Saturday, March 31, 2012

FunBites Review and Rafflecopter Giveaway

Easter is coming up and I remember when my mother made Easter Bunny Salads for my sisters and I. They had halved canned pears for their bodies, raisins for eyes and nose, sliced baby carrots or almonds for ears, and a cottage cheese tail. My mother placed them on a bed of lettuce or spinach and we ate them up because they were fun to look at and eat. If it weren't so cute we probably wouldn't have eaten the greens out from under them, but then again we were pretending to be bunnies too :) My mother succeeded to make meal time fun so that we would enjoy it and eat our food.

FunBites are perfect for picky eaters and to add even more fun to Bento Box Lunches or Muffin Tin Meals. It is an awesome kitchen tool that cuts kids' food into fun bite-sized shapes.  Now available in two sets: Cube It! creates bite-sized squares and Luv It! makes a big heart and two smaller hearts from geometric shapes. Works great on any kids food from pancakes and sandwiches to burgers and cake! Made in the USA, BPA free, dishwasher safe and mom invented. These are great for kids and parents and wonderful for Easter baskets :)

Bento Boxed Lunches and Muffin Tin Meals are all the rage these days. Actually Bento has been around in Japan for centuries, but now has become more popular in the United States. They are meals put together in a fun and aesthetic way that are placed in containers for convenience. Kyaraben or charaben (character bento) is a whole form of elaborately arranged bento which features food decorated to look like people, characters from popular media, animals, and plants. Muffin Tin Meals use muffin tins as the container. There are so many ways to arrange the food to make fun pictures of things or just make it pleasing to look at. I have pinned some awesome Bento ideas on Pinterest to help inspire you.

I received Luv It! free to test out and review. My kids love Luv It! and so do I. It is so simple to use and you can use it on a number of foods. As you can see above I just stuck with the basic heart shape that the Luv It! popped out, but don't you just stop there! You can also rearrange the shapes to create new designs. Be creative!

Try it on: Omelets, Melons, Strawberries, Apples, Pears, Kiwi Fruits, Grilled Cheese, Deli Sandwiches, Quesedillas, Burgers, Pancakes, Waffles, Tofu, Cheese, Pizza, Fruit Leather, Deli Meats, Brownies, etc. You can also use Cube It! to make your own croutons.

Of note when making sandwiches, I did find that when using spread or sauce (like: jelly, jam, peanut butter, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, etc.) you have to be careful not to use too much. If the sandwich has other ingredients besides the spread you can place the spread or sauce in the middle of those instead of directly on the bread. Otherwise it will make the bread mushy or gush out of it when you use the FunBites. Also, toasted bread works better for sandwiches.

I would love to see a flower shaped cutter from FunBites someday :) For now they have Cube It! and Luv It!

Both Cube It! and Luv It! you can buy individually for $12.99. You can get both for $22.00.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to FunBites for sending me product for free to review and one to give away for free. 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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

LDS 182nd Annual General Conference

Join with me to watch or listen to the 182nd Annual General Conference, a semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members and friends from around the world to hear God's words through His prophet. It starts on March 31–April 1, 2012. The four general sessions will be held on Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. mountain daylight time. The priesthood session will be held on Saturday, March 31, at 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time.

In biblical times, God spoke to His children through prophets. God loves His children today as much as He did anciently. In our day, He has called prophets in our day to teach and testify of Him. The Prophet and President, Thomas S. Monson, of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, will be speaking along with other leaders of my church.

If you want to learn more about my church you can go to the LDS website or to the website.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical by Joanne Kraft FWCT 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:

Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (June 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Susan Otis/Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***


Joanne Kraft is a sought-after speaker who loves to encourage women. She has been published in Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, ParentLife, Kyria and P31 Woman magazine. A leader of Inspire Christian Writers, she serves as a marriage study group leader, and works as a 911 dispatcher in Sacramento County, California. Kraft is married and has four children.

Visit the author's website.


Just Too Busy is one mother’s story of getting off the merry-go-round of her family’s over-commitment. When everything their life seemed like a marathon race, Joanne Kraft and her husband decided to take a “radical sabbatical”—a year-long absence from any of their four children’s organized after-school activities. Memories made, new traditions started, lessons learned, and how their family’s legacy was enriched are shared, spiced with a liberal helping of light-hearted humor.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (June 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0834126095
ISBN-13: 978-0834126091

AND NOW...Click the LOOK INSIDE! Button to view the FIRST Chapter:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Foxgloves PDX Fingerless Gloves Review and Rafflecopter Giveaway

foxgloves |ˈfäksˌgləv|
 (1) fabulous fingerless gloves created in Portland, Oregon. (2) tall leafy Eurasian biennial with spectacular clusters of tubular pink-purple flowers.

Portland, Oregon is like a second home to me. I live in Rainier, Oregon but I love Portland because of the people and atmosphere. Portland is a huge mecca for the artistic. They have a lot of great museums, galleries, a zoo, live concerts, arboretum and botanic gardens, theaters, cinemas, shops, etc. that I love to visit. The people of Portland have their own flavor of style. I love a lot of it, especially the clothing and accessories. One of my favorites I have just found is Foxgloves PDX Fingerless Gloves!

Foxgloves are fun and fashionable fingerless gloves, handmade in Portland, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. They are available in a variety of colors and patterns, and fashioned from comfortable stretch fabrics (like dancewear, activewear, mesh, knit and jersey). They come in different cuts: elbow length and shorties (wristlets). They are available in adult and child sizes. They are also available in two styles: Thumb style, across the top of the hand, with an opening for the thumb or Finger-style, a v-cut over the back of the hand, with an opening for the middle finger.

Foxgloves PDX have awesome customer service! When I asked if I could review some Foxgloves in their Maroon Gold Knit because I didn't think that I would like the Black & White Striped ones, they were awesome and cut some of their long gloves they hadn't yet sold down to a shortie style and made me up some special in their new latest version of the gloves, which includes a reinforced thumb opening rather than just a cut slit for the thumb (which is the way they used to make all their gloves). They even sent me a pair of their new line of Black & White Stripes also in the shortie style and with reinforced thumb so that I may see the difference in how the stitching lays on the fabric.

I actually came to fall in love with both pairs of gloves and loved how both looked on me. The Maroon Gold Knit ones have this gorgeous raised burgundy maroon flower pattern with gold threading throughout. They are made of such a lovely lacy stretch fabric. Great on days when I want to add some flair to an outfit. The Black & White Stripes are classic. They remind me of zebra stripes or what a sailor would wear :) These are most definitely going in my Spring Gift Guide and the Rose lace ones are going on my Birthday wishlist (My Birthday is May 10th, hint hint!).

