters April 2 in 3D.

Watch the trailer for the Clash of the Titans:


I received two VIP* coupons for two free cups of Yoplait Greek yogurt, information about the product, a Yoplait Greek "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack, which includes: a wrap around towel, slippers, palm held body massager, nail brush, loofah sisal bath sponge, and a hand towel.

I enjoyed the yogurt, but found it very hard to find at the stores I looked for it.

Download a coupon* and save $0.30 on one cup of new Yoplait Greek today!

*This coupon offer for a free cup of Yoplait Greek yogurt is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Tennessee.


WIN IT:
Amanda at MyBlogSpark has has generously offered a Yoplait Greek "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack that contains two VIP* coupons to one of my readers to win.

Mandatory:
1. Go to the Yoplait Greek yogurt website and tell me by commenting on this post about what flavor you would love to try AND how you get in touch with your own inner god / goddess (Do both or be disqualified!)

Additional entries:
1. Subscribe to my blog by email and let me know. (2 extra entries)

2. Become my fan on facebook and write that you are entering this giveaway on my wall. (1 extra entry)

3. Blog about this giveaway on your blog and provide me with the link. Make sure you have the link to this post and Yoplait Greek Yogurt in your blog entry or it won't count. (2 extra entries)

4. Grab My Button (see sidebar to the left) AND/OR Put My Blog URL in Your Blogroll - Leave Your Link. (1 extra entry)

5. Technorati my blog and let me know your link. (1 extra entry)

6. List this giveaway on any giveaway listing website or blog and tell me where you listed it. (2 extra)

7. Add me on Twitter and Tweet this: @finamoon: @YoplaitYogurt WIN A Yoplait Greek "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" Gift Pack #giveaway http://bit.ly/aVHeux (Daily Extras are Available)

8. Fan Yoplait on Facebook. (1 extra entry)

9. Follow Yoplait on Twitter. (1 extra entry)

Make sure you leave me your email in all posts so that I can contact you. This contest ends on Friday May 28, 2010 at midnight (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada). This Giveaway is open to U.S. Only!!

DISCLAIMER: The VIP coupons, gift pack, information and additional gift pack to give away were all given to me free from Yoplait and MyBlogSpark. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Starbucks Pike Place Roast and Caffè Verona Review

I love the smell of coffee beans, ground coffee, and pots of coffee brewing. Every time I go down the coffee aisle of a grocery store I take in a big whiff. The smell makes me happy...I don't know why.

I have loved Starbucks over the years. My favorite drink there was the Apple Chai tea. I am definitely more of a tea person than a coffee drinker, but I do love a good cup of flavored coffee or espresso. My husband loved Starbucks' caramel frappachinos. The last time we went through their drive through; however, we got a little bit of hassle about making the Apple Chai tea because apparently Starbucks has now taken it off their menu and the caramel frappachino that my husband got was a new mix that apparently Starbucks thinks is better. We don't agree. Their new frappachinos now taste nasty. I really hope they go back to the original recipe. We probably won't be going there as much because of this.

Anyway, enough of my rant about that. I received a 12 oz bag of ground Starbucks Pike Place Roast coffee and a 5 oz bag of ground Caffè Verona free from BzzAgent. They are both home brewed coffee. To make the ground coffee taste the best Starbucks says to use cold, filtered water and a clean machine. Then you measure 2 Tbsp (10 g) ground coffee for every 6 fl oz (180 ml) water. Starbucks coffee is available in bagged form at all major grocery stores and mass retailers like Target and Wal-Mart. There are many variety of flavors available. Starbucks' beans are also grown and sourced ethically and sustainably.

FREE BREWED COFFEE:
If you take an empty specialty marked bag of Starbucks coffee to a Starbucks location you can get a free tall (12 fl oz.) brewed coffee. Expires 30 days after the "Best Before" date printed on the bag. Limit one per customer. Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts.

Fan Starbucks on Facebook. Follow Starbucks on Twitter.

ENTER TO WIN A KITCHEN MAKEOVER AND COFFEE EQUIPMENT:
Enter to win the Coffee At Home With Starbucks Sweepstakes. One grand-prize winner will receive a $40,000 Prize Package for a Kitchen Makeover, which includes a $39,000 budget for kitchen renovations of your existing kitchen through a major home improvement center—plus, $1,000 worth of Starbucks Coffee and coffee-making equipment. See full prize details. Plus one winner each month will receive a Coffee at Home gift pack (valued at more than $500), which includes various coffee-making equipment and a year's supply of Starbucks Coffee. You can enter every day through November 30th, 2010.

There are also some cool videos and recipes that you can partner with your home brewed coffee at starbucksathome.com.

MY THOUGHTS:
I like coffee well enough, but I would have loved it more if the Pikes Place Roast was flavored. My favorites are Irish cream and hazelnut. I tasted both coffee just with sugar and milk and they were good, but the Pikes Place Roast needed something more in my opinion. I put my Pralines and Creme Coffee-Mate coffee creamer in it and the coffee was instantly better. I can't really compare the Pikes Place Roast or the Caffè Verona with any other Starbucks brewed coffee because I have never tried any others. My neighbor who drinks quite a bit of coffee loves the Pikes Place Roast and raves about how wonderful it is. The Pikes Place Roast says it has a smoother finish and subtle flavors of cocoa and toasted nuts. The Caffè Verona I liked better. It is a dark cocoa that is rich, roasty sweet and bold...not bitter like some other brands I have had. It made a good cup just with milk/cream and sugar.

