Modern Life Study Bible - A Review


A while back I was contacted by a Publishing Company and asked to once again review one of Thomas Nelson's Study Bibles.  

I was not paid for my review or compensated in any way other than I was blessed with a copy of the Bible to review and allowed to keep it for my own personal study.

The Modern Life Study Bible is written in the New King James version which is one of my favorite Bible translations to read.  For those of you who may not know what the NKJV is, simply put it is very similar in wording to the KJV that so many people love but it changes up some of the old English terminology more into the way we speak today.  

This Bible is BEAUTIFUL.  It is very appealing to the eye with colorful maps and study helps on nearly every single page.  It is packed full of awesome stuff.  

There are 6 different things to look for as you read through this beautiful Bible. 

Book Introduction Pages:  Each book of the bible has an introduction page that gives a brief overview of the entire book and a section with key events, people or verses.  

Focus Articles and Insight Articles:  These articles give you a little better look into what you are reading and the history behind it.   

Person Profiles:  One of my favorites are the person profiles.  These give you a quick up close look at the people you are reading about.  It tells you things like where they were from, who they were, what they were best known for and so on.  

Place Profiles:  Place profiles give you the history of where you are reading about.

Life Studies:  Throughout this Bible you will see Life Studies.  These tell stories about real life Christians and their life struggles as they lived their lives for God.  

Overall I really like this Bible but I do have one complaint about it. I like my Bibles to have the Words of Jesus in red and with this being a study Bible I would have thought that would have been the case but unfortunately it is not. It does however have a nice amount of information and study helps without overloading you.  I would definitely recommend this Bible to a someone.  



Seasons of Messiness....




What do you do when it feels like life is turned upside down? I mean, it's not, really.....our job is secure, we have a home to live in, our kids are well provided for, we are successfully (most days) homeschooling, and we have food on our table. But you know, or maybe you don't....but I know the feeling when your insides are all feeling less than okay because of turmoil or chaos.

See, here's the thing. I like order. I like calm. I like peace. I like everything to be rainbows and happiness all around. And, life doesn't fit into that category, it is messy. Order gets disrupted. Calm gets disturbed. Chaos overtakes peace. And rainbows get muddy and happiness gets muddled with frustration, anger, sadness, and maybe a tinge of bitterness. 

I'm speaking of this beautiful ride we all ride, it's called life. See, 4 short years ago, we had order, calm, peace, and what I considered happiness. But, looking back. We were sitting still, spiritually, I thought. We weren't moving forward at all, and something I've come to realize over the years is that you can't sit still. Spiritually, and probably true across all spans of life, if you aren't moving forward, you're losing momentum and sliding backwards. We were going through the motions, on Sunday, but then Monday - Saturday, we were just living. And it was safe.The end.

In the past 4 years, ALL of that has changed. We have moved three times, beginning with an out of state move. We've had the same amount of jobs, after being steady for all of our time prior to that. We've become homeschoolers. We now have a job that is changing shifts. BUT --- We've joined with a wonderful community of believers, with a Pastor who has experience in the messiness of life, and have learned so much! There was LOTS of uncertainty,  there were fears, and yet, a truly developed faith. What I've come to realize is, He knew. He was in it all, and we listened to His still small voice, even though we weren't even sure it's what we were hearing. He was writing our story.

There was a lot of gunk that had to surface from many years of living the other way. And now, I'm seeing so many truths unfold. We are still sorting through some of the gunk, and we, as a family, are a work in progress. BUT - we've weathered many storms that would have destroyed our faith (being that it was so fragile and undeveloped) and family, quite likely. We've been taught about the reality of spiritual warfare and confronted it (maybe this is still a work in progress, to be honest) head on, we've learned how to pray, how to seek Him with our whole hearts and not keep sliding backwards.