Shortie (wristlet) gloves are $14, Standard length (elbow length) gloves are $15.

You can get FREE shipping if you enter the giveaway below. Just mention that you read about Foxgloves on Eccentric Eclectic Woman blog in their 'Add Special Instructions to the Seller' section whenever you order from the Foxgloves website, and they'll refund your shipping fee.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Foxgloves PDX for sending me product for free to review and one to give away for free. 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.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heart’s Frontier by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith FWCT 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 authors are:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen inspirational novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense.

Visit the author's website.


An exciting new Amish-meets-Wild West adventure from bestselling authors Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith weaves an entertaining and romantic tale for devoted fans and new readers.

Kansas,1881—On a trip to visit relatives, Emma Switzer’s Amish family is robbed of all their possessions, leaving them destitute and stranded on the prairie. Walking into the nearest trading settlement, they pray to the Lord for someone to help. When a man lands in the dust at her feet, Emma looks down at him and thinks, The Lord might have cleaned him up first.

Luke Carson, heading up his first cattle drive, is not planning on being the answer to anyone’s prayers, but it looks as though God has something else in mind for this kind and gentle man. Plain and rugged—do the two mix? And what happens when a dedicated Amish woman and a stubborn trail boss prove to be each other’s match?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736947523

ISBN-13: 978-0736947527


Apple Grove, Kansas
July 1881

Nearly the entire Amish district of Apple Grove had turned out to help this morning, all twenty families. Or perhaps they were here merely to wish Emma Switzer well as she set off for her new home in Troyer, fifty miles away.
From her vantage point on the porch of the house, Emma’s grandmother kept watch over the loading of the gigantic buffet hutch onto the specially reinforced wagon. Her sharp voice sliced through the peaceful morning air.
“Forty years I’ve had that hutch from my dearly departed husband and not a scratch on it. Jonas, see that you use care!”
If Maummi’s expression weren’t so fierce, Emma would have laughed at the long-suffering look Papa turned toward his mother. But the force with which Maummi’s fingers dug into the flesh on Emma’s arm warned that a chuckle would be most ill-suited at the moment. Besides, the men straining to heft the heavy hutch from the front porch of their home into the wagon didn’t need further distractions. Their faces strained bright red above their beards, and more than one drop of sweat trickled from beneath the broad brim of their identical straw hats.
Emma glanced at the watchers lined up like sparrows on a fence post. She caught sight of her best friend, Katie Beachy, amid the sea of dark dresses and white kapps. Katie smiled and smoothed her skirt with a shy gesture. The black fabric looked a little darker and crisper than that of those standing around her, which meant she’d worn her new dress to bid Emma farewell, an honor usually reserved for singings or services or weddings. The garment looked well on her. Emma had helped sew the seams at their last frolic. Of course, Katie’s early morning appearance in a new dress probably had less to do with honoring Emma than with the presence of Samuel Miller, the handsome son of the district bishop. With a glance toward Samuel, whose arms bulged against the weight of holding up one end of the hutch, she returned Katie’s smile with a conspiratorial wink.
Emma’s gaze slid over other faces in the crowd and snagged on a pair of eyes fixed on her. Amos Beiler didn’t bother to turn away but kept his gaze boldly on her face. Nor did he bother to hide his expression, one of longing and lingering hurt. He held infant Joseph in his arms, and a young daughter clutched each of his trouser-clad legs. A wave of guilt washed through Emma, and she hastily turned back toward the wagon.
From his vantage point up in the wagon bed, Papa held one end of a thick rope looped around the top of the hutch, the other end held by John Yoder. The front edge of the heavy heirloom had been lifted into the wagon with much grunting and groaning, while the rear still rested on the smooth wooden planks of the porch. Two men steadied the oxen heads, and the rest, like Samuel, had gathered around the back end of the hutch. A protective layer of thick quilts lined the wagon bed.
Papa gave the word. “Lift!”
The men moved in silent unity. Bending their knees, their hands grasped for purchase around the bottom edges. As one they drew in a breath, and at Papa’s nod raised in unison. Emma’s own breath caught in her chest, her muscles straining in silent sympathy with the men. The hutch rose until its rear end was level with its front, and the men stepped forward. The thick quilts dangling beneath scooted onto the wagon as planned, a protective barrier from damage caused by wood against wood.
The hutch suddenly dipped and slid swiftly to the front. Emma gasped. Apparently the speed caught Papa and John Yoder by surprise too, for the rope around the top went slack. Papa lunged to reach for the nearest corner, and his foot slipped. The wagon creaked and sank lower on its wheels as the hutch settled into place. At the same moment Papa went down on one knee with a loud, “Ummph.”
Ach! Maummi pulled away from Emma and rushed forward. Her heart pounding against her rib cage, Emma followed. Men were already checking on Papa, but Maummi leaped into the wagon bed with a jump that belied her sixty years, the strings of her kapp flying behind her. She applied bony elbows to push her way around the hutch to her son’s side.
She came to a halt above him, hands on her hips, and looked down. “Are you hurt?”
Emma reached the side of the wagon in time to see Papa wince and shake his head. “No. A bruise is all.”
“Good.” She left him lying there and turned worried eyes toward her beloved hutch. With a gentle touch, she ran loving fingers over the smooth surface and knelt to investigate the corners.
A mock-stern voice behind Emma held the hint of a chuckle. “Trappings only, Marta Switzer. Care you more for a scratch on wood than an injury to your son?”
Emma turned to see Bishop Miller approach. He spared a smile for her as he drew near enough to lean his arms across the wooden side of the wagon and watch the activity inside. Samuel helped Papa to his feet and handed him the broad-brimmed hat that had fallen off. Emma breathed a sigh of relief when he took a ginger step to try out his leg and smiled at the absence of pain.
“My son is fine.” Maummi waved a hand in his direction, as though in proof. “And so is my hutch. Though my heart may not say the same, such a fright I’ve had.” She placed the hand lightly on her chest, drew a shuddering breath, and wavered on her feet.
Concern for her grandmother propelled Emma toward the back of the wagon. As she climbed up, she called into the house, “Rebecca, bring a cool cloth for Maummi’s head.”
The men backed away while Katie and several other women converged on the wagon to help Emma lift Maummi down and over to the rocking chair that rested in the shade of the porch, ready to be loaded when the time came. Maummi allowed herself to be lowered onto the chair, and then she wilted against the back, her head lolling sideways and arms dangling. A disapproving buzz rumbled among the watching women, but Emma ignored them. Though she knew full well that most of the weakness was feigned for the sake of the bishop and other onlookers, she also knew Maummi’s heart tended to beat unevenly in her chest whenever she exerted herself. It was yet another reason why she ought to stay behind in Apple Grove, but Maummi insisted her place was with Emma, her oldest granddaughter. What she really meant was that she intended to inspect every eligible young Amish man in Troyer and handpick her future grandson-in-law.
Aunt Gerda had written to say she anticipated that her only daughter would marry soon, and she would appreciate having Emma come to help her around the house. She’d also mentioned the abundance of marriageable young men in Troyer, with a suggestion that twenty-year-old Emma was of an age that the news might be welcome. Rebecca had immediately volunteered to go in Emma’s place. Though Papa appeared to consider the idea, he decided to send Emma because she was the oldest and therefore would be in need of a husband soonest. Maummi insisted on going along in order to “Keep an eye on this hoard of men Gerda will parade before our Emma.”
As far as Emma was concerned, they should just send Maummi on alone and leave her in Apple Grove to wait for her future husband to be delivered to her doorstep.
Rebecca appeared from inside the house with a dripping cloth in hand. A strand of wavy dark hair had escaped its pins and fluttered freely beside the strings of her kapp. At barely thirteen, her rosy cheeks and smooth, high forehead reminded Emma so sharply of their mother that at times her heart ached.
