Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Dog and Little Table Wins, Oven 0!

I have blogged about my very large dog that has neurotic behavior before. He loves to chase lights and shadows and it drives me and himself completely bonkers. He barks, whines and tries to scratch the floor or nip at the light. I have tried to stop him from doing this, but my husband and kids think it is funny and try to get him to engage in the behavior. He also does this with camera flashes, camera lights, flashlights, rainbow/sun catchers, sunbeams, laser pens, mirror balls, etc. I have yet to figure out a way to rid him of this habit.

Anyway, Sunday he was being his usual neurotic self and was scooting around a little table back and forth that we have set up in the kitchen for the girls to eat at. He was doing so to chase a light beam coming from my skylight in my kitchen. He can do this for hours on end and yes it does get annoying!

I didn't think anything of it because he's done this before and I was just trying to ignore him...wishing someone, ANYONE, would stop him. However; my kids were outside playing, the youngest napping and my husband at work. Where was I? I was sick from an awful head cold and lying down in my bedroom with a bunch of blankets over top of me in the dark trying to get some shut-eye. Even though I had taken pain medication and a whole slew of other things my sinuses still hurt, my body was still aching and I really didn't feel like moving. In the end I had to anyway.

All of a sudden I heard a crash. It sounded like an entire bag of rice was just emptied onto my kitchen linoleum floor. I flung off the covers to go see what had happened and to my astonishment the whole glass front of my oven door was in little pieces all over the floor. I saw the corner of little table close by and my dog, Prince, cowering on the opposite side. I blinked and put two and two together. My dog with the help of the little table he was scooting across the floor had broken my oven!!

I was shocked and even though I felt like I was on my death bed I immediately got to work. My poor dog...It probably scared the life out of him and then I scolded him and sent him outside. I did have to clean up all the mess though without him getting in the kitchen. 5-6 dust pans full later the mess was cleared. Glass was all over...you really don't see half of it from the angles I took in the pictures. The oven was toast.

On the bright side my good friends did remind me that grilling/barbequing season is right around the corner and I still have the use of my cook top on the stove and slow cooker/crock pot. My mom is also going to bring me a roaster to use in the meantime that apparently is large enough to hold a chicken too. So, we'll see how my cooking and baking gets interesting as I get accustomed to cooking and baking without an oven since we definitely can't afford a replacement right now.

So, what do I ask of my readers? I need recipes that do not take the oven. Yes I have a crock pot, but I need more recipes to use with it, so, give me ideas! Links or pins to recipes would be great! I am thinking that baking is going to become tricky. If y'all have any baking recipes that don't call for an oven I would be very appreciative! I will have to become super creative with that. Also, if any of you know of giveaways happening now for new ovens I would love to know about them! Thanks!

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So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley 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:

Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)

***Special thanks to Tracy L. Higley for sending me a review copy.***


Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com


On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.

She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.

But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.

The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.

When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.

“Meticulously-researched, spellbindingly written with luscious prose and compelling and complex characters.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times best-selling author of Havah: The Story of Eve

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 12, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401686826
ISBN-13: 978-1401686826



I am an old man, and I have seen too much.

Too much of this world to endure any more. Too much of the next to want to linger.

And though I have nearly drowned in the glorious visions of those last days, yet I know not when it shall come, nor how many years I must tread this barren earth before all is made new.

There is a Story, you see. And we are still in the midst of it, ever striving to play our roles, battling on for the freedom of hearts and souls and minds yet enslaved by darkness.

But I have seen a great light. Oh yes, I have seen it. Even now it is breaking through, as it did on that grassy hillside so many cool spring mornings ago, when Moses and Elijah walked among us and my Brother shone with the glory He had been given from the beginning and will rise up to claim again at the end.

You will wonder, perhaps, at my calling Him brother. And yet that is what He was to me. Brother and friend, before Savior, before Lord. In those days when we wandered the land, going up and down from the Holy City, we shared our hearts, our lives, our laughter. Oh, how we laughed, He and I! He had the irrepressible joy of one who sees beyond the brokenness, to the restoration of all.

I loved him. And He loved me.

But I speak of beginnings and of endings, and these are words that have no meaning, for the day of His birth was both the beginning of the Kingdom and the end of tyranny, and that magnificent Day yet to come—it is the end-which-is-a-beginning, and my eyes have seen such glory in that New Jerusalem, my very heart breaks to tell of it.

And yet they come, young and old, to this tiny home in Ephesus that is to be my last dwelling outside that New City, and they beg me to tell the Story again and again.

And I do.

I tell of seals and scrolls, of a dragon and a beast and a Lamb. Of music that makes you weep to hear it and streets that blind the mortal eye. Of a Rider on a White Horse with eyes of blazing fire, whose name is Faithful and True. It is a great Story, and greater still to hear the final consummation of it, for how often we forget that we are living it still.

But I have another tale to tell. A smaller story within the One True Story that began before the creation of this world and is echoed at its end, as all our stories are. It happens here, in this port city of Ephesus but many years ago, when the darkness lay even heavier than it now does upon the people, and their souls cried out for relief from anyone who could give it.

This smaller story does not begin here in Ephesus, however. It begins a day’s sail away, on the sun-kissed shores of the Isle of Rhodes, where the light first began to break upon one woman and one man, even as they walked in darkness . . .

Chapter 1

Rhodes, AD 57

In the glare of the island morning sun, the sea blazed diamond-bright and hard as crystal, erratic flashes spattering light across Daria’s swift departure from the house of her angry employer.

She carried all she owned in one oversized leather pouch, slung over her shoulder. The pouch was not heavy. A few worn tunics and robes, her precious copy of Thucydides. She clutched it to her side and put her other hand to the gold comb pinning the dark waves of her hair, her one remaining luxury.

The bitter and familiar taste of regret chased her from the whitewashed hillside estate, down into the squalid harbor district. Why had she not kept silent?

Along the docks hungry gulls shrieked over fishy finds and work-worn sailors traded shrill insults. The restless slap of the sea against the hulls of boats kept time with the anxious rhythm of her steps against the cracked gray stones of the quay.

She had run once, haunted and guilty to a fresh start in Rhodes. Could she do it again? Find a way to take care of herself, to survive?

“Mistress Daria!”

The voice at her back was young and demanding, the tenor of a girl accustomed to a world arranged to her liking. And yet still precious, still malleable.

“Mistress! Where are you going?”

Daria slowed, eyes closed against the pain, and inhaled. She turned on the sun-warmed dock with a heaviness that pulled at her limbs like a retreating tide.

Corinna’s breath came quick with exertion and the white linen of her morning robe clung to her body. The sweet girl must have run all the way.

“To the School of Adelphos, Corinna. I will seek a position there.”

Corinna closed the distance between them and caught Daria’s hand in her own. Her wide eyes and full lips bespoke innocence. “But you cannot! Surely, Father did not mean what he said—”

Daria squeezed the girl’s eager fingers. “It is time. Besides”—she tipped Corinna’s chin back—“you have learned your lessons so well, perhaps you no longer need the services of a tutor.”

Corinna pulled away, dark eyes flashing and voice raised. “You do not believe that, mistress. It is you who says there is always more to learn.”

They drew the attention of several young dockworkers hauling cargo from ship to shore. Daria stared them down until they turned away, then circled the girl’s shoulders, pulled her close, and put her lips to Corinna’s ear. “Yes, you must never stop learning, dear girl. But it must be someone else who teaches you—”

“But why? What did you say to anger Father so greatly?”

Only what she thought was right. What must be said. A few strong phrases meant to rescue Corinna from a future under the thumb of a husband who would surely abuse her.

