Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pre-Order “Nobody Told Me” Today!

Pinch me I must be dreaming.

After many months of hard work Pam Stenzel and I are excited to announce that as of today you can pre-order your copy of our book “Nobody Told Me.”


“Who is this book for?” you ask.

Any girl or boy in your life 12 and up, parents of preteens and up, youth directors and pastors, crisis pregnancy centers, your bookstore, etc.

We took years of stories and questions submitted by teens about God’s design for sex, media influence, peer pressure, abuse, pregnancy, STDs, emotional heartache, recycled virginity, and choosing abstinence until marriage to create a fun, and most importantly, empowering book to educate and encourage all dealing with sexual temptation in this day and age.

Not only that, but we communicated with teens the way that they like to communicate! Using a Facebook-like writing approach, we meet teens (and all who love them) where they are at and provide them with answers to today’s tough questions.

The best part is that this book is applicable to everyone regardless of the choices they have made to date. For those who have abstained, this book will offer a window into the heart of their peers, provide answers to difficult questions they might still have, strengthen them to stand strong until marriage, and offer them suggestions for how to live that out. If a young person has made mistakes, they will hear stories of young people struggling right along with them, but laced within the message is clarity where there was confusion, hope where there was pain, and practical steps to redeeming their future.

Can you tell I’m excited?! And, it isn’t just Pam and I.

Josh McDowell (author of Why True Love Waits”) said, “This book will provide every teen a sense of understanding and empowerment through Christ to make wise decisions. No home, school or church should be without it.”

And,

Rebecca St. James (popular Christian recording artist) wrote, “This book is relevant, powerful, and packed with truths that all young people need to hear.”

So, make sure to get your copy pre-ordered today! And, pass the word along. I’ve added a link on the sidebar for anyone to easily get to the ordering site. There is also a Facebook page for the book so be sure to join that as well.

This would make a great gift for the special people in your life that you pray will make wise choices and live out God’s best!
Pre-orders will ship January 2011.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Faces of Facebook

Today I posted on Mod Squad about The Faces of Facebook. How do we ensure our children's safety when people can pretend to be anyone? At what age is it safe? What does what we post say about us? And, how are teen/tween girls choices on social medial linked to purity and relationships? Get the information you need to ensure everyone's protection in your home! To read, please visit

You can find Mod Squad online or you can "like" Mod Squad on Facebook so don't miss out on the great information about parenting girls.

I will be posting the last Friday of each month! Also, what questions do you have about talking to/raising your girls in purity? I want to keep a list for future posts!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day when you will all gather around tables filled with loved ones, I wanted to share with you this must-see beauitful video. May we give thanks to the Author of all our blessings.





Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thanksgiving Top 10

Every Monday this month I’ve chosen to write a post on various aspects of Thanksgivings. So far I’ve addressed point of perspective, slowing down, dealing with life’s lemons, and now….a Thanksgiving top 10.

Much has changed in my life over the past year. Some of it is easy to be thankful for – we are expecting a baby, our oldest started school and is flourishing, we’ve created many precious memories with family and friends, and my book with Pam Stenzel was purchased by Regal and will be released January, 2011.

Oppositely, there have been struggles. Our friends’ eight year old boy went to heaven. I’ve had morning, correction, all day long sickness even into my second trimester, reducing my patience with the kids and productivity in the home, and the list goes on.

Without question, I’m sure you can relate. Part of the ebb and flow of life is that circumstances we like AND circumstances we don’t are certain to be part of our story.

This raises the question, therefore, how will we choose to respond?

I don’t know about you, but I want to be certain that God’s truth guides me and not my wayward human emotions. So, I’ve created a Thanksgiving top 10 of biblical truth to inspire in ALL life situations.

1) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 We are never alone.

2) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 God works ALL for our benefit.

3) “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 NO situation can destroy us.

4) “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” Malachi 3:3 God will remove the impurities within us.

5) “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 When we mess up and repent, God COMPLETELY forgives.

6) “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 God is CLOSE to His people, offering a steadfast comfort in the midst of any earthly circumstance.

7) “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 God uses ALL His people (of all ages) to set an example and spread the gospel.

8) “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 The Author of joy celebrates with us.

9) “ I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved”. Psalm 16:8 God is AHEAD of every circumstance we face, providing confidence.

10) “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33 GOD is in control!

Knowing that the Bible is full of good news from a God that is with us, for us, and loving us, how can we help but cultivate Thanksgiving in our lives? He is trustworthy, friends, and He has all your days and circumstances (both good and bad from our perspective) ordained to make you as refined as gold – a crowning beauty in His hand.

May we celebrate with thanksgiving this Thanksgiving week and always.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Over the course of this month, I’ve written on various aspects of Thanksgiving.

And, since the Thanksgiving meal is one I look forward to year round, I decided to take some moments from writing projects to slow down and share with you one of my very favorite Thanksgiving desserts –

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars!



