Monday, March 29, 2010

Oh My Gravy!

You need to add this recipe to your menu, immediately.

Do not, I repeat, do NOT skip the gravy. (You may, if necessary use Oreida Zesties frozen fries.)

My mouth was absolutely delighted.


What will The Pioneer Woman come up with next?

Someone Get That Girl A Pepsi

is what most of you will think after reading the next post, so I've done you one better and fed myself some gummy bunnies.

Sleep would, at this point, be advisable, but since the world is conspiring against such a thing, the bunnies will have to do.

The Easily- Disappointed God

Last Sunday (yes, 8 days ago) my pastor did a sermon on IDon'tKnowWhat (because it's been 8 days and a lot happens in 8 days, I must be the ground that was trod upon where the seed is easily snatched or the ground that is weedy where the cares of the world choke out the word but we all know who isn't the fertile soil this week)


In that sermon he threw this list on the overhead wherein he described people's understanding of God. Is He the Diving Watchmaker? Is He the Harsh Taskmaster? The Friendly Friend? etc, etc. And I sat through that and wondered which one I tended toward.

As I'm prone to do, I mulled while living life, growing increasingly frustrated because there are people in my life that I can't seem to please, that no matter what I do, they express disappointment, or I read disappointment, or their body language screams disappointment. As I was festering I very clearly felt God ask me why I worried so much about disappointing others more than I worried about disappointing Him.


Except, of course, as these "conversations" often go, I realized it was because I view God as The God Who Is Always Disappointed In Me.

Hmmmm, this is coming out wrong. I think what I mean is that I try so hard not to disappoint people because I'm trying so hard not to disappoint God and maybe the reason I always read disappointment in people is because I know that people and God aren't much different in that they both have very high expectations. People can't be pleased. If you give them everything they want, they will demand more. And I attribute that to God. If nothing I can do will ever please people (certain people, to be exact, but it extends to most people in one way or another) HOW on EARTH can I expect that anything I do will please God whose standards are above reach? (Without Jesus, I know, but work with me here. He still expects us to live as Jesus lives unless I'm reading my Bible wrong.)

You can ask which came first, the chicken or the egg, and the answer is, I don't know (well, as to the chicken, it was the chicken, but as to this dilemma...?). I don't know if I've always that that about God, or always through that about people, because, as far as I can remember, I've felt that about both.

Sometimes I kill myself trying to please everyone around me and sometimes my giveadamn is broken and I quit them all and don't even bother.

And I don't know what that says about what I do with God.

I don't have the answers. I'm not asking, either. It's my blog. I'm vomiting onto my keyboard because I can. Which shows you what kind of a don'tgiveadamn kind of day I'm having.

Oddly enough, aside from the obvious sinning taking place in my vocabulary, God and I are OK today. It's people I've got nuthin for.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

She Walks In Beauty

I took a break from what seems to have been a constant diet of WWII and middle reader novels to imbibe of the "Gilded Age" (which I previously referred to as "whatever that is"). I couldn't help it, I quite literally quit reading Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday (which is a rather hilarious middle reader/YA) in the middle of the book (which I DON'T do...if I like the book, that is) because Siri Mitchell's latest stunner, She Walks in Beauty, arrived in my mailbox. I allowed myself to glance in its direction and let my fingers twitch for, oh, a good four or five hours before I allowed myself the pure and unmitigated joy of Starting A New Siri.

Mercy me, she just gets better and better.

I am a mother of four. That requires a good eight hours of sleep (preferably eight uninterrupted, but that NEVER happens) and another good 14 hours of running errands and entertaining children each and every day. I got the book Tuesday. I finished it last night. Late. Very late. (So much for the eight hours of sleep.) But can you just picture me huddled in a darkening bedroom, behind my bed, trying to sneak in a chapter? Standing at the stove uh-huhing the incessant chatter, stirring frying okra (ah, the smell of summer), with a book held just off to the left?

I couldn't help it. I'm terrible. Which is why it's a good thing Siri only writes a book a year or so.

The back cover reads: During New York City's Gilded Age...The GAME is played amid banquets and balls. The  PRIZE is a lifetime of wealth and privilege. The RULES will test friendships and the desires of a young woman's heart. Clara Carter is the social season's brightest star...but at what cost?

