Monday, November 30, 2009

Stocking Stuffer Books

TREASURED by Leigh McLeroy

Cigar boxes. Refrigerator doors. Scrapbooks and sock drawers and top shelves. These are the places we store our treasures–the keepsakes that tell the story of whom and what we’ve loved, how we’ve lived, and what matters most to us.

God is a collector, too, whose treasures are tucked securely into the pages of his book: a golden bell here, an olive leaf there, a scarlet thread, a blood-stained cloth, a few grains of barley. Each of these saved artifacts reveals a facet of his heart and tells the story of a Father whose most precious possession is…us.

In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides us in discovering evidence in our own lives of his attentive love.

GOD GAVE US LOVE by Lisa Tawn Bergren

As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable.

In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because ... “Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.”

GOD GAVE US CHRISTMAS by Lisa Tawn Bergren

As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder… “Who invented Christmas?” Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that ... Jesus is the best present of all.

This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.

It seems hard these days to find good children's books that teach about God. Both of these books are books that I will read to my grandchildren over and over again.
These books can be purchased by clicking here.

These books were provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

And The Winner Is. . .


Sherry, you have won a copy of White Picket Fences. I'll get it to you right away.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just Checkin' In

So, I haven't had much of a chance to blog these last few days. What with having a mother-in-law, a mother, a brother-in-law, four daughters, two sons-in-law, two grandchildren, one brother, three sisters, three more brother-in-laws, eleven neices and nephews and SIX dogs happening - well, my attention has been elsewhere.

As it should be.

But, I thought I would just check in and let everyone know we have had an awesome holiday weekend and I hope you did too. We totally held our dinner at the church fellowship hall because none of us has a house big enough for all of us.

And I love leftovers.

I'll be back Monday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Click here for your chance to win a copy of White Picket Fences.

These Days

The empty nest is empty no more. Toys are strewn about, shelves are cleared of books and stocked instead with diapers and wipes. Goldfish crackers are scattered around. The sewing room has been turned into a playroom. We don't seem to sit on the sofa's anymore - you will more likely find us on the floor playing with babies.

There are horses to ride with Poppa.

Frequent cookie and milk breaks are a necessity.

There are leaves to be jumped in.

And snuggle times with sweet smelling babies after bathtime.

Perfect I tell you . . . . .
. . . . .just perfect.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

White Picket Fences - A Book Review

Oh I have failed. I have failed miserably. I made a promise to Waterbrook Press that I would read and post about the books they are sending me. I have been good on my word - until last week. And then with the trip to California, and seeing my little grandboy, and bringing them all home with me to live for a while - well, I guess life just got in the way.

And that's not an excuse. But it is a reason.

So I am a week late.

And worse, I haven't even finished the book.

Regardless, I am going to share my opinion of this book because it is a good one. Really.

White Picket Fences is a novel written by Susan Meissner. It is a story about a family that seems to have it all together on the outside. But guess what? They are a lot like my family - and maybe even your family. They have issues.

Now, as I have said I have not finished the book - in fact I am still in the first third of the pages. But I am mesmerized by it. Honestly. It is different. It is attention grabbing. It is page-turning. It is edgy. I am captivated by Susan's writing style - it is beautiful.

Sometimes I hear people say they don't like reading Christian literature because the style is all the same. Goody goody. Predictable. Not gripping enough to stay with. If you are one of those - you will be pleased - really, really pleased with this book. I challenge you to read this book. In fact I double dog dare you to check it out!

One of the most interesting things about it is the way the storyline parallels the story of the Holocaust. I won't say anymore because, well, you just need to read it for yourself.

And WaterBrook Press has given me a copy to give away. So today if you will leave me a comment telling me what YOU are busy with in life right now - I will put you in a drawing that will take place on Monday - after Thanksgiving.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, I am working on a post about making Pumpkin Rolls. Hopefully I will have that up soon, assuming of course that life doesn't interfere again!