Daria smiled, fighting the sadness welling in her chest, and continued her trudge along the dock toward the school. “I am afraid discretion is one of the things I have not yet learned, Corinna. Your father is a proud man. He will not brook a mere servant giving him direction in the running of his household.”

Corinna stopped abruptly at the water’s edge, her pretty face turned to a scowl. “You are no mere servant! You are the most learned tutor I have ever had!”

Daria laughed and looked over the sea as she walked, at the skiffs and sails tied to iron cleats along the stone, easy transportation to the massive barges that floated in the blue harbor, awaiting trade. Papyrus and wool from Egypt, green jade and aromatic spices from far eastern shores, nuts and fruits and oils from Arabia. Her eyes strayed beyond the ships, followed northward along the rocky Anatolian coast to cities unknown, riddles to be unraveled, secrets and knowledge to be unlocked. More to learn, always. And somewhere perhaps, the key to redeeming the past.

They approached and skirted the strange symbol of the isle of Rhodes, the toppled Helios that once stood so proud and aloof along the harbor and now lay humbled, its bronze shell speckled to an aged green, reflecting the impenetrable turquoise sky. The massive statue had lain at the quay for gulls to peck and children to climb for nearly three hundred years since the quake brought it down. Daria found it disturbing.

“May I still visit you at the school, Mistress Daria?”

She smiled. “One challenge at a time. First I must convince Adelphos that he should hire me.”

Corinna’s tiny sandals scurried to keep pace. “Why would he not?”

“It is not easy to be an educated woman in a man’s world of philosophy and rhetoric. There are few men who appreciate such a woman.”

“How could anyone not appreciate someone as good, as brave, as you?”

The child gave her too much credit. She was neither good, nor brave. She would not be here in Rhodes if she were. Though she was trying. The gods knew, she had been trying.

Corinna lifted her chin with a frown in the direction of the school. “I shall simply explain to Adelphos how very valuable you are.”

And how outspoken? Interfering? But perhaps the girl could help in some way.

“Will you demonstrate some of what I have taught you, Corinna?”

The girl’s eyes lit up. “Just wait, mistress. I shall amaze and delight that crusty old Adelphos.”

Daria studied the impetuous girl and bit her lip. But it was a chance she must take.

The School of Adelphos lay at the end of the docks, its modest door deceptive. Daria paused outside, her hand skimming the rough wood, and inhaled determination in the sharp tang of salt and fish on the breeze. Who would believe that such distinguished men as the poet Apollonius and Attalus the astronomer had studied and written and debated behind this door? Sea trade had kept Rhodes prosperous for centuries, but in the two hundred years under Roman control, the Greek island had grown only more beautiful, a stronghold of learning, of arts and sciences and philosophy.

Inside its most famous school, she blinked twice and waited for her sun-blind eyes to adjust.

“Daria!” Adelphos emerged from the shadows of the antechamber with a cool smile and tilt of his head. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was several years her senior, with the confident ease of an athlete, a man aware of his own attractiveness.

She returned the smile and straightened her back. “Adelphos. Looking well, I am pleased to see.”

He ran a gaze down the length of her, taking in her thin white tunic and the pale blue mantle that was the best of her lot. “As are you.”

“I have come to make you an offer.”

At this, his eyebrows and the corner of his mouth lifted in amusement and he gave a glance to Corinna, still at the door. “Shouldn’t we send your young charge home first?”

She ignored the innuendo. “My employ as Corinna’s tutor will soon come to an end, and I desire to find a place here, in your school. As a teacher.” She swallowed against the nervous clutch of her throat.

Again the lifted eyebrows, but Adelphos said nothing, only strolled into the lofty main hall of the school, a cavernous marble room already scattered with scholars and philosophers, hushed with the echoes of great minds.

She gritted her teeth against the condescension and beckoned Corinna to follow, with a warning glance to keep the girl quiet, but the child’s sudden intake of breath at the fluted columns and curvilinear architraves snapped unwanted attention in their direction, the frowns of men annoyed by disruptive women.

Adelphos disappeared into the alcove that housed the school’s precious stock of scrolls—scrolls Daria had often perused at her leisure and his generosity.

Daria spoke to his back. “Do you doubt my abilities—”

“What I doubt, my lady, is a rich man’s willingness to pay a woman to teach his sons.”

Daria waved a hand. “Bah! What difference does it make? I can do a man’s work just as well. And if they learn, they learn!” But a cold fear knotted in her belly.

Adelphos traced his fingertips over the countless nooks of scrolls, as if he could find the one he sought simply by touching its ragged edge. “And you, Daria? Do you want to live a man’s life as well as do a man’s work? What woman does not long for love and family and hearth?”

Her throat tightened at his words, too close to the secrets of her heart. Yes, she longed for those comforts. For a love that would accept her abilities, complement rather than suppress. But for now, for now she had no one and she must assure her own welfare.

She coughed to clear the dryness of her throat and stepped beside him, examined the great works of philosophy and literature, their tan Egyptian papyri wrapped in brown twine, sealed in waxy red.

Adelphos reached past her to a nook above her head, and his muscled arm brushed her shoulder.

The touch was intentional, clearly. Manipulative. Even so, his nearness left her breathless and her usual sharp-tongued wit failed. When she spoke, it was a harsh whisper, too raw with emotion, though the words emerged falsely casual. “And why should I not have both?”

At this, Adelphos huffed, a derisive little laugh, and turned to lean his back against the shelves and unroll the scroll he had retrieved.

“A woman of ambition. Does such a breed truly exist?” His gaze darted to hers. “But what am I saying? You have already wedded a husband, have you not?”

Daria pulled a scroll from its recess and pretended to study it.

“You are interested in the work of Pythagoras? That one is newly arrived from Samos.”

Daria shrugged. “I find his work repetitive. What new has he added to Euclid’s previous efforts?”

“Indeed.” Adelphos pulled the scroll from her hands and replaced it in its nook. “But you have not answered my question.”

“I am a widow, yes.”

“A widow with no sons. No dowry.” He glanced at Corinna, clutching the doorway. “And no employment. Is there anything more desperate?”

Daria lifted her chin and met his gaze. “It seems you are in an enviable position, then, Adelphos. You have found a skilled teacher, available for a bargain.”

Adelphos circled to Corinna, an appreciative gaze lingering on her youth and beauty. “And this is your prize specimen? The pupil of whom I have heard such wonders?”

The girl straightened and faced Adelphos with a confidence borne of knowledge. “Shall I demonstrate the superior skill Mistress Daria has given me with languages?”

Daria silently cheered and blessed the girl. “Corinna has been working hard to master the tongues of Rome’s far-flung empire.”

Adelphos’s brow creased and he opened his lips as if to speak, then sealed them and nodded once. No doubt he wanted to ask what use there might be for a girl who could speak anything but common Greek. As Daria herself was such a girl, the implicit question struck a nerve. She turned a shoulder to Adelphos and nodded encouragement to Corinna. “Let us hear Herodotus in the Classical first, then.”

The girl grinned, then gushed a passage of Herodotus in the proud language of her Greek forebears, the language of literature and poetry, before Alexander had rampaged the world and equalized them all with his common koine.

“And now in Latin, Corinna.”

The girl repeated the passage, this time in the tongue of the Romans, the new conquerors.

Adelphos tilted his head to study the girl, then spoke to her in Latin. “Anyone can memorize a famous passage in a foreign tongue. Few can converse in it.”

Corinna’s eyelashes fluttered and she glanced at her hands, twisted at her waist. When she answered, it was not in Latin, but in Persian. “Fewer still can converse in multiple languages at once, my lord.”

Adelphos chuckled, then glanced at Daria. “She does you proud, lady.”

A glow of pride, almost motherly, warmed Daria’s chest. “Indeed.”

