Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Romans 8:11 (Contemporary English Version)

Yet God raised Jesus to life! God's Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.

I pray blessings and deep forever-life over every reader.  May your forever-life cover and warm those around you.  May you meet and experience the Resurrection God in your celebrations today and every day.  I pray that you will receive everything Jesus paid for on the cross.  He is the God of redemption, resurrection, and restoration.  Hosanna, He is Risen!  Life and more life.  Abundant life is yours, forever.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Waiting Saturday: Expectant Faith and Joy

Holy Saturday is in some ways my favorite day of the Easter season.  Maybe I should say it is the day I appreciate the most, appreciate with experience and personal history.  In our culture, we seem to commemorate Good Friday, and then by Saturday we are coloring Easter eggs and getting the Easter baskets ready.  But after Jesus died... Saturday was the day after the glory departed (1 Samuel 4:21).  

Walter Bruneggemann says this, "It is a moment of loss that defies theological coherence, a loss underneath all losses.  The loss invites the unthinkable, that God could not manage, did not prevail, was not strong enough, did not care enough, could not cope."  

For Jesus' followers, Saturday was a long day of waiting.  A day of void, unknown.  The day couched after tragedy but before any seen victory.  "There is one particular day in Western history about which neither historical record nor myth nor Scripture make report.  It is a Saturday.  It has become the longest of days."  He refers to it as the "immensity of waiting." 

Today we commemorate the "immensity of waiting."  We choose to wait with expectant faith through that season in between loss and restoration.  We position ourselves in belief, hope, and joy.  I pray over every reader and family who is in a "Saturday season."  Today is your day.  Your victory draws near!  Don't lose heart...

Jeremiah 31:13 (The Message) 
I'll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.

May God invade your grief with joy on this Waiting Saturday! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Faith To See Beyond: Luke 23:42-43

Luke 23:42-43 (New King James Version)
Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

When I think of the cross, I remember Mary grieving, John at the foot of the cross, the Centurion who stated "surely this WAS the son of God."  I think about who wasn't there.  The scattering of the disciples.  I think of the other thief, who said "If you really are the son of God, save yourself and us."  As if to say, "If God is with you...your situation would look differently.  Prove that God is with you, by fixing this situation.  Then I will believe."  I think of Peter, whose faith faltered when Jesus was arrested.  Even after Jesus returned, I think of Thomas, who said he wouldn't believe until he saw for himself that Jesus was alive.   The people that had believed he was the Messiah, seemed to be grieving that it was "all over."  The kingdom wouldn't come after all.  The Messiah was dead.

But the thief--he showed great faith. He saw beyond the visible.  He was the only one at the cross who said, "WHEN you come into your kingdom."  He looked into the eyes of the Jesus that was dying, and he saw beyond the visible.  He saw beyond that moment.  He knew that Jesus was Messiah AND he would come into his kingdom.  That is great faith.

God, we pray for GREAT vision and faith.  We need to see beyond our current circumstances, beyond what we see with our eyes, beyond what our mind is thinking about "reality," loss and grief.   We pray with supernatural faith, knowing that even when things in the natural look final, devastating, and unchangeable...GOOD IS COMING.  GOD IS WITH US.  NOTHING IS LOST.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passover and Jesus: God's Story of Redemption

One thing I love about God is how He reveals His story to us time and time again.  I am including a passage from Chuck Pierce, one that I love to read during Easter week.  He outlines the ways in which  Passover and Easter week are interlocking pieces of God's redemption story.  

