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Christy Catherine Marshall

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November 30, 2005

It’s that time again — to sit down and write our annual family newsletter. I’ve been debating about it — do I really need to write one since I’ve been blogging this year?

I know some people don’t enjoy reading other people’s braggity news. But I do! I love hearing how people relate the events of their year in a written form. Details…details! It still just costs 37 cents, so the more the better.

There are some amazing people who can sit down and write lovely, handwritten notes on all their Christmas cards — but I can barely get them addressed and stamped. My aunt writes me a long, personal letter every year. She tells me about her children and grandchildren and asks all about our family. Unfortunately, she only gets a form letter (signed personally!) from me.

But it still helps her keep up with what’s going on with us. Last summer, we attended a family reunion for my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. I got to see tons of my cousins who I don’t see often anymore. I had to warm up to a few — but the ones I exchange Christmas cards with developed instant rapport with me — it was like no time had passed since those years we used to see each other more often. I wasn’t so shocked to see my teenage cousin who was the flower girl in my wedding. (She’s a beautiful young lady now.)

When I was growing up, my dad always handled our family Christmas newsletter. He and my mom moved around some while they were a young married couple, and they have friends all over. I enjoyed watching the children of their friends grow up through Christmas pictures — a few have even become my close friends through the years. Now I’m seeing how my dad’s meticulous correspondence is paying off — they’re able to go visit many of these old friends they still keep up with.

That would be a dream for me as well. One year, maybe we’ll do it — rent a big RV and travel around the country visiting all the families we keep up with.

Today, things are a little different since the advent of blogs and group emails — it’s easier now than ever to keep up with people. So the newsletter may someday go the way of 8-track tapes. But for now, I’ll uphold the tradition.

How about you? Do you write a family newsletter? You may think you don’t have much going on — but you really do. If you’re a parent, it’s good for your kids to see how you record the highlights of the year. It’s also a way to tangibly count your blessings — as you write them all down. One day, your kids will be grown and wonder what kind of childhood they had. I don’t have to wonder: my dad has it all written down in years of family newsletters (along with hilarious pictures of year after year of bad hair days for me!).

If you’ve never written one before, I encourage you to try. Some people like to share the events of the year chronologically — moving through the seasons. Others do it by family member — pointing out a few key updates and details. I loved it when my uncle, who is a retired engineer, wrote his newsletter a few years back. Nearly every phrase had a number in it — the size of the room they’d remodeled, the number of miles on the car they traded in, the model number of the new garage door they installed. I loved it! And it makes me smile every time I think about it.

Even a half a page will do. Did you take any short or long trips this year? Any special events? Did anyone in your family experience a milestone? Do you have any new pets? Have you started a new hobby? People want to know what’s up!

Here’s a verse that reminds me how I feel when I open my mailbox in December: “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (Proverbs 25:25).

May God bless your writing endeavors!

P.S. You can send me comments now. Somebody please send me a comment!

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

Are you the mom of a teen daughter? Or do you know any teen girls? Then you’ve got to see this new comic book series.

I couldn’t believe it the first time I held it. A Christian manga! With top-of-the-line artwork in full color. This is the real deal. Barbour is calling Serenity “America’s Premier Inspirational Manga,” and it’s something you won’t want to miss.

OK — moving beyond the packaging on the outside, let’s talk about what’s on the inside. Here comes Serenity. She’s described as “one obnoxious little bundle of attitude.” If trouble comes in small packages, this 98-pound girl fits that description. When you start reading it, you think, “What’s her deal? What’s she so angry about?”

At first, I was a little squeamish — Serenity’s mouth is crude — though you don’t actually see the words (only symbols). She hates everything — her new school, the boring people around her. She’s way too cool for any of them.

But a group of Christian teens in a Prayer Club decide to take on Serenity Harper as a “project” of sorts. Meaning they’re going to reach out and love her no matter what. “If you need our help or somebody to talk to, we’ll be there,” they tell her. To which Serenity responds, “Why me? WHY ME? WHY ME?”

