Saturday, December 27, 2008

Facebook: Breastfeeding is not obscene


Bethy's first feeding on 11 November 2005
Facebook regularly takes down pictures of breastfeeding on the grounds that it is obscene. Lactivists are changing their Facebook profile pictures to one depicting breastfeeding in a virtual nurse-in on 27 December.

Join the cause to let Facebook know that
breastfeeding is not obscene!

Men, you can join, too!
Post a pic of your wife/partner/significant other/baby mama breastfeeding, or use the new international breastfeeding icon:


Friday, December 26, 2008

St Stephen's Friday Fill-In

I started to really think about these, but then gave up and just put in the first thing that came to mind.

Be forewarned.


1. I must accept that God really does love me before I die.

2. You can't stop feeling the guilt of your sin without God.

3. I wish I never had to buy toilet paper again.

4. Prozac has helped me change my life.

5. I know the song O Holy Night by heart.

6. If I weren't so afraid, I would fly to the British isles.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching The Christmas Cottage, tomorrow my plans include church and a nap and Sunday, I want to finish a project for a teacher friend!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Christmas Gift *Ever*

Six-year-old Sarah was very excited to give gifts this year. She made a handprint angel at school for Michael and me. She decided she wanted to make me another present, though. Among other pictures and ornaments she had painted in Sabbath School, there was a handmade card. You have to see it.


The front


The inside of my card from Sarah.
That's an "angel heart" over there on the left, she informed me.
Click the picture to open a large version in a new window.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reindeer Food for Santa's Helpers

Santa munches away in each cozy house, while the reindeer sit up on the roof all cold and hungry. This year, why not leave a snack for Dasher, Donner, Blitzen, and the others?

Get the recipe and instructions for a cute reindeer bag to hold it in at

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Handful of Handprint Christmas Crafts

Making these handprint crafts will give you several holiday benefits: the kids will be occupied for a little bit, you’ll create great memories, and you’ll have the cutest holiday decorations in the neighborhood! Hint: these make fantastic Christmas gifts for grandparents and other family members - especially the ones that don’t get to see the kids very often.

Learn how to make three great handprint Christmas crafts at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Track Santa Claus

Back in the day, we would just lie very still and quiet in bed and listen for reindeer hooves or the sleigh bells or the jolly laugh of that belly full of jelly. These days, kids are more technologically advanced and need gadgets and gizmos to find the man in the red suit.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Fill-in Carols Gone Wrong


1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, "That woolly coat ain't got nuthin' on me!"

2. The first Noel, the angel did say, was just as much to us today.

3. Go tell 'em, "Merry CHRISTmas!!!" instead of "Happy Holidays" Over the hills and everywhere.

4. It came upon the midnight clear, the arthritis in my ev'ry bend.

5. The economy's gone down the loo, but let your heart be light.

6. And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing at the top of your lungs off-key.

7. Away in a manger, no room for a whisper from you-know-who saying you're not loved.

8. Dashing through the snow, in a blasted hurry to get to the roaring fire!

9. Hark! The herald angels still sing.

10. It's coming on Christmas Oh crap! I'm nowhere near ready! ACK!!!

11. When I was small I believed in Santa Claus, Though I knew it was my mom giving me something that would make my heart sing.

12. That Christmas magic's brought this tale to a screeching, bloody halt.

13. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sleeping, tomorrow my plans include church and hopefully seeing a live nativity (if I can remember to go) and Sunday, I want to get the blasted Christmas tree up if it's the last thing I do!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Double the Christmas Gifts

Many people are searching for ways to stretch their Christmas shopping dollars this year. When you factor in the concerns over the environment, it become rather difficult to come up with great gifts that don’t cost a fortune. Giving gifts with a charitable outlook helps you get more bang for your Christmas gift buck.

Read how to double your Christmas gifts at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smoochiefrog Christmas Ornament Exchange 2008


I got my Smoochiefrog exchange ornament about a week and a half ago, but I didn't take pictures until this weekend. Then I had to Photoshop them just to make them visible because my camera is horrible (donate toward a new one over there on the right - thanks!). Finally, here is the absolutely lovely ornament Jeannie sent me from her happy world. The photos do it no justice at all. Sweetest Jeannie picked it out based on my love of the Irish. Says she, "it was the most “Irish” one I could find." Isn't she just wonnerful?!


My Smoochiefrog exchange ornament




The left side           The year in gold glitter           The right side

Have a Green Christmas

The three biggest aspects of Christmas are the greetings, the tree, and the gifts. With a few simple steps, you can make an ecological difference for Christmas. Whether you choose to do everything green this Christmas, or just take a baby step or two, you’ll feel great about doing a little bit for the earth. And that’s a present for all of us.

Read the secrets at

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas

Every year I say I’m going to plan ahead for Christmas. Then I get behind.

What do I start with - the gifts, or the decorating? Do I plan the menu first or clean the house? When do I start? June or October? The key principle I keep hearing from friends that do have Christmas organization down is to think Christmas all year long. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving weekend to start thinking about planning and organizing for Christmas.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Prayer Request for Brandon

8 year-old Brandon developed a severe headache this afternoon and keeps throwing up. There's no fever, so we don't think it's a virus or flu. I'm thinking it's because he watched a ton of television today without wearing his glasses and triggered a migraine.

He's had these headaches off and on for several years. We thought it was because he needed glasses. I'm going to call the doctor in the morning and see if we can get an appointment. The poor kid is absolutely miserable.

I'd appreciate your prayers that he'll be able to settle down and get some rest soon and that we'll get some definitive answers tomorrow.


Brandon got up this morning acting like he'd never felt badly. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and inquiries into how's he's feeling.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Connecting with Claus


Children have begun to doubt the existence of Santa Claus long before Virginia wrote her letter to the Sun in 1897. It’s hard to pinpoint when Saint Nick started responding to their letters, but the highlight of the Christmas season for many children is getting that letter from Santa.

What could be more magical for a child than to have a phone conversation with Santa Claus? I have to admit, a phone call like that might make me a believer again!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fill-In 12 December


1. Friends make life bearable.

2. Good health; it's something I wish my family had more of.

3. I'm ready for my new office area remodel to be done.

4. Old Spice is one of my favorite perfumes or aftershaves or smells. My daddy wears it; one of my favorite childhood memories is the way he smelled when I'd come hug him before he went to work at night.

5. The oldest ornament I have is a red felt bell I made in second grade (I'll try to remember to post a picture when I get the tree up).

6. Take some homemade hot cocoa mix and hot milk, mix it all together and you have heaven for your taste buds in a cup (extra heaven levels for using your favorite cup or mug).

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sleeping, tomorrow my plans include church and a nap and Sunday, I want to put up the Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Death of a Tradition

Being a graphic artist, I use graphics in my home life on a regular basis. I tend to think everything looks better with a nice graphic or clip art inserted. I've posted before on my tendency to print lunch bags for my kids. Sadly, today, that tradition has apparently come to an end.

When my HP printer died a few weeks ago, I had to scrap Brandon's lunch bag for his field trip to the Super Silly Science Circus. Today Sarah is going to the Christmas tree farm. When I went to print her bag... it jammed! I tried again. It jammed again. I even tried printing it upside-down, I was so desparate. It just hung at the bottom of the bag and printed on the same one-inch space...