But back to my original, upside down life question --- during our journey, I've learned a lot. I can't do it all at once as if I'd been doing it my entire life. I prefer order and everyone to be doing things "my" way. And He's so much bigger than that. I've seen Him work in ways I never imagined through paths I would never have chosen because they are outside of my "comfort zone" and my husband and I have even had different perspectives at times, which has caused friction and me to question the "oneness" we are suppose to experience in this other beautifully messy thing called marriage. 

What I'm learning is for all the backward sliding we did in the years we weren't living right, I am now learning to be content in the time we are truly sitting still. Don't get me wrong. We aren't trying to sit still, we're viciously fighting the enemy, for our family, for our children's hearts, for our finances, for our marriage, etc. Sometimes, though, the lesson of faith is learned by desperately fighting for one step forward, only to see you've moved very little, if any at all.

While I'll never be satisfied and stop trying, I'm trying to learn the lessons he teaches us in the moments we aren't successfully moving forward. I'm also anxiously waiting to start sprinting again because with each sprint session - I've loved the growth, the changes, the lessons, and the closeness. What I consider chaos, and lack of order, I'm learning they aren't. They are life. Beautiful, messy life, and I am blessed to live it alongside my best friend and our children AND the beautiful group of people we consider our "village." 

I feel it is comparable to the beauty of the ocean. It is one of my favorite places to be, I feel a closeness with the Father there that I experience no where else. BUT - for all it's beauty, cycles of storms are a part of shaping our shorelines. Hurricane season. It comes annually. And, there's the calm and the beauty and then, having weathered a few of those vicious storms during my East Coast living, it is UGLY. It is messy. It is scary. And it leaves behind a mess. But - much like life, we clean up, rebuild...most times stronger than before, because the storm taught us about a flaw, and we carry on to enjoy tourist season again. 


I'm simply grateful that I can trust Him even in my chaos and mess and super grateful that when my "hurricane" is over, my lesson is learned, and I've been built better than before, I get to continue my walk with Him through life and enjoy the view. Until the next season. 


And then.....Proverbs 3:5-6 ----- Trust Him. He will direct my paths.

Please Welcome My New Co-Author

As many of you know I have been silent on here for a while.  Several months actually.  I love blogging but the truth is, life comes first and sometimes there just isn't enough time to post the way I would like.  So a while back my friend and I chatted and decided that two of us would be better than one.  So with that said, I would like you all to welcome my real life best friend as a co-author here at A Heart For My Home



Dee and I have been friends for nearly 20 years and share the same hopes and dreams for our families and homes.  We are in different ages and stages with our faith, marriages, children and just life in general but we both desire to share this journey we are on with you. The content of this blog will be the same as it has been these past few years only now you will be hearing from the both of us.  

You may notice a few small changes to the blog over the next few weeks (or months), please be patient as I update everything.

A Lesson In Hospitality



I am going to tell you something that may shock you.  My house is rarely ever what I consider clean enough for company.  Some days its not what I consider clean enough for my own family either. 

It used to be that I didn't really feel like my house was nice enough, new enough, pretty enough or big enough to invite friends over.  Now I am in a newer, prettier place (although still on the small side compared to most homes being built today) and it's never clean enough to have people over. 

I didn't grow up in a home where my parents had people over much and practicing hospitality or seeing that modeled rarely ever happened.  So, I'm learning.  I'm trusting God to continue to show me how to be all the things he desires me to be.  Even though I have been married nearly 18 years I am still learning all about this thing called "hospitality".  What it is and what it is not.  One thing I am beginning to understand (finally) is that having a super clean home that is always tidy really has nothing to do with practicing hospitality. 

I am not saying you shouldn't worry about keeping your home clean, because as a Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 Woman that is one of the tasks we are called to do in order to be a blessing to our family.  What I am saying is that while your house may never be spotless or perfect, we still should be using our homes for the Glory of God and to reach out to the lost and hurting around us.  We should be inviting people over even when things aren't perfect just so they can experience a little of God's peace that resides in our home for themselves.