Which tells you nearly NOTHING. Just the way I like it. Clara is debuting, her family wants her to find a husband. One in particular. For some unknown reason except "duty" and "restoring the family name." But, as Siri does, this isn't just another flighty debutante in search of riches. She's a deep thinker, resistant to her debut, wanting something more. Siri writes strong female characters. Even in time periods when "strong" and "females" were oxymoronic. And you just want her heroines to win at whatever they must face.

Which is why I was up w-a-y past my bedtime for some resolution last night.

It was worth it.

By the way, The Gilded Age was, apparently, in the late 1800s. I apologize for being so spectacularly unknowing of this trivia fact. 

(Siri also writes (or wrote) chick-lit and women's fiction, which is where I discovered her. So if you're not so much into historicals, you might like to seek out Kissing Adrien, Chateau of Echoes, The Cubicle Next Door, or Something Beyond the Sky. (And AACK! Moon Over Tokyo (which I have NOT READ and DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT...must go order...) In addition to Love's Pursuit, and A Constant Heart, Search for Siri Mitchell.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Songbird Under a German Moon

It just occurred to me how very many WWII novels I've read lately. A Lot. I love them. And by WWII novels, I include Spanish Civil War novels and Post-War era novels.So, I must like the depression-baby boom era. Except I love the roaring 20s, too. And I got this historical, today, set in the Gilded Age (whatever that is) that I am super excited to read. Which MUST mean I just flat prefer "historicals." And Tricia Goyer is one of my favorite historical writers. (Duh.) (I've also been way enjoying being a voyeur in her recent adoption quest by following her on Twitter, for those that like that adoption thing as much as I do.) Which is why, among other reasons, I gleefully jumped on this blog tour.

Anyhoo, her most recent novel, Songbird Under a German Moon piqued my interest because it is set in occupied Germany and my dad occupied Germany. Cool, huh? Except this is the occupied Germany that still has lots of hidden nazi types and Dad's was the occupied Germany where they sent married guys at the beginning stages of Vietnam. But still.

As usual, Tricia starts the book off with a Can't Put It Down BANG and keeps the tension up for, oh, 330 pages. She has a bad guy, but doesn't reveal anything but his sinister inner thoughts. Well, maybe you'll figure it out, or think you've figured it out, but that doesn't make it any easier to watch your little Songbird put herself in harms way because you won't be sure if it is that person OR when that person will strike, and strike again. And you can't forget the love interest. Because what's a good historical suspense without a little romance, eh?

All in all, it is an intense but fun read. If you're into that kinda thing. And I am.

A bit about the book:
The year is 1945. The war is over and 21-year-old Betty Lake has been invited to Europe to sing in a USO tour for American soldiers who now occupy Hitler's Germany. The first night's performance is a hit. Betty becomes enthralled with the applause, the former Nazi-held mansion they're housed in and the attention of Frank Witt, the US Army Signal Corp Photographer. Yet the next night this songbird is ready to fly the coop when Betty's dear friend, Kat, turns up missing. Betty soon realizes Franks photographs could be the key to finding Kat. Betty and Frank team up against post-war Nazi influences and the two lovebirds' hearts may find the each other.But will they have a chance for their romance to sing? The truth will be revealed under a German moon.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions.  She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana. Find out more about her and her books at

What Era? Contest:
Leave a comment on Tricia’s blog or send an email through her website CONNECT page and answer this question: What era in history do you wish you'd lived in and why?
Earn extra entries by signing up for Tricia's newsletter here, becoming a Fan on Facebook or Tweeting about the contest on Twitter (use hashtag #songbird)!
You’ll be entered to win one of three signed copies of Songbird Under a German Moon

In the Quiet

Sometimes silent blogs are due to Spring Break and sometimes silent blogs are due to overactivity. Sometimes silent blogs are due to stress and turmoil and sometimes silent blogs are due to contentment with the world.

My enter key isn't working. Very annoying.

I've just come off a week of great turmoil. I feel guilty even talking about the turmoil, because it's all "out there" stuff. Nothing that impacts my day to day (as Hubs would say), but that still burdens my mind in waking hours and sleep. An unexpected death of a close friend, poor choices by people I care about, (wondering if those poor choices had something to do with the way I've modeled a particular component of life--IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU, JAMIE), people in my family in great transition (abandonment issues, again, not all about me, but still).  It's like everytime I recover from one blow, the next one comes.

It's been hard to be nice.