Tension increases in the book as nothing seems to break through to her. Then the action moves from school to her home — and we see the lousy situation she has to live in. A few things start to make sense. She slams the door on her mom one night and runs out into the streets barefoot — where she somehow ends up at a church youth group meeting. How will they reach out to her?

This comic book would be a great tool for church youth leaders to use with small groups. There are so many topics that can be brought up from what the characters are experiencing. And here’s a big topic: sexual purity. Serenity falls for one of the good-looking Christian guys and decides to invite him over while her mom isn’t home. It’s a tense scene. What will happen? She dolls herself up and says all the right things. Here’s a situation that takes place thousands of times a day all around the world.

Will this guy be able to say no and get away from her? I have to tell you, the author and illustrator handled the situation amazingly well. And it’s not at all the way it happens in those unrealistic teen TV shows and movies — more than anything I’ve seen lately, here is faith in action. A teenage guy with hormones raging full force — and what does he do? You gotta see this manga!

The back of the book contains a helpful section of Bible verses that go along with scenes from the story, such as the one I described above: “Abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11. (All scriptures are from the NIV.) These verses would be good lead-ins for group discussions.

Basically, this new series rocks! More books are coming in 2006: “Stepping Out” (January); “Basket Case” (March); “Rave and Rant” (May); “Snow Biz” ( July); and “You Shall Love” (September). The author of the series is Buzz Dixon, founder of Realbuzz Studios and a veteran of the comic and cartoon industry. The artist is Rutgers graduate, Min “Keiii” Kwon.

I’m going to pass my book along to a teen daughter of a friend to get her opinion, and I’ve already been telling youth leaders about it. I saw an ad for the series in a recent Christian bookstore catalog, so I’m glad to see Barbour is putting energy into marketing it. I hope it does well — it’s about the most exciting thing for teens I’ve seen in a long, long time.

If you want to hear what other people are saying about the series, Barbour’s got a great website set up at You can meet the characters and see a free preview of several pages of the book. There are also reviews from other sites, like Anime News Network, Christian Comics International, Christian Fiction Review, Dynamic Animation, and plenty more.

Everybody’s talking about Serenity — don’t miss out!

By: Heather Ivester in: Book Reviews | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

November 29, 2005

Quick — check your bookshelf and tell me how many Berenstain Bears books you can find. We’ve got at least a dozen. They’re the ones my kids always circled in the book catalogs when they were preschoolers. Those thin paperbacks with bright colorful pictures of the Bear family. We could always relate to the stories.

I read today that Stan Berenstain died in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, at the age of 82. Along with his wife Jan and later his two sons, he published over 200 Berenstain Bears books. His legacy is millions of children who have learned to read from his simple storybooks. The Berenstains dealt with many of those tough issues of childhood: starting school, going to the doctor or dentist, fighting over toys, messy rooms — and my personal favorite: Too Much Birthday.

I like his books because they bring up good family discussions — and they’re also short enough to read at bedtime when I can hardly keep my eyes open.

What I didn’t know until I read this article on the AP Wire from the Philly News is that Stan and his wife Jan met in art school in 1941 and used to draw weekly cartoons for magazines. They were encouraged by none other than the legendary Theodore Giesel (Dr. Seuss) to start writing for children. Giesel was then an editor at Random House. And the rest, as they say, is history.

An article on says this:

Despite changes in society in the last four decades, little has changed in “Bears Country.”

“Kids still tell fibs and they mess up their rooms and they still throw tantrums in the supermarket,” Stan Berenstain told The Associated Press in 2002. “Nobody gets shot. No violence. There are problems, but they’re the kind of typical family problems everyone goes through.”

I read on the official website that the Berenstains just released an autobiography, Down a Sunny Dirt Road, published by Random House. You can read an excerpt from the book here. How wonderful that the couple took the time to write an autobiography to record their personal journey toward becoming best-loved book authors.

Mr. Berenstain will surely be missed around the world.

By: Heather Ivester in: Books | Permalink | Comments Off on Goodbye, Mr. Berenstain

November 28, 2005

If you’re a parent, you probably remember those first few months when you brought home your newborn — you were scared out of your mind. All your ideas about taking care of a baby flew out the window when you took a good look at this new person and realized: she’s completely dependent on YOU for survival. And you need SLEEP to be able to think straight!