Rebecca looked at Maummi’s dramatic posture and rolled her eyes. She had little patience with Maummi’s feigned heart episodes, and she was young enough that she had yet to learn proper restraint in concealing her emotions. Emma awarded her sister with a stern look and held out a hand for the cloth.
With a contrite bob of her head, Rebecca handed it over and dropped to her knees beside the rocking chair. “Are you all right, Maummi?”
Ach, I’m fine. I don’t think it’s my time. Yet.”
Emma wrung the excess water from the cloth before draping it across the back of Maummi’s neck.
Danki.” The elderly woman realized that the men had stopped working in order to watch her, and she waved her hand in a shooing motion. “Place those quilts over my hutch before you load anything else! Mind, Jonas, no scratches.”
Papa shook his head, though a smile tugged at his lips. “Ja, I remember.”
The gray head turned toward Emma. “Granddaughter, see they take proper care.”
“I will, Maummi.”
Katie joined Emma to oversee the wrapping of the hutch. When Samuel Miller offered a strong arm to help Katie up into the wagon, Emma hid a smile. No doubt she would receive a letter at her new home soon, informing her that a wedding date had been published. Because Samuel was the bishop’s son, there was no fear he would not receive the Zeungis, the letter of good standing. Rebecca would be thrilled at the news of a proper wedding in tiny Apple Grove.
But Emma would be far away in Troyer, and she would miss her friend’s big day.
Why must I live there when everything I love is here?
She draped a thick quilt over her end of the hutch and sidled away while Papa secured a rope around it. The faces of her friends and family looked on. They filled the area between the house and the barn. She loved every one in her own way. Yes, even Amos Beiler. She sought him out among the crowd and smiled at the two little girls who hovered near his side. Poor, lonely Amos. He was a good father to his motherless family. No doubt he’d make a fine husband, and if she married him she wouldn’t have to move to Troyer. The thought tempted her once again, as it often had over the past several weeks since Papa announced his decision that she would live with Aunt Gerda for a while.
But she knew that if she agreed to become Amos’s wife that she would be settling. True, she would gain a prosperous farm and a nice house and a trio of well-behaved children, with the promise of more to come. But the fact remained that though there was much to respect about Amos, she didn’t love him. The thought of seeing that moon-shaped face and slightly cross-eyed stare over the table for breakfast, dinner, and supper sent a shiver rippling across her shoulders. Not to mention sharing a marriage bed with him. It was enough to make her throw her apron over her face and run screaming across Papa’s cornfield.
He deserves a wife who loves him, she told herself for the hundredth time. Her conscience thus soothed, Emma turned away from his mournful stare.
“That trunk goes in the front,” Maummi shouted from her chair on the porch. “Emma, show them where.”
Emma shrank against the gigantic hutch to give the men room to settle the trunk containing all of her belongings. An oiled canvas tarp had been secured over the top to repel any rain they might meet over the next week. Inside, resting on her dresses, aprons, bonnets, and kapps, was a bundle more precious to her than anything else in the wagon: a quilt, expertly and lovingly stitched, nestled within a heavy canvas pouch. Mama had made it with her own hands for Emma’s hope chest. The last stitch was bitten off just hours before she closed her eyes and stepped into the arms of her Lord.
Oh, Mama, if you were here you could convince Papa to let me stay home. I know you could. And now, without you, what will happen to me?
Yet, even in the midst of the dreary thought, a spark of hope flickered in the darkness in Emma’s heart. The future yawned before her like the endless Kansas prairie. Wasn’t there beauty to be found in the tall, blowing grasses of the open plain? Weren’t there cool streams and shady trees to offer respite from the heat of the day? Maybe Troyer would turn out to be an oasis.
Maummi’s sharp tone cut through her musing. She jerked upright. Her grandmother appeared to have recovered from her heart episode. From the vantage point of her chair, she oversaw every movement with a critical eye.
“Yes, ma’am?”
“Mind what I said about that loading, girl. The food carton goes on last. We won’t want to search for provisions when we stop at night on the trail.”
An approving murmur rose from the women at the wisdom of an organized wagon.
“Yes, ma’am.” Emma exchanged a quick grin with Katie and then directed the man carrying a carton of canned goods and trail provisions to set his burden aside for now.
A little while later, after everything had been loaded and secured under an oiled canvas, the men stood around to admire their handiwork. Samuel even crawled beneath the wagon to check the support struts, and he pronounced everything to be “in apple-pie order.”
Emma felt a pluck on her arm. She turned to find Katie at her elbow.
“This is a gift for you.” Her friend pushed a small package into her hands. “It’s only a soft cloth and some fancy-colored threads. I was fixing to stitch you a design, but you’re so much better at fine sewing than I am that I figured you could make something prettier by yourself.” She ducked her head. “Think kindly of me when you do.”
Warmed by her friend’s gesture, Emma pulled her into an embrace. “I will. And I expect a letter from you soon.” She let Katie see her glance slide over to Samuel and back with a grin. “Especially when you have something exciting to report.”
A becoming blush colored the girl’s cheeks. “I will.”
Emma was still going down the line, awarding each woman a farewell hug, when Bishop Miller stepped up to the front of the wagon and motioned for attention.
“It’s time now to bid Jonas Switzer Godspeed and fair weather for his travels.” A kind smile curved his lips when he looked to Maummi and then to Emma. “And our prayers go with our sisters Marta and Emma as they make a new home in Troyer.”
He bowed his head and closed his eyes, a sign for everyone in the Apple Grove district to follow suit. Emma obeyed, fixing her thoughts on the blue skies overhead and the Almighty’s throne beyond. Silence descended, interrupted only by the snorts of oxen and a happy bird in the tall, leafy tree that gave shade to the porch.
What will I find in Troyer? A new home, as the bishop says? A fine Amish husband, as Papa wishes? I pray it be so. And I pray he will be the second son of his father so that he will come home with me to Apple Grove and take over Papa’s farm when the time comes.
A female sniffled behind her. Not Katie, but Rebecca. A twist inside Emma’s rib cage nearly sent tears to her eyes. Oh, how she would miss her sister when Rebecca left Troyer to return home with Papa. She vowed to make the most of their time together on the trail between here and there.
Bishop Miller ended the prayer with a blessing in High German, his hand on the head of the closest oxen. When the last word fell on the quiet crowd, Maummi’s voice sliced through the cool morning air. “Now that we’re seen off proper, someone help me up. We’ll be gone before the sun moves another inch across the sky.”
Though she’d proved earlier that she could make the leap herself at need, Maummi allowed Papa and the bishop to lift her into the wagon. She took her seat in her rocking chair, which was wedged between the covered hutch and one high side of the wagon bed. With a protective pat on the hutch, she settled her sewing basket at her feet and pulled a piece of mending onto her lap. No idle hands for Maummi. By the time they made Troyer, she’d have all the mending done, and the darning too, and a good start on a new quilt.
Emma spared one more embrace for Katie, steadfastly ignored Amos’s mournful stare, and allowed the bishop to help her up onto the bench seat. She scooted over to the far end to make room for Papa, and then Rebecca was lifted up to sit on the other side of him. A snug fit, but they would be okay for the six-day journey to Troyer. Emma settled her black dress and smoothed her apron.
“Now, Jonas, mind you what I said.” Maummi’s voice from behind their heads sounded a bit shrill in the quiet morning. “You cut a wide path around Hays. I’ll not have my granddaughters witness the ufrooish of those wild Englischers.”
On the other side of Papa, Rebecca heaved a loud sigh. Emma hid her grin. No doubt Rebecca would love to witness the rowdy riots of wild cowboy Englischers in the infamous railroad town of Hays.
Papa mumbled something under his breath that sounded like “This will be the longest journey of my life,” but aloud he said, “Ja, Mader.
With a flick of the rope, he urged the oxen forward. The wagon creaked and pitched as it rolled on its gigantic wheels. Emma grabbed the side of the bench with one hand and lifted her other hand in a final farewell as her home fell away behind her.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Icebox Knitting XOB Upcycled Knit Cap Review