DISCLAIMER: Because I am a member of BzzAgent I received word of a BzzCampaign for the Starbucks. All information about the products I received from the media kit, the products and the Starbucks website. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

FURminator Review and Giveaway

The FURminator is such a great product! I received a free large FURminator deLuxe Collection deShedding tool from FURminator to test and review and I must say that this is the best brush/comb for pets I have come across. The one I received has a 4" edge that gets my very large dog, Prince, brushed quickly and efficiently. These tools come in a variety of sizes to fit your pet and are perfect for both long haired and short haired breeds. They quickly get rid of the undercoat and loose, unwanted hair and reduce shedding up to 90%! The deLuxe Collection is really nice because you don't have to pick the fur off the deShedding edge with your fingers. Instead it has a very convenient FURejector. Just press the button on the back and a straight edge slides down against the stainless steel deShedding edge to push the fur away from the teeth and into a receptacle. It also has a very nice ergonomic grip handle that fits well into the hand. Before I tried this comb on Prince I had a regular pin bristle brush and Prince didn't enjoy getting brushed at all. Now I do not have a problem with him running off when my family or I are combing him. He really likes the FURminator!

WIN IT:
Noah at FURminator has has generously offered a Small deLuxe deShedding tool for one of my readers to win.

Mandatory:
1. Go to the FURminator website and tell me by commenting on this post what other things they sell.

Additional entries:
1. Subscribe to my blog by email and let me know. (2 extra entries)

2. Become my fan on facebook and write that you are entering this giveaway on my wall. (1 extra entry)

3. Blog about this giveaway on your blog and provide me with the link. Make sure you have the link to this post and FURminator in your blog entry or it won't count. (2 extra entries)

4. Grab My Button (see sidebar to the left) AND/OR Put My Blog URL in Your Blogroll - Leave Your Link. (1 extra entry)

5. Technorati my blog and let me know your link. (1 extra entry)

6. List this giveaway on any giveaway listing website or blog and tell me where you listed it. (2 extra)

7. Add me on Twitter and Tweet this: @finamoon: @FURminator_Inc WIN A Small deLuxe deShedding tool #giveaway http://bit.ly/bxbWrE (Daily Extras are Available)

8. Fan FURminator on Facebook. (1 extra entry)

9. Follow FURminator on Twitter. (1 extra entry)

Make sure you leave me your email in all posts so that I can contact you. This contest ends on Friday May 28, 2010 at midnight (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada). This Giveaway is open to U.S. Only!!

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to FURminator for sending me a free large FURminator deLuxe Collection deShedding tool to test and review. This giveaway is also provided free from FURminator. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Real World Parents: Christian Parenting for Families Living in the Real World by Mark Matlock FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:


Real World Parents: Christian Parenting for Families Living in the Real World

Zondervan/Youth Specialties (February 23, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mark Matlock has been working with youth pastors, students, and parents for two decades. He speaks to hundreds of thousands of students around the world each year, and presents biblical truths in ways that motivate people to change. Mark is the vice president of event content at Youth Specialties and the founder of WisdomWorks Ministries and PlanetWisdom. He’s the author of several books including The Wisdom On - series, Living a Life That Matters, Don’t Buy The Lie, Freshman, and Smart Faith. Mark lives in Texas with his wife Jade and their two children.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Zondervan/Youth Specialties (February 23, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310669367
ISBN-13: 978-0310669364

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


What Are Real World Parents?

I have a vivid memory of being a teenager and sitting at the dinner table with my family, rolling my eyes and pretending to gag behind my dad's back.

Why?

He was trying to do family devotions with us. But my three younger brothers and I just weren't buying it.

Every four or five months my dad would hear some program on Christian radio about family devotions, and he'd come home with another new idea for making it work with our family. After all, that's what Christian families are supposed to do, right? But it just never worked in our house. It felt completely forced and unnatural.

Still, somehow all four of us Matlock boys ended up in ministry. My youngest brother, Jonathan, helped me start WisdomWorks Ministries, and now we both do pretty much the same kind of youth ministry and youth minister support through Youth Specialties. Our brother Josh is a senior pastor in Southern California, and our brother Jeremy is a missionary in Russia. And still to this day, whenever Dad tries to bring us together for Òfamily devotionsÓ during the holidays, we mock him a little. It's become a kind of tradition because it isn't genuine for who we are as a family.

Now, I'm not saying that having kids who serve in some area of ministry means you're a successful parent. The point I'm making is that all four of my dad's sons grew into men with a real passion and appreciation for God's Word--even though he couldn't get us to sit still and take the reading of the Word seriously during repeated failed attempts at family devotions.

Why? Because we knew he had a real passion and appreciation for God's Word. We saw Dad reading the Bible. We saw him struggle to apply it to his life. We saw both of our parents base their decisions on their understanding of what the Bible teaches.