The best-case scenario those first six weeks is that you only wake up every three hours for a feeding — but some babies are fussier — or there’s some difficulty with getting a feeding routine established. Then you find yourself bombarded with advice and opinions…and the bags under your eyes show the world that you’re on the verge of losing it.

It does get better…right? Then the baby magazines start coming…loaded with more advice. Your pediatrician tells you one thing…your neighbor another…the church nursery ladies tell you something else…the lady in the grocery store stops to give you her opinion about what’s wrong with your whole generation…and then your mom says, “Well, when you were a baby, I did…and you turned out fine.”

You’re on overload! So how do you sift through all these opinions and discover what works best for YOU?

In her book, Parenting Power in the Early Years, Brenda Nixon offers you the refreshing encouragement you need to stay sane those first five years. As a national parenting speaker and columnist, she knows what the critical issues are in raising your child. She’s condensed her most sought-after columns into one practical book that would make a great addition to any parent’s bookshelf.

The book is divided into three sections: Embrace the First Year, Survive the Toddler Years, and Maneuver the Preschool Years. Nixon’s positive tone builds rapport with readers who want to hear from someone they can trust, who can answer questions in a loving way. She doesn’t shy away from any controversial issues, and includes her columns about temper tantrums, clinging toddlers, biting, spanking dilemmas, nightmares, thumb-sucking, bedtime resistance…you name it.

In the appendices, you’ll also find a wonderful gift-giving key for newborns up to age five, a child development guide, and a fantastic list of resources — with current website information. The table of contents makes it easy to look up any topic, and you don’t have to wade through extraneous ads and information to find what you really need.

What I also like about this book is that she includes plenty of in-depth research, and she keeps her readers focused on the long-term vision of parenting. Here’s what she says in her column, “Give Children What They Really Need:”

From birth to age 18, 85 percent of your children’s waking, learning hours are spent, not in the classroom but, in your living room! You are their first and most influential teacher…Now is the time to fully embrace parenting and give your children what they need. Give them your attention, give them time, and give them a faith for their future. Nelson Mandela said, “We must…realize that the time is always ripe to do what is right.”

I think this book would make a great baby shower gift for moms-to-be, as well as a refresher for parents in the thick of those early years. It would also be helpful for nursery or daycare workers, as well as grandparents who spend a lot of time caring for their grandchildren. Packed with wisdom, this is a handy book that will empower you to soar above the difficulties and embrace the joys of the sacred calling of parenthood.

By: Heather Ivester in: Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Parenting Power in the Early Years

November 27, 2005

You may still be enjoying Thanksgiving company and plenty of turkey sandwiches, but I wanted to let you know that today is the first Sunday of Advent. Do you celebrate the Advent tradition in your home?

It was part of my life growing up. Our church had an Advent wreath and candles on the altar, filling the sanctuary with the anticipation of Christmas. Usually, one family was in charge of reading a devotional and scripture, taking turns to light the candles.

My mom brought this tradition home. She set up a little Advent wreath and candles on the coffee table in our living room. We had no choice in the matter — even when we were teenagers. We all took turns reading our parts in the ceremony and lighting a candle for each week. This year, I want to try this with my family!

But we’ve never gotten our acts together until December 1st hits me. Then I rush to pull out our Advent calendar that counts the days until Christmas. This year, God spoke a reminder to me in July. I worked on an article for HomeLife magazine called “Great Expectations: Celebrating the Advent of Christmas.” So I interviewed several moms in the heat of summer, and my heart was on fire just listening to the wonderful ways they teach their children to anticipate the birth of Jesus. I wanted that for our family too!

So here’s what you can do: find some kind of evergreen wreath — you can make it out of real greenery or use a store-bought artificial one. (Whatever’s easiest for you!) The circular shape displays God’s never-ending love, with no beginning or end. Then you put three purple candles and one pink candle into the wreath — each candle has a special meaning: hope, peace, joy, love; and the white Christ candle goes in the center.

