Tuesday, April 26, 2011

That's When I Talk To God by Dan & Ali Morrow


I was excited to get this book for my 7-year-old daughter. The day it came in the mail, she read it to me as soon as it was opened. It's a beautiful book.

That's When I Talk To God by Dan & Ali Morrow is a wonderfully written story of a little girl who is learning that she can talk to God anytime, anywhere, and about anything. Exactly what I've been teaching my daughter.

The little girl's mom in the story asks her the question "You know we can pray to God anytime we want to, right?" Then the little girl sees things in her everyday life that she can pray about. It helped my daughter to understand that she can pray anytime as well.

This book is beautifully illustrated by Cory Godbey. The cover itself is inviting for any child and the pages are bright and colorful. I'm a parent and I love it! It's exactly the kind of book I look for when buying for my kids. A great lesson wrapped in a story with beautiful artwork. It's a keeper!

*I received this book for free from The B&B Media Group for my honest review.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Love At Last Sight by Kerry & Chris Shook

"Love At Last Sight: 30 Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships" is a book about relationships. Simple as that. It's written to show you how to have better relationships with those closest to you... your spouse, parents, children, or even a close personal friend. It isn't just another marriage book.

I had mixed feelings about this book. At times I felt as if I'd read it all already... and at other times, I felt as if it were all new to me. My conclusion? It is valuable information that you may have read in another book or two about relationships. Not much new here. BUT... what I did find interesting is the format of the book itself.

At the end of each chapter, you are given a Love At Last Sight Challenge. The authors leave you with a kind of 'to-do' list to put into practice what you've just read. I think that makes a huge difference. While I may have read the information before and could say I 'knew' it, I could not say that I actually used the information and applied it to my relationships. Being challenged to do so is where the real changes begin.

If you are serious about making your relationships better, this book will help you do that. But it's like a diet... you can't just read it and say it works or doesnt' work. You have to do the "do's". If you do that, I think you'll be happy with the results.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Live Full Blast, Full Out

Featured Guest Post Article
By PeggySue Wells

Ready to move your life forward? Want to make a positive change by noon? Here is a
step that guarantees positive results.

Stop blaming.

Certainly there are things on our life script we would not have put there. And blame is a
mechanism to discharge pain and discomfort. However, whether I blamed my husband,
parents, boss, or myself, blame kept me cemented in the same spot. Stuck.

Blame cripples only one person. Me. Freedom comes when I acknowledge people made
choices. I made choices. Some choices made a Grand Canyon–sized impact on my life.

A friend that allows me to vent, is a gift. But camping there, the pain becomes my

It happened.

So what?

Now what?

Checkpoint: Do you regularly offer excuses? If you show up late at a place and waste
further time by blaming your lateness on the kids, the dog, or the traffic, you are playing
the blame game. You are blaming someone or something for your situation.

The only person who believes your excuse is you. When you are late, it is apparent that
you did not plan your time to arrive at least 15 minutes early in case you were delayed by life.

In the military, fifteen minutes early is on time. On time is late. Soldiers quickly learn
that there are only four acceptable responses—yes, sir; no, sir; I don’t understand, sir; and no excuse, sir.

When I dropped making excuses, my days and relationships streamlined. Free from
cumbersome excuses, my conversations improved. People are attracted to those who fully live life without excuses. That’s living full blast, full out.

- PeggySue Wells is a speaker and the author of a dozen books including Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After. Contact her at www.PeggySueWells.com.

This article is provided free of charge by the author through Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. You are welcome to place this article on your site or in your publication as long as 1) it’s used in its entirety, 2) the full bio is also used, and 3) you previously request permission through KCWC at russ@kathycarltonwillis.com. All other standard copyrights apply.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children Will Know The Truth... and It Ain't About The Bunny

Yesterday, the day before Good Friday, I sat down to watch a documentary with my youngest son and daughter. It was called "The True Easter Story". It's part of a video DVD series from Focus On The Family called That The World May Know. The series is filmed in Israel and it's narrated by a great historian and Bible teacher, Ray Vander Laan. An excellent series if you want to know more about Bible times, traditions, culture, etc.

Anyway, almost from the beginning, my 7-year-old Baby Girl was asking a lot of questions. I told her to watch first and then we'd talk about it at the end. Well, I guess she got tired of waiting and began to write her questions down so she wouldn't forget. Here is one of her questions below...