Author Chuck Pierce wrote the following--
The Timetable of Passover
It's interesting to compare the timetable of Jesus' crucifixion with the Passover celebration. According to the Torah, at the time of Passover a number of events had to take place in a specific order, and at very specific times.
1. The Passover Lamb had to be selected on a specific day. Exodus 12 instructs that the Passover lamb be chosen on the 10th day of 1st month. By the time of Jesus, only lambs from Bethlehem were considered eligible to serve as Passover lambs. So the lamb born in Bethlehem was chosen and brought into Jerusalem from the east (down the Mount of Olives) and entered the city through the sheep gate. On the 10th day of 1st month Jesus, the Lamb born in Bethlehem, came down the Mount of Olives and entered Jerusalem through the sheep gate. (This is called His "triumphal entry.") As He entered, the people waved palm branches and shouted "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the LORD! Save us, Son of David!" By mass acclamation Jesus is designated as Israel's Messiah! The crowds had chosen their Passover Lamb!
2. The Lamb then had to be examined. The Torah instructed that once the lamb was chosen, it had to be carefully examined for blemishes. Only a perfect, spotless and unblemished lamb would suffice for the Passover. After arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple to teach. While there, He was approached by the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and the teachers of the Law. Each group posed difficult questions, trying to trap him. Essentially, they were looking for any blemish which might disqualify Him as Messiah. But no one could find fault with Him. He was without blemish.
3. The Leaven (impurity) must be cast out. Torah instructs that before the feast, all leaven (impurity) must be cast out of every Israelite home. Each mother took a candle and searched out impurity, removing it from her house. This regulation is still observed today. Passover is a time to cleanse every house. Every observant Jewish family carefully cleans their house before Passover. Every trace of impurity is removed. After Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He entered the Temple and cast out the moneychangers. He was following the Biblical instruction to prepare for Passover by cleansing His Father's house.
4. The Lamb is taken to the altar for public display. On the morning of the 14th day of the 1st month, when all has been set in order, the lamb was led out to the altar. At 9 a.m. that morning, the lamb was bound to the altar and put on public display for all to see. On the morning of the 14th day of the 1st month, when all had been fulfilled, Jesus was led out to Calvary. At 9 a.m. that morning, just as the lamb was being bound to the altar, Jesus was nailed to the Cross and put on public display at Calvary.
5. The Lamb was slain at a specific time. At exactly 3 p.m. the high priest ascended the altar. As another priest blew a shofar on the temple wall, the high priest cuts the throat of the sacrificial Lamb, and declared, "IT IS FINISHED!" At 3 p.m. on that high holy day, at the moment the Passover lamb was killed, Jesus cried with a loud voice, "IT IS FINISHED," and gave up His spirit. In Greek, "It is finished" is tetelistai! It means, "The debt has been paid in full!" The Celebration of Jesus!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Parental Guilt When Kids Struggle

There are times when parents seem scrutinized.  Are they doing a good job?  What would someone else do differently?  This tendency to critique can reach a peak intensity when a child is struggling with relationships, health, learning, emotions, or behavior.  "Hmmm" people say..."What did I do differently that saved my child from that struggle?"  Parents with struggling kids can receive more than typical scrutiny.  

My son is in the autistic spectrum.  But we didn't always have a word for his struggle.  It took 5 years for a diagnosis.  I still recall some instances of comment and scrutiny that left me feeling shamed and judged.  For example, when my son was 9 months old, he continued with extreme colic.  We had him in day care 2 days a week.  It was clear that the staff were becoming overwhelmed with him.  One day, his caregiver wrote me a note on his daily take home sheet that said, "His crying is disruptive to the classroom.  Please have him better by tomorrow."  I'm sure the note meant that she was overwhelmed, but she did not think about the parental guilt she encouraged.  When I hear things like that, I think "If I were a different parent, could I 'make him better' by tomorrow? What am I doing wrong?" We ended up taking him out of day care and alternating our work schedule to care for him at home.

I remember another time when my son was older...perhaps 3 years old.  He used to want about 5 pacifiers at a time.  One for his mouth, and two for each hand that he would twirl.  I NEVER took him shopping with me, but this one day I needed something desperately from Walmart.  I knew it would be hard on him and me.  Walmart is such a crowded place.  Could we do it?  Dare I risk it? I was self-conscious about the pacifiers, so I let him keep one (to help us both survive Walmart) and I left the other 4 in the car.  Sure enough, the older couple in back of us in the checkout lane explained that he was too old for a pacifier.  Why didn't I just throw it out?  Then they began physically to remove the pacifier from his mouth.  I was as nice as I could be at that moment.  I said something like, "Well for today we are going to leave the pacifier there."  

My child is struggling.  My household is struggling.  We are trying to survive each day.  But the feedback at times has been "If you are good parents, your child would look different.  There would not be struggle.  There would be normalcy.  If only you would parent the way I do."  

The good thing is, now that I am aware of the judgment that can occur between parents, I am so very mindful to compliment parents.  When I see the heart they have for their child, I make an effort to bless them and honor them.  I can acknowledge their struggle, perhaps offer suggestions, but in the end... honor their heart, honor their courage, honor their trying to do the "right thing."

Have you experienced parental guilt?  Have you felt honored by others?  How do you honor other parents and encourage them in their journey?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Failure Before Success

Every now and then I try to put "failure" into perspective.  Many times, our failures can assume gigantic proportions.  We may think about them so much that they come to define us or seem to predict the future.  But many successful people first faced a multitude of rejections--only later, overcoming them all.  Just take a look--

Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was "too stupid to learn anything." Once in the workplace, he was fired from his first two jobs for low productivity. Although he successfully invented the light bulb, it took 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before finding a bulb that worked. 

Oprah Winfrey was fired from one of her early jobs because she was "unfit for TV." 

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked imagination and had no good ideas."  
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, a blow that felt devastating.  Later, however, with great success, he stated "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was a divorced, single mother on welfare while she was attending school and writing.  Within a span of 5 years, her life changed completely.

Henry Ford is famous in the car industry even though he was not an instant success. His early businesses failed, leaving him penniless five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

Fred Astaire was described at his first screen test as someone who "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little."

Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken did not have immediate success selling chicken.  Just the opposite--his secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant wanted to use it.

Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime.  He created over 800 works but was never successful as a painter.  There were even times that he was starving.  Today his works bring in hundreds of millions of dollars.

The actor Sydney Poitier grew up poor in the Bahamas.  When he began acting, he was advised by a casting director to become a dishwasher.  "Why don't you stop wasting people's time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?"

The Beatles had recorded 15 sons with Decca Recording studios before studio execs said "we don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out. They have no future in show business."

Stephen King, writer, received 30 rejections for his work Carrie.  He gave up for a while, until his wife urged him to send it in one more time. 

Zane Grey, popular author in the 1900's, was initially a dentist.  He hated his work and began to write adventure stories.  He was met with repeated rejections and was told that he should give up writing.  He finally saw his first work published at age 40.  He ultimately had 90 published works, and sold over 50 millions copies around the world.
Before Elvis made a name for himself, the manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired him after only one show.  The manager said, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

Winston Churchill is now known as a Nobel Prize-winning diplomat.  He was elected twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and was a headliner during WWII.  However, as a youngster he  struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. As an adult, he saw years of political failures.  He was defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62.  
Dr Seuss tried to publish his first book but was rejected by 27 publishing companies.  Today, he is a favorite of young and old alike.  
Babe Ruth of home run fame (714), held the record for strikeouts (1,300) for decades.  When asked about this he simply said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Impossible Monday: Prayers for Health

Every now and then I like to dedicate a day to pray for "impossible" things.  I felt like I went through a season where God asked me if I was only praying for things I thought were reasonable, possible, or likely.  He encouraged me to pray for "impossible" things with great faith!

Today, let's join together to pray for breakthrough in areas of health!  I encourage you to think of issues of health in your household, community, family, and world.  What strikes you about this area?  What hits home? Do you pray for a special person who is sick?  Do you pray for an area of health that you feel conviction about?  Do you pray for breakthrough with cancer, for example, or autism, or depression?  Do you pray for those with dementia?  What feels like an "impossible" prayer to you?  Let's pray together--

Luke 11:9 Amplified Bible (AMP)

So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.

Let's keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking!  I am praying for your health.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

JibJab: Video ECards with a Personal Touch and more

My husband recently had a birthday and my parents sent him a JibJab e-card.  I have to say, I laughed out loud!  Completely hysterical.  I remember that they sent a Christmas ecard and I loved it as well--I need to start using this site. 

What is it?  Well you go to and see an array of ecards with face cut-outs.  Then you use digital face photos from your own library to insert into the ecard which then dances to music or tells a story.

So, go onto your computer and pick out some good face shots of friends, family, or yourselves and check it out.  You might make a video card that looks like this:

 JibJab snow race card

Also at the site, jibjab is announcing their new children's site called StoryBots It looks like a site built for fun and education in which you put your child's photo into the applications so they see themselves while playing the game or learning new information. 

They also advertise apps--They have a behavior game where kids earn points during the day and can loose points according to behavioral goals.

Another app is one that captures kids quotes with their photos in a cute display for messaging others.  Here's an example-- 

Many of the features seem fun.  I am going to check them out!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gut Bacteria and Mood

Trillions of bacteria live in our gut; in fact, the number of bacteria out-number our own cells about 10:1.  The gut is also home to 100 million neurons and is often called the "second brain."  Not only that, but 60-70% of our immune system is within the gut.  

Many people are aware that we all have "good bacteria" and "bad bacteria" within the digestive system.  Having 85% good bacteria is considered "normal."  

The incredible thing is that research with animals models is finding that the content and ratio of bacteria in the gut impacts behavior and "mood."  By changing the types of bacteria in the gut of animals, they have seen notable changes, primarily within behaviors that are described as "anxious" (e.g., animals can be seen as more cautious, timid, or reluctant to engage in new environments) vs. bold and adventurous.  The impact also works the other way.  When significant stress is introduced, the stress chemicals released can change the flora of the gut and therefore negatively impact immune function.  

This type of research may impact how we treat individuals with anxiety and mood symptoms.  In the future, doctors may want to test the bacterial flora and alter it to a more healthy state to see if this improves symptoms. 

To read more, connect to this article--That Gut Feeling: article in APA monitor

One reason I find this so interesting, is that my son is in the autistic spectrum and has difficulties with anxiety.  We notice that when he is on an antibiotic for a while, he seems worse.  We also feel he does better with a probiotic supplement to increase his good bacteria.  Many individuals within the autistic spectrum are noted to have significant allergies (immune issues) and digestive problems but no one knows why.  I will be watching for research that connects the gut, immune system, and autistic spectrum in some way...

What do you think?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Social Stories: parenting tool

A social story can be used with kids for a variety of purposes.  Many times, the stories are used for children in the autistic spectrum.  But of course many children who are outside the spectrum have difficulty with change, transitions, and social situations.  Your child may have anxiety or upset about a new year at school or an appointment at the dentist.  Maybe your child reacts inappropriately or without positive problem solving in some situations, and you would like to give them a "script" for acting in a different way. 