I ended up printing what should have been directly on the bag onto a shipping label and slapping it on there. It's just not the same, though.


I am sad.

Prayer Request for Thursday

Sarah is going to Canton on a field trip to the Christmas tree farm with her kindergarten class tomorrow (Thursday). We are under a winter weather advisory until mid-morning tomorrow, with sleet and snow. Please pray for the traveling safety of the children, teachers and parents as they go there and back, and that they will not get too cold out there.

Thanks so much for praying on behalf of this worrying mama!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Plotting Food

You know how they say soft drinks and beer are designed to just make you more thirsty so you just drink more and more?

Chocolate-covered raisins are the same way.

Just so you know...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are You a Real Christian?

I got one of those long e-mail prayers yesterday. I don't mind the ones that say, "Bless the people I am sending this to, etc..." too much. I do mind the ones that "Christians" send that try to guilt people into forwarding what has essentially become spam - what I am now calling God-spam. The one I received yesterday actually had this sentence in the prayer in giant script lettering:
I pray for those that will delete this
without sharing it with others
I pray for those that don't believe.

Wait, did you just tell God that I don't believe if I delete this e-mail without foisting it on all my friends (or at least 10)? I thought He was the One that decided if we were believers or not. True, we are told that we are each "known by his fruit" (Matthew 12:33 KJVR), but the last time I checked on the fruits of the Spirit, forwarding e-mails was not one of them. I'm pretty sure they're "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." (Galatians 5:22-23 KJVR).


At the end of the e-mail I read:
Pass this message to 10 people except you and me.
You will receive a miracle tomorrow.
Don't ignore this and God will bless you.
Know that you are already blessed
by the person who sent this to you.

Are you telling me that God now performs miracles based on the forwarding of e-mail? That we piddly, moral humans tie God's hands by hitting delete instead of forward? Somehow I find this incredibly hard to believe. I also find it hard to believe that the measure of my faith, the definer of my spiritual status, is determined by my choice to forward or delete an e-mail.


This has been an ongoing issue, one I've addressed before in a public Response to All the E-mails from “The Faithful”. Obviously, "The Faithful" haven't gotten it. We as Christians will never spread the gospel, or the love of Christ, or the hope of eternity, or any other good thing by sending out these missives of guilt. As I said in closing of my last response to these wolves in sheep's clothing, true witnessing is not shown by coercion through guilt, but by genuine love, compassion, and helpfulness.


So people don't need you to tell them you love God or that you are a believer by forwarding an e-mail - they already know by your attitude and your actions.

What have you told others about yourself today?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Freecycle, or How to Be Really Happy

This past weekend we were allowed to bless a family with a Christmas tree. I hate stringing lights, so a couple of years ago I set aside some money and was able to buy a 7' pre-lit tree at the after-Christmas sale. The old tree was perfectly fine, and it needed a home. I posted about it on Freecycle several times, but never got any takers.

Then a couple of weeks ago, someone posted that they were looking for a tree. I sent the e-mail and after several back and forth, our tree now has a new home. I was able to give the tree, the lights, and a topper, since I got a new one on clearance last year.

Michael had been a bit antagonistic about digging it all out of the stuffed storage building, but when he got to take the tree to the family because they had gotten lost trying to find the house, his tune changed drastically. He talked and talked about it when he got home. Their gratitude simply overwhelmed him.

They told him they didn't have a tree last year and were thrilled that we had a topper and lights to go with it. Within just a few hours of Michael meeting them, I received yet another e-mail from the family - this time to thank us for the tree and to tell us that it was already up.

Don't knock giving away the things you no longer want or need. The statement "Another man's trash is another man's treasure" really is true. Best of all, you'll never feel so good, content, and happy as when you are allowed the supreme privilege of blessing someone else.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beauties and the Beast

The girls wrangled Daddy into watching Beauty and the Beast with them. He hated it.



Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Friday Fill-in


I recently discovered Friday Fill-Ins on Verbatim, the blog of another voraciously reading mom of 3 and liked the Mad Libs-ness of it all. Lo and behold, there's actually a blog where you can get your prompts every week - yay! Be warned: you will learn more about me than you probably ever wanted to know.

That, or you'll laugh so hard you'll either pee or snort liquid out of your nose...

1. My stomach is waaay too paunchy.
2. Brown and serve rolls is what I ate the most of on Thursday.
3. The yard is covered in leaves - and it's gonna stay that way!
4. In bed asleep is where I'd rather be at any given time.
5. The smell of turkey reminds me of Thanksgivings at my grandmother's house and the annual Scrabble game.
6. Meme's (she of the turkey and Scrabble) chocolate meringue pie is what I need right now!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Praise Team practice, tomorrow my plans include church and Sunday, I want to dig out the Christmas decorations, including the tree I get to bless a family with from Freecycle!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Mail for Heroes - Send some!


The goal is to send one million holiday cards to heroes. Please send cards to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

There are some rules. From the website:
Please follow these guidelines when mailing a card to ensure that your card will quickly reach service members, veterans and their families. Every card received will first be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working in one of 16 sorting stations around the country.
  • All cards must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Cards sent after this date will be returned to sender.

  • Participants are encouraged to limit the number of cards they submit to 25 from any one person or 50 from any one class or group. If you are mailing a larger quantity, please bundle the cards and place them in large mailing envelopes. Each card does not need its own envelope or postage.

  • Please ensure that all cards are signed.

  • Please use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.

  • Please send cards as opposed to long letters which delay a quick review process.

  • Please do not include email or home addresses on the cards, as the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.

  • Please do not include inserts of any kind, including photos, as these items will be removed during the reviewing process.

  • All cards received may be used in program publicity efforts, including appearing in broadcast, print or online mediums.

  • My grandfather is a World War II hero; my stepdad (RIP) was a World War II hero; my uncle is a veteran hero; my husband is a veteran hero; my big brother is an active hero. Send one of their brothers or sisters a Christmas card of thanks. At least one. Maybe a dozen or two...

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    A Week in the Life

    So life's been a little hectic lately. I thought the last post I did was this past Thursday. Nope - it was the Thursday before.

    Oy. Gotta write. What to write?
    Review? Nah. Reading a book on ADD & ADHD - boring stuff unless you're interested in that kind of thing...
    Blog Tour? Not one available at the moment (if you're a publicist or author and would like me to host a blog tour for your book, contact me at crystal (at) 3stairs (dot) com!)...
    Quote? Unh-uh - that's for Thursdays...
    Update? Well, it has been a week-and-a-half... Ok, update it is.

    So Thursday the 6th, you see that I posted quotes from our very own Samuel Adams. Then I disappeared, apparently. In a sense, I did - but just from my house. Here's a brief rundown:

    Friday, 7 November:
    Supposed to be cleaning the house and preparing for Bethy's third birthday party on Sunday. Oh yeah, and making a veteran's day banner for the music teacher at the school, which I completely forgot about. I went to Tyler with my good friend Toni instead, then came home and took a nap. I think that probably qualifies as playing hookey.