You can find Advent readings online or in several books, pamphlets, or magazines. It’s up to you whether you want to do something every night, or just once a week. When you read the devotion, you light a candle, adding one more each week until you build up to the anticipation of Christmas Eve — which helps kids get so excited about the birth of Jesus! He’s the reason we share presents! He’s the center of our joy!

Here’s what one mom does. Her family uses a book written by Arnold Ytreeide called Jotham’s Journey. (You can buy it at a Christian bookstore or online — shop locally if possible). It’s the story of a ten-year-old boy traveling across Israel in search of his family — they’ve moved during the night and left him behind! He encounters thieves, robbers, and kidnappers — and finally wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers — until at last he finds the Saviour born in Bethlehem. It brings the whole Christmas story to life.

This mom said to me, “The Advent wreath is our kids’ favorite part of Christmas. Daddy reads the story every night, and then we let each child take a turn lighting the candle for the whole week. Then on Christmas morning, before we open our presents, the kids all come into our bedroom, and we light the white Christ candle together. They know — they know — that Christmas is all about Jesus!”

Oh, that’s what I want for my family! I also discovered that Arnold Ytreeide has written two more books to complete an Advent trilogy: Bartholemew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels. (So you can use a different book the next year.)

Another mom shared how they make up their own little Advent ceremony. She said when they bring in their Christmas cards from the mailbox, they wait to open each one until they’re all together for the nightly Advent reading. Then her young children get to tear into the envelope and “ooh and aah” over the Christmas picture. She said, “We all hold hands and pray for the family in each picture.” Don’t you love it? We are DEFINITELY going to start doing that. My Christmas cards mean the world to me — because I miss our friends and family so much, especially those we don’t get to see very often.

There are so many more things you can do — I’ll tell you later next week about the Jesse Tree tradition and Adornaments.

I want to pray for you out there who are reading this. I pray that Christmas will fill you with JOY and excitement this year as you worship God as a family. I’ll confess — I tend to get anxious about how much I have to do, and I let that stress rob my heart of joy. It’s all because I get more focused on pleasing others instead of keeping my eyes on God. So, I’m facing this season with a new heart!

May God bless your family with hope and love this Advent season!

Advent wreath

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith | Permalink | Comments Off on Let’s Celebrate the Season of Advent!

November 26, 2005

Last night, we were sitting in front of the fire reading our first story of the new season — The Christmas Cat by Tasha Tudor. It seemed awfully quiet for a few minutes, and I was able to read several pages without being interrupted. Then I looked over and saw my two-year-old standing on top of the barstool shaking a torrent of fish flakes onto our poor, unsuspecting goldfish.

“Oh no!” all of us noticed at once.

This required an immediate rescue attempt on my part, and we had to abandon our story. The little fish was gulping food as quickly as she could — so much! So good! So fast into her belly!

I scooped her into a little container, then dumped out her murky bowl and replaced it with clean, clear water. She kept gulping all along, trying to fill herself with every flake she could see.

This reminded me of how we parents go into the Christmas season. So much! So good! So fast! Our kids really don’t require anything but love and hearing the True Christmas Story, but what do we do? We pour as much as we can on top of them — to the point of complete saturation.

Several years ago when my son started preschool, I was in for a surprise at his first Christmas party. I arrived a few minutes early to help pass out napkins and snacks, and I saw one of the mothers out in the hall in front of the classroom. She wore a gigantic red Rudolph nose, antlers on her head, and a brilliant Christmas sweater complete with red-and-white-striped knee socks. When I got closer, I noticed she was frantically wrapping pipe cleaners around candy canes that had little eyes glued on.

“Won’t these be adorable?” she said to me, in a breathless voice. “I’ve just got six more to make!”

That was an epiphany for me. I realized what I was stepping into — my pace quickened. Christmas crafts! Songs! Activities! Santa lists! Themed Christmas trees! Buying presents beyond our means! And don’t forget — adorable Christmas outfits that stay clean for pictures — and everybody smile!

Too much of a good thing? Maybe so. In our haste to give our kids everything, are we really giving them anything? I have opinions on a few issues — and since I’m blogging this year — I’ll tell you my thoughts. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent — now this is something I anticipate with great joy. I hope you’ll stop in and pick up a few ideas to help keep the focus of your home on the true Joy of the season.