So my quiet is just that. Quiet. Processing turmoil. Reconnecting to a God that I've communicated with on a daily basis, but I've done most of the communicating ifyouknowwhatImean. He's reminding me how very big he is and that none of this came as any big surprise to Him. Which is handy since I feel shaken to the core.

So, yeah, it's quiet here on Chaos because my brain is too loud right now to even type coherent sentences.

Hope you are still here when I'm on the flip side.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Start Here

Wow, I was going to say "it's been about a year," but when I looked back, it's been about two years since I read and told you about Do Hard Things by Alex & Brett Harris. (Time flies when you're potty training.) It was such a super-inspiring book (even to non-teens such as myself) that I bought one for my sisters' kids and our youth pastor (maybe both of them? I bought a stack, but I don't remember now how many and to whom they were all given).

Do Hard Things was written by teens for teens, but was ever so applicable to anyone that I assumed that Start Here would be more of the same. And it is, to a degree. They give you permission to join other people with their hard things and world changing ideas. They remind you that small hard things can be hard also and lead to bigger hard things. They mention that obeying your parents is a pathway to harder responsibilities in the future. It's good. It gave me some good ideas to import into my own hard things. But it isn't Do Hard Things (the book that could change the world). It's a good companion to Do Hard Things (the book that could change the world). And it seems even more geared towards teens. So I gave it to my niece, who has read Do Hard Things more than once and seems to be on track to change the world. (She does Hard Things.)

Here's what she (b/c I forgot to ask if I could use her name) had to say:

Start Here is an excellent follow-up to the book Do Hard Things. For me, Do Hard Things acts as the “inspiration” book - the one that makes me want to get out and, well, do hard things. Start Here, on the other hand, is more of a practical “how-to” guide. It doesn’t inspire me as much, and I don’t think it’s supposed to, but it is very handy when you’re at the point of desiring to do hard things for God, you just don’t know how to start. Start Here gives tips for discovering what God wants you to do and how to get going. It also tells how you can deal with bouts of overwhelmed-itis, cramped schedules, and other such things that come along with doing hard things. But it doesn’t talk only about the in-your-face mammoth ventures that appear on magazine covers and television. It also touches on the importance of the “little things”, such as reading your bible daily, getting your math homework done, and helping your mom clean up the kitchen. Start Here is a superb “How-To” guide on doing things for God.

So, clearly I (Jamie) am just getting too old. That, and I no longer do math homework. Evidently Start Here is just as good, in a different way, than Do Hard Things. That said, if you are more, ahem, OLD, you may not need Start Here, but if you are OLD and buying for your chillen, you may want to pick up both.

A bit about the book:

At the age of eighteen, Alex and Brett Harris wrote Do Hard Things—and launched a movement that would change a generation. Young people around the world were ready to be inspired, ready to move beyond complacency, ready to rebel against society’s low expectations.

Now the highly anticipated companion book, Start Here, answers the questions Alex and Brett have received from thousands of teens on their worldwide conference tour and popular online community: How do I get started? What hard things does God want me to do? How do I keep from getting discouraged or burned out? What is the best way to inspire others?

Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real-life rebelutionaries, Start Here is a powerful and practical guide for young people who are ready to take the next step and blast past apathy. Let the rebelution continue.

Alex and Brett Harris are the coauthors of the best-selling book Do Hard Things, which they wrote at age eighteen. Today the twins speak regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour, maintain a hugely popular online presence through their blog,, and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers currently attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia

And, as you may have surmised, this book was provided for review by the Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing Group.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leaving Hurryville

Leaving Hurryville

(Comments From a Former Resident)

by Frankie D. Sherman

A big concern of Christian women is the epidemic of shallow relationships among women. In an age when broken marriages, moral decline, and unbelievable heartache are frighteningly high, our God-given support system is lacking.      

What happened? Why do we know more people than ever before, yet know very little about each other? Why do we know more about the latest celebrity break-up, yet very little about the young woman in our church going through her own divorce?
Unfortunately, we live in Hurryville. Hurry and get the kids to school. Hurry and get to work. Hurry to Bible study. Hurry to the ball field. Hurry! Girl Hurry! In this “hurry up, see you later” world we don’t take the time to invest in relationships like the generations before us did. Our busy lives leave very little time to invest in meaningful relationships.
Because of this, we are suffering. We miss wonderful opportunities to reach others for Christ and to strengthen others in the body of Christ.
How about you and I change the busyness in our circle of influence by adjusting our schedules and priorities? We can start right now to focus on the relationships in our circle of influence as the nurturing women God designed us to be.
Becoming a better friend is something believers should focus on, because it can impact the world for the Christ.