It doesn't matter if everything is perfectly clean and decorated, what matters is the love and attention you are giving someone who needs it.  Being hospitable is not about you at all.  It's about opening your heart  and focusing in on the needs of someone else then ministering to those needs.  In Karen Ehman's book "A Life That Says Welcome" she states that there is a huge difference in entertaining and offering hospitality.  Entertaining puts emphasis on you and how you can impress others while hospitality puts the emphasis on others and how you can meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed when leaving your home. 

I really like that statement.  And it makes me think, do people feel refreshed when they leave my home?  What about you?  Do you have people over?  Do they feel refreshed when they leave your home?  If you don't normally have people over, it's never too late to start.  Think of someone that you could minister to by opening up your home and showing them some love and then invite them.  Let me know how it goes.


It's Been A While & Homemade Glazed Donuts

My posts on here have been few and far between for the past several months.  It just seems that lately blogging hasn't been the biggest priority in my life (and it shouldn't be).  I am still around reading comments and working on my contributor posts but haven't been finding the time needed to keep up with regular posts lately.  I have many ideas floating around in my brain and have started typing several but actually getting the words to make sense just isn't happening lately.  Writers block?!?  Maybe.  Stick with me, I will be back on a more regular basis soon (I hope) but until then check out some of my most popular posts from the past couple of years.  You can find them on my side bar to the right. 

For now, hop on over to my friend Jenn's blog "The Purposeful Mom" and check out my latest contributor post.  You will be so glad you did.  I am sharing my latest adventure in the kitchen, a delicious recipe for Homemade Glazed Donuts, and they are dairy free. 

Snow Cream


It's cold and snowy outside in my neck of the woods. This is great weather for eating our favorite soups and stews. It's also a fun time to play in the snow with our sleds, build snowmen, drink hot chocolate and make yummy snow cream.


Since my kids and I just recently made snow cream I thought I would share the recipe with you. If you happen to get some snow this winter (and lets face it - living in the US this Winter there is a good chance of that, lol)  you can enjoy a bowl of it with your family too.

You will need about 10 cups of fresh white clean snow.

1 cup of sugar

3 tsp vanilla

Dash of salt

2 cups of milk or I like to do 1 cup of cream (evaporated milk) an 1 cup of water for a creamier taste.

Mix your sugar, salt, milk and vanilla together well and then stir in your snow. You may need to add a little more snow to get the proper consistency.


That's it! Dish it up and enjoy.

Cabbage & Kielbasa Dinner: Comfort Food For Cold Days


I know that many people like to eat cabbage on the first day of January. This recipe I am about to share is so yummy I am sure you will want to eat more than just at the beginning of a new year. It is basically 4 main ingredients and it makes a delicious yet super simple dinner on a cold winters day.

Head on over to The Purposeful Mom's page where I am contributing today to check out this amazing recipe.

Merry Christmas!

 
Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

 
Thank you for being a part of my blog. 
See you soon!

Will Your Adult Children Want To Spend Time With You?


A while back in one of our couples classes at church I remember the leaders of our class asking this question and it really stuck with me. "Will your adult children want to spend time with you? Will they want to come home?" Seriously think about that for a moment. Will your adult children want to come home and spend time with you? When we are raising our children everything doesn't have to be perfect at home. They don't have to always be showered with gifts. Everything doesn't always have to go their way (in fact, it shouldn't).

It is our job as good parents to make sure they always feel loved, always feel wanted, and always feel important. The way we treat our children today is more than likely a direct result of the way we were raised ourselves. Many of us have had wonderful childhoods and were raised with a tremendous amount of love and family togetherness and that way of life seems to just oooze from us onto our own children.  To continue reading head on over to "A Heart For The Home" blog where I am contributing today. 