By: Heather Ivester in: Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Too Much of a Good Thing?

November 25, 2005

Landon Snow And the Auctor's Riddle (Landon Snow Books)

Today I want to tell you about another great children’s fantasy book for all of you parents out there who are beyond the stage of being thrilled that your kids can read. Now what? You want something more — you want to know they’re filling their mind with “good things.” Well, the Landon Snow series is definitely one you’ll want to add to your bookshelf.

It’s written by R.K. Mortenson, a navy chaplain-dad-turned-author based in Jacksonville, Florida. I picked it up having no idea what it was about — but I knew it took place in an enchanted world. I wondered what my kids would be getting into if they started reading this series. What about all the magic? So, I questioned the author about it, and he wrote back to me (which I quote here with his permission):

As I was writing it I kept wondering, “Is it okay to do this? Can I use the Bible in the story and include fantasy?” My fears, I realized, were over what other people would think. When I looked to God and asked the same questions, the questions fairly evaporated. I felt reassured by a sense of God telling me: I gave you my Word; I gave you a vivid imagination; I gave you the talent to write. Use them.

I think the Bible today has lost its “magic.” I’m not talking about spells and such. I’m talking about its appearing special and unique as the Word of God: as a means–or window–into another world beyond our own. There is power in the Word of God and it does transport us to another place. It also ignites the imagination. I thought, if kids open their Bibles to find some of this “magic,” then that’s a very good thing. (If kids–and adults–open their Bibles at all, that’s a good thing.) I also thought, even if they don’t open their Bibles, at least they’ve read a few lines of Scripture in the novel itself.

Here’s an author who really cares — deep down — what his readers will experience spiritually as they read his books! I definitely have no reservations now about our family jumping into the Landon Snow series. It’s so exciting to me that Christian publishers have discovered the family fiction market — we want our kids to read high-quality literature that reinforces our values. I know there are some parents who think their children should only read the classics — books written before 1950 — but what does that teach? That God isn’t relevant today? That there are no talented authors writing great new books? No way! Let’s give them an up-to-date story that shows God is connected to His people yesterday, today, and forever!

So who is Landon Snow? When we meet him, he’s a kid living in Minnesota, on the way to see his grandparents to celebrate his 11th birthday. His two sisters beat him to the window seats, and since his mom’s SUV is in the shop, they’re crammed into his dad’s sedan with “no DVD movie to watch.” Landon would have preferred passing the time with a good book, but he gets a headache reading in the car. (Sound familiar?) You’re going to love his two sisters, Bridget and Holly. They’re smart and witty — and all the Snow kids are interested in math and foreign languages. The vocabulary is rich and stimulating for intelligent readers.

The back cover of the novel warns you: “Don’t fall in — this book may swallow.” Well, I can tell you — I fell in and couldn’t stop turning the pages. Landon gets two things for his birthday: a Dream-Stone and an old Bible that belonged to the founder of the town’s magnificent library. That night, when he goes to sleep on the couch in his grandfather’s study, a strange breeze flips the pages of his new Bible to the book of Joel, where Landon reads, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” Then the pages turn again to Acts, and Landon sees the same verse here, along with faint handwriting: “Acts 2:17 = the prophecy of Joel 2:28 — fulfilled.”

So, Landon begins to wonder — is this a coincidence? He likes to know a reason for everything. He soon discovers a secret doorway behind a bookcase in his grandfather’s study, and as he grasps tightly to his Dream-Stone, we go with him into an enchanting new world — where riddles abound. In fact, discovering the secret of the Auctor’s Riddle is what drives Landon’s quest:

Could it be chance, mere circumstance
That man eats cow eats grass eats soil
And then man dies, and when he lies
To soil he does return?

You’re going to love this book! The plot and characters are fascinating, and it’s so fun to read. Mortenson’s a master at his craft — the prose and dialogue are fresh and delightful. Kid readers will love phrases like, “He felt his mouth hanging open and his heart galloping like a hamster in a wheel.” Chess-playing readers will love it when Landon finds himself in the middle of a giant chess board with talking pieces. Everywhere, Landon is surrounded by surprise, mystery, and riddles. It’s such an engaging plot!