With my son, we use social stories primarily for issues of change and transition, when he is feeling nervous or reluctant about a situation.  Even if a fun party is coming up, my son likes to hear the "story" of what is going to happen ahead of time, and rehearse it in his mind like a script or movie. 

The story to the left is one that a parent devised with words and pictures to describe what a trip and Dr's appointment would feel like.  It is a "what to expect" story. 

My son recently had a birthday party because he turned 7.  He gets very excited about things like that, but also overwhelmed, not knowing how to handle the adrenaline.  "Am I feeling nervous or excited?  I feel uncomfortable."

I told him a story something like this:
Once upon a time, Joshua had a birthday party.  He was turning 7; what a wonderful number 7 is.  Joshua's friends wanted to celebrate with him and have fun.  So, on Saturday, 3 of Joshua's friends came to play, eat cake, and open presents.  Joshua felt excited but a little nervous.  On Saturday, mom decorated the table with green decorations and made a Lord of the Rings cake.  After I ate lunch, I helped her finish the decorations.  Mom told me that the boys would be here in 10 more minutes.  When the boys came, I opened the door and said "friend or foe!"  They laughed and came in.  We played with our swords first, like Lord of the Rings.  Mom gave us a 10 minute warning before it was time to stop playing and eat cake and ice cream.  The cake was chocolate and the ice cream was mint chocolate chip.  It was so good, I wished I could have more.  Next, I opened presents.  I knew that I might get a present that I didn't really want, or that I already have.  When that happens, I know to take a deep breath and say "Thanks!  You are such a good friend!"  I want to make my friends feel special.  After we opened presents, I played with my friends again before their parents pick them up.  What a good, tiring, and fun party.  After the party was rest time.  

After I told him the story, he said "tell it to me again."  He likes the story and repetition; it feels grounding.  One thing to consider is that unexpected things always happen.  This is a good learning tool as well.  At some point in the story, I typically add..."And this is how it happened...unless something unexpected happens.  It usually does and that's ok."  

How do you help your child with transitions?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Children's Artwork Into Keepsakes

My son's school uses Art to Remember every year as a fund raiser for their arts program.  This is the one fundraiser I actually look forward to every year.  They take a piece of artwork that he has created at school and then you can order gifts/products that feature the artwork.  It always happens in the Spring and I love to order things for Mother's Day and Father's Day, as well as things for our home.

I ordered large magnets last year and they are so durable, beautiful, and don't get lost.  I also ordered the grandparents magnets and erase boards with my son's artwork featured.  This year I'm looking at even more kinds of things like flower pots, aprons, notecards, ceramic tiles, and mouse pads. 

Another site that features ways to turn your child's art into gifts is SnapfishThey have multiple products and photo book options.  I have decided to start scanning my son's artwork into the computer and then making photo books that feature the artwork.  There are some great examples at Snapfish. 

What do you do with your child's artwork?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When Jesus Wept by Bodie and Brock Thoene

There have been authors that have greatly impacted me in my life.  Typically I think this is the result of a merging in time of what God is doing in my life and what the author has to say and reveal.  Everything seems to meet at the right place and time to change me and my outlook forever. 

Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced "Tay-nee") have been just such authors for me.  They have written over 45 works of historical fiction, selling over 10 million copies.  Their works have been honored with 8 ECPA Gold Medallion Awards.

Although the topics of their books vary, they have a heart for Jewish history and scripture.  They have published series having to do with World War II and with the establishing of Israel after the war.  They have also published about the Great Depression in the United States and slavery. 

Most recently they have been publishing a series called the A.D. Chronicles which is set in biblical times and centers around familiar scriptural men/women as well as fictional characters.  It is their interpretation, based in history and scripture, of what it was like to live when and where Jesus lived.  

They have just published the first book of a new series.  The series is the Jerusalem Chronicles and the book is When Jesus Wept. The book centers around the friendship between Lazarus and Jesus.  It is my understanding that the Jerusalem Chronicles will begin telling the story of the crucifixion and resurrection, a portion of scripture that the A.D. Chronicles did not develop.

I certainly understand that some people do not like to read fictional accounts based on scripture stories and the history of the time.  I respect that point of view and can see why people may feel wary--concerned that individuals may give the fictional interpretation  the same weight as scripture.  However, keeping in mind that this is an interpretation of the story, the scriptures mean more to me when I can read about what life was like during that time, the history behind different rulers, and the customs of the day.  I just received my copy of When Jesus Wept and began reading.  I can't wait to see what God teaches me through this new offering.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Process and Journey: Hebrews 11:13

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional; copyright Regan 2012

Hebrews 11:13 (New International Version)

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

Promises are promises, and God’s promises are true. He is incapable of being unfaithful to a promise. By His very nature, He is a covenant-making God, and He interacts with His people accordingly. Nothing will fall short. However, He is also an eternal God—a God of the big picture. He is a God of the ages, not just of the moment. His vision crosses over seasons and times. As we see in Hebrews, there are aspects of the promise that unfold over time, perhaps even after a lifetime. Some of the promises the ancients received foretold of things to come generations into the future.