So where do we begin?
  • Leave Hurryville-without a forwarding address! It’s a choice and a hard one. But God is faithful and he will help you with this lifestyle change.
  • Pray, and read God Word.
  • Schedule time with friends; ask them how they are and what’s up in their life.
  • Engage in meaningful conversation about them and how the Lord is working in their life.
  • Leave the cell phone turned off during your time together.
  • Share good books, good tips, good information and good food.
If your friend is a single mom, widow, health issue, or has problems at home, always be sensitive to her needs or situation. You are not “the solution” but you can show her you care through your friendship. God will provide the wisdom concerning boundaries and blessings.
I left Hurryville, many years ago. Sometimes my old nature tries to pull me back. But I learned the value of meaningful friendships and Hurryville doesn’t compare. Should you decide to leave Hurryville too let me know. We can sit on the porch and enjoy chat together.
Frankie Sherman Photo
About the author:
Frankie Sherman is a national speaker, comedian, and Bible teacher for conferences, retreats, and women's events. She fell in love with Jesus at Vacation Bible School and takes every opportunity to tell others about the joy of being alive in Christ. She is a former choreographer for the Georgia Peach Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl Halftime Show. Her specialty is in theater musical/productions. Her first Bible Study, Why We Need Girlfriends is based on the relationship of Mary and Elizabeth, from Luke's gospel. Two women brought together by extraordinary circumstances by an extraordinary God. Frankie is from South Carolina—loves sweet tea, BIG hair and her grand-girls. She believes there will never be another Elvis. And knows that her Jesus will return for her soon.

Hope: One Child/One Meal at a Time

This is how I feel about running.

This is how orphan children feel about their empty tummies.

(This is how Charming feels about not getting another present at Christmas, not that it really matters.)

If you know me, you know my passion for orphan care and my disdain for running. :-) It's passion when it outweighs disdain. On April 17, I will be participating in Oceans of Mercy Run for Mercy 5K (there's a 10K, too, but I'm not psychotic). Every $20 raised for Oceans of Mercy feeds over 330 South African children. Please give what you can. $1 feeds 16. Every dollar counts. I'll run if you'll give!

Tell ya what: if we raise more than $500 I will do the 10. I may need oxygen, but I'll do it. Would you help?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mi Bambino Es Tres

And in a recurring theme; I'm so glad I'm not in labor.

Happy Anniversary to my parents who have taught me that you can stay married through just about anything. I think this is their 48th year, but it may be 47. Can never keep that straight. Either way, it's dang impressive.

And happy birthday sweet Charming. You rock my world.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren

So, yes, cardio kickboxing kicked my behind. Not a difficult feat since I spend so much of my time sitting on it reading wonderful books like Susan May Warren's Sons of Thunder. But I'm home now and if I can get my arms to cooperate I will let you know about this awesome new book, a combo of two of my favorites: WWII and SMW.

A bit about the book:

Sophie Frangos is torn between the love of two men and the promise that binds them all together. Markos Stavros loves Sophie from afar while battling his thirst for vengeance and his hunger for honor. Dino, his quiet and intelligent brother, simply wants to forget the horror that drove them from their Greek island home to start a new life in America. One of these sons of thunder offers a future she longs for, the other the past she lost. From the sultry Chicago jazz clubs of the roaring twenties to the World War II battlefields of Europe to a final showdown in a Greek island village, they'll discover betrayal, sacrifice and finally redemption. Most of all, when Sophie is forced to make her choice, she'll learn that God honors the promises made by the Sons of Thunder.  

Sons of Thunder launches the new Romantic Suspense line for Summerside Press - it is also available to purchase in Wal-mart. Also - its uniquely written - its an epic suspense story written as three novellas - 3 points of view, 3 settings.

First, let me tell you that this isn't all WWII. It is immigration and being lost in a foreign land and getting involved with the wrong kind of people. It is brotherly love gone wrong. It is remaking yourself and discovering that it is easier said than done. It is making impulsive decisions that change your life and the lives of others. It is redemption and rectifying past mistakes. AND it's a WWII novel. 