Ultimately we were convinced of the worldview contained in the pages of Scripture because we saw our parents openly endorsing it, talking about it, learning from it, and living it out day after day, year after year. That was enough for us--despite the failed attempts at family devotions.

That's what this book is about. We're not interested in presenting more artificial techniques and methodology to ÒfixÓ our kids or do what Christian families are Òsupposed to do.Ó Rather we want to help you discover how to live for God in a real way, right in front of your kids, so they can't help but catch the big picture that God and his Word mean the world to us and that living for Jesus really works in the Real World.

Don't get me wrong. Not all families are built to the same specifications. We each have our own family DNA. So if family devotions fit who you are, more power to you! Organized, structured, traditional family devotions are a great tool for some families. Now that my wife, Jade, and I have two kids of our own--our son Dax is in middle school, and our daughter Skye is 10--we've tried to have a family Bible hour around the table. It kind of worked off and on when the kids were younger, but we eventually realized it wasn't a good fit for the natural rhythm of our lives. It's not who we are right now. So instead we've found ways to talk about God's Word that are a better fit for us.

As we work together through the concepts in this book, one thing we'll discover is that Real World Parents are real in the sense that they do what best fits their families, and they genuinely adjust their own lives to fit into God's story.

Is God Happy with My Family?

In the church today, there's some really good teaching on parenting. My wife and I have benefited from writers, conference speakers, and pastors who've opened God's Word and helped us connect with what it means to raise up our children in the way they should go, how to provide godly discipline, and ideas for reinforcing good behavior. But again, that's not what this book is about.

And, honestly, over the years I've been frustrated with some teaching on parenting that's built around making parents feel guilty. These teachers, authors, books, and programs build parenting models based on our common fear that we're going to mess up our kids--or that we've already messed up our kids. That's an easy road that plays on our fears and our guilt over the areas in which we struggle as parents. Then they suggest that their programs or perspectives are our final hope to Òget it rightÓ or, worse, to do it the only way God wants it done.

That's not what this book is about, either. I promise not to use your parenting fears and anxieties against you. And we all have those feelings. I know I have them. If you could spend a little time with my family, you'd quickly see that we have issues, too. Those prone to critiquing parents would have no trouble criticizing my wife and me. So, no, I'm not interested in beating up other parents in order to somehow make them feel better or more motivated in their parenting.

In fact, I'd like to communicate exactly the opposite.

In our Real World Parent seminars, held around the United States, our teachers use a self-diagnostic tool to help attendees identify what they believe God thinks of their families.

It goes something like this:

What do you think God sees when he looks at your family? Do you think God grins or grimaces? (Place an X on the line.)


God Grins God Grimaces

This can be a challenging question if you take it seriously. On one hand, those of us who've grown up in Christian churches understand the idea of God's grace. We understand that our relationship with God isn't based on our performance. God sacrificed his only Son--the Son whom God loves so deeply--to pay for our sins on a cross. And God did this long before we even knew we wanted that gift from God. Thus, we'd always check the box that says God's love is unconditional for those of us in Christ.

Still, we have trouble carrying the idea of God's grace into our parenting. We can talk ourselves into believing that failing our kids is an unforgivable sin, that God could never be pleased with us if we've been guilty of sloppy or harsh or inconsistent or selfish or fearful or overprotective or neglectful parenting.

We may wonder how God could ever look at our families and grin. And the problem is that, as parents, we sometimes forget that we're also children--that our God is our Father, and that God is more lovingly inclined to smile at us than we are to smile at our own kids. Our Father loves us, and he forgives our parenting shortcomings and our family failings.

I will say this more than once: Nothing you read in this book will make God the Father love you and your family any more than he does right now, no matter what's going on with your family today.

I made this statement at one of our Real World Parent seminars, and I noticed that one of the women began to cry. She came up to me later and explained how inferior she's felt as a mother in her local church. Her husband isn't a believer, her kids get into trouble, and she just felt like such a failure--like a second-class parent in a church where most of the other parents were both Christians, still married, and raising such ÒniceÓ children.

I tried to assure her that God's grace applies to us as parents, and that in Christ she is forgiven and fully accepted as a beloved daughter (and mom!). The idea that God loved her family right now--in its present condition--was a reality she wasn't living in. She felt she was ÒunderperformingÓ as a parent and couldn't keep up. So she said the idea that she's forgiven, accepted, and loved as a parent gave her immense comfort.

Ernest Hemingway's short story called ÒThe Capital of the WorldÓ begins with an anecdote about a man in Madrid who put an ad in the newspaper to contact his estranged son. The ad read, PACO, MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY. ALL IS FORGIVEN. PAPA. The story then describes how at noon on Tuesday, 800 young men arrived at the hotel to make peace with their fathers.

The joke was that there are lots of guys in Spain named Paco. But the other message is that wanting our dads' approval, specifically, is a universal human experience. Taking nothing away from the indispensable role of our mothers, we all long to have our fathers sign off on who we are and what we're doing.

It's what psychologists call Òfather hunger.Ó

As Christians, followers of Jesus, we have that hunger even in our roles as parents, even if we've made mistakes along the way. Our Father has forgiven us. We live in God's grace. God approves of us in Christ. And, yes, God loves us.