Corinna reached out and gripped Adelphos’s arm, bare beneath his gleaming white tunic. “Oh, it is all Mistress Daria’s fine teaching, I assure you, my lord. I wish to be an independent woman such as she someday. There is nothing she cannot do.”

“Corinna.” Daria smiled at the girl but gave a tiny shake of her head.

Corinna withdrew her hand and lowered her eyes once more. “I have told my father this, but he does not understand—”

“Her father has been most pleased with her progress.” Daria tried to draw Adelphos’s attention. “He saw a superior mind there from an early age and was eager to see it developed.”

He waved a hand in the air. “I have seen enough. You may go.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men by Rhonda Stoppe 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 (March 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


Rhonda Stoppe is a popular speaker who fervently imparts the truth of God’s Word to her audience. She is an enthusiastic communicator who unfolds Scripture with a contagious passion for truth as she teaches women to connect with God in an intimate “love walk” of obedience and to live deliberately in their purpose. She and her pastor husband, Steve, are the grateful parents
of four grown kids.

Visit the author's website.


Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman's life. Drawing from years of ministering to youth and to women and from her own parenting experience, Rhonda provides refreshingly relevant guidance, biblical and contemporary examples, and humorous insights to help each reader discover

  • how to guide a son without hovering and smothering
  • how every action and choice can serve a godly goal
  • ways to communicate so a boy will listen and be heard
  • God's power and grace to become--and give--her best

Packed with practical help from parenting experts and other moms, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736949771
ISBN-13: 978-0736949774


You Are Not Alone

On Mission with God

To be the mother of a son is not for the faint of heart. I remember when my son Brandon was born. Looking into his little face, the feelings within me were somehow different from four years earlier when I had given birth to my daughter. I felt so inadequate as I weighed the responsibility of molding this baby into a man. Up to this point, raising a girl had not been a difficult challenge. It was clear that she was like me, with all the love for being a girl that she could express. She loved shoes and colorful bows for her hair. She was extremely social and adored her friends. And her daddy? Oh, she loved her daddy. Yes, relating to her had been no problem at all.

Yet now in my arms I was holding a helpless baby boy who would grow into a man. Even the mere task of changing his diaper was intimidating with his recently circumcised appendage. I remember thinking, I cannot imagine that soft little face one day having whiskers. As I studied his hands so tiny and fragile, I thought of how they may one day be rough and calloused like his father’s.

When you gave birth to your son, did you find yourself imagining what kind of man he might become? When it came to my son, I did not want to raise a momma’s boy, yet I wanted to be his protector. I did not want him to be rough and reckless, but I did want him to be strong. I wanted him to become a wonderful, godly man like his father. After I took the little guy home and began to raise him, I found my parenting overshadowed with a fear of doing it wrong. I gradually developed a sort of reactionary mode—he acted and I reacted. Rather than following a clear path toward shaping his life, the fear of what I did not want my son to be became my standard. I was merely putting out fires rather than kindling the flames of my son’s character.

My husband and I had always wanted our home to be a place of peace, and yet I found in reality it had become a chaotic environment ruled by my emotions. Because I did not want to disappoint my husband, I did not let him know how much I was struggling. The day my daughter said to me, “I know you can’t wait until we are grown up so that you can do whatever you want” was the day that I knew I needed to get some help. It broke my heart that I had given her that notion. I loved being a mother; it was what I wanted to do. Yet in my harried frustration, that was not at all the impression I had given my sweet little girl.

Feeling even more inadequate and alone, I began to read books about parenting, from which I compiled a sort of how-to list. I soon discovered that the list did not have the power to change me. It became a burdensome reminder of the standard I was unable to measure up to. I lacked fortitude for this new adventure. I knew that I needed to become a kind, courageous, and confident mother if I was ever going to raise kind, courageous, confident children. I desired to be a godly mother who raised godly children. But where would I find the direction I so desperately longed for?

I Need Help, Lord!

Reading books had given me some basic ground rules for this new playing field, but I also wanted to learn from real-life examples. My mother-in-law, who had raised two wonderful sons, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and was no longer the vibrant help she had been when my daughter was born. The young mothers I knew seemed no more prepared for raising a son than I was. I had no idea how to ask God for what I needed. I felt alone and desperate for answers. I’ve since learned that one of God’s favorite prayers is that of a simple cry for help flowing from a humble and desperate heart. I was both humbled and desperate as I uttered the plea, “I need help, Lord.” God graciously answered my prayer by bringing several older, godly women into my life. I am now 50, and I have to laugh at how old they seemed to me when I was in my twenties. These women were not scholars or trained in child development. As mothers of sons, they had traveled down this path ahead of me. They had insights and understanding into what I was experiencing. Their lives had not been perfect or free from trials. They were genuine, precious, and vulnerable as they taught me what God had taught them. When I shared my struggles I did not feel judged; rather, I felt loved.

Titus 2:4 instructs older women to admonish younger women how to love their husbands and their children, and this group of women wholeheartedly obeyed that command. Of all the friendships I have had, the relationships that developed with these women have by far been the most pivotal in my life. They taught me not only how to parent, but how to become the mother God wanted me to become. In writing this book, my heart’s desire is to be an older woman God can use to pour courage and confidence into you, just as those women did for me.

The Mission of Motherhood

One life-changing insight I received from these wonderful women was that I had been called by God to the mission of motherhood. And so have you. God has called you to join Him in the work He plans to do in your children. To become the instrument God will use to train your son somehow sheds glorious light on the unique ministry of motherhood, doesn’t it? The Bible instructs God’s servants to “take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it” (Colossians 4:17). There is no pass. No get-out-of-jail free card. Your ministry came in the form of your son. How will you prepare yourself for that ministry? God never intended mothers to go it alone. Through His Word, He wants to equip you to train your children to love and trust Him.

As you follow God in molding the character of your son, you will undoubtedly face situations that are out of your control. It should come as no surprise that life is unpredictable. The Bible warns, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 3:12). When you face struggles, yielding your emotions to the roller coaster of circumstances will only add to the stress and result in chaos.

As you parent your children, if your focus is on every turn of events, you will certainly be overwhelmed and afraid. Fear and confusion will rob you of courage. By contrast, focusing on God and resting in His character will bring peace. Rather than subjecting your family to the gyrations of your emotional reactions, you can develop the habit of responding with an unwavering confidence in who God is. Knowing God intimately is a vital attribute of being a godly mother. How does one develop that kind of confidence in God? I looked to these older women for answers, and they directed me to the Bible.

When I spent time with these women, I observed their peaceful responses to the chaos of life. They displayed a resolve to seek after the Lord in every situation. They were not just church ladies who did good things for God; their hearts reflected His heart. They were by no means perfect, but they were genuine. Their lives had not been without trials and heartache; each had their own story of the struggles they had faithfully endured. In my estimation, the greatest measure of their parenting success was their sons’ genuine love for them and for the Lord.

The Crossroad

I found myself at a crossroad when the women encouraged me to attend their ladies’ Bible study. Honestly, my motivation was, “Free babysitting and two hours with grown-ups? I’m in!” Totally spiritual, right? During the first class session I was given a homework book. I thought, Homework? No problem. I had gone to Christian schools; I can fill in the blanks without even having to look up the verses. I know, my response was arrogant. I was arrogant! (God would reveal that to me later, but that is a topic for another chapter.)

When I got home and opened the book, I was blown away by how much work I had to do. This was not the typical fill-in-the-blank book. This was a Precept Ministries International Bible study that assigned five hours of homework each week. Evidently my new friends were under the impression that I had time on my hands. There was no way I could do that much homework! I concluded that these women had their children so long ago they had forgotten how much was needed to care for a baby. When I called my friend Gayle to explain I couldn’t possibly keep up with the class, she kindly encouraged me to hang in there for just one semester. She offered to help me by babysitting, and promised that I would be forever changed by the experience. I reluctantly agreed to her offer because I did not want her to think I was not spiritual.