If you don't want to wait to see if you can win a copy - buy one here, here, or here.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trying to Put Into Words That Which Has No Words

We are home. And more importantly, Brad, Michelle and sweet Tyler are home too. What a week! Before Brad and Michelle went to Peru it was very important for them to be able to come back to the States in November to attend Michelle's best friend/college roommate's wedding. The arrangements were made and so all along we have known they were going to be able to come home for a short three week visit in November - one week of that being in California where the wedding was to be held. We knew that time would go fast and would be shared with lots of other family and friends. Michelle's friend, Mary Alice has become like another daughter to us and has been in our home several times. We wanted to go to her wedding. And then she honored Chuck by asking him to do part of the service. So we happily went, knowing that week would be ours alone with our kids. Later on their visit was extended a bit - what happy news!

Anyway we left last Sunday right after church and drove to Bakersfield. We arrived on Monday late afternoon and we were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves. On the way we purchased a balloon bouquet for our boy, having been told previously how much he loved balloons. One of my biggest fears has been that Tyler would be afraid of us when he saw us, because after all it has been nine months since he saw us and he is now 18 months old. Imagine my joy when the door opened and there he stood.

With his arms outstretched!

He came right to us and hugged and kissed us. How I had prayed for the kind of reunion. And the balloons were a huge hit. Later I discovered that Tyler greets EVERYONE with a hug and a kiss! That's okay - that's just the kind of little boy he is - very loving and affectionate.

We spent the whole week with him and enjoyed every single moment of it. He is such an amazing little guy. His eyes are his most noticeable feature - they are huge and blue and he totally knows how to manipulate people with them! He is strong and he speaks words in both English and Spanish. He LOVES balls or anything that is round for that matter! He quickly discovered that Mia's purse contains an endless supply of m&m's and skittles. He cries when you say 'Ciou' because he knows that means you are leaving ( a bit like his grandmother I'd guess!) and he loves walking holding on to your finger.
He is totally and completely a little boy. His hands and feet feel so large to me. After holding sweet Ava Claire's delicate hands - she feels like she might break. He is just so amazing.

On Friday evening Jayson, Andrea, Jess and Miss Ava arrived. I wish I had had the forethought to have a video camera going. They stretched their arms out to each other and hugged and kissed like they were long lost buddies. I guess they were! They play so well together. This is the two of them dressed for the wedding.
Have you ever seen anything more adorable?

The icing on this already overwhelming cake was driving on Sunday to Oakland to see Tara. Our family, our WHOLE, ENTIRE family was together for the afternoon. I am realizing that as we grow older and our family's grow and change (as they are supposed to) that these times of being together are more precious than anything in the world. My heart was just so full that day. I am a quiet person - not really prone to showing a lot of emotion. So my way of enjoying is just observing, watching, and listening to my family. I like to sit back and just watch them. It fills my heart so full. There is something about just being able to lay my eyes on their faces that brings me untold joy.

On Monday we arrived home. I don't know for sure how long they are staying. I don't know the exact date they are leaving. I don't know the plans God has for them in regard to when they go back and how long it will be before I see them again. I do know that right now, for this gift of time, I am going to enjoy every single moment of it.

God is just so good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Love Me a Good Scavenger Hunt

Lisa, at The Preacher's Wife is hosting a fun scavenger hunt for ministry wives. So I'm joining the fun. There is a prize at the end - Pioneer Woman's new cookbook! So here goes:

1. First Name. Robin. Hence, Robinznest. I know - I'm clever like that. My mother read the book by Dale Evans Rogers, Angel Unaware, about her little down-syndrome daughter named Robin while she was pregnant with me. That's how I got my name. And I've always liked my name.

2. State and Country of Residence. Idaho - which is in the USA - but you should note that since we cling to our guns and our religion some other states may not want to claim us.

3. Husband’s Ministry Title. He is the senior pastor. Which means he has been the janitor, door-locker, bulletin typer, snow-shoveler, Sunday school teacher, secretary and repair man at various times in his ministry! Everything but the song leader. He gave that job to me. Things are much nicer these days - mostly he just gets to be the senior pastor. And I don't have to lead the singing.

4. Length of time in Current Ministry Location. We have served in this local church for 21 years. Unbelievable. All my life I have moved at LEAST every two years and often times more. It took marrying a preacher to finally put down roots. Atypical for sure - but very much appreciated by this pastor's wife.

5. Children? We have four grown daughters, two of whom have married, one just finished grad school, and our baby is in college. sniff-sniff. But we also have a one-year old granddaughter and a one-year old grandson who are bringing us all kinds of joy and we are discovering that the empty nest isn't a bad nest at all!