I will warn you, if you're one of those "gentle readers," there are a few scenes/decisions that are uncharacteristic for "Christian Fiction." They are handled delicately, but they are there. (It wouldn't be the book it is without them and I don't begrudge their presence. I was just surprised.) 

This is an excellent, excellent read that will capture you from page one.

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep's Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader's Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota. Learn more about Susan here:

Be sure to check out Susan's fun contest for the book's release: Each one of us has a wealth of stories from the past – while they might not all be as sweeping and dramatic as that of Sons of Thunder’s Sofia and the Stravos brothers (swoon), your family history is a treasure nonetheless.

Well – let’s hear them! Were your great-grandparents ‘fresh off the boat’? Was your great uncle a war hero? Did your grandmother make unbelievable sacrifices to help or protect the family? Did your father harbor a family secret until his death? Are you related to someone famous? Do you have a family treasure? Whatever it is that is unique in your family history – share your story HERE! (click on the SHARE button) One grand prize winner will receive:

•    Memory Prize package containing a gift certificate to create your own hard cover photo book
•    6 month membership to Netflix (to satisfy that flick fix!)
•    Signed copy of Sons of Thunder!

5 runners up will also win signed copies of Sons of Thunder!

You can also be entered to win a copy of Sons of Thunder by helping us Spread the Word during the blog tour!

TWEET THIS:(must use hashtag #SonsofThunder to be entered - no limit on entries! Tweet away!)
Please RT! @susanmaywarren launches new Romantic Suspense #SonsofThunder. Share your story 2 win a fab prize pack!

Blog Tour


I'm heading out the door and I was supposed to post a tour this morning. I will be back. Gimme a couple hours and I'll tell you all about Susan May Warren's newest awesome book!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Dancing With My Father

When I first opened this book, it was like the author had opened up my brain and written a book about me. The loss of joy. The tyranny of the mundane. Even those things that should bring me joy more often than not irritate me. But I, like her, want to find joy in the small, everyday things. 
With beautiful, almost poetic at times, prose, the author leads us to find joy in the mundane everyday. I devoured this book on the first run, but I look forward to savoring it again and really meditating on the questions provided. If you've been beaten down by the eveyday, I think you'll find in this a book worth reading.

A bit about the book:
The reality of living in a broken, fallen world can leave women feeling overcome by fear, guilt, and weariness. Many develop “sawdust souls,” numb to any sense of joy.

In this warm and wise book, author Sally Clarkson invites readers to take God’s hand and let Him lead them into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose. With the voice of a trusted mentor, she reveals how, by getting in tune with the rhythm of God’s presence, women can nurture an inner attitude of anticipation and celebration even in the stressful seasons of life.

Through rich biblical insights woven with real-life stories, women will be inspired to recapture a spirit of joy as they follow God’s lead on the dance floor of life.

Sally Clarkson is a popular speaker, known across the nation and internationally for her work with women. She is the author of several books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, and Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. She has worked in various ministries, including Campus Crusade for Christ. With her husband, Clay, she is cofounder of Whole Heart Ministries, which encourages and equips Christian parents. The Clarksons, parents of four, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Spring Fever?

A few weeks ago, Charming's Grandma showed up and surprised the kids with a night at a local hotel where they could swim to their little hearts' content. (She surprised the parents with a night off!)

Since they returned from the hotel, you can't get Charming out of a swimsuit. I peel one grody one off his body (usually AFTER a bath... you read that right) and replace it with another. He wears a swimsuit to bed. He wears one to basketball games, he wears one to gymnastics. He has one under his pants, right now. He is at the ready should anyone show up to take him swimming.

Somebody forgot to tell him that there is still SNOW in our front yard, as there has been since DECEMBER 24th. Swimming, it ain't gonna happen for a L-O-N-G while.

My child has the faith of a champ.

Living With Less

Today I'd like to welcome Jill and Mark Savage. Jill and Mark's newest book Living with Less so your Family has More just released and I've invited them to share a little bit about this great resource!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

We have been married for 27 years…17 of them happily. After finding ourselves in a marriage counselor’s office around year 8 or so, we realized that we really didn’t know how to be married. We worked hard to turn things around and now we like to share that hope with other couples.

We have five children ranging from 13 to 25. Our oldest three are married. Anne (25) and her husband, Matt, live in Zion, IL, and are expecting our first grandchild in April. (We are very excited!) Evan (22) and his wife, Julie, have been married a year and a half and they live just a few miles from us. Erica (19) married her husband Kendall last September. They live in Augusta, GA, and wherever else the Army takes them.

