Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Reformation Day!!

This post was originally published October 31, 2012.

Today we celebrate Reformation Day, the day the Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg.  On Sunday when we celebrated Reformation Sunday, there was a short explanation in the bulletin of exactly what the Reformation is.  I hope my church doesn't mind if I post it here.
On October 31, 1517, a German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his theological convictions (The 95 Theses) to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg.  Luther's intent was to foster debate and reform regarding the church's practices, so that they might align with the principles of Scripture.  This act helped spark a revival in the Church and a reformation in Western culture.  This movement became known as the Protestant Reformation. 
The spiritual heritage of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches is traced back to this era.  On the Sunday prior to this anniversary we celebrate Reformation Sunday.  Today Reformed Churches and Christians seek to follow the five mottos of the Reformation:  1) Sola Scriptura -- Scripture Alone, 2) Solo Christo -- Christ Alone, 3) Sola Gratia -- Grace Alone, 4)  Sola Fide -- Faith Alone, 5) Soli Deo Gloria -- Glory to God Alone.
We heard a sermon on the five Solas, and it was a wonderful reminder.  In case you enjoy these types of reminders like I do, I thought I would expound a little bit on these battle cries of the Reformation with some help from the notes I took from the sermon.
  • Sola Scriptura -- Scripture Alone.  The Bible alone is the final and absolute source of knowledge about God, our sinful condition, and how those two things can be reconciled.  We take for granted the fact that we have the Bible in our own language, but men died in order to procure that for us.  (John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale)
  • Solo Christo -- Christ Alone.  Our salvation is of Christ, and Christ alone.  As John 14:6 says, Jesus is the only way to God.  
  • Sola Gratia -- Grace Alone.  We are saved by Christ alone through grace alone.  Just as we had no choice in being born to our earthly parents, we had no choice in being adopted into God's family.  According to Ephesians 2:5, while we were dead in our sins, God made us alive.
  • Sola Fide -- Faith Alone.  We are saved by Christ alone through grace alone by faith alone.  That's all there is to it.  Such a simple idea and yet so hard to grasp.
  • Soli Deo Gloria -- Glory to God Alone.  Why did the reformers endure so much?  Why were they willing to die for these beliefs?  To bring glory to God and only to God.
Do you celebrate Reformation Day?  How so?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Wonderful Visit with My Mother

I'm sorry that I haven't been around my blog much recently, and when I finally did sit down to write something, it was all book reviews.  But my mother has been visiting, and honestly, I wanted to spend the time with her instead of writing blog posts.  But I had all of those books that I needed to write reviews for, and I wanted to get them out of the way.  (I still have one left, but it can wait until next week.)

While my mother was here, we got so much done.  She worked me hard, but it was worth it to get some things done that needed to be done.  My mother loves to be busy all day long; me...not so much. ;)  We also had a wonderful time.  Since we homeschool, my children were able to spend all day long with her, and we really enjoyed it.

So this week I'm thankful for many things:
  • my mother who flies out to visit us regularly
  • her honesty:  she told me that we had to paint the girls' room because she couldn't sleep in it any longer since the color was so dark
  • how much time she spent with me and with my children
  • all of the work she did while we painted, getting ready and cleaning up
  • the fun we all had while she was here
  • how well she gets along with my husband
  • my father who lets her visit us so often
My mother left yesterday after a nice, long visit, so I look forward to getting back into our routine today.  

For what are you thankful this week?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

This sequel to Return to Me in which the first group of Jews return to Jerusalem after being scattered throughout the Babylonian empire, takes place when the second group return under King Xerxes.  Ezra sees many Jews giving up their heritage and adopting pagan ways, and he especially does not want that for his children.  He wants them to grow up in Jerusalem, segregated from unwanted, God-hating people, so he takes this request to the king who grants it.  When they resettle in Jerusalem, however, Ezra's troubles are not over as he has to deal with lax attitudes and practices of the earlier settlers.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first one in the series.  Austin seems always to have some moral woven throughout her novels, and this book deals with balancing God's law and His justice.  Ezra has to explore both as he deals with the situations that come up in his life.  Austin, also, touches on how God uses suffering to further His goals and bring glory to Himself.  Learning these important concepts is necessary, but having them woven through a novel such as this one really brings the lessons home.

I haven't read a book by Lynn Austin that I wouldn't recommend highly, and this one is no different!