I kept the study book open on my kitchen table and worked on the assignments a little bit at a time. I studied while nursing, and in between changing diapers and folding laundry. Do you know what I found? For the first time in my life, I began to crave the Word of God. I looked forward to my few minutes of open time here and there to learn from Him. I began to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). My thinking was different. My parenting was different. Life’s experiences were being filtered through God’s truth, and that truth was changing who I was.

Even my husband, Steve, noticed the change. Fear was replaced with peace, anxiety with confidence. My propensity to people pleasing was overshadowed by a genuine desire to please God. I had given my heart to Christ when I was young, but had never before experienced this kind of longing to know Him. Up till now I had always viewed reading the Bible as a religious duty. But this was very different from duty. I was hungry for God and His Word. I was developing an unwavering resolve to seek God.

What about you—do you long to seek after God? Are you hungering after His Word, and eager to cultivate a deeper personal relationship with the One who created you, knows your heart better than anyone else, and provides for your every need?

Or perhaps as you’re reading this you realize you’ve never taken that step to receive Christ as your Savior and Lord. Or maybe you’re uncertain as to whether you are a Christian. If you would like to know more about how to give your heart to Christ and have an intimate relationship with Him, please see the appendix, “How to Have a Relationship with Jesus.”

Resolve to Seek God

So what does this resolve look like—this hungering and thirsting after God? In the Bible I read a passage that spoke what my heart longed to express: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast” (Psalm 57:7). When I read that, I felt I had to know more about the person who penned that phrase! Those words were written by David amidst one of the greatest trials of his young life. Oh yes, I wanted to know more about this man David. What kind of woman had raised a son like this? I wanted to live how he lived, and even more, I wanted to raise my son to be like him.

David, while not without his faults, was devoted to seeking God. In Psalm 89:20, God proclaimed, “I have found My servant David...” Note that God said He found David. Elsewhere in Scripture we read that “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). Can you picture that? The eyes of God moving all across the earth in search of individuals whose hearts are loyal to Him. Why? So that He can show Himself mighty on their behalf. Isn’t that exciting? You don’t have to do this mother thing alone. God stands ready to offer you His strength. He is more concerned about the man your son becomes than you are!

Learning to love God will make your heart loyal to Him. When I say this, I’m not talking about being a religious woman—that is, someone who merely goes through the motions of religious duty and rituals in the hopes that you can somehow earn God’s favor. No, I’m talking about genuine change that starts in the heart and draws upon God’s power and wisdom. I’m talking about a true inner love and passion for God and not mere external behavior that might look good to others but amounts to nothing more than hollow actions. The loyalty God seeks comes from the heart.

The Holy Spirit can use your loyal heart to draw your son to know and obey God. If your faith isn’t authentic, your son will know it, and that will likely turn him away from the things of God. It is only as you truly love God and surrender to His perfect will that you are enabled to live as an example to your son and make God attractive to him.

I Surrender All?

David was willing to do anything God asked of him. God said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). As David was growing up, he expressed his love for God in his psalms of worship. Out of that love grew trust. When David was just a young shepherd boy God allowed him to experience circumstances that would help to build that trust and to give him courage for the trials that he would face in the future. In the course of guarding the family sheep,
Run away in fear
Question God’s goodness, and become bitter or angry
Rely on the power of God to persevere and know victory

Relying on God’s strength, David chose to stay and fight. His conquest over the lion and the bear prepared him to later fight a God-blaspheming giant who had taunted the Israelite army (1 Samuel 17:36-37). Does David’s kind of surrender of his life to God scare you? You can be honest with God; He already knows your thoughts. As a young mother, I had a deep-seated fear that if I surrendered my children to the Lord, He would test my loyalty by taking them from me. Have you ever struggled with such fears? The Bible can calm your heart as you learn that God is a loving and merciful Father. There is no reason to fear what God might do, for His love for your son is greater than any love you have. And His plans for your son are greater than your plans. What’s more, God has the power to accomplish those plans.

Practical Applications from David’s Mother

Have you ever asked yourself where David’s momma was while he was out there camping with the sheep and wrestling wild animals? Well, she wasn’t there fighting his battles for him. We can learn a lot from David’s mom.

She allowed her boy to become a man while he was still living at home. David was her youngest son, yet she allowed him to leave the safety of home to do the dangerous work of a shepherd. She recognized David would find a sense of accomplishment in contributing to the family business. What kind of man might he have been if his mother’s fears kept him tied to her apron strings? She seemed to know when to step back and allow him to face challenges without micromanaging his choices.

It can be frightening to loosen your grip on your son as he matures. All too often mothers coddle their sons in an attempt to protect them or make life easier for them, only to cripple their ability to manage themselves when they leave the safety of their homes. Making a conscious effort to allow and even orchestrate opportunities for your son to accomplish tasks away from your watchful eye will allow him to develop his courage and his ability to make decisions.

She had the courage to leave his safety in the hands of God. In those lonely hours spent on the hillsides, David learned how to be a man. God had used trials to develop his loyal heart. David’s mother seemed to have resisted the temptation to rescue him at every turn. The Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). The Lord wants to be involved in your parenting decisions moment by moment. As you trust and acknowledge Him at each turn, He will make your path straight. If you rely on your own understanding and fight every battle for your son, how will he learn to rely on God’s strength? Sometimes God will ask you to let your little boy battle that bear. Are you willing?

She respected her husband’s wisdom. When David was a teenager His father, Jesse, sent him to the battlefront with food for his older brothers. You don’t hear David’s mother protesting, “Not my baby! He is too young to go.”

Over the years there have been many times that my husband has given one of our boys a responsibility that I thought was too much for him. My initial instinct was to come to the boy’s defense and explain why my husband was making a wrong decision. More often than not, I was the one in the wrong. I had to learn that my husband, who was a man, had more discernment with regard to what our sons could and couldn’t handle. (By the way, if your son does not have a father, do not despair; we will discuss that later in this book.)

David’s mother raised a man after God’s heart. Do you want to do the same with your son? What kind of mother might you be if you resolved to seek after God more diligently? How would your surrendered life affect your son’s character development?

A Courageous Mother

Moses is another man who was used greatly by God. Who was his mother? Jochebed found herself in a troubled time in Israel’s history. The descendants of Jacob had become slaves in Egypt. The slaves grew so great in number that the Egyptians became fearful. So Pharaoh sent out a proclamation that the Hebrew midwives should kill every baby boy born to the Hebrew women.

At the risk of losing their own lives, two courageous midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, refused to murder the babies. Eventually the frustrated Pharaoh decreed that all the Egyptians throw newborn Hebrew boys into the river, but keep the daughters alive (Exodus 1:15-17).

A Difficult Dilemma

When Jochebed and her husband, Amram, gave birth to Moses, they did their best to hide their lovely son for as long as they could. By the time Moses was three months old, however, it would have been a matter of time before someone found and killed him. Something had to be done, or surely he would end up dying (Exodus 1:15–2:10; Hebrews 11:23).

I can only imagine the ache in Jochebed’s heart as she carefully wrapped her precious baby boy in her favorite blanket. As tears streamed down her face, would she have attempted a brave smile into his little face? As if to somehow give him the courage she may desperately have needed for herself ?