    Sabbath, 8 November:
    Went to church. Dixie, Joel and the boys coming around 7 o'clock to spend the night for Bethy's party. At 6 I go to a girls' night out hosted by the Women's ministry at church and play spoons and Scrabble until about 1:30am.

    Sunday, 9 November:
    Bethy's party at 3pm. Sensitive half-sister's feelings hurt by two people being nitwits and saying insensitive things about her first child. The guilty shall remain unnamed because I'm ashamed I'm related to them when they're that thoughtless. Cute Winnie-the-Pooh cake, but my camera is crappy, so I can't show you a picture.

    Monday, 10 November:
    The nutritionist from Early Childhood Intervention comes for her last visit, since tomorrow is Bethy's third birthday and they can only work with children until then. Great news - Bethy has gained 9 ounces! This is fantastic, as she's showed a loss on the previous two visits. The nutritionist is very pleased and tells us to call her if we need any help going forward.

    Tuesday, 11 November:
    Bethy is finally three! I don't know why, but this birthday just seemed to take so long to get here. I spend the day with Bethy until time to get the kiddos from school, at which time she's napping. Brandon, Sarah and I go to the local library's after-school library program.

    Wednesday, 12 November:
    Parent-Teacher-Partnership meeting at the Primary School. Principal suggests that members be kind and try to work together (yes, he actually needed to do it, sadly). Issue resurfaces when he leaves and attendees phish for names of suspects, which are not given because there aren't any - the nasty things were done anonymously and we have no way of knowing who did them. Nevertheless, a non-attending member is called afterwards and told that her name was brought up as a suspect. Oy, the high school drama. Where are the freakin' big-girl panties around here?? And, please, somebody, tell me: why would anybody lie when there were so many witnesses that can tell you that a person wasn't mentioned? Ugh. Makes me want to quit if it weren't for the fact that I'm there as an advocate for the kids. I just wish all the members realized that and were there for that instead of politics, drama and popularity.

    Thursday, 13 November:
    Women's and Men's ministry meeting at church. Finger-food dinner followed by hilarious sly set-up of the women for a surprise baby shower for one of the ladies while the men separated for their meeting. The shower goes well, with some rather funny games involving unlabeled jars of baby food. The praise team had to leave before the gifts were given to go to practice. At practice, I discover that the slides I prepared look horrible on the screen (the color/contrast is slightly different than my machine, so it's hard to get them right for the church projector), so stay until 11 or so to edit slides.

    Friday, 14 November:
    Christmas Store Inventory at the Primary School. Two other PTP members and I go through 5 boxes of trinkets, toys and gifts to inventory them for the upcoming Christmas store. We have a bazillion porcupine balls in various forms and way too many playing cards. The Christmas Card workshop that I had been planning on going to had to be rescheduled, so now I can go to the concert being given by Oklahoma Academy students at church. But not before I go to Two Senoritas with Toni. ;) Problem is, I forgot to tell Michael we were going, so when the Pastor called looking for me and Michael told him I was at church, he was confused when the Pastor told him I wasn't. Oopsie. Forgiveness can be bought with a steak dinner to go. Just sayin'... I get to church at about 6:30 at create a slideshow to loop behind the students during the concert. I am a small-time hero. The concert is fantastic. There is singing, string quartet, trumpets and a bell choir. I tell the director that I hope this a first-annual event.

    Sabbath, 15 November:
    Church. Praise Team. There is some sadness over the loss of a loved one in the church family and the loss of a 23-year job in another family. I host a visitor's lunch with a couple of other families and get rave reviews of the homemade chili that I can't eat because it's too spicy for my esophagus. Irony, huh? There are Sabbath School workshops in Tyler in the afternoon, but I'm exhausted and my head hurts, so I play hookey again and take a nap.

    Sunday, 16 November (today):
    Lounge around; take a nap with Bethy; send Michael to Taco Bell for dinner. Sit down to play with blog and write this.

    And so now you know my life is busy but boring.

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Listen to your (fore)father!

    He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.


    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.


    The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.


    Samuel Adams
    US patriot

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Subscribe and Win for Operation Christmas Child!

    Feedburner tells me I have 17 readers (see the neat little box over there on the top right?), which is cool, but I'm vain. I want more readers to fuel my ego. I want 25 subscribers before 14 November. I realize, though that I'm not much to read about, so I thought I'd bribe you all.


    The 25th subscriber to this blog before 14 November will get a box donated to Operation Christmas Child in his or her name on 15 November.

    The fine print:
    You will get to choose the age group and gender of the recipient* if I get to 25 and you notify me of your preferences before noon CST on 14 November. If either of these events occur after noon CST on 14 November, a gender and age group will be chosen at random.
    *choose from the following: girl 2-4 / boy 2-4 / girl 5-9 / boy 5-9 / girl 10-14 / boy 10-14

    To be counted, just subscribe by using the link over there at the top of the right-hand column, then e-mail me at crystal (at) 3stairs (.) com or direct message me on Twitter to let me know you subscribed.

    So there you have it. It's not hard. It's a win-win-win. I get more readers and a stroke of the ego; you get to read a funny, witty, clever blog post about 1-3 times a week from moi; and - this is by far the most important - an underprivileged child gets a better Christmas.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Faces in the Crowd, by Donna Thomas


    Faces in the Crowd
    208 pgs.
    New Hope Publishers
    ISBN-13: 9781596692053
    Retail: $12.99
    America continues to remain a melting pot for various internationals to call home. For hundreds of years we have opened our arms to a population of multicultural religions and spiritual preferences. In spite of our welcoming borders, our churches have struggled to effectively reach many of these multicultural groups for Christ.

    Donna Thomas, a veteran missionary, writes a practical how-to book on the subject, seasoning the book with anecdotes of personal conversations she has enjoyed with different faces in the crowd. Along with the heartwarming stories, each chapter includes things to consider and action steps to help apply each lesson. Donna tackles the tough subject of finding, reaching and effectively sharing Christ's love with international neighbors. These easy-to-implement personal evangelism tools equip readers with the basic know-how and stirs up the desire to share the gospel of Jesus with others. Donna teaches by example how to start a conversation, build a meaningful relationship, share gospel truths in a cross-cultural context, and incorporate the Lord into ongoing conversations. More than that, she stimulates Christians to develop an all-inclusive love and passion for faces of all colors and people of all cultures.


    Veteran Missionary and Author, Donna Thomas
    About the Author:
    Donna Thomas has the unusual experience of speaking and training leaders in countries as far away as China, Egypt, and India. In addition, she now has four books published and in the hands of Christian families and leaders. Pulling stories out of her, you will find that she has earned the label of: teacher, co-founder of a church, cofounder of a missions agency, co-founder of short-term missions (then an unknown opportunity) taking over 6,000 participants, pilot and manager of a 40-passenger plane, partner with twelve key international Christian leaders, funded the first church built in China in 1984 after the Communist Revolution, and has helped Christians in seventy-six countries.

