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Christy Catherine Marshall

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January 31, 2007

My kids spent the day with their grandparents, so I missed hanging out with them after school. Tonight, they were all being extremely nice to me. I thought it was maybe because they’d missed me.

My son asked for hot chocolate, so I said I’d make him some, and he said, “Well, that’s great if you can make me some, but if you can’t that’s OK too.” Then he thanked me about five times after I popped a mug filled with cocoa and milk in the microwave.

Um … you’re welcome. Really, it’s not that big of a hardship.

Later, my girls kept thanking me for little things, and then as I kissed both of them good-night they said, “Thank you for being a nice mama, Mama.”

My heart was so FULL … until my oldest daughter said, “Our chapel teacher told us to say that. Today our chapel was about contentment and they told us to stop whining so much and to tell our parents how thankful we are for them.”

OH!!!!! Did I tell you today how much I love their school? Oh, maybe that was yesterday.


I popped over to visit Amy’s Humble Musings tonight, and MAN, do I wish I could write with such authority. She said:

Consumerism is the god of America’s children. Cultivating contentment is the response. When we are discontent, we are not grumbling about our circumstances, per se. We are actually grumbling, raising our fists against God. Who owns it all? Who provides for our every need? When we complain and practice discontentment, we tell God that He is not sufficient.

Amy and I emailed a few times last month as she and her family are looking to buy some land and relocate. They briefly considered our area in Georgia, but I read today they’ve narrowed it down to Tennessee or Kentucky.

Bummer. I guess I need to keep practicing contentment that one day I’ll have a blogger friend who lives nearby. 🙂

By: Heather Ivester in: Education,Family,Motherhood | Permalink | Comments Off on I’m a Nice Mama Today

January 30, 2007

Yesterday, my fifth-grade son asked if he could spend the night with one of his classmates Friday night. “It’s his birthday,” he told me. “And he’s invited all the boys in the class.”

A few years ago, I would have told him no, we don’t do spend-the-night parties. That’s what my husband and I had decided when the future was hypothetical, and we imagined all sorts of nightmarish things for our precious little boy.

Well, we’ve changed our thinking. That’s part of parenting — not being legalistic about things. Instead of making rules that can’t be broken, you have to pray about everything, and pray that you’ll be obedient to God.

He goes to a Christian school this year, and there are four boys in his class. We know all the families of these boys; we cheered on the sidelines together for flag football, and now we’re cheering on the sidelines together for Upward basketball. We know where they go to church; we’ve visited their homes.

So I told him yes — but that doesn’t mean I won’t pray about it. The main concern I have is materialism. We are STILL the only family around who doesn’t own a single video game. My husband doesn’t see the point in having kids stare at flashy pictures on a TV screen that will make them long to sit inside instead of going outdoors to play basketball or run around in the fresh air.

This morning, I told my son, “We wouldn’t let you go to __’s house if we didn’t know his family well.”

“Why not?” he asked me.

“Because, well, they might let you watch a movie that wouldn’t be good for your mind. Like something that’s rated R.”

“What does rated R mean?”

“It’s something that could be violent,” I explained. “Or something that could have adult stuff in it that’s not good for you. The Bible tells us to think on those things that are excellent, things that are pure.”

Here’s where I see the hugest difference in public school and even our homeschool (the way we did it). At their private Christian school, they’re memorizing HUGE passages of scripture in the lovely King James version of the Bible. They say these scriptures every day out loud, in unision, over and over again. There’s something to be said for being with a group of people when you repeat scriptures out loud together.

“That sounds like what we learned in Philippians 4:8,” he said. And he quoted this to me, verbatim, after breakfast, while he dribbled a basketball in the kitchen.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Thank you Lord that our children are going to a good Christian school this year! They’re encouraging even me to search the Scriptures and find YOU, find YOUR best plan for our family. Please continue to protect their minds and hearts so they can enjoy a few more years of the innocence of childhood. And then give them the weapons they will need to fight the Good Fight in the years to come.

I tell ya, there’s Power in the Word!

P.S. In case our kids’ grandparents are reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re impacting the next generation through blessing your grandchildren with the gift of Christian education! We couldn’t do it without you unless I went to work outside of the home!