We have two teenagers still at home. Kolya just turned 16. He’s learning to drive and we’ve nearly worn a hole in the carpet on the floor in the passenger seat trying to find that non-existent brake pedal. Kolya is the newest member of the Savage family. We adopted him at the age of nine from Russia.

Austin is 13 and in the 8th grade. He wants us to make sure and tell the world that this “living with less” life is a real bummer because he’s the ONLY kid in 8th grade who doesn’t have a cell phone.

Tell us about your newest book Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

The world screams the message that bigger is always better, but we have found that is not often true. When it comes to raising a family, less materially can actually result in more relationally. Children don’t need the best houses, the best lessons, the best cars, or the best clothes. What they really need is the best home life and the best family relationships we can give them.

Why did you want to write this book?

We didn’t start out with the “less is more” mindset. We started as a double income family wanting to have the “best” of everything. Then Mark decided to pursue ministry. We went from the “high life” to the “frugal life” very quickly as we moved to another state for him to go to Bible College full-time.

That experience introduced us to the concept that less is more. We definitely had less money, but we had more time. We had less stress and more peace. We had less activities and more fun.

Since that experience, we’ve continued to live primarily on one income for the past twenty years. We’ve had to battle cultural peer pressure and make different decisions for our family than many other families in our neighborhood have made. But we’ve never felt that we were materially depriving ourselves or our kids…instead we’ve focused on what we’ve actually been able to provide for them emotionally and relationally.

What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?

We hope the reader is encouraged to evaluate how they are living their life, spending their money, and thinking about family matters. Our goal is to introduce families to the “less is more” concept and then equip them with the attitudes and actions to actually make that happen.

For families that are already committed to less is more, we hope to bolster their resolve and help them stay focused on the long-term goal of providing relationally for their kids.

In today’s economy, there are many families being forced to live with less. We want to help them see the opportunity they have with this unexpected downsizing they’ve been forced to do.

And for those who have just been a little discontent with their life and saying things like, “I’m tired of the rat race of life,” or “Is there more to life than drive-thru meals for dinner?” we hope to help them see other choices they have and how they can lead their family in a different direction.

What unique elements will the reader find in Living With Less So Your Family Has More?

For couples who want to read the book together, we’ve included discussion questions at the end of every chapter. This helps move the readers to discussion and eventually actions. Even a single parent can use the discussion questions for personal evaluation.

Readers will find this book a practical guide to changing your attitude and your actions to live a successful “less is more” life. They’ll find our writing style to be a warm, casual, honest discussion where we not only share our victories but our mistakes along the way. We are an average couple living successfully on an average income who want to help others to see the possibilities before them.

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (, a free electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

It’s healthy for parents to occasionally pause and evaluate their vision for their family and the choices they are making. We hope this resource will help them do that together and that it will lead them to live a life of little regret.

Growing Grateful Kids

Today I'd like to welcome author and speaker Susie Larson. Susie's new book Growing Grateful Kids has just released and I've invited her to share a little bit about this great resource.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My husband and I have been married 25 years and have three grown sons (all in their early twenties). Our oldest son Jake works on the business side of the Christian music industry. Our middle son Luke is married to his beautiful wife Kristen; he works full time at a bank and part time as a worship pastor. Our youngest son Jordan is studying to become a surgical nurse. My husband Kevin is a commercial construction manager by day and manages my ministry by night (and weekends). Bless his heart. J I am an author, speaker, and an on-call radio host for Christian talk radio. Together, Kevin and I serve as advocates for justice on behalf of modern day slaves and human trafficking victims.

Tell us about your new book, Growing Grateful Kids: Teaching Them to Appreciate an Extraordinary God in Ordinary Places.

Even when economic times are tight, our children enjoy an abundance of material possessions. Yet, amidst all this wealth, discontentment and competition seem to be on the rise. Instead of teaching children virtues such as gratefulness and patience, many parents are bending over backwards to get their children the latest and greatest item - or feeling guilty when they can't. In spite of the currents of materialism and entitlement that flow so strong, it is possible to raise children who are simply grateful. Though teaching perspective and gratitude to our children is critical, it is not difficult.

Why did you want to write this book?