    What Others Are Saying:

    Did you ever find yourself at a loss on how to reach out to the people of other cultures and religions in your neighborhood or workplace? If so, Donna Thomas's Faces in the Crowd is the resource you need. With colorful stories of average people making a cross-cultural connection, supplemented with action ideas you can use, Donna guides the reader on how to have an impact on the global village--from where you live right now.

    --Paul Borthwick, senior consultant, author:
    Stop Witnessing...and Start Loving,
    Six Dangerous Questions,
    Development Associates International

    Chatting with Donna
    What is the take-away value that you hope readers will gain from reading Faces in the Crowd?

    I want them see how easy it is to get rid of fear, to accept their calling to obey the Great Commission and to enjoy every bit of it.

    You share many anecdotes in the book of ways you started conversations with others to build relationships that lead to the opportunity to share the gospel. Can you tell our audience about one of these anecdotes?

    Yes, just today I was in the Apple phone store with a problem on my phone. The young man that was helping me had a badge with the name Matt. I said, "I'll remember you Matt because that is the first book in the New Testament." He replied that his parents used that name because it is a Bible name. We went on to talk about his purpose in life, what he wants to do in the next 60 years (since he is 22 years old) and since he is a Christian, how he wants to make a difference in this world for the Lord.

    Here's an example of a conversation starter I had with an international. I saw this fellow's name badge and it was Alpha. So I asked him, "where is Omega?" That made him want to talk with me and we have become friends because of further conversations. Now he has been to my house and I've been to his home several times. He is a Muslim from Guinea but is interested in Christian teachings, etc.

    Why do you think Christians are so fearful of sharing about Jesus Christ with others? What can we do to overcome these fears?

    We are taught in our culture not to talk about religion or politics. We are also taught to just mind your own business and leave others alone. When we tell them how Peter lost his fear and share how they can lose theirs, they are open. Give them the story of Phillip and the Eunuch and show them how the Lord used him. Also instill in them that we don't have to be successful, but we do have to be obedient. Jesus wasn't always "successful" with those he talked with. Many turned and walked away but he gave them an opportunity to know him. We give the gift of opportunities.

    Faces in the Crowd has a very international emphasis to it, in that you discuss our need to be more aware of reaching culturally and ethnically different neighbors. What are some pointers you can give about doing this?

    Start looking to see how many internationals you can see. Ask for the Lord to let you see the multitude of people through his eyes. Just start looking for them. Allow your curiosity to discover what country they are from. The interesting thing is that they would certainly like to have an American friend. When you give them a little attention they immediately give you all of theirs. They are lonesome...a foreigner in a foreign land. You can offer friendship.

    When we look into the faces in the crowd and only see our differences, what commonality can we find to open the door to conversation with someone of another race or religion? Is there a way to ask them questions to learn more about their culture without it seeming like we are judging them?

    They would love to tell you about their family and they want you to tell them about yours too. They would love to tell you about their homeland. They would love to tell you about their religion and you can tell them about yours too. It is a two way conversation. Just be open to begin a friendship. It can later enable you to talk about what Jesus means to you.

    How can we know when others we are talking to about the gospel are ready to receive Christ into their lives and make a deliberate choice to live for Him? When we see these indicators, what's the next step?

    You don't preach to them, you tell them what Jesus means to you. You tell them about some of your difficult times and how the Lord has helped you. You ask them about any difficult times they have right now so you both can pray to the Lord for him to help you in this circumstance. Address their needs. When we show them the Lord can help them, they want to meet that Lord.

    Tell us about Donna Thomas. What makes you tick?

    Oh my, I see these people and I wonder if they know Jesus, what their purpose is in life, and where they will spend eternity. Why should I have the joy of going to heaven when they don't know the way to get there? I feel sorry for them and I also feel sorry for Christians that don't care for others. Some Christians only see a physical need but don't recognize spiritual needs.

    What are your passions? What is a normal day like for you?

    Every morning I ask "Okay Father, what do you have in store for me today?" Then in all I do, I look to see the people I think Jesus wants me to see, whether they are a server in a restaurant, a repair man at my house, a lonely looking person at another table or in a waiting area. If Jesus was with me, who would he see, what would he say, what would he do, what does he want me to do? Tonight I am going back to Abuelos restaurant because of the relationships I have there with several of the waiters. I walk a mile or two in my neighborhood for exercise and now I have friends to walk with that don't really know the Lord. I get emails from around the globe asking me for prayer, for advice, and assurance. From Peru, Honduras, Mexico, Laos, China, India, Russia, etc. I am working with 12 internationals right now and I hope to find mentors for them as I cannot be with them as much as they need. So do I quit finding more internationals to talk to or do I find Christians that will come along side them and help them grow? I know a former Hindu from India who is now a Christian, who needs a mentor. It isn't easy to find mentors because many people just say they don't have time. Where are the Christians, the disciples in this day and age?

    Give us a sneak peak into your life!

    Also I have a wonderful family, 3 sons and 10 grandkids and all are Christian. Last night I got great grandson #2. Yea! I am also the American grandmother to the children of many of these internationals. Some that I have met in my obedience to the Lord and some that are overseas and I have worked with their parents for 20 plus years. What an honor. I am the American grandmother to 7 India children, 2 Chinese, 3 Mexican, 2 Nicaraguan, and these are adults now. Here in the U.S. to a student from Saudi Arabia, a child whose parents are from Guinea, and a child whose parents are from Senegal. I retired 10 years ago from my position as president of a missions organization and am now writing books, speaking around the country, and am a consultant. But I am as busy as ever, even at 80 years old. Someday I hope to slow down but so far the Lord has me very busy. Oh yes, on my 80th birthday my kids gave a party and there were 150 people that showed up from 17 countries and California, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, and more. Before it ended there were 8 birthday parties. Now that was a celebration. Wow!

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Mosey Monday

    Hallelujah, my calendar block for today is actually empty - can you believe it?! Michael said that was just wrong and that I needed to put something in there. I did have to do redesigns on a couple of client sites, but they were easy, and, so being, are already done. Huzzah! And I got the chicken in the slow cooker to make homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken. Look at me go with my Suzy Homemaker-ness!

    The kids were up at 6 this morning and Bethy is already chilling out in Grandpa's chair, so I foresee a nap for her and a nice, quiet afternoon for me. Oy, do I know I need one of those! I finished my latest Fall Into Reading 08 book, Making It Real, so I can start on the next one.

    Unfortunately, I think Breathe is going to have to be preempted by the AD/HD books I checked out from the library last week. Brandon is struggling and I need to learn how to help that kid before he starts hating school. That would be a crying shame because he's well-nigh unto genius intellectually from what his teacher and principal say. He's a truly smart guy and has a plethora of potential in him, if only we can focus it. Pray for him, and us!

    Blog Tour Tuesday this week will either be a new blog tour or a review of Making It Real - whichever I can get around to doing. HA!

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Win Against Yourself

    Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.


    William Faulkner
    US writer

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Manic Monday to Keep Mum About

    Today has been truly manic, but it is in my best interest to keep mum about the maniacal goings-on. Suffice it to say I need, covet and appreciate all prayers from those that pray and good thoughts from those that don't that my situations will be resolved neatly and quickly. Yes, situationS. There are a lot of things on my wonky-manic-plate, and frankly, I'd like the plate to be clean. It would take *way* too much space to go into detail about everything, and really it all just boils down to me having a better attitude and being a better Christian.