In my Baby Girl's own words... "Why do we celebrate Easter like when we celebrate when Jesus has risen when we just hide Easter eggs and find them and also have Easter dinner cause we never talk or do anything about how Jesus has risen?"

This came as a surprise to me. I thought I was going to be the adult in the conversation. Instead it was my Baby Girl asking "Why do we have baskets?", "Why do we color eggs?", "Why is there a bunny?". And mostly she kept asking "Why don't we do anything to celebrate Jesus if that's what Easter is about?"

Imagine my surprise (again) when I couldn't think of anything to say! I told her we go to church to celebrate Jesus and that's why we have Easter dinner to celebrate with family. But as I began to think even more, I realized we do those things anyway. What DO we do to celebrate Jesus being risen from the dead?

She suggested that we read the real Easter story from the Bible each night until Sunday. I think that's a good idea. We will be sure to do that. We were following the Holy Week a little more closely this year, which kept the kids interested. And I will be sure to make a point of talking about Jesus and how He laid His life down for us... and took it up again.

My Baby Girl is ready to learn. She wants to know and she's paying close attention. Just tonight, shortly after dinner, she asked "Is is 3:00 yet mom?" I told her it was past... and she said... "Jesus died. He's on His way to the tomb." She has a sadness... knowing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And now she knows the sacrifice He made because He loves us. She knows! And now she will celebrate on Easter morning as she remembers that Jesus ROSE AGAIN! She won't be sad for long, because....

Sunday's on the way!!!

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God Answers Prayer... And Sometimes Really Fast!

 This really blessed me, so I had to re-tell it...

A couple of days ago, my son drove to the auto parts store to get a part for his new car. On his way home he stopped by 7-11 to get a soda.... he even called me to see if I wanted anything (of course I did!). Wasn't that nice? Anyway...

After he'd been home for a short while, he realized he didn't have his wallet and there was a big hole in his pocket. He searched the whole house, inside his car, in the front yard, the street... everywhere. It was nowhere to be found. Finally, he decided he should go back to 7-11 and check to see if someone turned it in. You can hope, right?

Nope. Not there. Not in the parking lot either.

It wasn't so much the money he had lost, but that his Health Card and TAM Card were in his wallet. He's starting a new job next week and wouldn't have time to get the cards replaced beforehand. Not to mention all the trouble that could arise from someone obtaining your Driver's License, Social Security #, and  bank card.

Now, I was praying he would find his wallet. I prayed it was in some spot that was just overlooked and one of us would see it. Sometimes it helps to have a fresh pair of eyes looking with you.

Didn't happen. And we looked everywhere!

I felt so bad! I told him the first thing he should do is cancel his debit card. Can't buy anything if the card doesn't work.

So then I prayed...  "Lord, convict the person who picked it up... touch their heart that they would return it to him and not keep it. Please Lord! And thank you! In Jesus' name, Amen."

Well, about 15 minutes later... as my son was upstairs, talking to the bank on his cell, someone knocks at the door. I told my daughter to see who it was. The neighbor kids had been knocking all morning.  "Make sure you look out the window first!", I told her.

As soon as she said "I don't know who it is!", I knew it was the answer to prayer! I ran to the door and opened it to find a man I didn't know asking for my son. I excitedly yelled up the stairs for him to come down (realizing I was yelling in this poor man's face... I apologized.)

The man obviously knew I was curious (and excited) and held up my son's wallet for me to see. "Oh, my gosh!!! Yay!" I screamed. My son came down the stairs with a big smile and a look of great relief on his face. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" was all we could say. I told him he was a such a blessing and we gave him a small token of our appreciation. He said we didn't need to give him anything... but I wish we could have given more.

It's a wonderful thing to see God answer a prayer so precisely and so quickly. There is no doubt in my mind that God hears us and cares about the things that concern us... no matter how big or how small. He has proved it over and over again in my life! This is just the answer to one of many... and each is a blessing.

And I will NOT forget the man who returned my son's wallet! What an awesome thing to do. Not many people would go out of their way to do that. We live a few blocks away from where it was lost. He could have kept it, put it in the mail, or turned it in. Either way would have meant a lot of unnecessary trouble and concern for my son. I really appreciate what he did. It speaks well of his character. I pray God will bless this man.

I wish I would have opened the door and said "You have my son's wallet, don't you? I prayed God would send you here!" Now wouldn't that have been a great witness? I hope one day to have that kind of boldness.