Every week I receive a wonderful parenting tip from Trish Berg. She’s the author of a soon-to-be released book called The Great American Supper Swap. If you’d like to receive a free weekly parenting tip, check out her website to see where you can sign up!

Top 3 Valentine’s Day Tips for Kids

1. Homemade Cards — Instead of spending a fortune on store bought Valentine’s Day cards for your kids to hand out in school, go to the Family Fun Magazine website for simple hand made card ideas, including printable designs your kids can color. All it costs you is the white paper and some crayons – and you’ll gain time spent with your kids, and more giggles than you can imagine!

2. Pink Heart Shaped Pancakes — Use Bisquick or your favorite pancake recipe, and add 3 drops of red food coloring to make the batter pink. To make heart shaped pancakes, you can either: 1) Cook regular round ones on the griddle then cut them into a heart before serving them, or 2) pour the batter into a squeeze bottle (such as a clean chocolate syrup container) and shape the hearts one lobe at a time. (They’re really just a V shape, which spreads out into a heart on the griddle.)

3. Hidden Love Notes — Write 3 love notes to each of your children on cute heart shaped paper. One each write something like, “I love you because…you care for others and always lend a hand.” Hide the loves notes through out your house. After dinner, let your kids hunt around for their love notes. When all are found, sit at the dinner table and have each child read his notes aloud to the whole family! Then share a sweet treat for dessert and watch them all smile!

Top 3 Valentine’s Day Tips for Moms and Dads

1. Dinner on a Dime — Eating out at a nice restaurant is so expensive for moms and dads, factor in paying a babysitter and you could go broke! So, instead, try this neat tip. Feed your kids a simple meal (like pizza) early that evening, around 5, and then put them to bed at 7 or 8. Make your husband’s favorite meal for two, and after the kids are in bed, have a late night candle lit dinner.

2. Top 10 List — Make up your own top ten list for your husband, listing the top 10 reasons you love him. After the kids are in bed, share your list and watch him melt.

3. Love Notes — Write several love notes to your husband. Spray each with a dab of your favorite perfume. Then leave them in places you know he will be on Valentine’s Day like on the seat of his car or on his desk at work. You can even enlist the help of some of his co-workers to deliver some to him for you! When he comes home, I guarantee he’ll be smiling!

Send your great ideas and tips to help moms simplify motherhood to Trish at, and maybe they’ll be in Trish’s next Tip of the Week!

Be sure to check out all the FREE stuff, tips, recipes and more at Trish Berg’s website, where every mom goes to simplify motherhood!

January 29, 2007

There’s a good discussion today over at Shannon’s blog about great books for Christian parents. She recommended several of her favorites for moms-to-be, as well as new parents. And the list continues to grow in the comment section — so here’s a good link to check out!

If you’re expecting your first baby, your mailbox is going to be bombarded with free magazines, sent by advertisers. I didn’t realize this at the time — it was over ten years ago for me — but very few of those magazines (if any) will have any Bibilical content.

Although you can find plenty of wise pregnancy and parenting advice in secular magazines, watch out for the subtle moral advice that might creep in. Specifically, you’ll see articles that make you feel like you’re not in charge: your child is. Although I don’t have teenagers yet, I know what will happen if I let my children decide everything now — how will they respect me when I suddenly decide I want to be in charge?

If you’re looking for a monthly magazine that offers sound Biblical advice from professional writers, please consider subscribing to HomeLife Magazine or ParentLife Magazine. I’ve never been disappointed with the articles in these magazines — and you can visit Lifeway and see the other resources available (for singles, parents of teens, mature adults, etc.)

ParentLife is a great resource for moms-to-be all the way to moms of kids through age 12. I’m thankful my church orders several copies and hands them out to us busy parents!

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Family,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Wise Resources for Christian Parents

I watched this video a few weeks ago and wanted to post it after the new year. It’s a video of Amy of Gentle Whisper giving her first sermon. I “met” Amy through the Carnival of Beauty at some point last year and have enjoyed reading her blog.

This is a 12-minute video, which she bravely posted, and it’s great! She made some really, really good points about getting out of debt — and how to stay out. From a Biblical standpoint. Click here when you can manage to grab 12 minutes of quiet…

January 28, 2007

If you’re the parent of a teen who uses MySpace, do you know what’s really going on? I read this great article in Today’s Christian Woman called A Mom’s Guide to MySpace that I urge you to read.

