Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Little Things

I don't want to appear ungrateful or to be complaining. I have used this blog in the past to journal about the many paths this life has taken me and the others here on the Ponderosa down.  And sometimes it's messy and sometimes it's ugly.  But I have confidence in the end that it will all be beautiful.

Yet the day to day can wear me down faster than when all my bigs were little.

Those of my friends who have children with struggles. Children who suffer from some sort of trauma. Do you ever just want to ditch it all in and run away? Run away where no one can find you? I am tired of hearing, " I hate you." Every single moment is filled with a fight. Every. Single. One. I am drop dead tired.

I find myself here today.

I have cried. I have prayed.


So today I turned to my Wall of Remembrance and read about the times I have journaled about the van God provided for us. Or the Happy Gotcha Day of each of my children. Or the money orders that came from anonymous people just when we needed it. Or someone that God put in our path to help steer our wayward lambs. I remember the day of my sweet daughter's baptism. I remember my 2 year old's cry for his mommy. I remember my oldest lamb's prayers when he was a tot. I remember all the believer's God has put in our lives and in our fledgling children's lives.

I remember God's faithfulness even when I am faithless. I struggle to believe. But like the Psalmist, I will remember.





Friday, November 18, 2016

True Courage and Dedication

There is an important generation of Americans dying off. But there is still one man alive who just celebrated his 103rd birthday. Jim Downing. (And he also happens to be part of the original team of the Navigators ministry.)

And he also just released his autobiography. And it's a doozy!

Mr. Downing shares his life story with us in such a way that it transports you back to the time in which he started his military naval career.  He doesn't mince words yet, as a believer sees his story through the eyes of a child of the Almighty Sovereign Lord. Reading this book allowed me to increase my gratefulness for all those who put their lives on the line for the freedoms we enjoy. All along the way, he gives glory to the Lord for the work he put his hand to do. His joy in Christ exudes as he serves the United States of America and uses so many opportunities to further the Gospel.

We should all strive for this.

It gives hope that this is possible, not matter what our life's position.

This would make a great Christmas gift to anyone who loves an inspiring story of true heroism and faith.

As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.




Saturday, November 5, 2016

True Faith and Allegiance

In light of the impending presidential election, I thought it would be insightful to read Alberto R. Gonzalez' new autobiography, True Faith and Allegiance.

Wow! What a well-written, concise story of his life - being raised in a poor Spanish family and making it to Attorney General under President George W. Bush.

Not only was this book a heart-warming story of succeeding in life, but it was so informative on how the government works in Washington D.C., or rather, how it used to work. Mr. Gonzalez does a great job on giving many details to each story, many of which include very intimate details about his friendship with the President of the United States. These are real men. Men who backed up their beliefs with actions, not caring if anyone was behind them or not. Their consciences spoke very loudly. Albert Gonzalez' time in service in the White House was from 2000-2007. He endured the junk of politics and explained what really happened before his resignation.

Most importantly, he relates how his faith endured through it all. His faith in God and trusting in the Lord were integral parts of this story. And that is always the most encouraging part of reading books like these.

Three words that come to mind when describing Gonzalez and Bush: trustworthy, genuine, and strong.

As a part of the Booklook blogger's network, I received a free copy of this book.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Help for Knowing How to Pray for our Children

Parenting is the hardest job on earth. Your body and mind are taxed unendingly. Recently, I found a wonderful help in this task.

Nancy Guthrie, a wonderful Bible teacher, wrote a book that points us, parents, back to the essentials of how to parent. Look to the Word of life.

Praying Through the Bible for Your Kids, takes you through a theme each day using multiple passages of Scripture and she fleshes those out for you. Unlike other books I have read, Nancy doesn't just give prayers for us to pray for our children. She also gives us challenging thoughts from Scripture on how to parent and pray in sequence to what the Lord desires of us as believing parents. She not only tackles the struggles a parent feels toward their children, but helps us to think differently about our desires, tasks, and ultimately, our heart towards the Lord in our own spiritual walks.

This has been a timely read as I am, personally, in the throws of 3 older teens and one tween. I look forward each day to the wisdom she imparts. There are no frills, just deep Biblical teaching. This is life to my soul as I travel down this journey each day of parenting.

As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Riley Unlikely - Book Review

It's amazing what God can do when there is a willing and passionate heart! It defies all age, gender, and economic status.

Riley Banks-Snyder, journals her passion through her new book, Riley Unlikely. Her journey started at age 13 and was sparked by other family members pursuing missions. She chronicles life from this point forward and her words on paper on like healing balm to one's faith. Seeing God supply again and again reminds the reader that He is able to complete what He calls one to do.

Riley was just an average girl with an above average expectation. And God has used her in mighty ways. She trusts God to work what He has given her the vision for and He does. She has impacted so many children for the kingdom of God by equipping them with the simple task of learning to read and write.

What an inspirational story of what God can do through one little girl, who is now a married woman. It also speaks to the fact that her parents trusted in God for their daughter's life as well and gave her the ability to be used by God when they could have said, "Wait until you are older."

Note: As part of the Booklook Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.
 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Greater Than Gold - Book Review

Most of the world were enraptured in the Olympics last month. This is an event that seems to capture the attention of most people and breaks any barriers of race, religion, economic status, etc.

And most, evangelical Christians had their eyes on and their ears open to diver, David Boudia.

So when his book came out and up for review I was ecstatic to be able to find out more about this outspoken Christian man.

Greater Than Gold, written by David Boudia alongside with Tim Ellsworth, is an easy read that chronicles David's journey to find happiness. Like so many athletes, there seems to be a black hole when it comes to "making it to the top." It never quite satisfies. And that is what Mr. Boudia find out himself. The change in his life that occurred was a miracle...just like all of us that come to know Christ and have allowed Him to transform us looks like. As you read his book, there is a definite line of "before Christ" and "after Christ". He writes with transparency and humility.

