A Special Mother’s Day with the Berenstain Bears

The Berenstain Bears Mother’s Day blessings is a paperback book for children ages 4-8. As with other Berenstain Bears stories, this one is sentimental and sweet. It centers on the bear cubs going to Papa Bear for advice on how to honor their mother on Mother’s Day. Papa Bear suggests taking Mama out to eat after their Sunday Church service and the cubs agree, adding that they want to also invite Grizzly Gran. My favorite part was how, along the way to the church service, Mama bear had a sermon of a type of her own. She points out the many workers in the town who still had to work on Mother’s Day and their importance in the community. I appreciated the author giving a nudge to children to think about other’s sacrifices for the community even at the expense of their own family time. Some of the working moms include; a police officer, a doctor, and a farmer. It was nice to see all moms included in the storyline, working moms and stay-at-home moms. The illustrations are colorful and bright and very familiar to Berenstain Bears fans. The last page has Activities and Questions. I liked this page as it gives action ideas for the values represented in the story.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hands-on Activities for Pre-teens

101 Ways to Have Fun from the editors of Faithgirlz and Girl’s Life magazine is a great go-to book for those rainy days when your pre-teens say “I don’t have anything to do.”
This book’s bright and colorful pages will give them tips on mini-makeovers, staycations, scavenger hunts and book swaps. For the crafty or crafty wanna-be, there are sections on building your own party games. My favorite are the entrepreneur ideas such as “Start a dog walking biz” and “Set up a Spritzer Stand.” The ideas are wholesome and provide ideas for fun that promote imagination and ways to stretch personally. The books are listed as appropriate for grades 4-7. With a dearth of books available in this genre for this age group, this book provides many great ideas to stretch their mind and imagination. This book will be one you keep around and pull out time after time when you and your pre-teen need that extra boost of ideas for fun. I was happy to see most of the ideas listed were low cost to do. The section listed as “Fun Ways to Make $ Fast” had helpful tags with breakdowns of what they could expect to earn from each suggested job. I wish there had been a book like this when my girls were young, as we would have had great fun trying out the hands-on ideas.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My Bedtime Story Bible for Little Ones

My Bedtime Story Bible for Little Ones, by Jean E. Syswerda is a board book just the right size for little hands. This toddler appropriate book features 8 Bible stories ranging from Adam & Eve’s Garden Home to The Lost Son Comes Home. The stories are just short enough to hold a toddler’s interest and are happy and upbeat. The illustrations are bright and simple, eye-catching for little ones. The pages are sturdy cardboard and have a glossy finish which would probably wipe clean easily. This is a quality book produced by Zonderkidz and would be a great little book to slip inside this year’s Easter basket!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Bonhoeffer Abridged, by Eric Metaxas

This detailed biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life is laid out methodically and skillfully by Eric Metaxas. The narrative flows time-wise from the early years of Dietrich’s life and progresses unerringly to Bonhoeffer’s last day on this earth. The chapters in between paint a rich theological and academically full life of Bonhoeffer, a life that seemed set on a collision course with evil. Students of World Wars I and II will appreciate the events portrayed in this book.This book is somber and startling in it’s similarities to today’s world situation. Readers are challenged by Bonhoeffer’s commitment to Christ and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter both enlighten and set a high bar for the reader. This is not a quick read, nor one to sit and enjoy as light entertainment. This is a serious telling of the life of an individual sold out to Jesus Christ and His church. However, having said this, this book is a treasure for the soul. It is like a vitamin and will benefit greatly those who read it.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”Bonhoeffer

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone, by Jay Milbrandt

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone is a cohesive look at a complicated man. Jay Milbrandt does an excellent job of trying to present Livingstone as a human being with flaws as well as a strong moral compass. Most of us are only familiar with Livingstone as in the quote by Henry Morton Stanley, “Dr. Livingstone I presume?”.
I found Milbrandt’s depiction of Livingstone to be interesting in that the Dr. seemed to be sincerely trying to bring about the end of slavery, an aspect of the man I had never heard about before. Livingstone used America’s abolition of slavery to champion a similar movement in Britain.
I found this book to be a detailed read and it seems to be well researched. I enjoyed the many quotes from the journals of the actual people in the story.

#BruceSpringsteen and the Boy in a Coma

I don’t remember his name. I’m ashamed of this. He lay still, his eyes barely open, his breaths soft. Hands cupped neatly at his sides. His hair curled in brown waves, stale and oily, the way coma patients get.

“What was he like before the accident?” I asked, trying to gain some foothold on his personality. “His mother said he loved Bruce Springsteen,” My instructor said. “But his mother said a lot of things. She’s one of those religious types, believes he will come back to his senses.” She laughed derisively, low and throaty, resembling a growl.