We’re not there yet — but I can tell you right now, I’m so glad there are already pioneer parents going before me writing magazine articles and books about this topic.

Also, Stacy of Active Christian Media has launched a new site called Being Safe Online. I urge you to go visit her site and scroll down a bit. She’s very up to date and aware of threats that are out there.

Please be careful about what you put online. You may think it’s fun to post pictures of your precious children and share intimate details of your family life — but don’t forget that you’re sharing with potential predators as well as your blogging friends and family.

Also, if you think you blog anonymously because you only use your first name, remember it only takes one link from another blogger who knows your first and last name — and you’re not anonymous anymore.

I hope you’ll check out Being Safe Online.

By: Heather Ivester in: Blogging,Family,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Being Safe Online

January 27, 2007

I cannot go to this website without getting tears in my eyes. If you’ve never heard of Sacred Harp singing, I hope you can visit the site, Awake, My Soul.

This documentary was made by some friends of my brother-in-law, and it’s one of the best films I’ve ever seen. This unique type of a capello spiritual singing is still popular in a few places in my native South.

From the website:

Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp’ is the first feature documentary about Sacred Harp singing, a haunting form of a cappella, shape note hymn singing with deep roots in the American south. Shape note singing has survived over 200 years tucked away from notice in the rural deep south, where in old country churches, singers break open ‘The Sacred Harp’, a 160 year old shape note hymnal which has preserved these fiercely beautiful songs which are some of the oldest in America. The film offers a glimpse into the lives of this ‘Lost Tonal Tribe’ whose history is a story of both rebellion and tradition. The filmmakers, Matt and Erica Hinton spent 7 years documenting this yet largely unknown art form.

I was able to attend one of the singings that was in the film and blogged about it last year. It was truly amazing to watch it on PBS a few weeks ago.

This is one of those things that’s gotten to me and I know I want to write about someday, but I’m not sure what or how or where. So for now I’ll just link to it and share it with you.

Be blessed!

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Movies,Music | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

January 26, 2007

For those of you reading your Bible chronologically this year like me, are we in about the same spot? This morning, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea in my reading. Amazing.

It’s funny what jumps out at you each time you read the Bible through. Now that I’m a parent, I’m viewing this experience from a parent’s point of view. I remember the first time I read the Bible through was in the fifth grade, in a competition with my school friend, Marti. (If you can do it, then I can too. And you have to PROMISE not to skip even a single word. OK?)

Here’s what I read this morning:

“CLOUD SEPARATES FORCES. Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long” (Exodus 14:19, 20 NIV).

OK, now take this from a Hebrew parent’s point of view. Can you even IMAGINE the millions of questions these poor Hebrew mamas and daddies were having to answer?

Mama, where are we going?
What’s that cloud thing?
What’s that fire thing?
Who is God?
Why is God a fire?
Why does God look like a cloud?
I’m hungry. When are we going to eat?
Is Daddy going to work today to make bricks?
Do I have to go help get straw today?
Why are we camping?
Can I go play?
Why is the cloud behind us now?
Are we there yet?
Are we going home?
I’m cold. I’m hot. I’m scared.
I need to go potty. Where can I go?
I forgot something back home. Can I go get it?
Why are the Egyptians chasing us?
Are they going to make us go home?
Are they going to hurt us?
Who is God again?
Who is Moses?
Why are we following Moses?
Can you tell me the story about the frogs again?
And the gnats? Ooohh….and the water turning to blood?
Remember that hail? That was scary, wasn’t it?
Why did we have to leave so fast?

So you get the picture. I’m sure glad it’s not ME having to answer all those questions. Although I get plenty from my own little crew. Reading about the plagues in Exodus this year also brought out something new for me. I realized for the first time that the plagues weren’t just to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go — the plagues also built the faith of Moses, who was transformed into a leader.

That’s what my job is today as a mom — to build the faith of my children. No gnats or frogs required, thank you.

January 25, 2007

I wrote yesterday about how I’ve been praying about which books I should read and review this year, and how I felt led to read Across the China Sky by C. Hope Flinchbaugh.