This is the good news and the hard news. We would all like to see promises brought to fruition in an instant. But our God is a God of process and journey. Some of His promises to us unfold over years, decades, and generations. It is hard to wait for promises to come true; perhaps we may get to the end of our lives feeling that some things we glimpsed are still far away. However, we praise God, for He is faithful to the generations. The way God works in your life is part of a life-giving process that unfolds for your children and all generations to come. They will reap the benefit of your intercession, your prayer, and your journey. There will be breakthroughs that you strive toward your whole life that your children will receive as an inheritance without toil.

Thank you, God. Thank you for giving gifts to our children and being faithful to the generations. Thank you that our journey makes a difference; the promise is ever unfolding.

1. Sometimes faith in God’s promises means believing that breakthrough will come to a future generation. What breakthroughs are you believing for your children?

2. What have you received as an inheritance because of the faith of your ancestors? Was there someone in a past generation who was a pioneer in the Christian faith and gifted you in your spiritual journey? How can you do the same for your children?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lord of the Rings Birthday Party--7 year old

My son is in love with Lord of the Rings, mostly through his exposure to the LEGO characters and the LEGO video game.  He just turned 7 and requested a Lord of the Rings theme for his party.  My challenge--to figure out how to make much of the decorations and theme from scratch, as it is difficult to find LOTR party products at the store.

This is the invitation I came up with.  It is 3 pages (only two pages shown here).  I used paper that looked somewhat aged, created the graphics with Microsoft Publisher, used a 3-hold punch on the left side and tied the pages together with twine to make it look rustic.  The third page says "Then come join our Fellowship of Celebration and Feasting." Then I listed the specific location for the party etc.  We encourage the boys to bring "a sword, bow and arrow, or a weapon of your choice in case there are trolls, ogres or giants."

I bought green and yellow table decorations (tablecloth, cups etc) to go along with the earth theme.  I ordered a map of middle earth and put it underneath the tablecloth for a center piece type of decoration (the tablecloth was see through). I sprinkled gold stars on the table.

My husband was able to borrow large trees from work, so we had 5 trees in one room decorated with white lights.  This again was for the Middle Earth theme, adventures through the trees, and festive atmosphere.

The boys had nerf swords and ran through the house role playing the characters.  I ordered a Lord of the Rings Cake Topper from Amazon.  I didn't realize that the hobbit house was a cardboard cutout, but it worked out well all the same.  It comes with 3 Hobbit characters that can then of course be kept and played with. 

I also ordered some Hobbit party rings and some stickers.  My son decorated small blue and green paper party bags by drawing the Lord of the Rings characters on them.  We put small lego packages in them, candy, stickers and Hobbit rings for the guests. 

It really turned out fun!  The boys enjoyed it and so did we.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jesus Calling Bible Storybook: Review

Because my son is in the autistic spectrum, he has trouble handling crowds of people.  We have tried church several times in the past with him, and so far it has been very draining and difficult for him to tolerate.  I am always looking for ways to incorporate God into our daily life at home, so he is surrounded by the good news of Jesus.  

Every night we tell Bible stories before he goes to bed.  I have looked at many Bible storybooks and it is difficult to find one that seems compelling, beautiful, and easy to understand.  We just purchased Jesus Calling Bible Storybook by Sarah Young a few weeks ago, and we are loving it. 

I have never purchased Sarah Young's devotionals before, although I know they have a wonderful reputation and have been widely read.  In reading the Storybook, I understand why.  She seems able to capture God's love, goodness, and beauty in a way that inspires us and fills us with awe.  Her writing seems both simple and profound--easy to understand but compelling us to read it again and think about it during the day.  The artwork in this Bible Storybook is BEAUTIFUL and makes the stories even more captivating (illustrator Carolina Farias).

The book includes 49 Old Testament stories and 51 New Testament stories.  Here is an excerpt from the story about Christmas-- "Finally, it was time.  God was ready.  The world was ready. Stars sparkled in the sky on a night so quiet you could hear your heart beat.  If you stood still, closed your eyes, and took a deep breath, you could feel something in the air. The sky, the fields, and the little town of Bethlehem--they were ready.  The angels in heaven were ready.  This was the perfect time for Jesus to be born."  

Interspersed throughout the book are messages from God called "Jesus Calling."  Each is based on a scripture verse.  Here is an example based on Revelation 22:13.  "I am the Alpha and the Omega.  That means the Beginning and the End.  Most people call Me Jesus.  I am God the Son.  I made the heavens and the earth. Even then--long before you were born--I thought of you and loved you." 