Here is what you will need:

For the Graham Cracker Crust:
1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

For the Filling:
2 (8oz) softened cream cheese packages
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
6oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
1 ¼ cup dairy sour cream
¼ cup sugar
Grated fresh nutmeg

Instructions:

1) Lightly grease 9x13 pan and set aside. For crust, in a large bowl mix crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press evenly in pan. Set aside.
2) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. For filling, in large bowl beat together the cream cheese and 1 1/3 cup sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating at a low speed after each additional until just combined. Stir in pumpkin, spice, vanilla, and salt. Pour 1 ¼ cup of filling in medium bowl. Set both bowls aside.
3) In a small saucepan over very low heat melt the chocolate chips and butter, stirring frequently until smooth. Stir melted chocolate into the 1 ¼ c reserved filling. Carefully spread chocolate mixture evenly over the crust. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Slowly and carefully, pour remaining pumpkin filling over baked chocolate layer, spread evenly.
4) Bake for 40-45 minutes or until mixture is slightly puffed around edges and just set in center. Remove from oven, cool 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sour cream and ¼ cup sugar. Cover and let stand at room temp until pan cools.
5) Spread sour cream mixture over bars. Cool. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before cutting.
6) Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg before serving.

If you like cheesecake, chocolate, and Thanksgiving, this is the dessert for you! And, your house will smell heavenly for hours after baking.

ENJOY!

Now I’m back to writing. There is lots to work on and LOTS of exciting news to share in the near future. I’ll keep you posted…literally. :)

Shared at Pintastic Monday

Monday, November 15, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons

Literally.

Many of you have asked how my pregnancy is going, wanting to share in the journey. However, God revealed something to me in the last week that extends beyond pregnancy and I wanted to pass my life lesson along.

During the 14th week, the baby compares in size to a lemon. Inside of that tiny little “lemon” a lot has happened. My baby’s heart is beating, has brain waves, loaded tooth sockets, complete vocal cords, fingerprints, controlled muscle movements, and might even be sucking his or her thumb.

I am growing right along with the baby. I’m currently in what I affectionately refer to as the “torpedo” stage. I don’t look pregnant, but I definitely look “thick.” People at the gym have got to be thinking this isn’t working for you, honey because I’m there five days a week and gaining in girth. :) Needless to say, I’ve pulled out a few pairs of maternity pants and started wearing some early maternity shirts.

All very cool and worthy of admiration for God’s INCREDIBLE handiwork.

Not so cool was the other “lemon” placed in my path. No, it’s not twins! Rather, because of a combination of issues, I started experiencing some breathing issues. For a few days I tried to manage the symptoms naturally, but it continued to escalate.

Within a few days, I knew that I was in trouble. I’d slept 6.5 hours out of 48 (not great for a pregnant mom with two busy toddlers!) Unable to breathe, I tried some pregnancy safe over the counter meds with no relief and then placed a call into my pulmonologist and OB.

Both of my physicians are prolife, pro-pregnancy doctors so I knew that they would do what was best and safe for both me and baby, but I dreaded hearing “the plan.”

In a short amount of time I heard the words I feared might be true. “He is going to put you on….”

Every single one of us (I imagine) has faced medical issues or a particular situation in life where there is one thing we most want to avoid. Well, for me, that is a specific medication. I despise its side effects and, since I haven’t had to take it in years, I hoped not to ever have to again. But, here I was feeling like I’d run a mile after only a few steps and I knew I needed to trust their wisdom and submit.

The words of Philippians 4:6 rushed to mind- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

In EVERYTHING.

Sometimes that is a big pill to swallow. Quite frankly it is less fun than the pill I wanted to avoid. But, trusting God’s Word to be true, I bowed my head and prayed. Lord, I thank you for doctors who love You and their dedication to keeping me and this baby safe. Jesus, you know that I do not want to take this medication for a multitude of reasons, but please let it bring a blessing….and the necessary relief that I am looking for and need. I thank you for this pregnancy. I thank you for your promise to work all things together for good. And, I thank you that I can try this. The devil is working to distract me from your goodness right now. Help keep my mind steadfast so that I can focus on truth. I know You have a plan.

Immediately, I felt better. Even though my symptoms hadn’t yet resolved, acknowledging that Satan had a grip on my mind and I was allowing him to spin it into every worst possible scenario helped me better zoom in on the One who really does have control. God’s truth about having this child’s life ordained before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16) and that I need not fear because He is with me (Isaiah 41:10) set my sights ABOVE and I praised Him for His careful provision.

Thankfully, within a few hours of starting the medication, I was able to breathe slow and normal again. When I crawled into bed, I slept without struggle. And, very quickly, God made clear to me that sometimes the things we resist are exactly the tools He uses to deliver us from our earthly struggle.

I know that I am blessed. His answer came quickly and that is not always the case. But, my prayer for you is that as you experience life’s difficulties you will not place limitations on God based on your own personal preferences. He can see what we cannot. He can bring goodness, healing, and restoration from places we least expect it.

Thanks abounds.

On a fun note, I am now in my 15th week and we’re just back from a doctor’s appointment where we saw our little peanut on ultrasound again. I’m feeling fetal movement and our “lemon” is no longer. Our little guy or gal is now the size of a naval orange. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Praise Turkeys

In a couple weeks we will begin gathering around extended tables filled with beloved family and friends for Thanksgiving. As we prepare for these celebrations, it is important that we as mothers take time to have meaningful conversations with our daughters.