Don't ever assume that your prayer is too big or too small for God. Have the boldness to bring all your requests before Him... and just see what He will do!

"You do not have, because you do not ask God"
(James 4:2b).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
~Philippians 4:6 

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett

The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett is about "Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do" just as the title suggests.  It's about following God and fulfilling His call on your life and letting His will become your own. It's about putting the desire God has placed in your heart into action... living it out.

This book had me from the beginning. It was inspiring and encouraging. It made me think and it was even a bit convicting when I thought about what I could be doing to help others. Not that it was written in a condemning way. On the contrary. It was written from a heart of wanting to help people and please God with no expectation of a reward other than knowing you were obedient to God and that He used you to make a difference in the lives of others.

Matthew Barnett and others at the Dream Center, both volunteers and those who have received help from the program and now volunteer themselves, share many of their stories throughout the book.

Matthew's story of purposely living on the streets to see first hand the problems the homeless face, so he could better serve them, was a real eye-opener for me. And others like an ex-marine who after serving over seas become heavily involved with the gangs in L.A. ... and now has a ministry to serve those very gang members. And there is Matthew's wife, Caroline, who had a ministry to deliver food to single moms, and while serving them, saw a need and filled it. She now helps to keep families together by providing the basic necessities required for these women to keep their children. Without her help, many families would be torn apart by the state agencies removing children from their homes.

These stories and many more. I could go on and on, but I think you'd get more out of it if you read it yourself. I know it will encourage and inspire you to find your cause and start putting others first. Worked for me!

*Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. -Thanks Tyndale House!  :)

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How To Peel A Boiled Potato AND My Favorite Potato Salad Recipe

Who knew it could be so easy?

Not me, obviously.

I've spent many years doing it the hard way... boiling the potatoes, let them cool (or burn your hands if you don't have time for that) and peel, then chop.

Then I got smart and started doing it the easy way...  peeling them first, chopping them in bite sized pieces, then boiling them. Just had to be careful not to boil them too long or you'll have mushy potato salad... or mashed potatoes.

Well, apparently there is an even easier way to peel a potato. It was just kept secret from me all these years.

Now, I haven't tried this myself yet, but I certainly plan to. It could save me a lot of work. Looks like it works in the video, and if "Mary Ann" form Gilligan says it works, then I plan to give it a try. You know... she is from Idaho.

Check this out..

How cool was that?

Well... since I just showed you how easy it is to peel a potato, I guess I should tell you how to make my favorite potato salad.

Spring is in the air, so you know that means picnics, potlucks, and bbq's are just around the corner. And somebody has to bring the potato salad!

This recipe was adapted from a clone of KFC Potato Salad. The original came from Top Secret Recipes. (Visit their site... there's a lot of great recipes there.) I changed it just a bit and have been using it for years now. Here's my version:

My Favorite Potato Salad

2 pounds potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-2 teaspoons mustard
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon minced celery
1 Tablespoon chredded carrot
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash of salt

Peel potatoes and dice into bit-sized pieces. Place in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes until they are still slightly firm in the center. Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water.

In a medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top and mix until all potatoes are well covered.

Cover and cool in the fridge.

Serves 8.

My daughter and I always fight over the potato salad. We both love it... I like it really cold, and she likes it hot, right out of the pot. Either way it's really good.

Happy Cooking!
Mary Ann :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Easy Way To Learn The Ten Commandments

Back in 2009, there was a man named Darrel Rundus, a self-made millionaire, who was offering a prize of $20,000 of his own money to the first person he called who could recite the Ten Commandments in 20 seconds or less.

Why did he do this?

After questioning many people and finding they knew more about celebrities, sports teams, clothing stores, and brands of beer than they did about God, he decided he wanted to do something to encourage people to learn more. By offering a large monetary prize, he knew that people would work to learn the Ten Commandments. I know it worked for me.

My kids and I signed up and went straight to work at learning the Ten Commandments, in order, and reciting them in less than 20 seconds. A challenge? Yes. But it was worth it.

For the first time in my life, I know the Ten Commendments. In order. Still not as well as I'd like to know them. I have to say them in order to get to the number I want.... but that's about how I count in Spanish too. Not perfect... but it's always there when I need it. What's even better, is that my kids are learning with me.

The video below shows how he teaches the Ten Commandments. So easy... an 8-year-old can do it!