As I began to read it, I knew there was something unique about this writer — sure enough, I later discovered that Flinchbaugh was a finalist in the 2003 Christy Awards in the First Novel category. Her writing is spectacular, and I felt like every time I picked up the book, I traveled to China. Part of the story takes place in a Chinese orphanage in Shanghai, and part takes place in the countryside, giving me a taste of both city and rural living in China.

You can read an excerpt from the book here. This novel made it very clear to me how powerful fiction can be for drawing in readers so that an author’s message can come through clearly. Although I probably wouldn’t pick up a non-fiction book right now to read about a dangerous cult in China, this novel made me aware of this terrible problem.

It’s such a joy to be able to introduce C. Hope Flinchbaugh to you via this interview! I thank the good people at Bethany House for making this connection for us.

Across the China Sky is such an intriguing title. Can you tell us what your book is about?

Across the China Sky is a novel based on the true testimonies of Chinese Christian leaders that I interviewed in China — leaders who were deceived and kidnapped by the Eastern Lightning cult. Across the China Sky follows the relationship of an engaged Chinese couple who struggle to keep their love alive while being separated and persecuted for their faith.

What inspired you to write this novel?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to go to China to interview some Chinese House Church leaders who were kidnapped by the Eastern Lightning cult. These Christian leaders were devastated by the kidnapping, and they begged me to tell their stories to “President Bush.”

I wasn’t exactly scheduled to have lunch with our president that month, so I wrote their story in my novel, Across the China Sky.

I was stunned to learn about the Eastern Lightning cult, and I was so thankful you included an actual letter from a Chinese pastor in the back of your book. Can you tell about this group? Are they still active?

Yes. The Eastern Lightning cult is a vicious group that seeks to kidnap Christians and brainwash them into believing that Jesus has already returned to the earth, and this time He’s come in the form of a woman who lives in China.

They base their beliefs on Matthew 24:27, which says, “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Their belief is that Jesus was the Western Christ. Now the EASTERN Jesus has returned to the earth, and he is a Chinese woman who is to be worshiped as God.

How does the cult operate?

Eastern Lightning cult members do not walk up to Christians and ask them to join their club. They are very subtle and deceiving. They have decided that instead of finding new converts in China, they would rather deceive and then convert the main Christian leaders. They hope that if they can convert church pastors in China, these will in turn tell all their churches to convert to Eastern Lightning.

To do this, an Eastern Lightning cult member will go to an underground church and pretend to become converted. They will be baptized, sing the songs, read the Scriptures, and even testify about what great things Jesus did for them. They gain the trust of the pastors and evangelists and then lure them away with the promise of bringing them some great blessing.

They promised Brother Chen and all his main leaders (34 of them) a biblical seminary training. The leaders were excited to have the biblical training, but in the end they found out it was all a lie and they’d been kidnapped by a vicious cult that tried to brainwash them.

Brother Chen (not his real name) said, “Let our stumbling be the warning for the future of the church in the rest of the world. May brothers and sisters be alert and watchful, to guard against and resist the schemes of cults and heresies, and to walk in the truth of the Lord.”

[Side Note: You can read details on the BP News website as well as here. They used the good name and reputation of the Haggai Institute to make themselves appear legitimate. The Haggai Institute issued a statement concerning this on July 31, 2002].

I understand this is your second novel. How does your first novel, Daughter of China, relate to this one?

Daughter of China
is a novel based on true stories of the persecuted Christians in China and the intense persecution of Chinese women and their daughters due to the one-child policy in China. If you want to peek into a state-run orphanage that is not a showcase orphanage for tourists, read this book.

Your second novel made me more keenly aware of the agonies Chinese women must go through when they aren’t allowed to keep a second baby. It broke my heart and made me realize if I were Chinese, I would only be able to keep my oldest son. How did you become so interested in China?

As a child, I sat in on classes when my mother taught inner city children stories from Child Evangelism Fellowship about missionaries from various countries. China always struck my interest. As a teen, my father handed me books about great Chinese missionaries such as Hudson Taylor, John and Betty Stam, Adoniram Judson, and Watchman Nee.

How did you become interested in the topic of Chinese orphans?

My interest in the orphans began when I saw two documentaries on television, each depicting the dying rooms in China’s state-run orphanages. Videotapes do not lie.