10 Money Saving Ideas to Help With Christmas Gifts

Last year I polled my Facebook friends to see what they spent on their children for Christmas.  Let's just say I was shocked with the answers. And honestly I was shocked on both the high end and the low end. Some people only spent $25 per child while others spent nearly $1000 or more on each child.  Many others claimed to spend an amount some where in between. That of course assuming all were being truthful with their responses.
Obviously each family is different due to size, income, preferences and so on but I wanted to share a few ideas that will hopefully help your Christmas gift planning and buying be a little easier and also help save you some money. 
*  Teach your children what Christmas is really about. Remind them we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and while I am sure our Lord doesn't mind that we give and receive gifts it's truly not about us.
*  Give each child 3 gifts.  3 gifts because this is the number of gifts we read about in the Bible that were brought to Jesus. 

*  Draw names.  And set a limit.
* Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.  I can't remember where I heard or read this a few years back but I loved it.  A total of 4 gifts.  Simple and covers all the bases.   
*  One of the best things we ever did when our boys were very young was start a Christmas club.  A Christmas club is basically a savings account that you put money in to all through out the year and you can't withdraw that money until fall time, usually a couple of months before Christmas.  You can do these at your local bank or credit union and if you are disciplined enough to not touch it you could do it yourself by either adding extra money to your checking or savings account or even an envelope at your house. Admittedly it's a little late to do this for this year but its the perfect time to start one for next year.

*  Consider homemade gifts. I personally love homemade crafty gifts and with the Internet and Pinterest there are so many adorable options.

*  Make a list for your children including things they want, things they need and things you would like for them to have. Arrange the list by cost from least to greatest and when family members or friends that buy for your children ask for ideas of what to get them go to your list. You can pick out an time in the appropriate price range to share with them. As a matter of fact I usually keep a running list all year long that we use for not only Christmas but Easter and birthdays as well. I add to, delete and change the list as needed.

*  Shop clearance and mark downs.

*  Shop online.  There are tons of great deals out there.

*  Shop black Friday?!?!?  (at your own risk)  I would never promote Black Friday shopping because that is not my thing for a few reasons. I don't enjoy shopping that much number one. I am not of fan of crowds number two and most everything that is on sale in the store you can also find in the comfort of your own home by shopping those same sales online. Not to mention that most time Black Friday sales extend beyond the time advertised anywayBUT people who love to shop on this day claim huge savings!
Simply put:  Make a budget.  Set limits.  Be reasonable. 
What do you usually spend per child?  Do you have any great ideas to help save money on Christmas Gifts? 

What's A Mom To Do About Santa?


Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. I love baking lots of yummy delicious goodies and filling the house with the smells of so many wonderful foods. I love getting together with family and friends, going to look at lights, decorating the house and just enjoying time spent celebrating the birth of our Savior. 
 
 
From the time our boys were very young my husband and I felt strongly that we should not lead them to believe in the Santa of today.  You know the one - he's the plump jolly man wearing a red suit with a long white beard.  The man that visits the houses of good little boys and good little girls all over the world in one single night all on his own.  The Santa that lives at the North Pole with all the Elves that work in his toy factory.  (That whole thing is a bit creepy if you think about it, lol). 
 
We have taught them about the real St. Nicholas.  The real life man that lived long ago.  The man that even though he is gone, his story of love and selfless deeds live on.  Each year we read the same book a few days before Christmas telling of this man, this real life man that helped people in need. 

 
No, we have never encouraged the thought "Santa Clause ". Why, you may ask? It's simple.  He doesn't exist and he has nothing to do with my children getting or not getting gifts under the tree at Christmas.  Instead we have always taught our boys that every good gift we receive comes to us from God and Jesus.  That's the truth.  It's in the Bible.  James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
 
Now, let me explain our reasoning.  We are doing our best to fulfill Proverbs 22:6 that says to train our children in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from these teachings.  We are teaching them about Jesus and His Heavenly Father God (who we can not see with our physical eye).  We have to use our faith to believe what the Bible says and that they are real.  Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

At the same time if we were teaching them that Santa (who we can see with our physical eye) is real but then one day down the road, when they get a little older they find out that we were not being truthful with them and that Santa isn't really the one that brought them all those gifts through out the years (and they will find out Santa is not real) then wouldn't it stand to reason that they would then have a reason to also believe that Jesus isn't real as well. 
 