Oh, yeah! She does!

In the video you'll see an 8-year-old girl saying the Ten Commandments, in order, in 20 seconds. And you can learn them too!

*Please disregard any reference to the contest. It is now over and the information does not apply!  

I've always wanted to learn the Ten Commandments... had every intention. Sad that it took the thought of winning a lot of money to finally make me do it. But, learned them all the same. I guess what Darrel Rundus set out to do was accomplished in many people. To hide God's Word in their hearts. I know he will be blessed. Thanks Darrel!

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Isn't It Strange?

Isn't it strange...
     how a 20 dollar bill seems like such a large amount when you donate it to church,
     but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Isn't it strange...
     how 2 hours seem so long when you're at church,
     and how short they seem when you're watching a good movie?

 Isn't it strange...     
     that you can't find a word to say when you're praying but..
     you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a friend?

 Isn't it strange...
     how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Bible,
     but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel?

Isn't it strange...
     how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games but...
     they do everything  possible to sit in the last row at Church?

 Isn't it strange...
     how we need to know about an event for Church 2-3 weeks in advance...
     so we can include it in our agenda,
     but we can make adjustments for other events at a moment's notice?

 Isn't it strange...
     how difficult it is to learn a fact about God and share it with others;
     but how easy it is to learn, understand, extend and repeat gossip?

 Isn't it strange...
     how we believe everything that magazines and newspapers say but....
     we question the words in the Bible?

 Isn't it strange...
     how everyone wants a place in heaven but...
     they don't want to believe, do, or say anything to get there?

Isn't it strange...
     how we send jokes in e-mails and they are forwarded right away,
     but when we have messages to send about God,
     we think about it twice before we share it with others?



This is from an email that my sister sent me. Not the picture... just the poem.

The truth of it made me stop and think... How would my behavior change and who could I reach with the Gospel if I put God first?

James 1:22 ~ "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." 

Monday, April 11, 2011

How To Be God's Little Princess by Sheila Walsh

How To Be God's Little Princess by Sheila Walsh is a wonderful children's book for young girls ages 9-12. Although, my daughter is only 7, and she just loves it. The message of the book is to teach girls how to be God's Little Princess in their everyday lives.

What I really like about this book, is the fact that it teaches manners and etiquette. Young girls are taught how to become young ladies. Things like, how to have a good attitude, how to be a good friend, how to be polite, how to dress, along with good hygiene, are all addressed from a Biblical view. Inner beauty is stressed in these lessons along with self control and modesty, while having fun with 'how to wear a tiara'... which is a lesson that teaches the basics of how to wear clothes that are right for your body and shape.

Some lessons may seem trivial, but these are the issues that these young girls will face as they become young women. Every women, no matter her age, struggles one time or another with 'would should I wear', 'how should I dress'... and many other issues dealing with inner beauty. I much prefer my daughter be taught about these things from a Biblical perspective rather than from the world. And the princess theme makes it enjoyable and fun learn.

I think this is a great book and teaches girls the lessons they need to become Godly women. I would recommend this book! Your daughter will love it!

*Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.-Thanks Thomas Nelson! :)

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not The Day (or Week) I Had In Mind

When I woke up this morning, I thought my day would be spent at church... listening to Dallas Holm in concert, staying after so the kids could practice their song with the choir for the Palm Sunday performance next weekend, and then stopping for a late lunch on the way home. That's what I thought.

Instead, I sit here with my Baby Girl's head on my lap as she wiggles from pain and I hold her hair back as she vomits... again, and again, and again. She hasn't eaten all day, yet her stomach thinks there's still something in there. Believe me, there isn't. Sleep and rest just won't come for her today. Stupid flu!

It's been that kind of week in general. A week for expecting the unexpected. All the plans in my 'notebook' meant nothing when it came down to it.

Last Sunday, my Hubby twisted his ankle while playing catch with my son at the park. A simple turn, turned bad. His foot was swollen to at least twice it's normal size and he had this tennis-ball-sized bump sticking out from the side. It did get better after a couple of days and few shades of purple we hadn't seen before, and he still went to work. Thankfully, he was aided by a cane my oldest daughter, Little Lady, bought him as a 'gag' gift for $1 at a thrift store several years ago. Ironic? Yes... that was too funny! (oh... you had to be there.)