Since we live in a culture that screams value comes from prominence, social standing, and fading worldly qualities, Thanksgiving affords us a unique opportunity to celebrate with our children who they are in Christ. After all, their friendships, dating choices, and purity decisions come from this starting place.


Because my girls like crafts, I sat them down in the kitchen and traced their precious little hands on brown construction paper.
To learn more about how to finish this fun, faith-based Thanksgiving craft and facilitate the conversation with your children, please go to http://modsquadblog.com/2010/11/gratitude-praise-turkey/. Also note, there is instruction for this meaningful conversation if your children are "too old" for Praise Turkeys!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Transforming Chaos into Solitude

Last week I reflected upon our point of perspective for this Thanksgiving season. As I’ve continued to ponder Thanksgiving, I felt it appropriate to challenge myself and all of you to transform this season from one of chaos to one of solitude.

This has been a week of both extremes for me. I’m not going to lie. With a 45% off GAP coupon, I made my way to the mall last weekend to start a little Christmas shopping. I found some awesome, mega money saving deals, but I was also taken aback by the already packed, crazy, difficult-to-move state of the mall. In the first weekend of November! Then, as I got home I made phone calls about holiday plans, began considering game options for a preschool party, worked on a season project for the CPC I volunteer with, etc. and this is all on top of my routine writing projects and homemaking.

In the midst of the craziness, I also had moments of quietness. Our three year old started battling a cold and I stopped activity to rock her for an hour and a half, simply reflecting on the blessing it is to hold her. You see, I spent much time in prayer this week for friends. Our church dedicated Sunday to the people who had gone before us this past year, and, sadly, that includes an amazing 20 year old boy that I babysat and taught Sunday School too as well as my friend’s only child, a precious 8 year old son. With no TV or radio or noise, I aligned myself with the Savior and poured out my heart to Him so that He could fill me up.

As I sat before Him, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) crept into my heart and wrapped itself around my soul. Be still. I am God.

While the Thanksgiving/Christmas season that we have already started preparing for is a blessed time, it cannot be if we are operating in our own strength – and this is the beauty of Christ inviting us to commune with Him and rejoice in who He is.

It is only if we get away from the loud voices and “stuff” of this world that we will find peace. Our families, our celebrations, and our day- to-day routines are all gifts given to us by an All-knowing God who says be still and come to me. When we do, He can not only show us how to order our day and when to spend energy on what (reducing stress), but we can learn more about who He is and who we are because we belong to Him. It is in this solitude that we come to fully rely on Him and rest in His plan for our lives.

Like you, I am not perfect and I will need to re-remind myself of this moment to moment, but it is my heart’s desire that you will join me in intentionally being still this Thanksgiving/Christmas season so that His wisdom poured out in that time of solitude will leave you happier, healthier, and stronger in faith.

For those visiting from the Raising Homemakers site, also know that I have a great crunchy peanut butter balls recipe that I posted yesterday. SO GOOD! It is the first in my Friday Christmas Food Favs series.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reason to Celebrate

Last night my little princesses got all dressed up
And came home with enough candy to put them into a sugar induced coma.

They were overwhelmed with excitement from the evening and when they awoke this morning they were still bubbling over with joy. Wanting the excitement to continue, it came as no surprise that the first question out of Grace’s mouth was, “What is our next holiday?”

“Thanksgiving,” I answered.

“What is that?”

“It is time where we gather with family and friends and give thanks and praise to God for the many blessings God’s given us.”

Yes, today we turned the calendar page to November and we are marked by a new season – that of Thanksgiving.

Each of us enters this season with a different perspective. For some of us, this has been a year filled with happiness. For others of us, tragedy has pressed upon our hearts, leaving one with questions about how to be thankful in the midst of pain. And, for some, the year has been a delicate dance of happiness and tragedy, playing out in its own unique song.

But, today I am reminded that Thanksgiving doesn’t start with us. It is not from our perspective that hope springs forward. Rather, it starts and ends with the Maker of the heaven and earth. God, who thoughtfully molded you and I into being.

Scripture reminds us, “For the Lord your God is among you, He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

Our Lord, who pressed the stars into place, is not a distant God. To the contrary, He sees your every move. When you laugh with joy, He takes delight in you. When life has you on your knees, He strokes your hair and calms your trembling heart. And, 24 HOURS A DAY, whether you are awake or asleep, He sings a joyful song over you because He loves you and cherishes every detail about you.

If we choose to look at Thanksgiving from this perspective, we cannot help but be thankful this month and always. The God of the universe assures us that He is nearby, walking through it all with us, and so wild crazy about us that He’s belting out joyful tunes. And, considering He’s God, I bet it sounds pretty good. :)

I pray that you would enter this month steadfast in His Word and holding to His promises. If we start from His perspective, we cannot help but feel hope eternal and add a little bounce into our step. And that, my friends, is reason to celebrate.
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