I want to make it perfectly clear--again--that you'll find no directives in this book that will make God love you or your family even a little bit more than he already does. God's unconditional love for your family was established long ago. It is full. It cannot grow. Romans 8:1 declares, ÒTherefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Ó And that includes Christian parents.

I hope you've heard that. But I also hope you aren't satisfied to leave your family where it is today. Because while I'm convinced that God will never love or accept you any more than he does right now, I'm also convinced that God loves you so much that he won't leave you where you are right now, either.

No matter how good or bad you believe your family is, God has plans for you that will unfold in the Real World. God will continue to move your family along in the journey he has in store for you. Which is why this book is designed to help Real World Parents understand that journey--or story--and communicate it to our kids.

ÒHow Will This Book Fix My Kids?Ó 

As long as we're talking about things this book isn't, I should mention again that in the following pages you won't find any tips or tricks or techniques to fix your children's bad behavior. (We'd probably sell more copies if that's what we were promising, but we're not.)

In my experience, books full of tips, techniques, and tricks succeed at making readers feel good for a while. They make us feel hopeful. They make us feel as though we're doing something about the problem. But they often fail in the long run because we just can't keep it up. We can't change the personalities of our families to fit the models of the new programs on an ongoing basis.

When my kids came along, though, and I started making my way through all the different kinds of Christian parenting books, I noticed that a lot of them focused on helping me raise well-behaved, well-mannered kids. And while that's an important element, there wasn't much focus on raising kids to have hearts that seek after Christ. Of course we can't force that kind of spiritual openness and connectedness with God onto our kids--but in our Real World homes, we can create environments that promote such growth.

In a sense we become gardeners tending the spiritual development of our kids. God places the spark of life in the seed. We can't control that or how the plant eventually matures. But we can make sure the soil is rich, the ground is generously watered, the weeds are kept at bay, and the opportunity for sunlight is freely available. We can raise our children in environments where having a heart for God is the norm and not the exception.

What we don't want to generate are well-behaved kids who mindlessly follow our directions without ever willfully owning the faith in Jesus that they see in us. In the long run, the goal of parenting isn't for our kids to be known for how well-behaved they are, but for how well they know and respond to God.

Part of our challenge is to communicate to our kids a worldview that supports right actions. It's true that we (and they) will be held accountable for our behavior based on God's instructions to us. But whether or not we obey those instructions has a lot to do with whether or not we really believe God's story--a biblical worldview--and whether or not we walk in God's power.

In that way, our children's behavior is kind of like the tip of an iceberg. From countless illustrations we all know that the part of the iceberg that rises above the waterline is just a fraction of its total size. As such, you could conceivably make all kinds of alterations to the exposed part of the iceberg--in other words, the outward stuff (behaviors)--without significantly altering the iceberg itself.


What we've got to get at--in our own lives and in the lives of our kids--is the 80 percent of the berg that's under the waterline. In our illustration that represents one's worldview. We believe our behavior is ultimately driven by our understanding of the way the world works, of what we believe to be true and false about the universe, of our perception of reality.

And that's what we want to focus on as Real World Parents. How can we communicate God's worldview to our kids? What story are we telling them about the universe, both intentionally and--more importantly--in the way we live with and for God over time?

Before you move on to the next chapter, ask yourself these questions: 

1. When you imagine God looking at your family, what do you think God sees? What do you believe God's desire for your family is?



2. When you look at the world your children are living in, do you believe it's better or worse compared to when you were growing up? Why?



3. Which matters more to you--that your children demonstrate good behavior, or that your children understand and believe in a biblical worldview? Why?



4. In your own life, what has mattered more in the long run--your behavior on any given day or your foundational beliefs about God and the world?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Live Big! 10 Life Coaching Tips for Living Large, Passionate Dreams by Katie Brazelton FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:


Live Big! 10 Life Coaching Tips for Living Large, Passionate Dreams

Howard Books; Original edition (February 2, 2010)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Katie Brazelton, Ph.D., M.Div., M.A., is a life coach and bestselling author. She is the founder of Life Purpose Coaching Centers International, which trains Christians worldwide to become Life Purpose Coach professionals and assist others to discover and fulfill God’s plan for their lives. Dr. Brazelton was formerly a licensed minister and director of women’s Bible studies at Saddleback Church and now is a professor at Rockbridge Seminary. She lives in Southern California and has two children and two grandchildren. She is the author of the bestselling series Pathway to Purpose for Women and Character Makeover: 40 Days with a Life Coach to Create the Best You.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (February 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439135606
ISBN-13: 978-1439135600

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction

Imagine that you and I are being pampered in first class, relaxing comfortably on an afternoon flight to your favorite world-class resort. As we gaze out the airplane window, it seems as though we're floating through an endless sea of marshmallow clouds, soaring together through the heavens. Up here, dreams somehow seem crystal clear. I think it's because we can pretend we've risen above the rough, mountainous terrain of life and can look down on our hills and valleys, seeing events from a fresh perspective.

From this bird's-eye view, glance down at what is below: your daily routine, closest relationships, untapped potential, and countless opportunities. Let this vantage point help you set your sights on a passionate megadream and an inspiring hope for the future!