Then on Monday, I had taken my mom for her 4th reconstructive surgery for this darn skin cancer. Such a small-looking thing can cause so much trouble if not taken care of immediately. This was by far the worst. When they brought me back to sit with her in recovery, I have to admit I was shocked. Not shocked at the scars, stitches or even the blood... but shocked at the extent of it all. It looked as if they had made a jig-saw puzzle with her face. To see my mother looking so helpless and 'beat up' was a little more than I expected. I had to hold back the tears as I told her how well she did and that the surgery went just as planned. "What have I done?" was my first thought. Followed by "How can I hide this from her?" You know... when you think you did the right thing at first and then panic at the thought that you really messed up? Uh-huh.

This time, they gave her more drugs than usual, which I didn't like. But it worked out well because I couldn't get her pain medication from the pharmacy 'pending appoval' from her insurance which I'm pretty sure will never come. Thankfully, my mother has a high tolerance for pain and the worst part was over by the time the hospital drugs wore off. Since then, I've been giving her antibiotics every 6 hours, which is very hard to do by the 5th or 6th night. My brain no longer reacts to my alarm. I give her her pills late, but I do give them to her, and I'm just cranky all day long from no sleep. Just ask my Hubby. He's been telling me all week. Errggg.

Then on Tuesday... my sister-in-law, who is only 45, had a mild heart attack. It was a stressful time. She has 4 kids and a husband (my brother) who were very worried. I was worried too. She's too young for heart trouble! Right? She was in the hospital in the small town where she lives, but was transported to a city hospital where she stayed until Thursday. Thankfully, she only suffered damage to 5% of her heart and will be just fine. She will have to make some changes to her diet and physical activity. What's hard for me to understand... is that she has been trying for years to make these changes and I thought she was doing very well. So what happened?

Anyway, on to Wednesday. All is well.... until... my son calls me from school. He's sick. Stomach flu? Who knows... he was running a fever all day and said his stomach didn't feel good... but that was it. Kept him home on Thursday to make sure he was really well and he was back at school on Friday. He couldn't miss the play that his G.A.T.E. class was doing... it was Peter Pan and he was playing Smitty! 

Well, Thursday... ok, that was all I could handle. I'd been tired all week. Exhausted really. Grocery shopping, homework, laundry, etc., on top of everything else... I just came apart. I sat in my shower as long as I could.... as long as the hot water was still running... and cried. I poured my heart out to God.

Things that I thought I had given over to Him long ago came pouring out.... "Lord, I can't do it! I'm no good. I'm a terrible wife, mother, daughter, friend, (and everything else I could think of). I'm tired. I can't manage my home or finances. I can't cook. I don't feed my kids healthy enough. I don't take care of myself. I don't do enough at church. I don't help people. My blog (yes... I brought my blog into it!), it just isn't what I know it should be. Nothing is fun anymore! And it's all about me... I HATE that about myself. See Lord, even my prayer is all about me! Why can't I get it right?" And sadly.... it just got uglier. I, I, I and Me, me, me... and the pity party went on... well, until the water turned cold.

Friday and Saturday? Who knows. Obviously, they came and went... but they are just a blur.

Which brings us back to Sunday! Now, I know my week wasn't what I had planned, but it is what God allowed in my life. And He knows best. He brought me through it. He is preparing me for what's ahead. Making me stronger... mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I have a feeling there may be many more days or weeks like this ahead. But God is my personal trainer. If He says I can do it... I will trust Him. I will not give up.

Since I missed the concert, I thought I'd post my favorite song by Dallas Holm on my blog. It is close to Easter and this is, in my opinion, the best song for Easter. I listened to Dallas Holm about 25 years ago. Wow... that's a long time. So it's an oldie, but a classic...

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Got Email From 'Kathy Lagoli'?... it's SPAM!

If you receive an email from 'Kathy Lagoli'... don't answer it!  It is SPAM!!!

I wanted to let all my blogger friends know about a SPAM email that is going around.

The emails come from "Kathy Lagoli" who seems to be interested in your blog. The sender personalizes the subject line with the name of one of your blog posts so you feel as if you should answer.

Thankfully, before I did send a reply, I googled the name Kathy Lagoli and found out that this is pretty widespread SPAM.

I've posted the emails I received below.

I received this email yesterday...

              Re: a mom with a blog: use bottle tops to seal a bag.... great idea!
              Wednesday, April 6, 2011 4:06 PM
              From: "Kathy Lagoli" kathy@tedfleece.com
              To: amomwithablog@yahoo.com


             Would you be available to discuss this on the phone ?