What I also like about this book is the packaging — everything is top quality — the cover, the illustrations, the thick, creamy pages with brown font. It’s a book that can withstand backpacks and road trips by many readers.

I highly recommend LANDON SNOW AND THE AUCTOR’S RIDDLE — and since there are still two more books in the trilogy, it looks like we’ll be seeing plenty more adventures from this author in the years ahead.

Click here to see what Christian Fiction Review has to say about it.

You may contact the author via Barbour Publishing.

P.S. [11/29] I just discovered some really cool pictures of the illustrator, Cory Godby of Portland Studios. Any aspiring artists and Landon Snow fans will be interested to see artwork on Book 2 in progress.

By: Heather Ivester in: Book Reviews | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

November 24, 2005

I hope you all enjoy a marvelous Thanksgiving today with your family. Here’s something to keep in mind as you count your blessings. There are a lot of people out there who aren’t going to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving. They may not have anybody to eat with — or they may have to work.

When I was growing up, we always ate a big Thanksgiving lunch at my grandmother’s house in south Georgia. But the tradition changed a few years ago, and now we go to my mom’s house. This is the way she is: we’ve never eaten Thanksgiving with just my family. We’ve always had a few extra guests — people Mom thinks would enjoy a meal with us. For example, she’s invited single people who don’t live near family.

There are also a lot of people in the world who can’t afford to take off work to enjoy Thanksgiving. Yesterday, I ran into a local convenience store to pay for my gas and get a gallon of milk. A nice Indian family owns this business, and the man always smiles at me and asks how I’m doing.

So, yesterday I asked him, “Will you be off tomorrow for Thanksgiving?”

“Oh, no, no,” he said. “I must work tomorrow. I work every day, seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.”

“How do you do that?” I asked him. “Don’t you ever get a break?”

“This is not bad. This is nothing,” he said to me. Then he stopped ringing up my sale and looked me in the eye. “I used to work day shift here, then I went to a factory and worked all night. I did that for 12 years. I worked 22 hours a day for 12 years.”

I couldn’t believe it.

“I did this so I could save money,” he continued. “Then I bought this shop here. Now I can have money for my two children.”

Now there’s a story. How can anyone do that? Work 22 hours a day for 12 years? What keeps him going? What makes him get up in the morning to work that hard? And how does he always have a smile on his face?

People like him fascinate me. Amaze me. I’m going to start asking some questions the next time I stop in because someday I’d like to write a story about him. I want to know what helps him persevere. What kind of life did he leave behind to move here? I think he keeps going because he sees a brighter future for his children — this is the American Dream.

Say a prayer for him today, and for those like him — as you’re eating lunch. He and many others will be doing the same old thing — alone.

God bless you all this Thanksgiving! Here’s a wonderful hymn you can click and listen to. Maybe you could even read or sing this out loud at a family gathering:

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child;
Friends on earth and friends above;
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
For Thyself, best gift divine,
To our race so freely given;
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

By: Heather Ivester in: Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on An American Dreamer

November 23, 2005

What do people think of the new Harry Potter movie? Once again, I send you to La Shawn Barber’s blog where she’s compiled a round-up of blogger and media reviews. I have to thank her for mentioning Mom 2 Mom Connection in her list. Here’s how she quoted me:

Mom to Mom Connection links to a review and addresses the occult controversy: “We haven’t gotten into the Harry Potter books yet — a Bible Study teacher I had once told us to keep our children away from them because of the wizardry. She used the example of Saul displeasing the Lord by consulting a medium…”

Another awesome blogger who has some great things going on at her site is Sally Apokedak. She is a kindred spirit who values books for kids that help promote solid Christian values. I was shocked to learn about some disgusting, pornographic books that are on school library shelves — and stirring up quite a bit of controversy. You’ll have to go read about it at her site — here’s what she has to say to us parents who love our kids:

There is only one thing that can change the hearts of men. The gospel.