As Jochebed prepared to place Moses in a basket upon the Nile River, her daughter, who was standing nearby, would likely have questioned the rationale of her mother’s plan. “You’re gonna put him in that basket, Mother? Will it float? What if water leaks in? What about the snakes and crocodiles?” Surely Jochebed had already asked herself these questions as well. Could this really be Jehovah’s answer to her prayer to save her son? She must have been confident her idea was from the Lord to even attempt the plan. And yet, would she end up wavering in her conviction as she prepared to send her son afloat on the Nile River? Try to put yourself in Jochebed’s sandals. I don’t know about you, but three months after my son was born I was still a hormonal, emotional mess! Trying to cope with hiding my newborn from people who wanted to kill him—coupled with the anxiety of trying to silence him each time he cried—would have sent me over the edge!

A Complete Trust in God

I am in awe of Jochebed’s composure here. Rather than ranting and raving to Amram about their difficult situation, which I am ashamed to say would have been my default mode, she carefully built a little ark for her son. Instead of running to each of her girlfriends for advice, she quietly acted on the plan that God had put in her heart. Can you just hear how her friends might have responded if she had solicited their advice? First you have the nay-sayers: “Jochebed, that is a crazy plan. The baby will surely drown, and if not drown, he will get eaten by crocodiles. Wouldn’t you prefer to know for certain what happens to him?” Then there would have been the hopeless: “Your plan will never work, Jochebed. Just give up. God doesn’t care about your baby. He didn’t care about mine when the soldiers came and killed him. Why are you any different? If the soldiers catch you with that baby, surely you will be put to death. What will become of your other children? You have a responsibility to them.”

Although advice is often practical, sometimes our friends can practical us right into disobeying the Lord. Have you ever experienced the Lord impressing upon you to do something that others have questioned? I have, and in such times, it can be confusing to discern what the right path is.

How puzzled the people in Jochebed’s generation must have been. God had called Israel His chosen people, yet He allowed them to suffer greatly. How is it possible to place your trust in God when your circumstances appear to be wildly out of His control? But we know there were some people who still trusted God. Among them were the midwives who, at great risk, chose to protect the Hebrew babies. Where did they find the courage to disobey Pharaoh’s decree? And where did Jochebed find the strength to do something about her circumstances?

If you were in this terrible scenario, how do you think you would have responded? My natural tendency would likely have been to pull blankets over my head and wait for things to get better. How could Jochebed ever have brought herself to let go of the little basket? Do you think you could have sent your baby boy down the Nile River? Imagine watching him float out of your secure hands into the unknown. Where would a mother find the courage to do such a thing?

A Miraculous Intervention from God

As Jochebed watched her baby float away, she demonstrated courage that was not found in her ability to preserve the life of her young son. Her decision that day required she follow a plan that had no answers. Yet she sent the baby away from her protection and into the care of her God. That kind of courage comes only in the life of one who has developed a genuine trust in God. Jochebed’s confidence in the Lord was evident in her actions.

If Jochebed had tightened her grip on baby Moses and attempted to continue hiding him, she would not have experienced what happened next. Her trusting obedience was rewarded with nothing short of a miracle. When the daughter of Pharaoh drew the little Hebrew baby from the basket floating on the Nile, the Lord moved her heart to compassion. Not only did the Egyptian princess proclaim she would adopt Moses as her son; she sent his very own sister—who happened to be nearby—to find a nursemaid for the baby. And of course, Moses’ sister pointed Pharaoh’s daughter to Moses’ own mother! God blessed Jochebed’s obedience by making her Moses’ nursemaid.

Making the Most of a Brief Opportunity

During the few years Jochebed was permitted to nurse her son, she would have had a profound influence upon him. Surely Jochebed would have told little Moses stories of the faithfulness of the God of Israel. Knowing their time together would not be long, Jochebed would likely have had a sense of urgency to teach Moses to love her God. We mothers would do well to remind ourselves that the time we have to influence our children is short, and we are to begin developing their love for God in their earliest years.

Never underestimate the amount of influence you can have on your son in his first years of life. In her book Six Ways to Keep the “Good” in Your Boy, Dannah Gresh states, “In 2005, the findings of a new study released in Pediatrics found that parent-infant connection—intentional togetherness—plays a key role in shaping the right side of an infant’s brain during the first year of life.” Noted neuroscientist Allan Schore says, “The brain of an infant...is not just shaped by genetics but also by experience in the last trimester of pregnancy through the child’s first year and a half of life...A parent or other caregiver can provide this early attachment, but large day-care situations may be less ideal.”

Do not be naive and assume that dropping your child off at an impersonal day-care facility every day won’t leave an imprint upon him. If you must work, it is essential that the person caring for your child loves your God and will emulate that love to your son. Though Jochebed had a very short time to influence Moses, the impression she made was strong enough that it stayed with him even when he grew older and lived in Pharaoh’s palace. Her teachings were likely the foundation God used to build Moses’ faith. And sure enough, when Moses grew older, he chose to suffer with his people rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season in the palaces of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-25).

The Bible does not say much about Jochebed and her character qualities. Her name, in Hebrew, means “Jehovah glorified.” Glorified, as used here, means “to make weighty, to make glorious.” Jochebed’s actions certainly lived up to her name. In her decision to trust Jehovah, His name was made glorious.

The Influence of a Few Years

The Lord did not bring our oldest boy, Tony, into our lives until he was 15 years old. For years our family has attempted to find a way to illustrate to people, in a clear way, how Tony became our son. About a year ago Tony, now in his thirties, called me, excited about a movie he had watched. He said, “I know I am not a big black football player like the guy in the movie, but what I saw reminds me so much of our family. And the mom in the movie reminds me of you!” I had seen the very popular movie only days before. I had cried while watching it because it brought back memories of when Tony first came to live with us. He lived in our home for only a short time, but just as the Lord had used Jochebed’s few years with Moses to shape him for life, God gave us a brief window of opportunity to give Tony a strong foundation for life.

Tony had already bonded with Steve even before he had moved in with us. Steve was his youth pastor, and right from the beginning they enjoyed a wonderful relationship. When Tony graduated from high school, he gave “Big Steve,” as he called him, a card saying thank-you for becoming his dad. It was a touching note that Steve still keeps with his most treasured possessions. We kind of look at that card as Tony’s “official adoption papers.”

During Tony’s short time with us, he and I had great talks about his new life as a believer, and about

girls. We talked about his dream to become a fighter pilot, about God’s character, and about girls. We discussed God’s plan for marriage…and did I mention we talked about girls? While Tony and I got along well, he related to me with love and respect, but never as his momma. I wanted to be a mom to him, but I respected that he had a mother whom he loved, and that he didn’t necessarily need another.

Upon graduating from high school, Tony was accepted to Texas A&M University. It was difficult for our family to say good-bye to him, but we were excited about the opportunities before him. I determined that my new role in his life would be as a prayer supporter.

Right away Tony, our overachiever, went out for the drill team, a much-sought-after and competitive position. The requirements were grueling. All the while, he was taking a full load of classes. By September, Tony had been selected for the team and he was thrilled—thrilled and exhausted.

One day Tony called home. In a weak and shaky voice, he said he had a severe case of pneumonia and would need to take a break from all activities. He told me he was not going to tell his drill commander he was sick for fear of losing his place on the drill team. Oh my sweet boy, who had worked so hard to achieve his goals! He had been such a man and accomplished great things. Now all I could hear was a little boy who needed a mother.

I asked the Lord for discernment. As I said earlier, we as mothers need to learn when God wants us to step back and allow our young men to battle their trials alone. But somehow I sensed this was different. Tony had worked so hard to land a spot on the team, and now he was terribly sick. I felt that the least I could do was ask Tony if I could make a phone call on his behalf. Reluctantly, he agreed.