In the spirit of Spring which officially starts March 20th and Earth Day which is April 22nd I am featuring Icebox Knitting and their XOB Upcycled creations on my Spring Gift Guide this year. "Xob Upcycled hats and accessories (say Zob) employs this concept: upcycle what you've got and create fun!" They upcycle thousands of wool sweaters and suit jackets to make new things. They stitch together the useable pieces and accent them with boucle’ yarn turning them into new products and then recycle the rest of the textiles. This process is very earth friendly and the end product is unique and beautiful. They have hats, caps, arm warmers, hand warmers, mittens, headbands, scarves, pillows, sweater monkeys, stockings, blankets, and bags. They are available in the color options: blue/green, brown/tan, black/grey, or brights. Fabric patterns vary and are one-of-a-kind.

Icebox Knitting sent me a Knit Cap to review and my son, Jaedan, loved it! The one we received is in great gender neutral colors for both him and I to wear it. Although, I probably would have got one in pinks and purples like the other one in the picture above if I were buying one for myself. The cap is warm to wear in the brisk air and very well made. They make so many other different hats too not just this kind. I also love their Xobomber hats and their Pom hats too.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to ChicExecs, a company which was created to promote small business campaigns, I was able to let you know about this product. Icebox Knitting provided me with the product for free to try and review. 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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creative Grandparenting: How to Love and Nurture a New Generation by Jerry Schreur FWCT 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:

Discovery House Publishers (December 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to
Susan Otis/Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***


Jerry Schreur is a marriage and family counselor, educator and researcher. He has a Ph.D in family studies and is the co-author of five books and co-producer of several video series relating to building strong families. Judy Schreur is a retired professional manager, a humorist, and a motivational speaker. She has been a featured speaker at the Time Out for Women National Conference. Judy is also the co-author, with her husband, of When Prince Charming Falls Off His Horse. Jerry and Judy have five grandchildren and live in Michigan. Their daughter, Erin Schreur, is a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, and a development assistant at the University of Chicago working with alumni relations and development. She is a resident of Illinois.


When grandparents are involved in their grandchildren’s lives they have fewer emotional, social and behavioral problems, according to recent studies. Jerry and Judy Schreur, with their granddaughter, Erin Schreur, encourage creative involvement and building meaningful relationships in their book, Creative Grandparenting: How to Love and Nurture a New Generation. They say the role of the creative grandparent is to be a historian, connector, mentor, role model, nurturer and hero. At each stage of the grandchild’s life, the grandparent can provide love and acceptance, while finding opportunities to pass along their wisdom, values and faith as they share their lives. The Schreurs share principles and inspiration to help grandparents make a difference in their grandchildren’s lives.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Discovery House Publishers (December 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1572934883

ISBN-13: 978-1572934887


Creative Grandparenting
Is for You

Nineteen years ago I (Jerry) held my two-hour-old grand- daughter, Kendall, in the palm of my hand and silently offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God. I have never forgotten that day; its importance rivals that of my wedding day and the day my firstborn child came into the world. Arthur Kornhaber, researcher and writer, reminds us that there are three natural, life-transforming events in our lives over which we have no control: our birth, our death, and becoming grandparents. Even now, nineteen years later and with Kendall on her way to college, my heart skips a beat thinking about that moment when I held her in my hand.

I never dreamed, even then, that grandparenting would define my life quite like it has. Not a day goes by that I do not think about my five grandchildren, now ranging in age from nineteen to twenty-seven. Seldom does a week pass without me talking to or spending time with each one of them, even though they are scattered across the country, working and studying. Judy and I find—and make—time to be with them every chance we get. We are disappointed if we miss their calls; we cancel dinner plans with friends when our grand- children come into town; we delay planning vacations until we know if we will be missing out on a chance to spend time with them. Vacations can be rescheduled and friends can wait, but being with our grandchildren cannot. There is simply no such thing as being with them enough. We are creative, involved grandparents. You can be too—there is no greater privilege.

Creative Grandparents Described
Creative grandparents find new ways to love and enjoy their grandchildren at every age and stage of their lives. They know them intimately, what they are thinking and dreaming, their fears and struggles. They know when to talk and when to listen. They have the awesome privilege of watching their grandchildren become all they will be. This kind of close relationship imparts profound joy but also carries a weight and confers responsibility. In return for getting to be part of their lives, grandparents have a responsibility to be available, to be accepting, and to love unconditionally.