6. Number of unique homes in which you’ve lived during your marriage. Well, our first home was a camper in my in-laws back yard. Yeah - that didn't last long! During seminary we lived in a roach infested apartment followed by the dirtiest house I have EVER seen in my life. My sister and I cleaned it for a solid week and then the owner asked us if we had bought new kitchen appliances! Our first parsonage home was a very tiny apartment attached to the back of the church. On Sunday mornings our parishoners would knock on our door, come in and deposit various produce items, and then march out my back door into the church. That was weird. And fortunately that didn't last too long either.

7. Cook Sunday lunch or eat out? Most of the time we eat at home and our kids and their families join us. It is a treasured day of the week for us.

8. Typically on time for Sunday School or not? I am an on-time kind of person. I hate walking in late.

9. Favorite TV Show. LOST and 24 are my very favorite shows. But I am a news junkie so I do watch my fair share of cable news.

10. Something you watch/like/do that you would never tell the church people. (Except now you just did…lol) Ha, ha, ha. I've been in the ministry long enough not to fall for that one!!!

11. Most annoying church-related pet peeve. Singing all the verses. You know what I mean.

12. One thing you need to throw away but can’t bring yourself to do it. My too-small clothes. Surely I will lose weight one of these days. And that time is sure to align with the time in the heavenlies when the 70's styles are in again. And then I will be set! Right?

13. The one food you can not live without. Diet Dr. Pepper. And pasta.

14. Parsonage or have your own home? We are blessed to have our own home - something I never expected or planned on - but something I totally love!

15. Freak when the doorbell rings or always ready for a visitor? Well, if you mean by ready that my house is clean and I am dressed and there are baked goods in the oven - then no. But I got over that years ago. Now it is "take me as I am" and that seems to work for everyone.

Leaving Carolina - A Book Review

Have you ever wished you were somebody else? I mean have you ever maybe wished your family tree had more exotic foliage on it and not just have the ordinary green leaves? Have you ever wanted to leave your hometown and move somewhere exciting where things are "happening"? Do you have a secret from your past that you wished never had happened, but you have never dealt with it, preferring to move far, far away and just ignore it?

Well, these are all issues that Piper Wick, aka Piper Pickwick is dealing with. And she is learning the hard way that even though you might be able to escape reality for a season, the truth will ALWAYS find you out. But even better, the truth will ALWAYS set you free.

Leaving Carolina is Tamara Leigh's latest novel but it is the first one I have read. Written in first person, it is the type of novel that draws you in immediately by teasing you with just enough storyline to make you want to read further and just enough back story to keep you piecing it all together. I truly enjoyed Tamara's writing style of incorporating humor, mystery and romance into one delightful, easy-to-read package. You might be able to take the girl out of the south - but you can never take the south out of the girl! I always enjoy reading about the south - they just seem to be the most fun people!

Personally, I enjoy Christian contemporary novels but I do find a lot of them to be unrealistic and a little too sugary-sweet. Leaving Carolina does not fall into that category and I look forward to reading more of Tamara Leigh's novels. I think this would be a great read for a book club as well, because it would propagate lots of discussion questions.

If you would like to purchase this book you can go here, here or here.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monkey Business

He is finally finished! And just before Mr. Foster jumps into a box to be wrapped and stored in the closet until Christmas, I wanted to share him with you.

I have mentioned how hard this monkey was - but the truth is, I loved every stitch I knitted in this guy. It was by far the most challenging project I have ever knitted and I learned a ton. His pajama's have a million mistakes in them, the most notable being that the button placket is supposed to be in the front. Don't ask me how mine ended up in the back - that is a total mystery to me! I considered ripping it all out and starting over again. But then I realized these pj's are going to be worn by a stuffed monkey for Pete's sake! Get over it! So I did. And I'm betting that the little recipient of this stuffed toy (a little mister you might have heard me talk about a time or two) will never notice the difference.

If you think you might want to tackle this project you can order right here. And you totally should because it is a fun project. Knit Picks has a knit-along support group that was a lot of help to me. You can also find many Mr. Foster projects on Ravelry as well.

So now I am on to Miss Ava Claire's Christmas present - a bunny wearing a dress. It's already proving to be a much easier project.