I mean if we teach our children from a young age that two different people are real and then one day we admit that no, mommy and daddy told you a lie and one of those people isn't real what do you imagine it does to them.  Allowing our children to believe in the Santa of today may be harmless but for my children I never wanted to give them a reason not to believe in God and His Son Jesus.  And I never wanted to lie (that's what it is after all) to my kids either.
 
This is the choice we have made for our family and I in no way judge you for how you may have chosen to go about the whole "Santa" thing.  I still have a few decorations or ornaments that have Santa on them but we have always made sure that the focus is on Jesus (He is the Reason for the Season) and that my children know where our blessings come from.

What about you?  How does your family handle the whole Santa part of Christmas?
 
 

Intentional Gratitude - Not Just Saying Thank You


At the beginning of this year I made a commitment to myself to be intentional with my gratitude. A commitment to not just tell people I appreciated them but to show them.

Some people, of course know they have been an influence to you or others but sometimes people make a huge impact in and on our lives and they may never even realize it.

The first person I was intentional with my gratitude about was my Aunt. An awesome Christian woman that loves The Lord first and then her family. It was because of this Aunt that I first came to know Jesus. I have mentioned before that I did not grow up in a Christian home. I grew up with parents who believed in God but we were not taken to church by them regularly. My parents never prayed with us in fact I have never seen or heard them pray to this day. They may do it but I have not been witness of it. They didn't do devotions with us and discuss the Word with us but you know what this particular Aunt of mine did.

To continue reading please hop on over to The Purposeful Mom where I am contributing today.

Compass Study Bible - A Review

Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life, Hardcover  -

Recently I was asked to review the new Compass Study Bible by Thomas Nelson publishers.  This Bible is due to be released in early February 2014.  I was given a copy of this Bible to keep in return for my review of the product.  I was not told that my review had to be positive, only that it should be honest. 

This Bible is advertised as The Study Bible For Navigating Your Life.  It has many features that most of us have come to love in other versions and translations of the Bible such as:

*  In-text notes that include cultural, historical, theological, and devotional
    thoughts.  Notes are easy to understand and help give a better look at what
    the scripture is talking about. 

*  Introductions at the beginning of each book

*  Yearly Bible reading plan

*  Topical Guides to Scripture and notes

*  In-text maps plus several maps in the back of the Bible

The Compass Study Bible is written in the voice translation.  The Voice is a new and according to the publisher "a different sort of translation".  The Voice combines the relative strengths of scholars who are experts in the original languages along with modern writers, musicians, and poets who are skilled in their use of English, the target language of this translation.  It was their goal to make this version both "beautiful" and "readable" to an English-speaking audience.  The Voice is a combination of a word for word and a thought for thought translation. 


Positive:

Overall I am satisfied with this Bible.

The Voice translation is easy to read and understand.  I would say they definitely have reached their goal of having a translation that is both beautiful and readable.   I am a mom of teenage boys and I believe this version will be great for teens and also new believers because of its easiness to read and understand.  This study Bible is not loaded down with study notes like some study Bibles but yet is has enough notes to help the reader understand what is going on without overwhelming them. 

Something that is different about The Voice translation when comparing it with really any other translation I have read is that The Voice is written like a script to a play.  It is broken down into specific parts so there is no question as to who is speaking.

One of my favorite features is the road map to Gods promises section in the front of the Bible. There are several pages worth of topics concerning things that we face each and every day from being depressed, not satisfied, when you are experiencing fear to finding the will of God and many more.  While most people have access to the Internet to look up scriptures on any topic they can think of I like this being in the front of the Bible because the Internet is not always available. This list is handy and right with you when you are having your quiet time.

Negative:

As I stated above, I was not asked to give a positive review.  I was asked to give an honest review so here are a couple of things I have found about this Bible that I didn't particularly like:

The amount of study helps and notes written throughout the pages are very minimal compared to most study Bibles. 