And this one today....

                Re: a mom with a blog: use bottle tops to seal a bag.... great idea!
               Thursday, April 7, 2011 6:06 AM
               From: "Kathy Lagoli" kathy@thingdiamond.com
               To: amomwithablog@yahoo.com


              Hey didn't hear back from you, are you still in business ?


You can Google it for yourself if you'd like. I just wanted to spread the word.

Have a great day and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Prayer Request... For My Mom

If ever you need prayer... just ask me. I'll pray now and tomorrow and whenever I think about it. I'll write your name down so I don't forget. I'll pass it along to prayer chains, turn in a prayer card at church, and post your name on my Prayer Wall. I'll do my very best to pray for you and keep my word.


Because I know prayer works. I know God hears us. And I know He answers. He is faithful.

It's so important to be covered in prayer. I pray for my family every day. Whenever they come to mind... wherever they are. I know He hears me.

Then why is it so hard for me to ask others for prayer?

Bringing our requests before God is an awesome privilege. I know this. Being in agreement with others is powerful. Standing in the gap for others is a wonderful thing.

Yet... I don't feel as if my needs are as important as others' may be. I feel like I'm just complaining. Like everyone else's requests are so serious or major... that my asking someone to pray about my 'little' worries is a sign of weakness.

But that, I know, is a deception. So... I'm just going to put it out there.

By the time this posts, I will be on my way to the surgery center with my mom. She is going in for her 4th surgery for a Basal cell carcinoma that was left untreated for too long. It's the most common form of skin cancer. It isn't life threatening... but, can be disfiguring. She has been in surgery twice to remove it completely. The result of that is the removal of almost 1/2 of her nose.

Her last surgery was the first in a series of reconstructive surgeries. They are performing skin-grafts to create a 'flap' to cover her nose and may have to use cartilage from her ear. She has been such a trooper through all of this. She is feisty... I know that keeps her going.

She has had bandages on her face for over 3 months now. She doesn't want to go anywhere because she thinks everyone is staring at her. Her cheeks are so chapped from all the tape and band-aids that it gets painful. The surgery tomorrow is going to require a longer recovery time and the entire process may go on through the summer. Hopefully not longer.

She also has hearing loss, Meniere's disease, and emphysema from second hand smoke. Not to mention her eyesight isn't what it used to be. I know the Lord could heal her of it all if He chooses.

Would you please pray for my mother? She is 77 years old. She's tiny, petite, fragile... yet still strong enough to move her furniture around all by herself when she wants to. :)  Please pray for a quick recovery and that the Lord would bless the doctors to do the best job possible.

Thanks so much for interceding. God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Time For Worship... "Revelation Song" by Gateway Worship and Kari Jobe

I absolutely love worship songs. They have a way of making my day go much better... and they seem to come on the radio at just the right time. God is amazing in that... isn't He? When my day starts to go askew... He knows just what I need to hear to get me back on track and return my focus to Him. This is one of my favorites...

It's 'Revelation Song' by Gateway Worship. The lead singer, who has such a beautiful voice, is Kari Jobe. There are other versions out there, but this is the first one I heard, and I think it's the best. Plus... I just like Kari Jobe. No one else has the same 'worship' affect when they sing it. Well... for me, anyways. (Sorry guys!... just my opinion.)

It's been around for a while, but I think it's just one of those 'classics' that never get old. Hope you enjoy it!  


God bless and have an amazing day!
Mary Ann :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blogger Tip - Related Posts Widget

A big part of blogging, I've come to find, is just learning where to find all the useful gadgets - or widgets - that make your blog look the way you'd like and easier to navigate. And then... figuring out if you really wanted that widget to begin with... and now that you've installed it... should you keep it? Since I've found a few that work for me, I thought I'd share them with you... just in case you were looking.

My blog may not look like much has been put into it, but let me assure you... I have searched high and low and worked on into many nights trying to find a great new widget. And sometimes... I worked on into the night trying to fix what I messed up when the widgets didn't work correctly. It can be very time consuming, and not all of us have the time that is necessary. It's also very frustrating... many times it made me want to delete my blog and start over. But, not to worry. I have overcome!

Thankfully, there are many fellow bloggers who are willing to share from their experience, whether it be from success or failure. So I thought I'd return the favor by passing along any good tips I come across myself.