Being available is taking time out of your busy schedule to be with them. It means making them a priority, choosing to be with them instead of doing other things and being other places. It is fitting into their schedules, not demanding they fit into yours, or trying to squeeze them into your limited time. It is fulfilling your promises to them, being there when they count on you. Most importantly, it is letting them know how important they are to you and to God.

Loving and accepting your grandchildren unconditionally is seeing their uniqueness and the uniqueness of their individual journeys, not expecting them to be like you, their parents, or anyone else. It is looking for and encouraging their good qualities and positive traits, not focusing on negative traits. It is listening to their ideas and suggestions and doing what makes them happy when possible and practical. It is enjoying each one of them and letting them know how grateful you are for them and for the privilege of being a part of their lives.

Creative grandparents actively look for ways to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren, and enter their world, wherever and whenever allowed or invited. Creative grandparents know the interests and passions of their grand- children and share their own with them. They are open to learning from their grandchildren and trying new things together. Creative grandparents are grateful for each opportunity to include them in their plans, but also allow them to say no to their invitations, without feeling personally rejected.

Creative grandparents enjoy their grandchildren, not merely endure them. Creative grandparents look into the eyes of their grandchildren, connect with them, see the love in their eyes, and respond to that love with a greater love. Creative grandparents walk with them, hand in hand through life, in good times and in tough times. Creative grandparents experience the great joy of having their grandchildren look up at them and say, “I just love to be with you, Grandpa.” Creative grandparents thank God for their grandchildren and for their relationship with them each and every day, leading grandparents to wonder what they could possibly have done to be so privileged. Kornhaber and Woodward in Grandparents/ Grandchildren call this relationship “the vital connection . . . second only in emotional power to the parent-child bond.”

Grandparenting is a unique and special joy. We can delight in the love and affection of our grandchildren without having to parent them. We can watch them grow into young men and women without having to keep track of curfew or worry about their school work. Grandparenting offers all the best things about parenting without the accompanying weight of responsibility. We can be free to enjoy our grand- children in a way that we may not have been able to enjoy our children. We are older, seasoned, perhaps less rigid with the passing of years. We’re more ready to laugh and cry, better prepared to love without reservation.

There are biological grandparents and there are creative grandparents. Biological grandparents carry pictures in their wallets and hang photos on the wall. They have sporadic con- tact with their grandchildren and limited input in their lives; they are gift-givers and perfunctory hug-receivers. Creative grandparents carry memories in their hearts and love in their souls. Creative grandparents go beyond showing off their grandchildren as trophies. They want to impart to them their values. Christian grandparents serve God and their grand- children by teaching them about Jesus. They seek to live in a way that makes them heroes of faith to their grandchildren. They shower their grandchildren with love and acceptance. They build deep, meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime. Creative grandparents make a difference in the lives of their grandchildren.

This book is about creative grandparenting. Creative grand- parenting goes beyond the occasional phone call and birthday present. It challenges to you to take grandparenting seriously. Judy and I want to help you realize that, as grandparents, we can have a profound influence on our grandchildren, and they on us. We want to inspire you to be the best creative grandparents you can be.

The Benefits of Creative Grandparenting
The creative grandparenting challenge isn’t something we take lightly or take on without reason. We believe that grandchildren benefit greatly from a strong relationship with their grandparents, and research has indicated this time and time again. Studies show heightened self-esteem, greater chance of success in later life, and a stronger sense of family values in adults who have had good relationships with their grandparents. The facts are in. They tell us that, now more than ever, children need love and acceptance. Now more than ever, children need trusted adults to tell them that they are okay. Now more than ever, children need role models, adults living out their faith and values with honesty and integrity.

As much as our grandchildren need us, we need our grandchildren. The benefits of being a creative, involved grandparent are many. When interviewing grandparents we constantly heard the phrase, “My grandchildren keep me young.” They do. They show our tired bodies what it is like to run barefoot through the summer grass. They inspire us by scaling the trees we climbed in our youth. Their youthful enthusiasm reminds us of days long past. Grandchildren give us a renewed sense of what is possible. They give birth to new hope in us, reminding us of things we have forgotten about ourselves and teaching us things we’ve never known.

They also let us into the world of young people today. One grandmother we know listens to the music of her teen- age grandson. She says, “I just want to know what’s going on in the world, and John helps me stay in touch. He never treats me like an ‘old fogey’ but thinks it’s kind of neat to lend me his CDs and create playlists for my iPod. He even brags to his friends that his grandma likes hip-hop.” As we get older, we may begin to feel isolated from our families and from the mainstream of society. Our grandchildren bring us back. They provide us with an entrance into the world again, a ticket to American culture.

Taken from Creative Grandparenting: How to Love and Nurture a New Generation, © 1992, 2011 by Jerry Schreur and Judy Schreur. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids MI 49501. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Forrest Yawn FWCT 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:

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to
Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Byron Yawn is the senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee and a much-sought speaker. His book Well-Driven Nails received much positive acclaim from prominent ministers, including John MacArthur and Steven Lawson. Byron has MDiv and DMin degrees from The Master’s Seminary, is married to Robin, and has three children.

Visit the author's website.


A powerful and compelling new voice in Christian publishing, with a message urgently needed by today’s Christian men.

Every man encounters significant struggles in life—struggles that result in poor choices and decisions. Frequently these mistakes can be traced back to a common problem—a father who (even unintentionally) failed to provide counsel or a positive role model.

In What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him, author Byron Yawn offers vital input many men wished they had received during their growing-up years. This collection of 30 simple principles will help men to...

Identify and fill the gaps that occurred in their upbringing

Benefit from the hard-earned wisdom of others so they don’t make mistakes

Prepare their own sons for the difficult challenges of life

The 30 principles in this book are based in Scripture and relevant to every man. They include affection, courage, balance, consistency, and more. A true must-read!