And

All throughout this version of the Bible God is referred to as "The Eternal One" or "Eternal".  According to the publisher this is done to carry on the church's long-standing tradition of reverence for God and His name.  I understand what they are trying to convey to the reader and as a Christian I know the importance of holding the name of God and Jesus in high regard but for me reading "Eternal" or "The Eternal One" took away the personal side of my Heavenly Father God.  My Abba Father or daddy God.  It made Him seem untouchable and distant.

Since I already own a couple different study Bibles I plan on giving this one to my 15 year old because I think it will be a great help to him in understanding God's Word.  I personally enjoy a few more "notes" in my Study Bibles than this one has to offer but like I said earlier I believe the fact that this Bible is not loaded down with study notes like some tend to be it will make a perfect fit for teenagers and new believers. 





Tips to Help Keep Your Kitchen Clean


This is a funny post coming from me. I love for my kitchen to be clean (who doesn't?) and I know how to keep my kitchen clean but I shamefully admit that I am not the best at keeping my kitchen clean. My kitchen is never nasty and when I say clean I am referring to daily use messes like stove splatter, a cluttered table, dirty dishes and the like.

If you, like me have a little bit of - lets call it lack of motivation to keep this area of your house clean let me give you a few ideas of things to do that will result in a beautifully clean and well kept kitchen.

Whether or not you like to cook (I personally do and spend A LOT of time in my kitchen) the kitchen is a room in your house that is used daily and requires constant upkeep to ensure it doesn't get out of hand.

*  When cooking, wash your dishes and clean your little messes as you go.

*  Clean out your refrigerator weekly. For me this happens (or is supposed to
    happen) on Monday because my garbage pick up is early Tuesday morning. 
    Anything I am throwing away doesn't have to hang around my house for very
    long this way.

*  Do not go to bed without washing those dishes.  As Fly Lady says - "Shine
    Your Sink".  Wash them by hand or run your dishwasher if you have one.

*  Wipe off your counters daily or multiple times a day.  Maybe after each meal.

*  Wipe off the stove and wipe out microwave each evening.  If the splatters,
    spills and gunk have time to sit and harden and then harden some more it
    takes a whole lot of elbow grease to get them cleaned up and this my friend  
    is NO fun.  My oldest son recently cleaned our microwave and
    now has a new appreciation for me because he never realized just
    how hard it was to clean. 

*  When using the microwave, try covering up whatever it is you are warming
    with a paper towel to help eliminate those splatters.  This will make cleaning
    it much less of a hassle.

*  Sweep the floor daily.  Even if it's just spot sweeping.

*  Mop weekly.

*  Lay out a clean dish cloth and towel nightly.

*  Light a candle.  It helps set a mood.  Hopefully one that says, I want to keep
    this room clean. 

*  Keep your table clear of clutter, dirty dishes and stuff that doesn't belong.

*  Create a center piece on your table. This is fairly new to me.  I just don't
    normally have a "center piece" but I have come to find out it helps me want
    to keep the rest of the room neat and tidy to match my table.  It can be as
    simple as a candle in a jar to any extreme you can imagine.

Do you keep your kitchen neat and tidy?  Do you have any other tips to add that might help someone who struggles with keeping up with this area of the house?

Pumpkin Fudge

 
This recipe is one that I found online from Libby's and if you like pumpkin fudge I think you will be pleased with this recipe.  It is fairly easy to make and tastes great.  The pumpkin and spice flavors are mild and not overwhelming. 
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) evaporated milk (cream)
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional, I did not include these in mine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 
Directions:
 
Combine sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter and spice in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234° to 240ยบ F (soft-ball stage).

Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until chocolate chips are melted and marshmallow creme is combined well. Immediately pour into buttered pan. Let stand on wire rack for 2 hours or until completely
cooled. Refrigerate tightly covered. Makes about 3 pounds.