To be completely honest, I never wanted to write a book on parenting. I wanted to protect my kids’ privacy and give them time and space to become the men God wants them to be. But in the last few years, I have been especially burdened with the level of selfishness, entitlement and disrespect I see among children today. Furthermore, moms seem more stressed than ever. When I asked my sons their thoughts on writing this book, without pausing they all said, “Do it, mom; that book needs to be written!” I think I wrote a book that not only equips young moms to raise humble, grateful world-changers, but also one that nourishes the soul of the reader and encourages her personally.

Throughout the book you remind the reader that we cannot impart what we do not possess. Can you explain?

If we never deal with our own fears, insecurities, and hang ups, but we try to teach our children to believe in their divine value, over time, our words will not ring true to them. First God wants to do His work in us before He does it through us. They say that lessons are more often caught than taught. If we parent from a place of conviction and real freedom, our children will be affected by what we teach them.

One of your chapters is titled, “Take Time to Play.” How does taking time to play teach our kids to be grateful?

To me, taking time to play says a lot about the level of faith we possess.

If our children hear us confess that we love and serve a BIG God and yet they see us striving and straining through life, they will come to believe that more is on our shoulders than on God’s. If we can trust God enough to step away from our busy-important lives, to make a fort in the basement, or play a game with our children – even in the most desperate of economic situations – we will give our children a sense of much needed security and that all is well in their world.

What do you want readers to take away from this book?

To answer this question (I hope you don’t mind), I would like to share an endorsement from one of my sample readers. She expressed my deepest desire for my reader:

“Growing Grateful Kids is such a great source of conviction, encouragement, and inspiration to spur me on to finishing this parenting race well and not sputter out along the way. This book compels me to submit my own character to the refining of the Holy Spirit that I may be equipped to impart those lessons onto my children. Thank you, Susie, for taking the time, for submitting in obedience, and writing this down for a generation in desperate need of this kind of parenting book!” –Gail Miller

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (, a free bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

I am very excited about the message in this book. It is my prayer that every one who reads it will be nourished, encouraged, and equipped to parent from a place of fullness, conviction, and confidence. Raising grateful, confident kids will be one of the most heroic, important things you do in your lifetime. God’s blessings to you!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Birthday Wishes

Charming will turn three next Tuesday. I happened to mention that to him today. For the next 15 minutes he rattled off his birthday wishes which are as follows:

"cakes and bawoons and five dowars and presents and three cakes and bawoons and presents and five dowars and little cakes and bawoons and three presents and five dowars"

I hope the kid gets five dollars.

(note to self: go to ATM)

Mother-Daughter Duet

I have a mother and a daughter, therefore this book struck me as a need-to-read even though my daughter's adult years are far off and I AM the adult daughter. I must admit, however, that this book was more informative for someone in my lifestage than I expected. It helped me better understand what my mom is thinking when she says things that I perceive as criticism. And it made me rethink how I say things to my daughter ALREADY (she's 8).  So that subtitle of "Getting to the relationship you want with your adult daughter" is a little misleading. I see things in there that mother's of boys should read and mothers of young girls. And adult daughters. I intend to pass this one around frequently.

From the back cover and the publicist:

When a daughter is born, her mother has a thousand hopes and dreams for her, especially that they will be best friends one day.

Unfortunately, even the best of intentions can go awry. There are so many challenges on the journey to adult friendship that the reality is fraught with friction and frustration. But a harmonious relationship is possible.

Award-winning author Cheri Fuller and her daughter, Ali Plum, have been there and have discovered the keys to a healthy relationship. In Mother-Daughter Duet they share their story—each from her own perspective—in which they have experienced distance and tension, growth and challenge, and, ultimately, acceptance and harmony. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on several basic principles (letting go; listening; respect; setting boundaries; and more), Mother-Daughter Duet helps moms repair the breach so that daughters want to draw close.

The mother-daughter dynamic is intense, personal, complex, and unique. But mothers and daughters can achieve mutual respect and learn to celebrate their differences when they learn the two-part harmony of the mother-daughter duet.

Cheri Fuller is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold more than one million copies. She speaks to a wide range of women at women’s conferences and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.
Ali Plum is Cheri’s daughter, a writer and songwriter, a wife, and a mother to Noah and Luke. She and her mom have weathered the ups and downs of their relationship to find one of the most treasured, honest relationships of their lives. Ali has recorded background vocals for popular musicians, and Mother-Daughter Duet marks her debut into book publishing.