He is the real deal. I think we all saw that even at the last Olympics in Rio. He reminds us that life is greater than our achievements. It is more than our happiness. It is about the peace of God ruling in our hearts and our goal in life being for His glory.

Note: As a part of the Book Look Blogger's Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Monday, September 5, 2016

With All Due Respect - A Must Read For Parents of Tweens or Teens

Boy, parenting is hard work!

Parenting teens is even harder work!

I think all parents wish there was either a fast forward button on parenting or a go-into-coma-and-wake-up-when-it's-over button as they enter those tween or teen years.

I thought as a parent the first one was the hardest and yet, to my surprise, my youngest has been a challenge in her own right. So I was very excited to be able to read and review this newest book titled, With All Due Respect, by Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock.

Most of us raising our children think things will be great if we do the job we need to do when they are little. Teaching them manners, respect, and first-time-obedience. And yet, most of us have a huge wake up call when the teen years hit because we have to adjust our parenting to slowing release
control. This, for me, has been the most difficult part.

Nina and Debbie have done a great job in helping us tackle this and other important aspects of how we treat our teens as "people" and pointing us to the Lord as the One who ultimately will give us the answers. Each chapter is short and concise, with an application that will sometimes tear your heart out, but is very necessary.

A huge shout out to these brave souls who point us up the difficult mountain but hold our hands as we go. Mistakes will be made. But seeking forgiveness is key.

For all of you who are headed this way or are in the throws of it, I highly recommend this guide.

As a part of the BookLook Bloggers Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Knowing God's Will is (sometimes) Easy

This last week was a game changer for us here on the Ponderosa. After 14 years of home schooling, my littlest went off to school. Grade 5.

For those of you who are fellow home-schoolers you may know the range of emotions I have felt. But, thankfully, the overarching emotion was peace. Now, if you would have asked me last year if this was an option, I would have been totally freaked out. This year not the case. That's how I know we are following the Lord's leading. Public school is not an option so God made a huge way for her to attend a local Christian School. A full scholarship. Not just for tuition, but for all outside activities, books, sports and misc. fees. I am overwhelmed by God's grace in this. Not only this but the school does its best to teach and understand children who do not fit into that nice little box we call compliance. We are so blessed!

Unfortunately, I have had those who feel like home schooling is a Biblical mandate, snub me and look down on our decision, (years ago that might have been me, but through trials He changes us.) but thankfully the majority have been supportive.

And the truth is, unless you have lived in my shoes, you have no idea the day to day struggles with a child who loves you, yet pushes so hard against you to try to prove you don't love her.

And now, because of this decision, I have a young lady who chats all the way home with me about her day. I know her friends' names. I know who the class clown is. I know about her music and art class. I know the funny things that happened on the playground. All this coming from a little one who struggles to talk and communicate. She has blossomed already in this first year of school.

Just thinking today on God's gracious faithfulness and provisions!



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review - Next Door as it is in Heaven

I love my neighborhood! I love the community that it pictures. We have about 30 homes on our circle, many of whom still have the original owners from the mid '70's. There is a sense of family, and yet, it is so easy to forget each other and get busy outside of those who live side by side day after day. I was raised by a Mother who showed an amazing amount of intentional hospitality and have a heart that desires this. As a believer, this shows up most in the context of the local church, mostly because it is safe and non-confrontational. But I was challenged in the last week or so.

One of the most important books that I have read this summer was Next Door as it is in Heaven, by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco. They piece apart the downfall of the comradery of neighborhoods as they use to be and give some great history about why and how this happened. They confront the reader head on with the Word of God and how we as believers should be the most intentional beings in a neighborhood. They bring to life the practical out workings of this and give great step by step ways to fall in love with this idea and how Christ on earth was the ultimate giver of hospitality. They remind us we need to examine the busyness of our lives and compare it with how we are (or are not) investing in the lives around us, namely the neighborhoods we live in. If you have a desire to reach those around you for the Gospel, but in way more than words, this book is for you. You will be thoroughly encouraged along the way as you strive to meet those you may have never spoken with before.

As one author put it, "The dining room table is sometimes the best evangelistic tool."

For three years our family held a Christmas open house for our neighborhood, It's sad to say, this happened 8-10 years ago. So lookout Little Road residents and be prepared to party with the Pueblas again this year.

*Note: As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What Defines Wisdom

Just look around. Listen intently to those speaking loud into our culture. I believe they want to be seen as wise. All people seek wisdom. Whether one is conservative, liberal, rich, poor, old or young, wisdom is essential for living. We also see two different kinds of wisdom. The world defines it by feelings, rights, and allows for constant change.

Yet we know that true wisdom is personified in the person of Jesus Christ. He, also, gives us so much direction on this subject in His love letter to us.

We know that wisdom is not just words. It is living actions.

James 3:13 says "If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with humility that comes from wisdom." (NLT)

So how do we become "wise and understand God's ways"? Seek God and His Word. Spend time with the One who wrote down His very words so that we can obtain this wisdom. He didn't leave His children to wonder what to do; He continues to speak to us through His beautiful Word.

James 3:17 goes on to say, "But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere." (NLT)

Wow! Look at these words: honorable, humility, pure, peace loving, gentle, yielding to others, mercy, no favoritism, and sincere. Do these sound like wisdom that the world offers. DEFINITELY NOT! This is a far cry from what we see in all the unrest, violence and politics around us.

Let's seek God's wisdom today. Let's make a difference in the way we interact with others.

And remember, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. (I Corinthians 1:27a NLT)

The world may or probably will not see us as wise, but we answer to a different authority.