What do you like to read with your kids?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Detoxification Bath: The Why and How To

I have been trying to focus on wellness in several areas of my life.  I have been exercising more and eating healthy.  As part of that focus, I have also been trying to take care that my body doesn't get run down, that it has the opportunity to restore and replenish. 

As part of that focus, I tried this Detoxification Bath last week.  I was glad to have directions because I have taken Epson salt baths before, but now realize I didn't stay in long enough or put enough salts in.  This article also gives instructions of other ingredients and what to do after the bath (e.g., like drink lots of water). 

After I took the bath, I really saw the impact on my physical function.  For the next day I was tired and didn't feel well.  I tried to drink lots of water, but could tell I felt a bit worse at first.  After that I felt like I had good energy.  The most amazing thing to me is that the eczema on my hand completely cleared up.  It has been pretty bad for about 5 years and sometimes I use a steroid cream because the skin splits and bleeds.  I wear gloves when I do dishes or take a shower.  But during the bath, I just let my hand stay in the water for the 40 minutes.  I was worried it would get worse, but it actually looks great. 

How do you detox?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Daily Burn: Myofascial Release

I have really been looking for ways to add more fat burning and cardio to my workout routine, which has consisted primarily of flexibility and strength training for a while now.  I have recently joined and am really enjoying it.  This is a website that streams exercise videos of many different types (e.g., dance workouts, cardio sculpt, yoga, kick boxing, 15 min workouts) to your computer, streaming device, or tablet.  They charge you $10 a month and have other resources like a store for nutrition products and an online community with health articles etc.

One of the things I LOVE about the site, are the segments (about 20-30 min each; there are 3 total) on myofascial release.  

I have never seen segments like this before.  They are to help release those deep muscle knots that hurt, cause injury, and create overall havoc in your posture and well-being.  She uses a foam roll and a ball (either tennis ball which is softer or a lacrosse ball which is more dense).  There is an upper body segment, lower body segment, and full body segment.  This has helped me SO much as far as having the stamina and comfort level to actually keep up with my other workouts without feeling like I've been run over by a truck the next day!

What do you do to stay healthy?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feasting During Famine: 1 Kings 18:41

There are times that God gives us a word about the future--a message about breakthrough, about restoration, about rain after long season of drought and famine.  But the word comes before the breakthrough.  I love this verse from 1 Kings.  There has been a 3 year drought in the land when Elijah hears the rain that God is sending.  He is so confident in God's rain, that he tells the King to "Eat and drink--celebrate! Rain is on the way..."  He tells the King to feast before the rain even comes.  

1 Kings 18:41
The Message (MSG)
41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Up on your feet! Eat and drink—celebrate! Rain is on the way; I hear it coming.”

In this case, the feast is an act of faith in God.  To feast during a famine is a demonstration of belief that God's plans for restoration are unstoppable, that the goodness of God is coming, that the smell of rain is in the air.  My husband, son, and I have begun to try to live this out in a practical way.  Every now and then we say "Let's have a feast!"  We plan a special homemade dinner, kind of like a Thanksgiving meal together.  We make the special things we don't have the time to make every day.  One time, my son and I actually drew out a table runner showing the story of Elijah praying in the rain and running down the mountain so he wouldn't get soaked.  

We act out the feast as a practical, tangible way of living out our faith that good is coming, even during seasons of grief and struggle, even when things appear stuck and with no progress.   We may not feel we have anything in the natural to celebrate...but, we celebrate God's goodness (even when we can't see it with our human eyes), we celebrate God's faithfulness (even when we feel abandoned), and we celebrate God's restoration heart (even when we see only ruins in front of us).  The feast is an act of faith for the future and a demonstration of belief in God's heart and good plans. 

Have you planned a feast lately?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hear the News: A Crafty Way to Send a Message

I just recently found this site that generates a fake newspaper clipping ( for free.  Once on the site, you enter in the name of the fake newspaper, and type in the article you want to "publish."  Once you are done, you can download the image and send to friends.  The above article is one I generated as an example.

This would be fun for announcements (e.g., weddings, new babies, graduations, promotions) or for funny spoofs to make your friends and family laugh.  I am thinking that in our own extended family when we do contests about March Madness or the Oscars, the family winner should get an article!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spiritual Journal

I must confess, I've never been one to keep a diary or journal.  I think I tried it when I was 12 or so.  I became frustrated with feeling like I had to write in it every day, and would find myself writing about the weather and other things that felt trivial.

There are a few things that I feel like I have done in my adult life that have so impacted my spiritual life, I can never go back.  One is keeping a spiritual journal.  I keep it by my bed, so that even if I wake up in the night with a prayer or dream, it is handy to write in before the image passes. 