I saw babies lying in a room left to die—they looked like so many scattered rugs on a hard floor. I looked at my second child, a one-year-old baby girl, and realized she would not be with me had I given birth to her in China. I knew then that I had to do something to help these orphans.

I researched the Chinese orphanages by doing interviews with people who had been to China. After one look at Human Rights Watch Asia’s report on Chinese orphanages, called Death by Default, I knew I had to write the book. The lame boy in my first book is named Zhu, after a little one in the Death by Default book. Zhu died of starvation while the workers around him ate three meals a day.

Daughter of China has inspired a number of couples to adopt children in China—it doesn’t get any more rewarding than that.

Who are your sources of inspiration?

The great scientist Isaac Newton was asked in his old age how he accomplished so much in his life. Newton answered, “If I have seen further than anyone else, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

My giant was my dad — my biological and spiritual father, a mentor, friend, and great evangelist at heart. He personally led thousands of inner city children and teenagers to the Lord through his chalk art evangelism.

When I was a child, he drew chalk pictures at camp meetings, inner city parking lots, street corners, and churches. I sang and played the guitar or piano as he drew, bringing squeals of delight from children as he changed the lights above the picture to yellow, blue, and red, revealing in the end a “hidden picture” under a black light.

My dad and I went to China in October 2002 and met with the leaders together.

Do you know what he did? He fasted meals and gave away every penny he had to the leaders who were still brokenhearted from their recent kidnapping experiences — leaders who needed a gray-haired pastor to love them and tell them it was going to be okay. My dad did that — and they respected him.

Dad drew chalk pictures for Chinese children, put coins into the cups of beggars we saw on the street, and taught in underground seminaries. He died in June 2006, and would you believe, I am still standing on his shoulders? You can see a picture of the two of us together on my website.

That is a wonderful picture of you and your father. What a blessing that you were able to be with him in China. Thank you so much for writing this book and for sharing your insights into the persecuted church in China. I hope to be able to visit there someday.

For now, the very least I can do is pray for my brothers and sisters who are there, struggling to keep their faith strong.

Hope Flinchbaugh is an author, freelance writer, and homeschooling mom from Pennsylvania. Daughter of China received a Catherine Marshall Christy Award of Excellence in 2003. Hope’s nonfiction book, Spiritually Parenting Your Preschooler, was released in August 2003. She’s also a contributor to Soul Matters, a series released in bookstores and Sam’s Clubs in 2005.

January 24, 2007

A few weeks ago, my online writing group was discussing mission statements. I didn’t have anything to contribute because … I don’t really know what my mission is. I just like to write, and when I write I feel like I’m pleasing God. That’s it.

One of the mentors in our group impressed on us to pray about every aspect of our writing, and ask God to show us how to best spend our time this year. So I began to pray, “God, please show me what you want me to write. Please show me what you want me to read.”

As soon as I prayed that prayer, things began to fall away for me. I felt less excited about certain writing assignments and more excited about others. Seek Me and You Will Find Me. This is the phrase I’ve been impressed with since the start of the year.

I don’t feel like a parenting expert or a writing expert or even a “Christian Living” expert. But these are the areas I love sharing about. And in the past week two invitations have come to write as a parenting columnist. Thank you, Lord. This seems to be what I’m called to do this year.

As I’ve prayed about reading material, certain books have jumped off my stack of TO READ books, making my heart beat faster when I open the first page.

One of those books had a pretty green cover with a picture of a Chinese woman drinking tea. The cover intrigued me, and so I began to read Across the China Sky by C. Hope Flinchbaugh.


I am NOT the same person since finishing that book! My heart weeps for the persecuted church of China — and I had no idea God would use the connecting point of my interest in orphaned children to captivate me with Flinchbaugh’s story.

When I finished the book, I wanted to know more. It was based on a true story involving the kidnapping and torture of a group of Chinese pastors. The author went to China and interviewed some of these people, and her writing reflects a depth of passion and knowledge that is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

I wrote the publisher (Bethany House) to see if I could ask the author some questions about the book, and Flinchbaugh graciously responded. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a Christian in modern-day China, come back tomorrow and you’ll learn why we must PRAY for our brothers and sisters in China.

By: Heather Ivester in: Books,Faith,Travel | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)