So, preach the gospel in season and out. And pray for the children in your neighborhoods. Pray for their parents.

If you are a writer, write books that glorify God…and put Christians and especially Christ in a positive light.

If you are a publisher, commit to publishing high-quality children’s books and devote some advertising dollars to telling parents and kids that they now have a choice. Look at Barbour with Landon Snow and their new manga book. Invest in quality…

If you are a parent, buy good books and distribute them.

And I might add, if you are a parent, DON’T buy books for your kids that compromise your values — and DON’T take them to see movies that make you cringe. Follow your heart! Follow your convictions. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good!” (Romans 12:9)

By: Heather Ivester in: Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Harry Potter Movie Reviews

November 22, 2005

Yesterday, I was reading from the devotional book, Streams in the Desert, and this phrase jumped out at me: “the years the locusts have eaten.” I’ve heard it several times lately — and I’ve never heard it before in my life until now. Have you?

It’s from Joel 2:25-26:

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten — the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you…(NIV)

Now here are three places I’ve heard it recently:

1. From Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Her devotional from 11/22, “Dealing With the Past,” says this:

It has often been said, and with truth, that Christianity is the only religion that can deal with man’s past. God can “restore the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25); and He will do this when we put the whole situation and ourselves unreservedly and believingly into His hands. Not because of what we are but because of what He is. God forgives and heals and restores. He is “the God of all grace.” Let us praise Him and trust Him. –Sunday School Times

2. I read it a couple of days ago in the Guideposts story, Marion’s Marriage. Marion Bond West used this phrase when quoting from her book, The Nevertheless Principle.

No matter what is taken away from you, if you keep your eyes on Jesus and praise Him, He will restore it to you. You will be joyful to the exact same degree you have hurt. What you have lost will be replaced . . . joy for mourning . . . beauty for ashes. . . .God I don’t see how it could possibly work now. I don’t see how You will ever come to me again in any shape or form. But I won’t limit You, so I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life. And if and when You restore the years that the locusts have eaten, I will tell people about it and write about it. I am committing to You to remember this agony, and if You can come up with some kind of joy to the equivalent that I hurt, You are truly a God of miracles.

3. After hearing that phrase twice in two days, I remembered a writer I met at Glorieta. I’d signed up to attend Jan Coleman’s “Roundtable Discussion,” which was on how to interview people. She shared how she researched for her newly released book, Unshakeable. And she also showed us an earlier book of hers: After the Locusts. Here’s what she says on her website about the book:

My first book, After the Locusts; Restoring Ruined Dreams, Reclaiming Wasted Years, reads like a novel and stems from my personal story. After my husband left his family for someone else, a stranger showed up at my door with a casserole in one hand and a Bible in the other and shared a promise from the Old Testament Book of Joel. (2:25) If I turned my heart toward God, he would restore the years the locusts had eaten. That’s exactly how I felt, like a swarm of icky bugs had swooped down and devastated my dreams, destroyed my future. This verse became my life’s promise, and I not only survived the storm, but thrived in spite of them. There is hope, after the locusts. Now, there is a deep valley in my soul, not a dark valley, but a giant crevice where joy has settled in, a joy I’d never known without the storms that once ravaged.

You know, there are a lot of people in this world who are living “after the locusts.” Recently, someone typed the keywords “Christian Mom Blog Tired Depressed” into a search engine and found my site. (How did Google know to find me?) God bless you, Christian mom, whoever you are! I wish I could give you a hug.

I enjoyed meeting Jan last month — and regret that I’m still not caught up and haven’t written to thank her. Here are some pictures she’s posted on her website, including one of the casserole-bearing “prophet in blue jeans.” Now I’m thinking I’d like to read her book. (Anybody looking for a good Christmas gift idea for me?)

P.S. I apologize that I don’t have many pictures on my site — I thought about putting a picture of a locust on here — but I was afraid some of you might be eating a doughnut or something while you skim the news and views. (Plus it would take me an hour to figure out how to do it. Sorry, Lanier — you tried, and I’m still not there yet!)

Edit: Another post about this verse: from Two Talent Living

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith | Permalink | Comments Off on What the Locusts Have Eaten