I called a friend of Tony’s who was an alumnus of the school. He promised to make some calls. Soon I heard back from the drill team’s commandant, who called to assure me that Tony’s place on the team was secure. With that taken care of, we brought our very sick boy home and I took care of him until he got better. Through that experience, God knit our hearts together, and I became a momma to Tony.

Tony went on to graduate from college and became a fighter pilot. While he has achieved many amazing goals, I was never more proud of him than on the day he called to say, “You know, I am living my dream, and I now realize that it is not enough. My Sunday school teacher, a retired fighter pilot, told me that if I am doing all of this but I’m not surrendered to Christ, my life will be wasted.”

When asked how being a part of our family influenced him, Tony said, “The family was, and continues to be, my living definition of both what God expects from me, and what He wants for me. I am thankful for this example, and I have no doubt that it was God’s plan for our lives to connect.”

Only God Knows

Jochebed had no idea she was being used by the Lord to train a child who would one day become the deliverer of Israel. When David’s mother sent her young son to the battlefront, how could she have known God had been preparing him to slay a giant? And would she have ever dreamed that her gentle warrior would one day be the king of Israel, as well as a man after God’s own heart?

I say all that to bring up this very important point: The first teachers of these godly leaders were not theologians; they were mothers. And you are your son’s first teacher about God as well. You share the same role God entrusted to Moses’ and David’s mothers.

Generation after generation, the mission of motherhood has been the same. God invites mothers to join Him in molding the character of their sons. Will you partner with God in teaching your son how to love Him? The Word of God is your textbook. Will you determine to prepare yourself for this ministry? The Lord is searching for hearts that are loyal to Him. The same One who called the mothers of Jochebed and David is calling you. Only God knows the future that awaits your son. What an amazing honor He has given you. You are the vessel that the Lord will use to prepare your son for a lifetime of use by Him.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lamps.com and Tiffany Parrot Table Lamp Review

I received a gift code of $100 to use at Lamps.com to order a lamp or light fixture of my choice to facilitate this review. I chose their Tiffany Parrot Table Lamp because we were given a collection of Lynn Chase Parrots of Paradise (Parrotdise) dishes from Brian's Grammy as a wedding gift when we were married and this lamp matched them. Someday I would love to display these lovely dishes in a china cabinet in my kitchen or dining room. The Tiffany Parrot Lamp will be displayed there as well if I have my own way.

I ordered the lamp. It was under the $100 gift code price, had free shipping and handling and you had the option of also adding a free set of light bulbs that would fit it. I chose to get the free light bulbs also because I was sure that I didn't have any bulbs currently to fit it. Ordering through Lamps.com was very easy and straight forward. I ordered the lamp and the bulbs on February 21st and received the lamp on  March 1st. I however; didn't get the courtesy bulb pack until March 11th. I was told this was because they ship out of separate places. So I had to wait to try the lamp out until the Candelabra 7w (E12) Incandescent bulbs came.

After the bulbs arrived we got one out to place into the lamp. This particular lamp unscrews with two screws at the base of the parrot shade where it joins the tree trunk that it sits on. It is fragile so you have to be careful when replacing bulbs into the socket or handling the lamp in general. Thankfully the lamp only goes on one way (clockwise) onto the stand and it came with easy step by step directions to put it all together. You probably can't tell in my pictures, but there are little parrot bird feet perched on the tree trunk to help you line everything up before you screw it together. It has a lovely dark bronze, circle gold finish and a felt on the bottom of the base so that it won't harm furniture. The polarized plug had a bushing on it that we took off so that we could plug it into the outlet. The cord wire has a good length to it with a simple inline on/off switch to operate the light.

With the lamp also came a little pamphlet that told about Dale Tiffany lamps. Dale Tiffany is the world-renowned manufacturer of fine glass lighting and home decor in the tradition of Louis Comfort Tiffany. With their "opalescent glass" shades the century old tradition continues in these lamps with the same copper foil technique as the original. This "opalescent glass" or stained glass is made of genuine hand rolled art glass. All pieces are hand-crafted art. Each becomes its own truly unique heirloom piece.

I love this lamp. It is gorgeous. The mosaic stained art glass is elegant and definitely fits into my eccentric eclectic style well within my home. When the lamp was on it held a delightful ambiance and was not too bright to make my dog go crazy because of lights and shadows it produced. I was pleased with it even though I would have liked the areas of the tail and beak of the parrot to light up more. It definitely enhances the mood and environment where I place it and proves to be a great accent piece.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my 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.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Soft Scrub Advanced Surface Cleaner & Polish Review and Giveaway

I received some Soft Scrub® Advanced Surface Cleaner & Polish to try out and review for free to facilitate this review. My husband grew up using Soft Scrub® products for cleaning with and we both love the brand. This new all purpose cleaner is a rinse-free clear gel that cleans and polishes granite and marble countertops (removing grease, grime and surface stains), glass cooktops (removing food and spills from a cool or cold surface), and stainless steel sinks and appliances (removing water spots, soap scum and fingerprints). It is tough on stains and gentle on your most delicate surfaces. Just apply with to the surface, rub and wipe away with a damp sponge, cloth or paper towel.

The bottle design is new also and is easier to handle and hold making dispensing improved. I love the ergonomic shape, thumb slot, and bumps on the side for better grip. It makes it easier to pour and prevents spillage. Just rotate the cap counter clockwise to open and clockwise to close. The product does come out fairly fast and just a little bit goes a long way. It is great for both a bathroom cleaner and kitchen cleaner.

My kitchen sink is the largest stainless steel surface in my home so I tried this product on it. We currently do not have granite or marble countertops or glass cooktops...a girl can dream though...maybe someday. My stainless steel deep double sink needed my attention. It was getting pretty icky looking because of food in the crevasses, soap scum, fingerprints and water spots. This was the perfect stainless steel cleaner to try out to give it a good rub and polish. I used it as recommended on the back and even took it a step further in the directions with the buff with a lint free cloth for added shine instruction. It shined up really nicely. The FlyLady would be proud of me!

You can learn more about Soft Scrub® on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SoftScrub.

Prize: 1 winner will win 2 coupons for a FREE Soft Scrub® product.

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Soft Scrub® for sending me product for free, promotion information to facilitate my review and free coupons for this giveaway. This opportunity was provided to me because I am a Purex Insider. By posting I will be entered to win prizes. 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 posting this promo.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hide 'em & Hatch 'em Eggs Easter Review and Giveaway

For Easter this year there is a new product that is great to add to Easter baskets and use for Easter egg hunts. These are also great for Spring. They are called Hide 'em Hatch 'em Eggs and I received some free to facilitate this review. These are eggs that actually hatch animals from their shells. They are also great to use in Easter egg hunts because they are so much more fun than plastic eggs and regular eggs. These come in packages of three eggs and hatch into three different animals: chick, duckling, and bunny.

We had a lot of fun with these eggs. Watching them hatch was the best part. I have seen a real chick hatch and the process was so realistic, although these are hatched from the egg into water. I admit that the bunny coming out the the egg was confusing for my youngest daughters. I had to re-educate them that a real bunny doesn't actually come out of an egg and is actually a non egg laying mammal like us. I made a whole homeschooling unit out of it. We talked about birth, the difference between mammals and birds and I even told them what a platypus is.

The Hide 'em Hatch 'em Eggs have a single hole in the top and two holes in the bottom to let the room temperature water inside the eggs once they are submerged. You need to hold them under the water briefly until all air bubbles stop coming to the surface so the water will go just over the top of the egg. Place them in a container that is clear so you can see all the action. We placed ours into glass canning jars and this worked very well.

The first day after about 6-12 hours you should see some breaking happening of the shell around the pet. We saw the first egg start to hatch after about 10 hours so you need to be patient with these. They will hatch at different rates and speeds for different people. Our first one that started hatching was the chick. It was really exciting for my kids. They were enjoying these a lot.