You may have noticed after a while that your older posts don't get many views. You may not care about this if you write more of a diary or current events blog... or, maybe you do. But either way, if you have information that you'd like to share at any time, like recipes or devotions or tips... useful information of any kind, then you might want them to be easily accessible to your readers. I mean.... after a year, or even a few months, not even I want to sit and read all the old posts I've written. And blogging is a lot of work. Fun... but work. So you don't want your posts to go unread.

What's really helpful is a 'related posts' widget. It's a widget that is placed at the end of every post and sort of 'shuffles' your older posts around so readers will see them and maybe click to read them if they seem interesting. You can choose to show as few as 3 and as many as 5 or 6 related posts.

Pretty cool, huh?

There are several versions of this widget out there. LinkWithin is one I tried. It worked great for a while and I was happy with it, until.... I changed my blog URL. After that, it would still show my older posts within the widget itself, but if you clicked on them it wouldn't link to any that were posted before I changed my URL. So it would no longer work for me. I tried un-installing it and re-installing it... but no change.

After that I went looking for another widget and I came across a 'generic' version. This worked just fine... but I couldn't change the font color and it didn't look as good on my blog. So off I went to search again.

This time I found Outbrain. It works great! It matches my blog colors and style automatically. No problem. It gives you a choice between a text or thumbnail version. It also gives you an option for 'rating' your posts using a '5-Star' rating button or a 'like' button. They even offer a tracking service to see if your posts are being read or which ones are more popular. And it's all FREE!

If this is something you might like to add to your blog, just visit them at www.outbrain.com and click on the link at the bottom of the page that says: Are you a blogger? Install our free widget!

Check it out first. Read all about it, including the installation information. And back up your template before you start making changes... just in case.

Happy Blogging!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kite Flying... It's A Breeze!

It's a breeze!  Get it?

Windy... kite... breeze...?

Oh, never mind. :)

A couple of weeks ago I bought kites for my kids.  They looked pretty cool.  And it's cheap entertainment... right?  Something we can all do together? 

Well... That's what I was thinking!  Great minds think alike!

My kids had never even flown a kite until last year.  Seriously.  And even then, they would never have owned a kite if my dad hadn't given them one.  It was a cute little pink piggy kite.  Not only my kids, but a couple little boys at the park as well, got the chance to fly their first kite.

What great fun it was!  "We should do this again!" I tell them.  But wait.  My hubby set the kite in the back of the van... where our 100 pound lab sits.  "No!... don't let him jump in...."  Poor piggy!!!  He was so cute and my Baby Girl was sad to see him go.  But next year...

Yep, this is next year!  And when I saw those cool looking kites, that poor piggy kite came to mind and I HAD to buy them... in his memory, of course!  So glad I did.  These are really cool kites! I know I said that.... but it's true. They fly much better than anything I'd ever flown.  Who didn't know that?  LOL.  After 30? years I guess they were bound to improve.

Kite flying is one of those fun childhood pastimes.  Don't you think?  I've been trying to let my kids experience some of the things I did when I was a child.  You know roller skating, bike riding, and kite flying. (And just using your imagination...)  It was all fun.  And it still is.  We just need to remind them how much fun we had when we were young(er).

This is my Baby Girl flying her butterfly kite.
Really colorful and durable.  Not like the paper kites I remember.

This is my Young Man teaching his brother, Baby Boy, how to fly his jet kite.

And now Baby Boy can fly his own kite.

We just drive to the desert at the end of our street.  It's a safe place where we won't hit anyone if one of the kites come crashing down.  You know that happens.

We don't always realize it, but it's the simple things that bring the most pleasure in life.  My kids were excited when they could do this themselves.  I got to show them something from my childhood that is now a part of their own.  They learned something new, and we had a great time together.

What's your favorite childhood pastime?  What did you enjoy that you'd like to share with your kids or grandkids?  I know there must be something.  And I'm sure they'd enjoy it too.  Don't let them fool you into thinking they can't part from those video games.  Take them out and have fun!  Time spent together is the best time of all!

***In case you were wondering... I usually don't post pictures of my family or give their real names.  I'm not sure if I want to do that yet, or at all. Once you put something out there, it's out there. No taking it back. So... until I'm ready, I will just give out their 'blog names' and post photos that still protect their privacy. Yes, I'm weird like that. Thanks for understanding! :)

God bless!
Mary Ann :)


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