    'nuff said.


    On the upside, we went shopping for


    today! Each year, we do a box for a child that is the same age and gender of each of our children. We let the kids choose a few specific things for their friends like a toy or two and a shirt to add in to the generic stuff like a toothbrush, bar of soap, and candy.

    Bethy and I went alone today before school got out. She chose a baby doll set and a Pooh shirt for her friend, as well as some baby toothpaste and a Pooh package of wipes for bathtime. She kept saying, "I put in bag for my friend?" I loved it.

    Sarah chose a Polly Pocket set, a Littlest Pet Shop set, and a tee for her friend. She picked the same yellow shirt that she got for her birthday so that they could be "twin friends, wherever she is." I thought that was incredibly sweet and cute. It has a little girl drawn on it dancing, and there's a cat sitting next to her.

    Brandon got his buddy a set of 5 Hot Wheels crazy cars, a slinky, a set of jacks, and a big bouncy ball. We found a Spiderman shirt and shorts set on clearance, which he was excited about.


    Now I just have to figure out how to fit everything into the shoe boxes!

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Opportunistic Carpentry

    If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.


    Milton Berle
    American comedian

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Manic Life

    I just realized I haven't posted anything since the 16th. For those that might not know, our youngest child has not been gaining weight and has some other issues so we've been going to lots of doctors' appointments to get lots of tests done to figure out why she's not growing. I thought I'd post the process so I can keep track of it and you can get a peek into why I've been having anxiety attacks again.

    no weight gain
    short stature
    lazy eyes
    feet turning in

    So far here's what's been done:
    visit: general practitioner
    test: 3 vials blood drawn
    results: anemia, low something i can't remember
    action: begin "complete" vitamins (with iron)

    visit: geneticist
    test: 5 vials blood drawn for chromosomal tests, metabolic tests, protein test and something else i can't remember
    results: all returned normal/negative for problems
    action: sweat test for cystic fibrosis

    visit: orthopedist
    test: x-ray taken from hip to foot
    results: normal growth, growth arrest lines present on both ends of tibia and bottom of femur
    action: await genetic results for possible explanation of growth arrest lines; feet revisited at 4.5 years, hips revisited at 9-9.5 years

    visit: hospital
    test: sweat test for cystic fibrosis
    results: normal/negative for cystic fibrosis
    action: report results to general practitioner

    All this is above and beyond the WIC appointments and Early Childhood Intervention visits. I'll clean this up and add more later - it's 1am and I'm tired.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Good Produces Evil

    Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.


    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
    (1797-1851) English writer

    Starting From Scratch When You're Single Again


    Starting From Scratch When You're Single Again
    23 women share stories, encouragement, and
    lessons learned
    when starting over
    was all they could do

    Strang/Christian Life

    Release date:
    September, 2008

    Cyndy Salzmann

    “Someone you know
    needs this book!”

    Julie Barnhill,
    bestselling author of
    One Tough Mother

    Sharon M. Knudson and Mary Fran Heitzman know how utterly lost and alone a woman can feel after experiencing the devastation of death or divorce. They know because they’ve been there themselves.
    In Starting From Scratch When You’re Single Again, the authors serve up true, poignant stories from widowed and divorced women in their early to late seventies who survived a horrific death-blow to their dreams for a happy, secure future. With white-knuckle faith, each one found enough strength to not only survive – but thrive.

    Each woman’s story and the lessons learned provide encouragement and spiritual refreshment. And as a bonus, her favorite recipe is included. (Appropriate for individuals or use with small groups.) Visit their website and blog at

    Sharon M. Knudson is a full-time freelance writer with five book collaborations and hundreds of published articles. She speaks at Christian events and retreats, and also teaches writing courses on the craft of writing and getting published. Sharon served for four years as president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild and holds BME and MM degrees from Michigan State University. She lives with her husband in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    Mary Fran Heitzman writes essays, poetry, and magazine articles and is current president of the 130-member Minnesota Christian Writers Guild. She is a certified member of Toastmasters International and co-facilitates a Faith Interaction group in her church. When she isn’t writing, she works with her husband at Heitzman Financial Group in Bloomington, Minnesota.

    For more information or to book an interview contact:
    Cyndy Salzmann 402.681.8288


    Authors Sharon M. Knudson
    and Mary Fran Heitzman
    Chatting with
    Sharon and Mary Fran

    Mary, why did you write this book?
    I’m neither divorced nor widowed, but I, too, have a heart for those who are starting from scratch. My father died when I was 16, and although she was never aware of the impression she made, my mother was an inspiration to me. While my faith in God faltered, hers remained intact. I watched how she made decisions—how she continued to put one foot in front of the other—how she guided my younger brother and me.

    Today I work with my husband in the financial services business. We meet many women who, because of the loss or absence of their spouse, are faced with decisions that were once shared.

    I wanted to offer all of these women hope and encouragement so they wouldn’t feel alone or overwhelmed. I want them to know that others have survived and that they will, too. I also want them to know—if they are young mothers—that their children are learning how to cope through the example they set. Children are not harsh judges, but will admire them for their willingness to learn new skills, and for listening to, talking with, and leading them even when the road is strewn with uncertainty.

    Sharon, do you think widows and divorced women are treated differently? In what way?
    When my marriage failed after thirty years, I was filled with tremendous guilt and shame. I had been a devout believer in Christ, an active leader in my church, the parent of two beautiful daughters, and the kind of person who loved both my own and my husband’s extended family. It was as if I had received a ten-foot tall letter “F” on my imaginary “Report Card of Life.”

    Widows don’t carry that kind of shame around, although they are consumed with grief, as was I. Friends and relatives know what to say to a widow—they offer counsel and comfort.

    Mary, as you talked with women, what did you find helped them cope with their situation?
    Many of the women we visited with often spoke of turning to Scripture. While some had a strong faith that allowed them to draw comfort from great passages in the Bible, others questioned God at first, or had feisty conversations with Him.

    All were needy of, and appreciated, kind words and gestures from friends and family. But I was struck at how they all found comfort when their supporters were not available. Many of the women we visited with mentioned a devotional, a workbook, or some special story that encouraged them. Some started blogs or began a ministry. Many swallowed their pride and accepted help from others, including the government, recognizing that this was just for a season.

    For most of these women, dependency on God Himself seemed to be the key ingredient when tragedy first struck. After that they allowed others to minister to them. And then eventually they took that one small step necessary to move forward and accept change.

    Sharon, the first story in the book is from your personal experience and is titled, “Telling.” Why is talking to others—even friends—about your situation so hard?
    When I suddenly got divorced, no one knew what to think or say. It was a complete shock to everyone (including me), and it felt like a bomb had gone off in the night. People want an explanation, and if one is not readily apparent, they make their own guesses as to what probably happened. Some gossip and take sides. Some get very angry and feel betrayed: in a way, their own security is threatened and they wonder, “If that could happen to her, could it happen to me?”