I would not dare to author a book on such an important topic as Living Big without practicing what I preach. So, as I write this, I am on a flight to Hawaii (I wish it were first class) for an extended stay to consider living there indefinitely. I was raised in Hawaii and the Marshall Islands in a navy family, so the tropical breeze has always been alluring to me. Might this be where I will plant another Life Purpose Coaching Center...or find the time to launch my long-dreamed-of radio show...or finish this book? I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know that I can't fail, because this is simply an experiment, with memories waiting to be made. I'm not going to rush the process or force a decision, only enjoy the journey to yea or nay. There is no right or wrong way to dream.

Well, actually, I do believe there's one wrong way, and that is to let the dream stagnate without taking any action!

I am embarking on this time of exploration because I am in a new season of my life, formally ending two decades of single parenting. My son recently accepted an out-of-state job promotion, taking his sweet wife and my two young grandsons with him. Shortly thereafter, my daughter announced her engagement, which means she, too, will be moving away from our home area. In the blink of an eye, without my permission, I have been thrust into a new chapter of my life. On one hand, I am sad and fearful. On the other hand, now I have no more excuses for not doing whatever I want, which is another way of saying "whatever I feel God is calling me to do next."

I am operating in a spirit of supersized living right now, and not just because I may soon be draped in large muumuus, walking barefoot to the local market to buy macadamia-nut chocolates, and blatantly enticing my family with extended holiday vacations in paradise.

Dreaming in high definition and surround sound -- and then taking appropriate steps to live those dreams -- is what this book is all about. You may not have a burning desire to move to a distant land, but what do you want out of life? Are you a student anxiously finishing college? A young mom who's busy raising twins? An overseas missionary on a brand-new assignment? A career woman vying for an enviable position? A widow with only a few pressing obligations? Regardless of your role in life, you and I have a few things in common:

- We love to dream.

- God designed us to dream.

- And there's no day like today to start discovering God's best!

I need you to know that I'm not so far up in the clouds that I am unaware of your everyday realities. Life has prepared me well to be your Life Coach. I have a testimony of brokenness, and I'm honored to help you dream. Check out what I call "My 7 Big D's" -- events that shaped me for nearly twenty years.

My 7 Big D's

1982 Barely survived a serious, four-month depression.

1986 Devastated by a totally unexpected divorce.

1988 Confused about having to rewrite my doctoral dissertation.

1990 Deeply saddened by the death of my exhusband.

1991 Angered by a corporate downsizing, which left me laid off just days after buying a home.

1993 Terrified by a dating incident.

2001 Shocked by the death of my dream when my first book contract was canceled due to budget cuts after 9/11.

What does this list tell you, other than that I must have built up a lot of stamina by now? It says that you can trust me to understand what you're going through and to tell it like it is when I coach you -- without skirting around the issues. I care deeply about making sure you don't get stuck in the quagmire of life, as I did too many times.

These chapters will take you on a journey to find what you're really jazzed about -- what makes you smile, laugh, play, sing, and dance. It's time to daydream about the adventure God has in store for you!

Amos 4:13 tells us that God reveals His thoughts to us: "He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mortals, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth -- the Lord God Almighty is his name." We want to do whatever it takes to be ready for that revelation.

As your Life Coach, I will come alongside you like a Barnabas (a name that Acts 4:36 tells us means "son of encouragement"). We will enjoy life-changing chats about you, stealing precious moments within your hectic schedule. I know how hard it is for you to find time for a conversation about your legacy, your destiny, your divine urge. As you are able to sneak away from your daily routine, it will be my job and my joy to sit with you and draw out of you the distinct calling God laid on your heart eons ago, before you were ever born. And then, equally important, we will put baby steps in place to help you live out your exciting, God-designed purpose, which has long been the desire in your soul even if it has lain dormant.

This book is loaded with modern, true stories of everyday saints, Bible character parallels, inspirational quotes, some of my favorite Scripture verses, heartfelt prayers, ten coaching tips, forty action steps, reflection questions, and practical exercises with sample answers from my own life to trigger your thinking. (Don't miss the Web downloads, too, which are my special gift to you!) You will hear from real women -- students, wives, mothers, a widow, career women, church staff members -- who all have tremendous testimonies to share. I urge you to break all of the normal book-reading rules and jump into the chapters in any sequence you please. Did you know that doing the unexpected can change your perspective, which will then cause you to see your world through new eyes?

I've chosen these particular topics for us to explore in detail as we discover what it takes to Live Big!

1. Face Your Fears

2. Learn to Exhale

3. Honor Your Deepest Longings

4. Don't Ever Give Up

5. Use Your Past for Good

6. Expect Miracles

7. Forgive Someone

8. Eat Dessert First

9. Ask Jesus for Vision

10. Capture Your Live Big! Dream

I can't help but think: If only someone had told me that! or Why didn't I learn that in school? Frankly, I feel there ought to be a law mandating that schools teach us to be tenacious, forgiving, and courageous. We need classes at church that help us reach for our dreams, expect miracles, focus forward, and breathe calmly through adversity. But most important, we must learn how to play and to stop taking ourselves so seriously and to start cherishing God's incredibly specific plan for our lives. In this way, we address the habits that help us attract or sabotage God's boldest wishes for us.