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: Noah, A Wordless, Picture Book by Mark Ludy

The story of Noah and the ark comes to life in this wordless, picture book by Mark Ludy.  The lavish illustrations are very detailed, and the story shines through them with no need of words.  Starting with the wickedness of the world and going through the ark landing and Noah's family beginning their new life, the whole story is right here.

I enjoyed "reading" this book to my children.  The pictures are engaging and lead you through the story, allowing you to give as much (or as little) detail to the story as you would like for your children.  The illustrations show the whole story, leaving nothing out, but in a way that is appropriate for children. The wickedness of the world before the Flood is depicted, but it's not too much.  And during the Flood, there is one man reaching out for the ark, showing that many people died but not too graphically for children.

The story is also Biblically accurate which many Noah books are not.  Noah uses dinosaurs and mastodons to help build the ark which is absolutely HUGE.  Most pictures of the ark depict it as much smaller than it actually was.  As much as I appreciate these details, my favorite is the surprise on Noah's face when God shuts the door of the ark.

Do I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  If you want a Biblically accurate book that tells the true story of Noah and the Flood, you need this book.

I want to thank Handlebar Publishing for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

When a stranger comes to town and starts remodeling an unused store, the whole town is curious.  Only one little girl has the gumption to find out what he is doing, and she gets to learn the secret first. Mr. Sonneman is going to open a candy store!  As Lucy and Mr. Sonneman talk about the different kinds of candy, she comes across something she hasn't seen before, a candy cane.  Mr. Sonneman tells her the legend of the candy cane, how the J stands for Jesus, the staff for the shepherds who hear the news of His birth first, how the red stripes represent the blood Jesus shed for our sins, and the white stripes how we are washed clean by that blood.  Then together they share the good news to the rest of the town, using the candy cane.

I enjoyed this cute, little book, and so did my children.  The sweet story has enough in it to keep children interested without being too much.  I do think that it's a little long for a board book since that type of book is usually for very young children, but older children should like it, too, although they might prefer a regular book.  I also appreciate how this book talks about why Jesus was born, how He died for our sins.  Some books just talk about His birth without mentioning why, leaving out half of the story.

If you're looking for a new Christmas book for your children, you should check this one out.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipe Fun Friday: Two Apple Recipes

All summer long, I've had my eye out for apple recipes to try this fall.  I felt like I missed out on baking with apples last year, and I didn't that to happen again this year.

The church we attend has a potluck every Sunday after church, and I try to bake a cake for it.  I get to try new recipes, and I love to bake, so it's a perfect fit for me.  But when I came across this recipe for Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes, I decided to make them instead.  And they were delicious!  These cupcakes even have real apples in them...straight from a can of apple pie filling.  :)  But they were a nice addition to the cupcakes.  I did not use the icing recommended in the recipe; instead I make a buttercream and just added some cinnamon.  I got the recipe for the icing from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn.  John said that these cupcakes are his favorite after Cookie Dough Cupcakes (for which I cannot find a recipe online).

Then I received a recipe in the mail from Kroger for Warm Apple Saute with Ice Cream.  It looked delicious, so I gave it a try.  And it was!  Anything with ice cream is great, right?!  One of my children, and I won't tell you which one, didn't want the apples on top of his ice cream, but I told him he couldn't have any ice cream without apples.  He thought the apples were good, so he was happy.  I left the dried cranberries out.  It was so good that I forgot to take a picture!

Have you tried any new recipes lately?  What kinds of apple recipes do you prefer?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Homeschooling Among Other Things

I realized something this week.  I keep thinking that I'm busy, much more than I used to be, but I seem to have this thought almost every week.  Then I realized that our new "normal" is just busier than our old "normal."  I haven't yet decided if this is a good thing or not.  :)  With this said, this week has been busy by our "old" standards but "normal" by our new ones!

Things for which I am thankful this week include, but are not limited to:
  • homeschooling.  I do love being with my children all day long, and I especially love watching their little faces light up when they learn something new.
  • homeschooling.  I enjoy the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling provides.  
  • homeschooling.  There are benefits to homeschooling that I hadn't counted on when we started such as...
  • the Houston Space Center homeschool day!  Admission is less expensive, and the day is geared toward homeschooling children.
  • John's work which had a shrimp boil the other day for the people with whom John works.  We were the only family there, but it was okay because there was tons of food.  
  • friends.  After feeling like I didn't have anyone to do anything with for so long, I do now!
  • cooler weather.  We've been able to play outside this week because of the cooler weather.
  • new apple recipes.  I've tried two out this week, and both were keepers.  I plan to share them with you tomorrow.
For what are you thankful today?