    “Telling”came right out of my journal. It was written as I grappled with how to tell people what had happened just a few months after the divorce. We have included this as a book excerpt on our blog.

    Mary, what is your best advice to a woman who finds herself single again?
    As tempting as it might be, do not stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head. Accept invitations from friends and learn something new, no matter how small. If God seems far away, ask Him for just a little bit of faith. Eventually, it will grow.

    Sharon, do you have a quote from the book to close with?
    Mary and I designed beautiful bookmarks to give away, and they express what the stories in this book convey. The bookmark says, “Be thankful for whatever God is doing in and through your suffering. TRUST that eventually He will make everything right” (from page 212). God is in the business of redeeming and restoring lives, and this holds true for those who believe in Him no matter what.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Blog Action Day 2008

    Blog Tour Tuesday has been pre-empted by this post.
    Please visit tomorrow for Starting From Scratch.
    It's Blog Action Day 08. What are you doing to fight poverty? Here's my list of ideas:

    Give to Operation Christmas Child by donating or putting together a box of gifts for a poor child. This is what our family does every year. We actually have an 18-gallon tote labeled for it that we save shoeboxes in and fill with goodies throughout the year. We will be giving 12 boxes this year.

    Give a donation to help the poor in someone's name for Christmas through Samaritan's Purse.

    Give to your local Toys for Tots

    Give to your local Angel Tree

    Visit the Hunger Site everyday

    Visit the Breast Cancer Site everyday

    Visit the Child Health Site everyday

    Visit the Literacy Site everyday
    Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

    Manic Columday

    My Google Calendar for this week looks like an abstract splatter painting. The kids were out of school today. One would think that would mean "Day to Laze About," right? Ha!

    And again I say:HA!
    A peek into my life today:

    2:30 AM: Bethy finally goes to sleep after awaking at 10pm after crashing at 6pm after refusing to take a nap all day Sunday.

    7:00 am: Wake up for unknown reason and continue to toss and turn until I'm just about back to sleep good, when at

    8:30 am: Sarah wakes me up with her usual "I'm hungry." Thankfully, Michael gets up with her.

    9:30 am: I get up and take a shower and get ready to go to my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) playdate with all three kids.

    10:30 am: Leave the house 30 minutes late for the playdate, three excited kids in tow. Sarah remarks on the smell in the back seat. I recoil in horror when I go to the van door and am attacked by aforementioned odoriferous beast.

    12:00 pm: Leave the Nature Preserve after 1.5 hours of playing, picture-taking, light lunch and Momtalk. Head home and clean out the car quickly, discovering a decomposed (I'm talking black, dried and shriveled up) banana under Sarah's seat, before

    12:50 pm: I head to Quitman to meet the Registered Dietitian at WIC (Women, Infants, Children) to discuss Bethy's lack of weight-gain.

    1:10 pm: Arrive late for appointment, discuss strategy for getting food in child, realize that the doctor didn't fax the prescriptions she was supposed to, admire new breastfeeding support giveaway backpack, receive one anyway because the worker loves me and knows I've breastfed for over three years of my life. (SCORE!) Head to the store to get tea for the Sanity of the Parents and 350-calorie per 8-ounce serving strawberry-flavored nutritional drink for Bethy.

    3:10 pm: Arrive home; unload car and get to turn on the computer to check for urgent/important e-mails before

    4:00 pm: Brandon's eye exam. He cries when the nurse describes the optomap exam because he doesn't realize the pictures he sees are not taken by poking around his eye. He thinks there will be prodding and pain involved. We assure him there's not, then he gets excited and tries to win $100 by not blinking when they puff the air at his eyes (he didn't win). We go through the exam fine - he thinks it's cool when he sees the veins in his eyes while doing the light test. Diagnosis: nearsightedness, right eye worse than left eye. He will have glasses by the end of the week.

    5:18 pm: Leave the eye doctor to head for parent conference/report card pick-up that was scheduled for 5:00. Told Bethy is asleep. Get to the school to wait while teacher finishes one conference, then does another that was already waiting.

    5:44 pm: Finally get into conference. Discover that Brandon is 2 years and 3 months ahead of grade level (he's in third grade) in reading and about a year ahead in math. His teacher is recommending him for Gifted and Talented and tells me that I have a lot of work ahead of me to keep up with him. No kidding.

    6:03 pm: Call Sarah's campus to tell them I'm on my way to the appointment with her teacher that was scheduled for 5:30. Arrive and am told by her Kindergarten teacher, "She knows it all." I beg her not to ever say that out loud. Sarah knows everything they've covered already this year and "a whole lot more." She's a whiz at rhyming and will most likely be a helper when they cover it more in-depth later in the year. Conclusion: I've got two brains running around my house that get the utmost glee from bantering, "You Dum-Dum!"

    6:30 pm: Get home, go outside and bleach the basket that goes in my car between the seats while I call my mom to update her on eye exam and grades.

    8:00 pm: I start this post. Bethy wakes up. Michael and I hope aloud that maybe she'll go to bed at midnight tonight since she got up at 8 instead of 10.

    9:30 pm: Bethy is lying on the couch sucking her thumb and watching Pooh as I write this post. Strike that, she just got up to play with stacking rings. I hope I'll get to go to bed before tomorrow.

    Somehow, I don't think today's itinerary allows for that.

    10:30 pm: Bethy has fallen asleep. I'm working on graphics work for a client.

    It is now 12:55 am Tuesday morning. I have a Parent-Teacher Partnership meeting at 8:45 am and I still have to type the minutes up from last month's meeting. I'm going to bed now. There's only one word for this:Oy

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Shabbat Shalom - Crimson Leaves


    Many thanks to my very dear, very talented friend Kristine for permission to use her absolutely beautiful photos for Shabbat Shalom. This is an untouched photograph!

    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

    Isaiah 1:18 KJVR

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    Grafting Hatred

    In hatred as in love, we grow like the thing we brood upon. What we loathe, we graft into our very soul.


    Mary Renault
    English writer

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Fall Into Reading 2008 Update


    Fall Into Reading 2008
    Free to Be Me

    So I finished my first FIR08 book inside of a week. Check out Free to Be Me if you're in the mood for a quick, encouraging read that lets you know that Betty Robison is just like us. I found her book to be just that. I didn't know much about her, but just assumed that she was one of those blessed-from-birth, always-been-with-it women. I was so wrong, and so glad to be.
    Seeing Through the Lies
    Second book, not so fast. I'm reading Seeing Through The Lies and about halfway through it. Fantastic book! Vonda is in an online writer's group that I'm lucky enough to be a member of, and I'm loving it so much I actually went a little wonky on the poor woman and e-mailed her to tell her how much I'm loving it. Bless her, she was beautifully gracious and grateful for my e-mail. Michael has been amused that I frequently laugh out loud while reading this book. Vonda's book makes you wonder if you're reading or having a conversation with girlfriends in your living room. It's very conversational and funny, but don't let that fool you. Seeing Through the Lies breaks through the fluff and delivers poignant, deep, spiritual points that women need to hear. Vonda's gift is that she makes you feel good about hearing these deep truths, not shamefully convicted. If you wonder how your spiritual health is faring or your relationship with God or the church, as Vonda would say, "You need to read this book, girlfriend!"
    Spirited Women
    Next up, I'll be reading Spirited Women, about the women of the early church. I'm looking forward to delving into the lives of these women that worked so tirelessly for God, not from a sense of duty or I-have-to-itis, but from an overflowing love of the Savior that had set their hearts free. Maybe I'll catch of glimpse of their passion. I'm hoping, anyway.