Each of the ten coaching tips will give you a broader, richer understanding of how to run and finish the race well.

You probably picked up this book because you want to travel boldly down the path to purpose and fulfillment, yet perhaps you've lost sight of your dreams, hopes, and longings -- possibly because of regrets, exhaustion, stubbornness, fears, sins, and so on. We're all burdened with something. You want to bring glory to God with your life, but you may be carrying such a heavy weight of boredom, loneliness, doubt, pride, and/or hopelessness that you've forgotten how to unleash your creativity. The biblical perspective in this book will help you hear God's promptings more clearly and act on them with pure joy.

I encourage you to dream big dreams during this eyeopening, heart-pounding quest. Let me share with you forty proven, incremental steps that I personally have used for years and have coached my clients through -- action steps that will help you to live a significance-filled life. God will be honored, and you will be blessed. You will find yourself empowered beyond your wildest imagination as you Live Big!

Will you take your first small step today?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 3 Headed Double Stemmed Dandelion

If you are participating in Wordless Wednesdays, click on the Mister Linky image, enter your name and URL in the form, and press Enter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One Million Arrows: Raising Your Children to Change the World by Julie Ferwerda FIRST Wild Card Tour Book Review

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:


One Million Arrows: Raising Your Children to Change the World

Winepress Publishing (September 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Julie Ferwerda for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Julie Ferwerda is recognized for making the Bible exciting and relevant to everyday life through her writing and speaking. Her articles are featured in many Christian magazines and websites for both adults and teens, and she frequently volunteers her time and talents to international orphan ministry.

Visit the author's website.
Visit the book's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $13.95
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Winepress Publishing (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606150111
ISBN-13: 978-1606150115

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter 1: Determine Your Course
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children...Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5–9

_______________________________

Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. –William Jennings Bryan1

_______________________________

What were you doing on 9/11?

I’d just cranked up the tunes and hopped on my Nordic Track as part of my normal morning routine, when my husband called from work to tell me to turn on the TV. Watching the events unfold, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as helpless or as horrified as I did that day. The world no longer seemed like the safe, secure place I thought it was only one day before. In the worst way, I wanted to keep my two girls, ages seven and ten, out of school that day to protect them and reassure them until the danger had passed.

For the rest of that day, and many more to come, the surreal sights on TV haunted me. The planes striking the buildings; massive explosions; the sudden, momentary collapse—twice—of 110 floors of elaborately constructed concrete, steel, and glass that took years to erect; and the mountains of debris that smoked and smoldered for many days. But nothing shook me as much as the unforgettable images of human bodies spilling out of the buildings like grains of rice. Neither those who lived through it, nor those of us who watched the shocking events unfold on TV will ever forget.

One young man I read about, Cary Sheih, a technical consultant from New York, barely made it out alive. Working on a project for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at his 72nd floor desk, he’d just finished his usual mid-morning PB&J, when he heard an explosion, followed by tremendous building sways and vibrations. At first, he thought it might be an earthquake, so he dashed to the stairwell, where a quick, but calm, evacuation was underway. As people made their way down, some received messages on their cell phones that an airplane had accidentally crashed into the building, but there was no mention of a terrorist attack.

With the heavy, choking stench of jet fuel, descending the tower proved difficult. But if it was difficult for him, he couldn’t imagine how difficult it was for the rescue crews he passed, huffing their way up an endless corkscrew of stairs and then hurrying back down, carrying badly injured and burned victims. He recalls, “Sometime around the 30th or 40th floor, we passed the first firefighters coming up the stairs. They reassured people that we were safe and that we would all get out fine. By this point, they were absolutely breathless, but still pushing upward, slowly and unyieldingly, one step at a time. I could only imagine how tired they were, carrying their axes, hoses, and heavy outfits, climbing up all those stairs. Young men started offering [to help] the firemen to carry up their gear for a few flights, but they all refused. Each and every one of them.”2

As Cary neared the bottom, the building began to shake and sway again, the lights flickered out, and eerie sounds of buckling steel accompanied screams of people falling down the stairwell. After being assisted by firemen through darkness to a different stairwell, a panicked Cary somehow made it down the last few flights to safety, where his wildest imagination couldn’t have prepared him for what he encountered. The burning trees, wreckage, fireballs, and dust resembled a war zone.

While reading through this and other accounts concerning 9/11, I noticed an inspiring, recurrent theme. While there were many, many heroes and selfless individuals working tirelessly to assist throughout this tragic period, it was the firemen who undoubtedly made some of the greatest sacrifices of all, and whose ultimate acts of bravery impacted lives worldwide. While most everyone else scrambled for the exit signs to save themselves (which I’m positive I would have done, too), these rescue workers fearlessly headed up into the towering infernos that day, many likely aware that they might not make it out alive.