As the pets grow they will be slimy, because of the material the pets are made out of, and this also contributes to the water's murkiness. The shell will also crack and flake off. The water needs changed often to help solicit growth, keep the water at room temperature and keep the water clear. Slowly you will see more and more of the baby as it breaks out of its shell as it grows. If you are impatient you can help your little friend out by cracking the shell (just like a mamma might need to do for her hatchling) or you can change the water and let it continue to grow as we did.

The baby can be kept in the water so it can continue to grow a tad bit more out of the egg. Once removed from the water shrinkage will occur but the animal will dry and harden and then you can play with it. These are great for Easter or spring, but if you do get them just be aware that they take a while to hatch, so plan ahead. Ours took about 5 days to be fully out of their shells. Also these are recommended for children over 3 years old because of small part choking hazard.


Prize: Win Hide 'em & Hatch 'em Eggs.

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to facilitate my review and the opportunity to give another away to my readers. 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. This post does contain referral links. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blog App and Blu-ray Giveaway

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is coming to Blu-ray & DVD March 19th 2013! I cannot wait! I am a huge fan of LOTR series! I want to someday get all of them in DVD/Blu-ray. I am so envious of you, my readers, in this giveaway that I have for you today!

J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an amazing quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Blog App:
  • Are You 100% Hobbit Quiz! What has a tendency to be very brave, is around 4 ft. tall with sharp eyesight, little to no facial hair, and loves cake? If you thought we were talking about you, then you might be a Hobbit Indeed! Take the quiz to find out just how much of a Hobbit you are!

  • Creatures of Middle-earth! Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves are just a few of the magical creatures that call Middle-earth home. Check out vital stats and unique features about each one!

  • The Hobbit Handbook! Our Hobbit Handbook includes everything you need to throw the best viewing party in Middle-earth right at home!

  • Get Social! Tweet with the #TheHobbit hashtag to get you social about the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey coming to Blu-ray & DVD March 19th 2013!
Prize: Win a copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack.

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey blog App I am getting a The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack free for my readers as a giveaway. Thanks to PartnersHub and Warner Brothers for providing me this promotion information and free product. 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 posting this blog app and giveaway.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash Detergent Review and Giveaway

I'm reporting to you as your friendly Purex® Insider. Purex® Natural Elements® Tropical Splash Detergent is a new fragrance to the Natural Elements® line. It has a wonderful scent of exotic fruits like pineapple and coconut combined with flowers to whisk your thoughts away to a tropical vacation. The Natural Elements® line of laundry detergent is made with naturally sourced ingredients and natural fragrance extracts. This detergent is also hypoallergenic and dye-free for sensitive skin. The formula is also biodegradable and so it is better for the environment and promotes green cleaning practices.

New to 2013 and now enhancing all the Purex® detergent line is their Dirt Lift Action™. This new special formula works deep into the fibers of your clothes to get them so bright, white, and clean for an average of half the price of the leading brand. The Dirt Lift Action™. helps to remove stains with its superior cleaning.  All detergents from Purex® work in both traditional and High Efficiency (HE) washers.

I received a 50 fl oz (33 load) bottle of the Purex® Natural Elements® Tropical Splash Detergent. I love, love, love this detergent!! The smell is amazing, in my opinion! I also love that I can use it for my kids who have skin sensitivities to most detergents with fragrance. It is awesome that it is hypoallergenic and dye-free! I am also a firm believer in products that are better for the environment and this is one of those. I will definitely be purchasing this product to have in my home again after this one runs out!

You can purchase this detergent in the liquid detergent aisle at your local Purex® retailers. Purex® detergent is an average of half the price of the leading brand which makes it a great value and very affordable.

Prize: 1 winner will win 2 coupons for a FREE bottle of Purex® Natural Elements® Tropical Splash Detergent.

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Purex® for sending me product for free and promotion information to facilitate my review and free coupons for this giveaway. By posting I will be entered to win prizes. 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 posting this promo.

Purex Experience the Enchantment Sweepstakes

Purex Experience the Enchantment Sweepstakes: One lucky grand prize winner will receive $1,000 and a year of FREE Purex detergent plus Fabric Softener, while 500 second place winners get to try this powerful, fresh detergent for FREE! That is over $4,000 in prizes!

Enter to win here: http://insiders.purex.com/experience-enchantment/?id=1254

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Purex for providing me this promotion information. By posting about this sweepstakes I will be entered to win one of 5 $25 Amazon gift cards for driving traffic using my unique URL! 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 posting this promo.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom) by Candace Christine Little 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:

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Candace Little for sending me a review copy.***


Candace Christine Little has a B.A. from Dallas Christian College and a J.D. from Regent University School of Law, and she has completed a writing course offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. She has written four novels: The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom), The Heart of a King (A Tale of Faith), The Honor of a King (A Tale of Mercy), and The Son of a King (A Tale of Love). Candace believes in the power of stories to nourish, to teach, and to inspire, and she is passionately committed to happy endings.

Visit the author's website.


A dream. A king. A riddle. A map. A journey. A dungeon (or two). A decision. A sacrifice. A sword. A throne. The Pursuit of a King (A Tale of Wisdom) by Candace Christine Little recounts the adventures of Artemerio and Barto as they cross deserts, climb canyon walls, face the evil Dunley, rescue Lady Wisdom, save cities from certain destruction (using only cake!)—and discover their destinies.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.00
Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1479392480
ISBN-13: 978-1479392483


Chapter 1: Summoned by the King

“How did we get here?” I asked in awe as I walked with my brother, Artemerio, through the halls of the palace of the king of Windsal.

“We walked,” said Artemerio.

“I suppose I should have known better than to expect a serious answer from you. You know what I mean. To think of it—we were summoned by the king to present our request. You must admit, if we get no farther than this palace, we will have lived what some have only dreamed.”

“You think too small, Barto. We may go down in history as the mightiest of men, and we may see palaces greater by far than—”

The echoes of our footsteps through the marble-floored hallways slowed. Confronted by the greatness of what were merely the doors of the throne room, Artemerio’s words sounded vain and absurd.

Even he must have felt it. He stared at the door for a long moment, a hint of nervousness in his expression. But then he lifted his chin and straightened to his full height. His self-assured smile returned. “Here we go.” He took hold of the massive door before him and led the way in to see the king.

I swallowed hard and followed.

I cannot adequately describe the splendor of that room—the fine marble, the exquisite touches of gold and jewels, the ornate thrones, the gleaming tapestries, the stately columns. And crowning it all were the king and queen, noble and glorious. Though they had seen many, many years, those years had enhanced rather than diminished their appearances. The beauty and elegance of Queen Athalia were beyond compare. So imposing were King Syroton’s stature and deportment that I feared for any man who might face him in battle.

But the splendor was not limited to what was visible. Magnificence pervaded the air itself with a spectacular, inspiriting weight: the weight of goodness, of wisdom, of courage—of virtues so solid and real that they seemed not only tangible but transferable, like a richly scented oil that leaves traces of its fragrance on those who encounter it.

And I have no doubt Artemerio sensed it, too. When he offered the traditional courteous phrases due a king, his voice was shaky. Gone was the insincere ease with which he typically addressed those in authority. But even humbled, he was eloquent and bold.

I mumbled my greeting and made my bow, and then, with the formalities out of the way, Artemerio began to present our request.