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736946381

ISBN-13: 978-0736946384


The Space Where
a Dad Should Be
Then Joseph fell on his father’s face,
and wept over him and kissed him.
{ Genesis 50:1 }
What kind of relationship did you have with your father?” And a thousand little memories flood the mind of a son. Immediately a forty-one-year-old husband and father of three is eight again. Few questions have the force to stop grown men in their tracks as does this one. The feelings run deep here. I mean really deep. I asked it of a rather spry waiter once to prove its power to a friend. The waiter was so struck by the apparent insight into his life he was inclined to lie down in the booth opposite me and assume the fetal position. Ask someone yourself. You’ll see what I mean. It evokes either warm reminiscent smiles or deeply resentful gazes. It opens a window into a soul. Fathers are important. I mean really important.
Maybe the best answer thus far has been “Good, but not much.” Which means, of course, Dad was a good man but not readily available. In the vast majority of cases, however, the answer is not even this favorable. Rare is the smile. Disappointment reigns. Some dads were “merely” negligent. Some were too busy. Some were passive. Some were mute. Some were angry. Some were physically abusive. Some were decent. Some were shells. Some vanished. In nearly every case—even in the worst-case scenarios—the answers are tilted toward gracious and affable. They’re more like excuses than answers. Sons have an instinct to cover their fathers’ failures. Sons love their dads even when their dads did not love them. It’s part of being a son. It’s also a sign of how sons are doomed to mimic their fathers’ primary failure—denial.
If you’re in the minority that considers your dad’s impact as generally favorable, I’d have you ask a deeper question. Was your dad simply around, or was he actually engaged in your life? There’s a big difference. One is a figure. The other is a mentor. How many life lessons did your dad actually offer you? How many principles did he offer when you were eight that you remembered when you were twenty-eight? How many of us had dads who were observant enough to step in and guide our hearts, or facilitate our calling in life? Maybe your dad taught you how to manage money, or instilled a work ethic. But did he teach you how proper money management and a work ethic are tied to much bigger realities? Did he expose you to the deeper joys of such virtues?
Many men will insist their dad’s inattention has had no great effect on them. Trust me—they’re lying. Boys need fathers like trees need trunks. I’ve seen strong and sturdy sixty-year-old men weep in sight of the empty space where a dad should have been or at the indelible marks left by tyrants who posed as fathers. So much in a man’s life can be traced back to the father—good and bad.
You’re Not Crazy
A prime example is the epidemic struggle with sexual sin among Christian men. Oftentimes, when helping men deal with this sin, I will ask, “Did you receive any instruction on sex in your adolescence?” In almost every case the answer is no. Your dad may have offered a single awkward lecture on anatomy, but that’s barely even helpful. Mainly we (the church) give the impression that sexuality and the natural desires of young men (or women) are something to be ashamed of. Is it any wonder it’s such a pervasive problem? When MTV is teaching our sons everything they know about sex and how to value women, they’re doomed.
At the exact moment a young man faces the most substantial physical, emotional, hormonal, and social changes of his life, he’s left to figure it out for himself. We stay on them about cleaning their rooms, but don’t say a word to them about sex. They go to bed dreaming of Legos in their childhoods and wake up Sasquatch. No one warns them of what’s coming. No one does them the incredible favor of assuring them that this bizarre physical transformation is normal. They grow up thinking they’re crazy.
In the absence of a guide it’s impossible to maneuver this space and live to tell about it. An unsupervised adolescent boy doesn’t have a prayer in this culture. You might as well drop him off at the porn shop on his thirteenth birthday. Seriously. Point is, in most cases this struggle (and many others) in men can be traced back to the empty space a father was designed to fill. Is it any wonder adult sons are so resentful of their fathers?
Father Wounds
At the same time, there are way too many “men” blaming their personal issues on their fathers’ failures. You can justify almost anything by lifting up your psyche and showing people your “daddy wound.” I know of men who’ve abandoned their wives and families and offer their “wounded spirits” as justification. At present, blaming our hang-ups on our “father wounds” is the default position. It’s trendy to have one. Like psychological tattoos. They all read, “Dad hurt my feelings.” The expression “father wound” is now in the realm of Christian clichés. Which means…it’s virtually meaningless.
Nonetheless, deep behind the lines of “suburbianity” this psychosomatic phenomenon is assumed to be true. Men eat it up. You mention the concept to fresh ears and to them, it magically explains the origin of every flaw they’ve ever had. Some of the most popular books on men are perched on this singular conviction. It’s always a pleasant little journey from assumption to foregone conclusion.
Just consider the number of men’s Bible studies and accountability groups dedicated to this concept. Men sit around and discuss it for weeks on end, sounding more like girls than men. There’s no way this is healthy. What good does it do to incessantly identify a chronic ache without taking action to correct it? It does no good. It makes us more self-absorbed than we already are. Trust me—the men in your small group may be nodding in affirmation on the outside, but they’re rolling the eyes of their heart on the inside. They’re tired of hearing about your dad’s lack of affection.
I get it. I’m not suggesting there’s no truth to the concept of emotional wounds. Some of us had messed-up childhoods. I have friends with painful stories. In some instances their personal suffering was so intense it’s hard to relate. Comparatively, my dad never beat me with a half-inch thick branch or made me sleep under my bed so as not to hear me sob. Some dads are pure evil. Generally, all of our dads made mistakes and had moments (or decades) of angry excesses. No man is perfect, and others are as far from it as possible.
Honestly though, so what? Get in line. Who hasn’t been hurt or sinned against—even by people we’re hard-wired to trust? Should we ask our wives about the innumerable “stupid wounds” they've received at our hands? Or should we talk to our kids? Or do we want to compare wounds with the Savior of sinners? This planet is littered with fallen narcissistic scavengers (including you and me) who’ll do almost anything to get what they want. Besides, if we were as angry at our sin as we are with our dad, we might actually get past some stuff. By the third (or ten thousandth) sad retelling of our disadvantaged youth, what good has it done anyway?
What the Cross Says to Victims
There’s a fine line between blame and acceptance. The balance between focusing on the injustices in our life and taking personal responsibility for our lives is difficult. Many men are imprisoned by memories, or the lack thereof. They can’t make it past the inequity of their experiences. The solution here is mainly theological and not therapeutic. It’s a matter of focus. My point is, it’s not about becoming intimate with your hang-ups. It’s about becoming intimate with your Creator. Will you spend your days examining self, or something greater than yourself    ? Other men with equally painful memories have found freedom in the cross. They have a different type of internal struggle. They can’t get over the “inequity” of Christ’s death.
What’s most notable about this last category of people is their normalcy. They’re stable, grateful, and productive people who love Christ. They seem never to draw attention to the scars etched in their lives, but are simultaneously better people because of them.
Those who adhere too tightly to the father wound philosophy tend to approach life as victims. Victims of their circumstances. In some cases childhood memories serve as the basic justification for their own misbehavior and delinquency. “Someone hurt me; therefore, you must cut me slack as I destroy everything in my path.” Life is spent examining their wounds ad nauseam. Daddy wounds are like rocks in their shoes.