Most kids see firefighters as larger than life heroes, which is probably why many of them want to be one when they grow up. Who wouldn’t want to be thought of as a hero, especially one that saved lives? I came across a touching book report that was written about 9/11 by three kids: “The firefighters of 9/11 are heroes because they have saved the lives of hundreds of people, while they knew the building could collapse. While you go up a burning, 110-story building you would be very scared, because you’ll think of your own life. When you are a firefighter you mustn’t think too much about your own life or you may not be able to save lives. Being a hero means saving lives. That’s the difference between being a celebrity and being a hero. Why would a celebrity be important to you? It is just someone with a well-paying job. You’ll be someone’s hero if you help him with his or her life.”3

As I think about what these insightful kids have so magnificently articulated about the qualities of firemen, particularly the 9/11 firemen, I’m deeply moved with admiration and respect. In an emergency, firemen are:

First responders, well-trained, and ready to save lives, even at the expense of their own.
Purposeful and deliberate, aware that lives are at stake and time is short.
Doggedly determined, knowing that the more lives they can save the better.
Regarded in both life and death as the heroes of this world.
No one involved in 9/11 could disagree with this assessment. Remembering the expressions of both courage and fear etched on rescue workers’ faces as they spoke reassuringly to guide many people to safety, Cary Sheih said, “I am so grateful for the courage of the firemen and policemen who gave up their lives to help us down the burning tower. As I relive this moment over and over in my mind, I can’t help but think that these courageous firemen already knew in their minds that they would not make it out of the building alive, and that they didn’t want to endanger any more civilians or prevent one less person from making it to safety.”4

While they will undoubtedly go down in history as larger than life heroes, we can’t forget how human and vulnerable they were, too. I have looked through their pictures online. Most of them were young family men, with their whole lives ahead of them—men who kissed their own babies goodnight on Monday for the last time so that those they helped to safety could kiss their kids goodnight many more nights to come. They unknowingly said final goodbyes to their own families Tuesday morning so that many others could come home to their families that night.

In the moment of the realization of the grave danger, it had to be a dilemma for the firemen, choosing between lion-hearted courage and paralyzing, self-protective fear. How were they able to do it? Was it because it was their job? Because their buddies were doing it? Because their captain told them to do it? What exactly is it that leads a person to choose a profession where courage must prevail when all pretenses and rewards are stripped away in the face of death?

More than a job identity or a paycheck, more than an obligation or a hope of any kind of recognition, firemen are willing to risk their lives and to face their fears because they are motivated by something far greater than fear.

The Bible refers to this motivating force as love! Authentic, selfless love drives away fear (1 John 4:18). And it was the love—not the duty—of those firemen and emergency workers that truly made them heroes of the day, both the ones who died and the ones who worked doggedly through the wreckage, many suffering permanent damage to their lungs and bodies. And that kind of sacrifice, according to Jesus Christ, is love at its very best. “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (John 15:12–13, emphasis mine).

Firemen of Life

So what does all this talk about 9/11 and firemen have to do with parenting? If you’re a follower of Christ and you want to raise children who are also followers of Christ, quite a lot. And if you want to entertain the possibility of raising children who will change the world around them, and even the world at large, everything!

It’s no secret that every day on this earth, countless lives are at stake. People are dying every day who do not know Jesus, and almost just as bad, people are living every day who do not know Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine struggling through the hardships, losses, disappointments, and sorrows of this world without the comfort and peace of knowing Jesus and His love. And we know that someday soon, this world, with all its carefully planned designs and elaborate structures, along with all the people who have not put their faith in Christ, will collapse in a catastrophic fire (Zephaniah 1:18).

In other words, time is running out.

The seriousness of that reality raises some questions: What is my family here for? As believers, is parenting a more significant and eternity-impacting role than we’ve given it credit for? Are we satisfied with happy, well-adjusted, even ambitious kids who happen to love God, or is there something more? When we consider the possibilities, we find that we’ve been given an invitation into a divine story—into His-story. As this story unfolds throughout the space of our lives, which role will our family accept in this cosmic emergency? Hopefully not the victims. Hopefully not the ones running scared to save ourselves (and I am absolutely not criticizing those who made it out on 9/11—this is for spiritual application only). Hopefully not uninvolved bystanders who are disinterested, unable, or ill equipped to do anything but watch.

I’ve realized that, in the grand scheme of life, more than just raising my kids to “keep the faith,” I want to raise my kids to save lives. I want to raise firemen. Not necessarily the earthly fire-fighting kind, but the heavenly fire-fighting kind. Kids who are well-trained and ready to help save as many lives as possible. Kids who grow up, remembering at the forefront of everything they do, that time is short and lives are at stake, and who will one day be seen as spiritual heroes for helping many to safety.

I want to raise kids who love like Jesus.

Just think what it would be like to have kids who grow up in this self-destructing world with brave faces and hope in their voices, carrying within their hearts the ambition of bringing as many people as possible safely into the Kingdom. I believe that this kind of holy ambition is the secret to life at its best, and I want my kids to experience this kind of life. Jesus said, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life” (Matthew 16:25). And therein, we hear the invitation: Will you raise your kids to be firemen? Will you be a fireman for God’s sake? We may never be called to die for Jesus like so many others in our world today, but we are still called to a holy rescue mission—to live sacrificially for God so that others will be led to safety through our loving assistance.