I only journal about things that seem like they might be significant...for example, if I feel like God talked to me, or I am struck by a scripture but don't know why, or if there was a breakthrough in prayer.  Sometimes I journal about dreams that seem important even if I don't know why.  Every now and then as I'm praying, I read through the journal.

Why is this important?  Because God is a God of the ages.  Process is important to Him.  He is a generational God who speaks to us about things when they are still "not yet."  For example, Abraham had the word from God that he would have a son and his descendents would be as numerous as the stars.  Abraham would have to wait 25 years to see this word fulfilled.  Joseph had a dream that his brothers would bow down to him.  He spent the next 13 years as a slave and prisoner before being promoted to the palace.  David was anointed king about 10 years before he became king.

Sometimes when God speaks to us, it seems like the exact opposite happens.  We need the word of God to hold onto like a treasure, to pray over it and meditate on it.  I find if I don't write these things down, over the years, the words of God to me fall to the floor.  I forget them or can't hold onto them when the exact opposite things are happening.  If I am meditating over my journal, I am always keeping the word of God in my mind and heart.  I start to see themes of what God has said or is doing.  It helps me have faith for the journey, the process, the walking through day to day things.

I encourage you to start a journal.  Sometimes you might write in it every day, at other times, not for months.  But when you are not the journal and remember.  Keep God's words alive in your spirit.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What I Love Lucy can teach us about Executive Function

As a Neuropsychologist, I am often asked to explain executive function to patients, families, physicians and other staff.  Executive functioning is the most complex cognitive domain and the one that is the most sensitive to decline or dysfunction. It is also very difficult to explain and includes many abilities such as multi-tasking, complex attention, speed, attention to detail and mental organization.  It also includes what we call sequencing.

Sequencing in the physical domain includes things like putting one foot in front of the other in a pattern that produces normal walking movements.  In the domain of thinking skills, sequencing involves being able to take in multiple sources of information in sequence, sort out the information, know what information to pay attention to and what to ignore, and to be able to use the information to produce a behavior in the correct sequence.  

In English please!  Of course.  Imagine a conveyor belt sending items toward you at a certain speed.  If your executive function is working well, you can see and attend to each item and use it appropriately.  However, if your mental sequencing is impaired, you will have trouble attending and responding to the items appropriately. 

Remember this I Love Lucy episode?

Watch this video clip:  I Love Lucy Video Clip

If there is executive dysfunction, an individual may have trouble keeping up with information that comes at them, sequencing what to do with the information, and producing a useful outcome. 

So for example, if you are talking to someone with executive dysfunction, and they have sequencing trouble, they may miss large chunks or details of what you are saying.  If this individual is older in age, you might wonder if they have memory problems ("I already told you that?") or if in school, you might say ("Pay attention.  Why aren't you focusing").  

Another example is with driving.  If an individual is driving, visual information comes toward them at great speed.  They have to sequence all this incoming information and quickly figure out if "all is well" or if they need to adjust what they are doing with the car.  If they need to adjust, they need to sequence a response (e.g., first I need to take my foot of the gas, then I need to put my foot on the breaks, and I also need to see if I can turn into another lane, etc).  The incoming information is sequenced, and the outgoing response is sequenced. 

Some people who develop executive dysfunction may say "things that used to be automatic, now feel like I have to think about each little step."  Executive dysfunction is common after traumatic brain injury, is the main difficulty in attention deficit disorder, and is often a part of subcortical dementias (where the center of the brain is impacted like in Parkinson's Disease, small strokes, Multiple Sclerosis), and autistic spectrum disorders.

Approaches to helping someone with sequencing problems may include:
1. Providing information in smaller chunks and repeating the information over time.  Individuals with executive function problems probably won't forget much of the information, but they may need repetition to store the information and may need cues to "get it out."  
2. Executive function deficits may become severe enough to create safety problems while driving.  A driving check-up or driving simulation exam may be helpful in these cases.
3. Break down tasks into smaller bits.  The person with executive dysfunction may be able to do small parts of a task independently, even though they can't independently sequence through the whole task.  They may only need verbal cues to keep moving on through the task (e.g, ok, now you finished this part, now move onto this next part). 
4. A significant dysfunction in the executive domain may mean that someone will benefit from cooking assistance and supervision with medications.  Cooking and sorting through medications each involves sequencing and there may be significant safety concerns if mistakes are made.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prayers Left Behind--Luke 1:13

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, copyright Regan 2012 

Luke 1:13 (New International Version)

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

The book of Luke begins with the Christmas story—first with the birth of John the Baptist, and then with the birth of Messiah, Jesus. Here we see John’s father, Zechariah, childless and of an old age, chosen by lot to burn incense in the inner temple. It is here that he encounters an angel of the Lord. The angel tells Zechariah that his prayer has been heard, his prayer for a child, the prayer he prayed long ago as a young man. The prayer he no longer prays. In fact, Zechariah challenges the angel, asking how this could possibly be true. He is too old, the prayer itself is from long ago, and the time for the prayer to be fulfilled has seemingly passed. But, the angel says that the prayer Zechariah no longer prays has been heard and answered. In fact, Zechariah’s name itself means, “God has remembered.”