“Good luck, let me know if you need anything.” She headed out of his room and down the hall to her office. The door swung shut with a click and then all was silent in the small room.

All but the breaths of the boy.

The next therapy session I showed him a tape recorder. I told him how his Momma said he loved Springsteen, that I borrowed this tape just for him. I pushed the play button and a melancholy voice started low, like a lullaby.

The River, by Bruce Springsteen.

As the last strains of the song faded, I glanced at the boy. I looked closer, willed him, Show me you’re in there. There was no movement and yet, something small and shiny flickered at the edge of his eye. I leaned closer. A single tear welled in the corner of his eye. I watched in amazement as it wound its way down his cheek and onto the pillow.

The boy heard.

Somehow Bruce brought back the boy who remembered. Maybe he had a girl once, or wished he had. For one brief moment, the boy in the coma spoke with the only voice he had.


“Now those memories come back to haunt me

they haunt me like a curse

Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true

Or is it something worse

that sends me down to the river

though I know the river is dry

That sends me down to the river tonight

Down to the river

my baby and I

Oh down to the river we ride.” The River, Bruce Springsteen 1980

I graduated with a degree in Occupational Therapy that year, 1981. The boy in the coma still haunts me. I like to believe the prayers of his mother came true, and that he was made whole. Mr. Springsteen, if somehow this makes its way to you, know one thing: your song opened a closed door in the mind of a young man. Your music made a difference.






The Month of Socks

It is once again the month of socks at our house! If you were around for my post last year you may remember I wrote about a gesture that has become a tradition running three years at least (I’ve lost count.) My sister Patricia Spence works as a nurse for a detention center for girls. These girls have seen anything but a happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas in their lives. They are more acquainted with the hard knocks of life. Many have been suspected of being trafficked. At any rate, my sister is a mom, sister and grandma to all these girls. She has earned their trust and she treats them like human beings, human beings who are beloved of Christ. Being in a detention center, what is allowed as a gift to them is very limited. We finally came up with socks, which are personal, cheery, and comforting while still meeting the stringent safety guidelines of the institution. The thing I wanted to talk about today is this; now the girls are starting to ask my sister if they are getting socks this year! What started as a simple gesture has become something they look forward to and remember! This year we are once again collecting Christmas themed socks to send. Each girl gets a pair of socks and a Christmas card, wrapped in Christmas paper. It may be the only thing she gets this year. This has touched my heart so much, the fact that they remembered and asked for them. I wanted to remind you all, the smallest act of kindness, which may seem nominal to you, may mean the world to the person who receives it. May God bless your home abundantly!
Matthew 25:37-40 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