“Good king,” said Artemerio, “it has been our desire for some time to advance the cause of Windsal—to bring her greater honor, to improve her economy, and to multiply her lands. This can best be done through exploration and conquest. We appeal to you for the right to sail in the name of Windsal to discover for her what will be hers and hers alone, waiving all rights to establish our own lands. We appeal to you, for the love of Windsal, the right to leave her—”

A jester nimbly tumbled into the room, interrupting Artemerio’s speech. “And in this way to improve her? Hah! I am sure she will improve the moment you set sail and leave her shores!” The jester brushed away a nonexistent speck of dust on his sleeve, adjusted the bells on his hat, and sat on an unimpressive wooden stool beside the king.

Artemerio’s jaw tightened. He clenched his fists and pursed his lips. I thought—and desperately hoped—he might dismiss the provocation. But then his nostrils flared, and he breathed in sharply.

“Sail with me, then, and let us triple her improvement. Better yet, never return, and she shall stand in a glory she has never known.” Artemerio’s proud look dared the jester to respond.

“Gentlemen,” I have something to say,” said King Syroton. “Does it interest you at all?”

Having lost the reverential attitude he had had during his earlier speeches, Artemerio resorted to the superficial fawning at which he excelled. “A thousand apologies, King Syroton. Speak your will, and we will make it so.” He bowed deeply.

“A thousand apologies are not necessary, Artemerio, if one apology is sincere,” said the king. “I have not summoned you here only to hear your request. I have summoned you to have you solve a riddle for me. I understand that you and the very silent Barto already have all that you need to sail, but here is my offer: If you will solve this riddle for me, I will give you one of my own ships for your adventures.”

Artemerio and I needed no time to discuss our answer. The offer of the king’s ship was too generous to refuse.

“Yes—of course, Your Majesty,” said Artemerio.

“Very well. Here is the riddle.” The king began to recite:

“My value is priceless, though I can’t be bought.

I call out to all, though I must be sought.

I help men write laws, and I help rulers reign.

I turn all from waywardness, suffering, and pain.

Pursue me and choose me, whatever the cost—

Without me, the greatest of men would be lost.

Who am I? What do all good kings pursue?”

King Syroton paused after he finished the recitation. A somber look stole over him. “When you return to me, you will be changed men—greatly changed. The dangers to you are more than you can guess. This is no small task. The fate of this kingdom rests on your shoulders. I can reveal no more to you than this. But take heart. I know you will return. And now the jester will explain to you how you are to begin your quest and where you are to go. Jester, proceed.”

“Yes, sir.” The jester jumped up from his seat and bowed sharply and quickly toward the king. Then he turned to us.

The faintest flash of a grimace crossed Artemerio’s face.

The jester stared at him and smiled, as if he had seen the grimace and found it amusing. “Let those humble enough to follow and take orders from a mere jester follow me.”

I took a few steps following after the jester but then turned back. “Your Majesty, we thank you for this opportunity.” I bowed, and in doing so, I caught sight of the Windsalian insignia carved into the base of the throne platform. I gasped. Under the insignia were words that had been part of a strange dream I had had two nights before:

Secured not by a noble birth,

By soldiers’ strength, or mighty works.

Secured by virtues daily shown.

Through justice, mercy, truth—a throne.

“Is something wrong, Barto?” said the king.

“N-no, Your Majesty.” I bowed again and turned to follow the jester and Artemerio.

They were far ahead of me in the broad hallway that stretched away endlessly from the throne room, which may be why neither of them seemed to hear the whispers I heard as I left the king. But I know I heard whispers mingled with the echoes of footsteps.

“Barto, do not be afraid to speak,” a mysterious voice said again and again.

Curious, I stopped. But when a quick glance around revealed no obvious source of the whispers, I hurried on, concerned at the thought of Artemerio alone with the jester.


Within a week, we were ready to begin our journey. The night before we were to sail, Artemerio and I discussed our travels as we dined.

“Barto, I have no doubt that we will be sailing for the Unconquered Lands in a month or two. The greatest difficulty we will face in solving this riddle is keeping our thoughts occupied as we cross the many miles of open country. The jester marked only six cities on the map for us to visit. I have heard tales of riddles taking lifetimes to be answered, but the king is sending us on a journey that should take only a matter of weeks.”

“Perhaps—but have you not wondered why the king would make such a generous offer? What waits for us in these particular cities? And what do we know about solving riddles? We are the sons of a fisherman. We grew up in a small, unimportant village by the sea. Why would the king send us? There is more to this story than we see.”

“Oh, I forgot. You heard those whispers. ‘Speak, Barto.’” Artemerio laughed. “Perhaps there is a royal dog named Barto—and what you heard were orders given to him!” Artemerio laughed even harder and pounded on the table with glee.

“No, they were not orders given like that. The voice said, ‘Do not be afraid to—’ No. You are missing the point.”

“Which is?” Artemerio asked, one eyebrow arched dramatically and a mocking smile on his face.

I sighed. “You can be so infuriating. The point is—why us?”

Artemerio raised his cup. “To us, may our—”

“What about the dream? The words on the base of the throne were the words from that strange dream I told you about. How do you explain that? And what about the king’s words—that the fate of the kingdom is resting on our shoulders? Do you not feel a sense of destiny about this whole turn of events?”

Artemerio took a sip from his cup. “Yes, Barto. I do sense the same sort of strangeness you do. But what do you want me to do about it? Be as solemn and heavy-hearted as you? Think it strange that the king would find me worthy to be an adventurer? No. I do not know what you think we can figure out—or why we should spend any more time thinking this through. Solving riddles is a child’s game! Surely we are up to the task.” He raised his cup again. “To our destinies!”


We sailed to the southernmost point of Windsal aboard a swift, graceful ship called the Lady Lucinda.

“Barto! Where are you? We make landfall soon!” Artemerio called to me that morning. He barged into the cabin where I had been studying the maps—a map of my own and the map that the jester had delivered to us mere moments before we set sail. “Come!”

“Artemerio. Good. I want to show you something.” I rolled up the maps and followed him out onto the deck. “I have discovered a very curious thing—”

“As have I.” Artemerio glanced at the maps inattentively. “Well, perhaps curious is not the word for it. But regardless—I have been talking with some of the members of the crew about our plans—you know, for after this riddle is solved. From what I hear, there are riches to be made beyond what we can imagine not six months south of Blackdragon Point. Ah—perhaps the spot could be found on your map. Why do you have two?” He took one of the maps from me and began to examine it. “We could easily—”

“That can wait. And the maps are maps only of Windsal. You will not find Blackdragon Point on either of them. But look. Look there on the map. See that city there—by your thumb? Now look at this other map. Same coastline. Same rivers. Same mountains. Same paths. No city.”

“What are you trying to tell me? That one of the maps is wrong? Throw that one out, then. Now, back to what I was saying…Blackdragon Point…the Unconquered Lands…oh, yes—we could easily—”

“The map with the city is the one the jester gave us. The other map is mine. My map is a common map of the kingdom, as current as they come. I do not know what this means, but I do not think we should expect our journey to be as uneventful or as short as you seem to think it will be. And there are markings on the jester’s map that are entirely foreign to me. They could mean mountain peaks or walls—see the ones I mean—the strange marks surrounding the city that is again by your thumb? I have a feeling we should be prepared for anything.”

Just then a member of the crew called to us from across the deck. “Mr. Artemerio, Mr. Barto—we have reached the port. Will you be needing help with anything? We are to sail on as soon as you are safely deposited.”

“Crewman Beefeathers,” I said, “you may tell the crew we need no help, and we will be leaving you shortly after we dock. Thank you.”

Artemerio had turned to stare at the coastline. The jester’s map dangled loosely in the hand he had dropped to his side. “It is too late for examining your maps now, Barto. There is the port city of Sumada. We will be seeing the strange cities of the jester’s map and discovering what his enigmatic markings mean very soon.” He turned, his broad grin growing broader still. “And then—on to the Unconquered Lands.”