What prayers have you lost hope for? What prayers do you no longer pray? I pray that you will know that your prayers are heard and remembered by God today. I pray that the resurrection God will resurrect hope in you for intervention now, and that you will see miracles beyond your wildest expectation. God, we pray for fruitfulness where there once was barrenness. Thank you for being a God who remembers the prayers that we have left behind.

1. Is there a prayer that you no longer pray because you have given up hope? Can you relate to how skeptical Zechariah felt in that moment, in his “old age?”

2. Is there any prayer you feel that God wants to resurrect and bring to life again? I pray that He will guide your prayers and fill you with hope for new breakthrough.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do It Yourself Art for Home

Sometimes I get a spurt of creativity and can think of so many ideas for decorating, cooking, and making new things.  Other times, I need a little help.  I was trying to think of ways to create artwork for home, and was stumped. 

I came across this article on BuzzFeed and love nearly every one of their 39 ideas (with photos).  39 Easy DIY Ways to Create Art For Your Walls

I love the simplicity of these doilies with orange thumb tacks.

Or the quirky fun of this magnetic scrabble game that you can
actually play...a little bit each day.

And definitely love this old windowframe turned into a picture frame. 

Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Middle TV Series

I work in a hospital setting, and sometimes when I come home, I just want to watch something funny and silly.  This show fits the bill.  The show is named The Middle because it depicts a family living in the "middle" of the USA.  Everything about them is middle of the road--no perfect people, no high achievement, no first place.

The comedy just feels so real, and the jokes and situations make me laugh.  The kids each have different personalities.  Axl is the oldest boy, this year a senior in high school.  He is the unmotivated, sarcastic jock in the family, great at football but antagonizes his sibs.  Sue is the middle child.  She is bubbly and full of great spirit, even though she never makes any team or club she tries out for, and other people forget even meeting her.  Brick is the quirky youngest of the family who participates in social skills groups and loves to read books.

I honestly didn't care for the third season, but loved the first two and now am enjoying season 4, well underway.  Season three seemed more dark and less light hearted.  The other seasons seemed to balance bickering with family, problems with progress, and poverty with richness of spirit.

Enjoy this clip where Sue is celebrating her birthday during a road trip to Brick's spelling bee.  She is so enthusiastic about everything, she can't wait to see "the world's largest tree stump."

The Middle video link

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cozy Places for Kids to Rest

My 6 year old son is in the autistic spectrum.  When he is stressed, overloaded, or exhausted, he may hide under tables.  Lately he has been spending hours with his whole body covered under a blanket, playing minecraft on our ipad.  

When I can see he is stressed, I know I need to provide a place for him to feel calm, cozy, and centered.  We used to have a small tent we set up in the basement, although that has been broken for a while. 

I found some nice looking pictures of resting places that I may want to imitate.  This first one uses an old baby mattress and a draped tent to make a nook.

This is a tent theme as well, with some type of frame for support and some comfy pillows.
I have seen this type of set-up as well, with a resting place under a table.  Then pillows or a small mattress can be put under there with flashlights, books, etc.

We all need a comfortable place to rest and regroup, don't we?  These look so inviting.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cloud Frosting: Dairy Free

I am planning my son's 7th birthday party and he has requested a Lord of the Rings party (more on that later).  He also wants a flat chocolate cake decorated with a Lord of the Rings theme. 

I was thinking that to make the cake more interesting, I would pipe some type of marshmallow or whipped cream mixture into the body of the cake.  I have done this with cupcakes and usually make a hole in the cooked cupcake with an apple corer before piping in whatever mixture I am working with.  

Because my son is gluten free and casein (dairy protein) free in his diet, I am always looking for good nondairy frostings.  I found this recipe for Cloud Frosting that is nondairy (I have seen some dairy versions) on Martha Stewart's website. It is described as tasting like a mix between marshmallow and whipped cream.  I think I will try piping it inside the cake, hopefully in a pattern so that each guest gets some inside treat!

Cloud Frosting Recipe:
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  •  Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, egg whites, water, and cream of tartar. Whisk until foamy. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 to 16 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Radio Broadcast: Praying for Goodness

Radio Broadcast: Praying for Goodness in the Lives of Others

As part of my journey parenting my son in the autistic spectrum and writing the devotional Soul Cries, I have felt certain themes grow in my heart.  The above link takes you to a 30 minute radio broadcast on WPEO radio.  The topic is about praying for goodness in the lives of others...even if we feel they don't deserve it or have too much goodness already. 

It is about being able to pray that God's Kingdom will enter into the lives of individuals, institutions, companies, churches, and communities all around us.  It is about that part of generosity that involves rejoicing when others are blessed, healed, and have encounters with God.