This outlook on life is why some men never grow up. It’s an excuse for immobility and failure. They have trendy haircuts at fifty, frustrated wives, wear skinny jeans (strangely resembling elves), discontented jobs, massive debt, still shop at the Gap, try way too hard to be hip, and every single conversation you have with them is about them and why they are still living in their mother’s basement emotionally. It’s hopeless.
The other perspective has God and the cross in view. It takes in the same pain from a completely different angle. The cross looms over and brings clarity to the trauma that creeps into every life. It alone explains the real reason people do the horrible things they do—they’re sinners. This perspective requires humility because it acknowledges the mystery of sin. Who can explain why sin causes people to do the things they do? No one. Sin is intentional and irrational at the same time. People do these things because it’s in their natures to do them as sinners. But, rather than ending in fatalism, this awareness frees us. It keeps us from fixating our attention on the why of our circumstances. This world is sinful, that’s why people do the things they do.
The cross promises all the abused and abandoned that there will be justice. No one gets away. But, the cross goes farther. It doesn’t let the “victims” off the hook either. We’ve all sinned against people. Everyone has made a victim of someone. The cross is essentially screaming this at humanity. We’re all bad people. God did not die to save us from our daddy wounds. He died to save us from ourselves and the consequences of who we are. He died because rescuing sinful humanity from the wrath of God required a brutal death. We’re brutal people. This fact brings our self-fulfilling unending therapy session to an abrupt close. Before God we’re no better than our abusive, negligent, or “good, but not much” fathers.
Furthermore, the cross proves that our greatest need is not psychological and/or therapeutic, but spiritual. Understanding our circumstances, backgrounds, or psychological makeup may be helpful as far as it goes, but it can’t change your heart. It won’t help you truly forgive because it begins with an imperfect standard—you. The cross presents us with the perfect standard. It’s the truth about it all. The greatest tragedy in human history is the death of Christ. The innocent Son of God died in the place of guilty sinners. He was brutalized at the hands of ungrateful rebels. In this sense, the only innocent victim on the planet is Christ. The rest of us—all of us—are guilty. The cross puts the spikes in each of our hands and makes us face the truth about who we are.
From the view of the cross our forgiveness of others is based on the infinitely greater standard. We forgive in view of the forgiveness we’ve received in Christ. Our willingness to release others is not based on our pathetic self-estimation. It’s true forgiveness. It comes from a heart that has been transformed and is being transformed by a growing awareness of the grace of God toward sinners in the cross of Christ. It comes from a life that has been set free from a defense of self. The cross proves unequivocally that there’s nothing worth defending.
But we’re not left here to despair. The cross also makes sense of our life and its pain. In fact, what we did before Christ is nonsense and what we once considered absurd now makes complete sense. There is nothing in our life out of God’s control. The therapeutic perspective can’t get here. It can only patch us up and teach us how to walk with a limp. The gospel of sovereign grace transforms us and gives us new legs. It sets us free. All that happens to us—good and bad—presses us deep into the liberating reality of the mysterious cross. Our trials become messengers from God that teach us how to live with the rest of the sinners on this planet. Even our dads.
Alone Is Hard to Take
My biological father was a drummer in a rock band. My mom fell hard for him when she was really young. As a result, she never let me get near a drum set. (I think that qualifies as a “mommy wound.”) They ran off together with Springsteen’s “Born to Run” playing in the background of their naïveté. The joyride came to an end with the birth of their first child, my sister. It came off the rails with the birth of their second, me. As soon as my mom could raise enough money she left him to pursue his rock-and-roll fantasy. She was a mom now. That changed everything. He never grew up. Some things never change.
I was too young to know what had happened between them, or care. All I recall of my progenitor was an occasional visit in the summers of my youth. He was a cool customer and drove an even cooler custom van. Just imagine the seventies. He always had some beautiful woman with him who bore a striking resemblance to my mom. He would show up late morning to take my sister and me to lunch. The brief visit would end with a whirlwind trip to Kmart. With the brisk scent of materialism in my face he would confidently announce, “You can have anything you want, except a bike. That’s too expensive.” I settled for the Fonzie action figure with the movable thumb and miniature leather jacket. Then he would drop us off around three o’clock and leave. I had no idea who this guy was and why he bought me stuff. They told me he was my father, but that didn’t make any sense. Weren’t dads supposed to be around? Eventually, those outings came to an end.
I remember my mom being angry on the days he did come. That’s about all I recall. Well, that and the fact that the arm of the Six Million Dollar Man action figure came off, revealing bionics. My mom would sit on the couch at my grandparents’ home watching me play with my new little trinkets and weeping bitterly. She would eventually exit the room with a slam of the door. I would push my glasses up on my nose and stare curiously at the door through my cloudy little lenses. Adults were complicated. I was innocent and clueless. I imagine that’s the only thing that saves a kid in my situation. Truly, for a five-year-old, ignorance is bliss, but short-lived.
I now know what it was about that scene that hurt her so deeply. Me. There’s nothing so sad as a boy without a father. It’s like the emotion we have when we see people eating alone in restaurants. Alone is hard to take. Maybe the only thing more regrettable is the son whose father is present but might as well not be. Ultimately, both are alone in this world.
Who Doesn’t Want a Father?
Despite the absence of my biological father, I’ve avoided becoming a statistic. God, in His grace, sent me a replacement dad. Not long after my mom relocated she ran into a childhood friend of her brother’s, Victor Yawn. Several years later—after they were married—I was sitting on a wooden bench outside a courtroom, legs swinging back and forth in thick Southern air. Victor came and stood across from me, then squatted so as to look me right in the eyes. He then asked, “Do you want to be my son?” A strange question for a kid who already assumed he was. I looked at him and said, “Yep.” He disappeared into the courtroom. Later that day I was endowed with the worst last name a preacher could ever ask for, Yawn. A name for which I will forever be grateful.
That question is etched in my mind. It is a treasured memory. Imagine a day when the man who’s already functioning as your dad makes it official by asking you the most obvious question on the planet. Who doesn’t want a father? Believe me, I never took his presence for granted. In some ways I think there are a lot of men with biological children who need to get around to asking this same question. I’m pretty sure how their kids will answer. After all, who doesn’t want a father?
Despite the fact I was adopted by him, I didn’t realize he was my stepfather until many years later. For many it is the opposite scenario. Despite the fact that sons know who their biological fathers are, they don’t actually know them. My dad’s love was unconditional. This is why I have never referred to him as my stepfather, and bristle when others do. He never gave me a chance to know the difference. This only goes to prove the fact that many men who have kids aren’t fathers at all.