Pip, Tuppence and George

George pedaled his three-wheeled low rider bicycle along the median. He weaved in and out of the emergency lane, picking up cans and bottles. He threw them into a large burlap seed sack he had strung across the handlebars.
It was a damp February day. Sodden clouds hung low over Green Mountain. Fog skirting the street stretched its gray fingers upward until you couldn’t tell where fog ended and clouds began.
He stopped next to a large drainage culvert to pick up a Dr. Pepper can. Winter rains fed the waterfall that blasted its way down the side of cliffs before emptying into a culvert and the bowels of the mountain.
His foot slipped into a muddy hole, and had George been an ordinary man, he would have cursed. But George was a simple kind of fellow. The kind of man-child who would stop stock-still in the middle of a street to admire a rainbow stretched across the sky. He rolled his pants leg before continuing on to retrieve the can.
At the edge of the runoff from the falls he heard it. At first he dismissed it as the wind in the bare branches, but as he listened, the whine repeated. This time there was no wind.
A brown and black puppy crawled toward George from the culvert. Its fur was plastered to its body. The animal shook from the cold. George scooped the chilled puppy into his arms, wrapping it inside his coat. George shuddered for a moment as the cold, wet body pressed against him. Chills rippled down his back. As he was about to leave, a second puppy, this one white and mottled, appeared from the same crag. He lifted him and snuggled him in his shirt, next to the first.
George pedaled down the mountain to the only shelter he knew. Turning right onto the lot, he parked his contraption next to a blue metal dumpster. He hiked his pants up, buttoned the puppies more tightly into his ill- fitting wool coat, and climbed inside.
George landed on a cardboard box, which was fortunate, because another four inches and he would have landed on an opened trash bag of rotted potatoes. He was long-used to the stench in the dumpster. It hardly bothered him at all now.
Once settled, he opened his coat and pulled the puppies onto his lap. Their eyes were rheumy, bellies distended.
George rubbed the puppies with what little dry material he had left on the inside of his coat. He named them Pip and Tuppence, for, he said, the brown and black was nothing but a pip-squeak, and the white mottled, not worth a tuppence. They curled up on George’s stomach and fell asleep.To people traveling Cecil Ashburn Drive, George was just part of the scenery they encountered every day driving to work, or to the grocery. His three-wheeled bicycle with the yellow trailer melded into the tall pines, cascading waterfalls, and rustic meadows. Often he could be seen standing beside the trike, bending low, and mouthing words to the two dogs in the little bike trailer.
George was a simple man, and as such had a simple faith. He saw the trees as God’s spires, stretching praise to the sky. Rocks were a craggy altar. Waterfalls, a baptismal.
He knew God as the Creator and to honor Him, he sang. People laughed at the foolish man, singing alongside the road. But George’s worship was purer than any lifted in the most polished pews of the great churches of the city. George’s song came from the deep wellspring of his heart. It was offered up without coercion and without hope of gain.
One afternoon, as the sun burned laser-red across the hills, George was on his usual route. He pedaled along singing in a broken tenor, loud and raucous, making up words as he went along. At a high point in the song he threw his arms wide, his body enveloped in worship. At that point the front wheel of his trike struck a pothole.
An eighteen-wheeler chose that same moment to switch lanes, weaving erratically into the median on the slick road. Brakes squealed, the screech of rubber on asphalt, a rumbling, grinding tearing of metal, then silence.
The driver of the eighteen-wheeler exited the cab, his face white, legs shaking.
In the median, a three-wheeled trike lay upside down, one wheel off, two spinning lopsidedly. The dogs lay in the ditch, whimpering and alone. A police officer later carried them home.
They never found George’s body. Some speculated he’d been thrown down the mountainside from the impact. The
ones who thought themselves spiritual said he’d been taken up, just like Enoch of the Old Testament.
Whichever was true, traffic soon returned to normal. The same cars traveled the same road every day to work and to shop. Bland lives failed to notice a bit of beauty was missing from their daily commute.
But Pip and Tuppence knew, for late in the evenings, when the wind sang through the branches of the pines they’d perk up their ears.
The officer’s wife would often put down her reading and ask her husband, “Did you hear that?”
“What?” he’d ask, channel surfing.
“It was nothing I guess. Sounded like the wind. Sounded like it said ‘Amen.’”
Pip, Tuppence and George, Suzy Parish 2013

Originally published in Splickety magazine.

For some reason I think of this story every fall, when the leaves start to change and the weather becomes contrary. I think of all the Georges out there. This year I think of my own George, my brother in his live-in men’s home in Maryland. He is holding down a job and very active in his church with my sister. His health is greatly improved. God does answer prayers and He sees all the Georges out there. God bless you today.

(I would like to credit the artist who created the following Meme. If you know the person’s identity please leave a comment with contact information.Thank you.)

Pip and old man

Kristen Lamb’s Brilliant Musings (Just don’t get your feelings hurt)


Kristen Lamb’s blog (see link) ended with an offer: “For the month of OCTOBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.”

So dear Kristen, here is my link! But here is the real point of this post. I would have linked Kristen’s blog without the offer of a prize, (Please pick me anyway!) her suggestions are that good. Only make sure you have your big person pants on when you read them. Kristen does not intend to take you by the hand (writers) and gently lead you into the happy land of publishing.

Hers is more of a personal trainer approach, or no, maybe a physical therapist.

She lays the exercises out and then expects you to do the work, and it is work. But like physical exercise; writing builds mental muscles and stamina and stick-to-it-ness. The last is a very needed personality trait in today’s publishing world.

So swing on over to her blog and get ready for some practical ideas to strengthen your writing habits. I promise you will come away with some great ideas.DSCN0007

Don’t Look Back

dont look back

Don’t look back.
Luke 9:57-62 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Where you are headed is much more important than what you’ve left behind.
Luke 21:23-26 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Lot’s wife was just rescued from sure death.Yet, she could not bear to move forward without one last glance of longing at her past.Since…”man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1Sam.16:7… It would seem the physical act of turning really betrayed a more lethal attitude in her life.It would seem it was not the turning of her body that constrained her to become salt, it would seem she never released the past in her heart.
Like the story of the little boy in elementary school who was reprimanded by his teacher to sit down during class.The little boy finally complied, but he said as he sat…”I’m sitting on the outside but standing on the inside.”
As believers in Jesus Christ, what have we left behind?
That is what is in the rearview mirror, our past, which has been covered over by the blood of Christ when we repent and come to Him…
Our past mistakes.
Our past sins.
Our past hurts.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
What is in the windshield?
Things so wonderful, so other-worldly, that we can’t even imagine them…
1Cor.2:9 “but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
The crown of life…
James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
And best of all…
Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken.
I can hardly wait to see it.

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