    18 Oct 2008
    12 Noon GMT
    So what are you reading for Fall Into Reading 2008? If you haven't started yet, don't worry. You still have plenty of time, and if life really conspires against you, you can just work on your list for this year's 24-hour Read-a-Thon on 18 October. It's exactly what it sounds like: 24 hours of unadulterated reading bliss. It starts at 12 noon GMT (find your equivalent time here) and all you do is read.

    And then read some more.

    And then read a little more.

    And then read a lot more.

    And then your brain will be in bibliophile heaven. You're welcome!

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Halloween and Religious Liberty

    I read an interesting post over at ParentDish called Halloween at school - A do or a don't? Being one of "those" parents, I felt the necessity to share why I am one of them.
    As one of those parents who do not celebrate Halloween, I believe it should be kept out of the school - just like Christmas and Easter should be kept out of the school.

    It is each family's right and privilege to believe and celebrate in whatever way is best for them, and it is NOT the right or privilege of the public school system to allow the children "to be kids at school-regardless of what their parents believe." That approach takes parental respect and rights away from parents, and teaches the children that "anything is okay, as long as it's at school."

    It is subtleties like this that help make our children today less respectful of parents and allows the government to gain more and more control over citizens. As our children are taught that the origins of holidays don't really matter and that they can celebrate anyway despite their parents' teaching, they are also taught that what their parents have taught them doesn't matter and that can do whatever the government says despite the rights and privileges granted to them by the Constitution. It is already taking place with the Patriot Act.

    Our country and government were established to create freedom for our citizens to believe, worship and celebrate how they wish, and to protect those that believe differently from being proselytized by them. The public school system is a place of academic learning. The separation of church and state provides religious learning in the home, church, or church schools. The public school should be devoid of ANY religion, whether Christian, Pagan, Wiccan, Buddhist or Muslim.

    I am a 32-year-old Christian that believes our Wiccan, Buddhist and Muslim citizens have just as much right to NOT be exposed to the Nativity as we have the right not to be exposed to Halloween, Buddha or Mohamed.

    Feel free to sound off in the comments - just keep it respectful.

    Thursday, October 2, 2008

    A Few Things to Ponder

    What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power.


    He who sees the truth, let him proclaim it, without asking who is for it or who is against it.


    That which is unjust can really profit no one; that which is just can really harm no one.


    Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.


    How can a man be said to have a country when he has not right of a square inch of it.


    Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.


    Poorly paid labor is inefficient labor, the world over.


    How vainly shall we endeavor to repress crime by our barbarous punishment of the poorer class of criminals so long as children are reared in the brutalizing influences of poverty, so long as the bite of want drives men to crime.


    Henry George
    US economist

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Make Some Noise!
    I got to answer a question last night on a post about Krystal Meyer's newest album, Make Some Noise: "How do you make noise for God?" I think it's a good question - one we should ask ourselves on a regular basis. So to spread the conversation into the blogosphere, I'm asking you:
    How do you
    make noise
    for God?

    Here's my answer:

    Besides singing and teaching a class for kids birth-5 at church, I make noise by standing up for my beliefs and not being afraid to be vocal when someone questions me about my beliefs and values. As Christians, we need to be just as comfortable discussing God and His place in our lives with non-believers as we are with believers. I never hesitate to share what God has done for me or my family, no matter who they are or what they may (or may not) believe.

    I live in a Bible-belt community where halloween carnivals are "sanctified" as fall festivals, trunk-or-treats, and other "Christian" names for celebrating a pagan holiday. My family will not participate in these events because of our beliefs, and I'm never afraid to share what God has shown our family when confronted about it. Sometimes it's more eye-rolling and accusation than conversation, but by being loving, tactful and non-judging I can make some noise for God, whispering His "I love you!" to their hearts.
    I also try to live compassion and teach it to my kids. Every year, we participate in Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child through our local Mothers of Preschoolers program. We send boxes to children the same ages and genders of my three kids so they learn that they can help someone just like them. My family gets to yell "God loves you!" clear across the world to needy children - how cool is that?!

    They say silence is golden. Sometimes the loudest noise is made by the gentlest whisper... or no words at all.

    Share your answer in the comments, and if you missed the contest, buy the CD at Amazon



    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Save the Tatas!!

    Today is the LAST day to help The Breast Cancer site reach its 10-million click goal for September. If they reach their goal, the premier sponsor, Bare Necessities, will fund 100 additional mammograms!

    Click and spread the word: Save the tatas at
    The Breast Cancer site!

    For more information and
    to help further, visit:



    Susan G. Komen
    for the Cure

    A Forgotten Gospel by Mark McGrath


    A Forgotten Gospel
    ISBN 13: 978-0-9790362-0-0
    ISBN 10: 0 9790362-0-8
    Author: Mark McGrath with Pat Russo
    Fields Pond Publishing
    Retail Price: $12.95 / 80 pages
    Available at:

    Keeping things in perspective in a world that is throwing out mixed signals all the time is difficult. Yet, as believers, our number one responsibility is to get the word out about Jesus Christ. I don't know about you, but many people struggle with the courage it takes to talk to friends and family about Christ, let alone complete strangers. Mark McGrath, in his latest book, A Forgotten Gospel, gives helpful insight into sharing the most important message with the world.

    About the Book:
    Just hearing the word “evangelism” conjures up images of Bible-toters going door-to-door spreading the Good News. Most non-believers avoid answering the door, or feel strong-armed if they do get caught in the net called “witnessing.” Even most Christians become nervous at the thought of evangelism. Why? Because they have been guilted into believing they are somehow “less than” if they do not follow a specific pattern of what some call soul-winning. The thing is, the Good News sounds an awful lot like bad news, starting with, “You must acknowledge you are a sinner.” This is off-putting for the one witnessing as well as the non-believer.

    Today’s culture presents challenges to sharing the gospel that were not present 20 to 30 years ago. Why create an antagonistic atmosphere that can be perceived as judgmental? It only shuts the door to the opportunity for future conversations.

    Isn’t there a better way? A Forgotten Gospel presents a pattern that ordinary Christians can use to share Christ without alienating friends, loved ones and co-workers. Author Mark McGrath studied every instance a Christ-follower shared the gospel to a non-believer in Acts, and found some common denominators. Interesting, these factors are not found in most patterns for evangelism. A Forgotten Gospel shows believers how to present the gospel using a relevant biblical pattern with a flexible, conversational approach. The old models don’t hold up in today’s fast-paced, post-modern society.


    Author Mark McGrath

    About the Author:
    Building on 25 years of church-planting experience—with churches started in New York, New Jersey and Great Britain—Mark McGrath, President of McGrath Communications Group, brings a unique blend of professional communications skills training and passionate commitment to developing effective church leaders. Mark conducts evangelism training with several national Campus ministries at Rutgers University in New Jersey and has launched an updated version of both the weekend and small group evangelism seminars he developed. These seminars are available to churches across the U.S.