Let’s be clear. Any beast aroused at the right time with a suitable mate in view can produce an offspring. But only men can be fathers. Furthermore, it’s one thing for a father to be around; it’s another thing for a father to be engaged. Obviously, being around is better than not being around, but being engaged is invaluable. One simply fills a role. The other anchors a life. It’s obvious when a dad is merely tolerating his kid. No one knows this more than the kid. At the same time, nothing so enlivens the life of a child as a dad who cares. When dad is listening and tracking and caring for his son’s soul, the world is a safer place.
It’s unnatural for a father to ignore his children. It’s cruel. It’s a subtle form of abandonment. Kids are satisfied with the smallest crumb that occasionally falls from their father’s table. Since most children get very little from their dads, they’re content with whatever they get. Hence, “good, but not much.” Dads can do the smallest things and effect enormous joy in their children. Just coming home from work is an event. Dads don’t just come home. They arrive.
Most dads never notice the deep need for approval their sons carry around. It’s potent. One word of encouragement can have a lifetime of effect. It only takes one sentence to change a son’s life forever, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Those men who’ve never received this type of approval spend a lifetime working for it. Those who get it have a sense of assurance the rest don’t.
No dad is perfect. For the most part King David was a good father. Obviously he had some serious baggage, but he engaged with Solomon, warning his son to avoid the mistakes he made. Yet Solomon ended up the Casanova of the Bible. Then there was Saul—basically the Darth Vader of the Old Testament. Despite his stupidity he had an exemplary son like Jonathan. I guess the point is that so much is dependent on God’s grace. You could be the best dad on the planet and still have a bonehead for a son. Or you could be a total failure and have a son who honors you despite your inability to be a father to him.
Some fathers are good at some things, but no father is good at everything. Some things we have to figure out on our own. Those who never had fathers, or had really poor ones, can take some comfort in this fact. Eventually, even those who had ideal relationships with their fathers find themselves in the tangle of their own lives, wishing their father had told them a little bit more.
A Dad to the End
Dr. Victor Yawn and my youngest sister were crossing over a long country road. She was taking him back to the ER. As I recall, he had been watching his granddaughter in a play. They looked both ways down the familiar expanse and then proceeded across. The car that hit them was hidden by a dip in the road. It was a freak accident. In the very moment they turned to see what was coming they could not see it. But, it was coming. When my sister awoke—having been knocked unconscious at impact—he was lying against his seat looking at her. He had been waiting for her. When their eyes met he asked, “Sweetheart, are you okay?” She said, “Yes, Daddy.” He then closed his eyes, lay his head back, and surrendered to the internal injuries that eventually took his life. A dad to the end.
It was a bizarre phone call. “Your dad is not well; you should come home.” I had listened to my dad make the same call to the families of his patients a hundred times. I knew what it meant. This agonizing awareness filled the six-hour ride home. A strange painful anticipation. I knew he was gone. It was the longest ride of my life. I collapsed in tears in the ER parking lot when I finally received the inevitable news.
When I encountered my mom some time later, she asked the most appropriate question I’ve ever heard: “What are we going to do without him?” There’s only one answer to that question: “I don’t know.” Patriarchs are a tough loss. I’ve certainly not done as well as I would have otherwise.
Weeks before, my dad had been at my home in Dallas, Texas, where I was an associate pastor in a Bible church. We played golf, ate greasy food, contemplated life, annoyed our wives, and laughed. Father and son. He held my one-year-old daughter for a photo just before he departed. It hangs on the wall of my home.
In a sublime moment before his departure, which I will never forget, he took me around behind his Suburban. He looked me right in the eyes—no longer needing to squat down—and said, “Son, I’m so proud of you. I’m proud to call you my son. I just wanted you to know that.” Then he left. I remember walking into the house after our encounter and telling my wife, Robin, “God just gave me a tremendous gift. Dad and I are no longer just father and son; we’re friends. Best friends. I love that man.” Two weeks later the phone rang.
What comforted me most in the days leading up to and following his funeral was the closure. It was all done. The last thing I ever said to my dad was, “I love you.” We so often communicated our love to one another there was nothing I needed to say to him. As I’ve grown, however, there’s plenty I wish he had said to me. I’ve faced a lot of questions where my impulse was to pick up the phone and call him. There’s much more I wish he had said while he was still alive. Wisdom is a precious commodity. There’s none so valuable and trustworthy as the wisdom of a father.
In a weird providence, I’ve been fatherless twice. This fact has caused me to know the value of male influences in my life. I’ve sought out these influences. I’ve asked thousands of questions. My dad died when I was twenty-seven. From there to here I have taken careful notes and paid close attention to good fathers and consistent men. I’ve listened.
I now have three sons of my own. One awaits me in heaven. The two remaining here on earth are affectionately known as “Hammer and Nail.” Brothers. A fraternity I never had the privilege of experiencing. I love these boys. These boys love their dad. In many ways I’m a mooring for their lives. In others, they are a mooring for mine. Sons need dads in ways only being a dad makes obvious. All these principles I’ve picked up are now bombarding their world. Much of it is the content of this book.
I’m afraid for them. This world is brutal, especially for men. It’s a grinder. So I try not to waste a moment. I give them every ounce of wisdom I have to give about everything I can imagine. This includes simple and mundane things. Why you should never cut into a steak to see if it’s done. Why prevent defense never works. How you swing a hammer by holding it at the end of the handle. Then there are larger realities. Integrity. Love. Sex. Money. I never stop thinking about them and their future wives and kids. But mostly I pray. I know full well I’m a sinner raising sinners. Only God can do what needs to be done in their lives. I’m just an instrument.
The following chapters are some of what I want to say to my sons, as well as what I wish had been said to me. Principles. They come from various places. Some are hard-earned lessons. I’ve tried not to waste personal mistakes. As I have had the opportunity to do exit reviews on my blunders, various principles have emerged. My prayer is that what I’ve learned from my failures can preserve my sons from a similar fate. Other principles are borrowed from the wisdom of men in my life. I’ve made them my own over the years. They’ve been invaluable.
As you read, you’ll notice gaps—things proved to be valuable in your own life that aren’t included. This is inevitable. I’ve not intended to say everything that needed to be said, but only some of what every man wished he had known before. But as you compare notes with me, you should write down your thoughts. In fact, send me your suggestions, and I’ll add them to my list. But, more importantly, get up and walk down the hall to your son’s room, or pick up the phone to call your son. Tell him yourself. He’s been waiting for this moment. Call your dad. Tell him you love him.
I know one day my sons will wish I had told them more than I did. This too is inevitable. Fact is, I can’t tell them enough. So much will be up to them. As of now I’m trying—by God’s grace—to give my sons the best head start in this life I can. So, I talk to them. I’m engaged. Every night I’m home to put them to bed, without fail I bury my face in theirs and say, “I love you, son. I’m proud to have you as a son.” This isn’t everything they need to hear, but if it were the last thing they heard from me, there’d be nothing left to say.