I recently met two brothers, both firemen of the Kingdom variety, who understand about saving lives by choosing to deliberately head into burning buildings. For them, the rescue mission all started with a small idea and a heart to snatch their fellow teens from a dangerous culture.

At age sixteen, twins Alex and Brett Harris decided to start a little blog in their spare time over the summer called TheRebelution.com, with the intent of starting a teenage rebellion. “The word ‘rebelution’ is a combination of the words ‘rebellion’ and ‘revolution,’” explains Brett. “So it carries a sense of an uprising against social norms. But in this case, it’s not a rebellion against God-established authority, but against the low expectations of our society. It’s a refusal to be defined by our ungodly, rebellious culture.” To their astonishment, within a couple years, their site had received over 14 million hits, becoming the most popular Christian teen blog on the web.

As a follow up, they decided to write a book for teens called Do Hard Things, exhorting young people not to take the easy way out, but to do those things that seem harder now but have a bigger payoff in the end (as in “delayed gratification”). Since then, God has opened doors for them to speak to thousands of teens nationwide through conferences that are planned, organized, and run primarily by youth.

More than just a website, The Rebelution is both a mindset and a movement. “Our goal,” according to the brothers, “is to create a community of young people where thinking deeply is the norm, and where achieving excellence is ‘cool.’ History says young people can be doing big things right now! Don’t let the culture’s expectations toward teenagers dictate what you think is possible. The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are the training ground of future leaders who dare to be responsible now.”5

Whether from media, parents, authority figures, or peers, low expectations have become the rule for this generation, rather than the exception. Not only are kids expected not to possess admirable character or useful competence, but also they are expected to do the opposite. The Rebelution defies this kind of thinking by calling out youth to return to biblical and historical levels of character and competence as exhorted by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Their message, based on their belief that God is raising up their generation for global change, is a passionate call back to excellence, purpose, and significance for young people. It’s not about doing more things, or inflicting oneself with toilsome chores; it’s about lifestyle choices that will often take you out of your comfort zone and into places where you are focused on using your abilities and resources to encourage and benefit others…ultimately to save lives.

“Brett and I firmly believe we are living in historic times,” Alex says. “We further believe that God is raising up a generation of young people who will one day assume positions of leadership in all spheres of life: social, political, and spiritual. This is not a call for the complacent or the lackadaisical. This is not a call to those who are willing to lower their standards to meet the expectations of their culture. This is a call to the rebelutionary.”

Initially I wondered how two kids could possibly have achieved so many bold and bright accomplishments, not to mention how they’ve acquired more wisdom than many adults. Was it handed to them? Do they harbor a special gene pool (their parents might agree with that notion)? Did they turn out like this by chance?

Actually, Alex and Brett would probably be ordinary kids, except for one thing. They had parents who believed in making the sacrifices necessary to raise their kids to make a difference. Kids who, in turn, learned to make sacrifices in order to serve others. They had parents who devoted themselves to raising firemen. Keeping this at the forefront of their parenting strategy, Mom and Dad Harris raised kids who understood and accepted the fact that it was going to take a lot of hard work for everyone in order to succeed in this goal. As a result of this mentality, these young men have literally started a Rebelution across our nation…and our world.

There are actually two other grown children from the Harris home. One of them, Joshua, became a best-selling author at the age of twenty, with the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Multnomah 1997). He went on to write more bestsellers, developed purity seminars for young people, and toured as a national conference speaker in front of hundreds of thousands of young people, calling them out of their culture to a lifestyle of purity. At age twenty-seven, he became the senior pastor of a large church, where he still serves today.

In 2002, another brother, Joel, launched the Northwest Academy of Worship Music to help raise up worship leaders and worship teams for local churches in the Portland area, where over 150 students of all ages have been successfully trained. Since 2007, he’s also been using his music skills to lead worship for The Rebelution Tour.

As I got to know the Harris family, I saw that “chance” and “opportunity” had nothing to do with their parenting success. “If our teen years have been different than most,” says Alex, “it’s not because we are somehow better than other teens, but because we’ve been motivated by that simple but very big idea filtering down from our parents’ example and training: Do hard things.”

With four out of four grown children serving the Lord and significantly impacting their world, it’s obvious that the Harrises are doing something right. And I’ve discovered that this “something” is available to all parents. Throughout this book, we’re going to visit with more parents like these to find out exactly what they are doing to shape godly kids who are ready and able to help save lives, no matter what their limitations or circumstances. Turning out kids like these is not just possible—it’s possible for you and your family with just a few moderate but important lifestyle changes.

Parenting is, really, at the heart of Jesus’ command for discipleship. It’s teaching our kids to live with Jesus and to love like Jesus. It does require a cost, as anything worthwhile does, but that cost will be far outweighed by the benefits and rewards. God has created our kids with unique abilities, gifts, and desires for a very special purpose. All they need now is to be trained and ready, available for divinely appointed opportunities.

So now it’s time to ask: Do we truly want to give our kids the best of everything we have to offer in the short time we have to impact their lives? Do we want our kids to live—and someday die—the spiritual heroes of this world? If we have answered “yes,” then it’s time to learn about a vision for our families that’s so amazing; it will change the course of history.

My discovery all started on a little trip I took to northwest India.