    Mark's Practical Thoughts on Evangelism
    Most of us are surrounded by people we care about, people we'd love to see respond to the gospel. We can readily picture the faces of immediate and extended family members, neighbors, friends and coworkers as we pray.

    Sadly, studies show that a large percentage of us are not actively sharing their faith with these loved ones. We've become the silent victims of a widespread outbreak of Evangelism Avoidance.

    Evangelism Avoidance can be traced to a number of causes:

    • We feel inadequate. While most of us know we have a responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission, the thought of sharing their faith makes most of us feel inadequate, unprepared and just plain nervous. And public speaking - even to an audience of two - just compounds the problem.

    • We don't want to mess things up. We know the stakes are high and that many of the people we care about have some pretty negative ideas about Christianity and some negative experiences with pushy bible-bashing Christians. We don't want add to the problem and we don't want to alienate our friends and family.

    • People don't understand what we are saying. Using words like "God," "sin" and "saved" in conversations produces quizzical looks or outright laughter. There might have been a shared understanding of these concepts twenty to thirty years ago, but they've been abandoned by today's diverse culture.

    • We don't know what to say. And although times have changed, the popular approaches to sharing the Gospel have not. We find ourselves still trying to convince listeners of their sinfulness, creating an antagonistic, counterproductive atmosphere that's perceived as judgmental and prevents on-going conversations.

    But even a quick reading of the Book of Acts shows that New Testament believers didn't share this struggle. What was their secret? A Forgotten Gospel explores that secret.

    • While preparing to teach his own church the basics of evangelism, church-planting pastor Mark McGrath noticed that the popular evangelism methods he'd learned were very different from those used in the Book of Acts.

    • Digging further, he saw that our modern gospel-presentation methods are largely based on explanations from the New Testament epistles, which are written to those who already believe.

    • Continuing his inventory of New Testament encounters revealed a pattern: Every gospel presentation delivered in the Book of Acts contained the same essential elements and emphasized one central theme.

    • Furthermore, he discovered that by following the example of the New Testament believers and sharing the Gospel with the same elements and the same theme, new doors were opened and people were much more willing to engage in honest conversations about their faith.

    Over the years, Christians have done a lot of thinking and re-thinking about evangelism. We've moved away from the more confrontational approaches, moved away from the crusade type of evangelism and the "drive-by gospel shooting" approaches where we blitz an area with the 'gospel' and then go home. We've discovered we need to practice what we preach, care about people before preaching at them. We've learned to serve the world around us and be friends with them in the hope of having a chance to see them come to faith. But something is still missing!

    "Faith comes by hearing..." No one can catch faith, like the flu. Someone has to share the Gospel with him or her. Hearing requires someone to do the speaking! And that is what makes us nervous all over again. No matter how much we care, how much we serve, what type of friend we've become, we will need to share the Gospel with our friends, and we are back at square one again. There is a better way.

    Today, Mark McGrath is teaching this easily remembered, New Testament method of evangelism to students on university campuses, as well as to churches in the U.S. and England. In A Forgotten Gospel, he shows believers how to use this same flexible approach to effectively communicate the gospel to their friends.

    No longer will caring believers wonder what to say or how to say it. By following the conversational approach explained in A Forgotten Gospel, they'll be cured of Evangelism Avoidance. And they'll be ready to clearly and confidently share the Gospel without alienating friends and loved ones.

    What Others are Saying
    In A Forgotten Gospel, Mark McGrath has taken the truth of the Gospel that "everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ" and made it simple for today's contemporary world. Many others died on a cross, but none of them are alive today! Jesus Christ is the king, and he wants our friends to know Him and let Him lead their lives. McGrath gives a new, fresh and yet scriptural approach to the Gospel that makes it easy to share our faith in Christ with our friends and family and then still have meaningful conversations afterwards. Presenting his material has started to encourage my students that they too can share Jesus with the people they live with while still calling them close friends.

    Tony Yuhas
    Campus Staff for
    InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
    at Rutgers University

    Over twenty years ago we embraced the radical change Mark describes here in A Forgotten Gospel and it has completely altered both the approach to and the effect of our outreach. Because this approach coaches people to know how to engage in meaningful conversations with unbelievers, and how to keep the door open for future dialogue, the number of meaningful conversations with non-believers has increased, the level of our relationships with them has deepened, and the church is extremely confident when interacting with those outside the family of God. On top of that, the people who are now beginning to follow Jesus are coming with a genuine faith and real commitment! Whether you have a heart for evangelism or a fear of evangelism, this book is a must read.

    John Singleton
    Director of LifeLine Network International

    I like this! And I'll tell you why.

    It's clear and simple. It's positive, like the gospel. It's full of hope. It's free of religious jargon.

    McGrath's desire to make the resurrection of Jesus the central aspect of our communication of the gospel to those who need it is right on! Sounds a lot like the book of Acts.

    I especially appreciate his emphasis on learning to listen to others and showing real concern for them and their thoughts. His insistence on being sensitive to the voice of God is extremely important. His whole approach is well-balanced and he writes from a broad experience. Very encouraging, indeed!

    Orville Swindoll
    Missionary in Argentina for 32 years.

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Frugal Manic Monday

    Ok, so it's not Friday and I actually did manage to post a Frugal Friday post at the last opportunity, but I have to make an exception. Kathy over at Teaching Good Things is turning 43 this week (happy birthday, Kathy!), and to celebrate, she's giving away a prize everyday! I mean, frugal is good, but prize? Great! Today's goody is a handmade autumn hanging dish towel. Just go leave your name and a way to contact you on each day's post to be entered in the drawing for that day. There are other goodies posted, but I'm not telling... you'll have to go see for yourself!

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    As the Deer


    "As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
    so panteth my soul after thee, O God."

    Psalm 42:1 KJV

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    13 Uses for Pillow Cases

    This week's Frugal Friday post is courtesy of


    Thanks, Kirstin and Fiona!

    13 Uses for Pillow Cases

    1. As a pillow case.

    2. Make a fresh pillow by using the stuffing from an old pillow, freshly laundered. Sew it down smaller so that it will still fit into another pillow case for use.

    3. Add draw string and use as library bag.

    4. A ham bag.

    5. Shoe storage.

    6. Mohair or angora jumper storage - one in each case prevents rubbing and pilling.

    7. Add handles for use as a shopping bag.

    8. Fill with delicates, tie a knot in the top and use in the washing machine.

    9. When moving, use to wrap small picture frames - tuck inside and then wrap several times for perfect scratch-free transporting.

    10. Pajama storage bag - as with the library bag you could either use cases with pretty or 'cool' characters on them or let children loose with fabric colors to create their own masterpieces.

    11. Add a frozen bag of peas (or your equivalent) to interior for popping on bruises and bumps - fold over as many times as necessary to make the appropriate temperature.

    12. Wrapping. Why waste paper when you can pack presents in a useful wrapping?

    13. Santa sacks. An alternative to Christmas stockings.


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