Monday, December 5, 2016

Guarded By Christ (Book Review)

Sometimes, reading scripture becomes a complacent act, one where you don't really even see or understand the words.   Then there are those times when it's as if God himself shines a spotlight on certain words and you can't help but go on a quest for understanding and revelation.  Guarded By Christ (Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us), by Heather Holleman, is the result of one of those such moments.   After encountering Psalm 97:10 that states that God "guards the lives of his faithful ones", Holleman started a journey to understanding being guarded by God.

This 10 chapter book offers personal insight into Heather Holleman's life and spiritual growth as she learns how God guards us in various ways, even from ourselves.   Each chapter ends with three to four study questions to help the reader reach a deeper understanding of being "Guarded by Christ".  This is both a deep and not deep study, at the same time.  It's deep in the sense that it challenges you to go deeper into your understanding of who God is, but at the same time it's doesn't cause you to glaze over.
Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us
The book is written in an engaging way that allows the reader to see both the personal struggles and triumphs as Holleman shares her heart.   The book lends itself easily to individual study, or group Bible study setting.

About the Author:

Heather Holleman, PHD. is a popular speaker, writer,and college instructor.   She serves with Faculty Commons (of Cru) alongside her husband, Ashley, executive director of graduate student ministry.  She is also a faculty member of Penn State's English Department, teaching Rhetoric and Composition and Advanced Writing.   She is the author of Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison.   Heather lives in PA with her husband and two teen daughters and blogs daily at

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor did I receive any compensation for my review.
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - The Post Turkey Week

This was supposed to be a normal week for us.   However, when my husband arrived home from work at a little after 11am on Monday, things got a little wonky.   He wasn't sick, or hurt, or fired (thank God).  However, during Thanksgiving week, when the factory was closed there was a construction crew working in the facility.  Mid-morning Monday the powers that be began noticing piles of "white powdery substances" throughout the facility and quickly sent all workers home and cancelled the other shifts for the day, and announced the facility would also be closed on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning when workers showed up, they were met with locked doors and "CAUTION DO NOT ENTER" signs on the doors.  There was no communication as to what was happening, what, if anything, the employees had been exposed to, and if they would be out a week of pay.  Finally late Thursday evening it was announced that workers were to return Friday morning at 7am, but to go directly to the cafeteria for a meeting with OSHA.

It turned out that the contractor working in the facility during Thanksgiving shut down tore out asbestos, and then dragged it through the facility.   Cleanup crews have been working round the clock getting it safe, air quality monitors are in place and there is one section of the facility that is quarantined and encapsulated until they figure out how to proceed.

Despite all of that craziness, we kept with our regular routine.  Getting up early to hit the gym followed by school work then housework.   The husband got to go to the gym with us, and he was able to work in the yard a bit before the monsoon rains set in.

Monday night was our town's Christmas parade.  The weather was perfect (cold and crisp, but not bitter), and the parade was non-stop for almost 90 minutes!  The girls both came home with a bag full of candy and promo items that were tossed out during the parade.

Last week on the blog, I shared a few things you may have missed.   I shared my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide,the 2016 Blue Ribbon Awards from the Review Crew and my 2016 Favorite Product Reviews (this is a short list...favorites being the operative word).

This week, I've shared about our Elfing-Family Tradition (with recipes) and my favorite Christmas book.   Be sure to check those out.

We haven't started our Christmas decorating yet, and I realize I didn't take any photos this week, so I'll share a random photo with you, just for aesthetics.  This was taken a few weeks ago outside our downtown toy store.

Have a great week!  Please remember to pray for those who have suffered loss in fires and storms int he south this past week. 

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

There are so many holiday's and holiday books that it would take a month of Sunday's for me to give you a fair representation of those I'm not going to even try.  Instead, I'll tell you about one amazing book and leave it at that.

In elementary school I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  It is, by far, my favorite Christmas book, and a mandatory read each year for my girls.   There's just something about the Herdman's and their rough and tumble manner, and destitute situation that reminds me so much of my childhood.   But, it's the revelation of the true meaning of Christmas, and the simple offerings from the heart that make this a great seasonal read for both young and old.

There is also a movie....don't watch it.   The book is SO much better as you use your imagination to give faces, voices and mannerisms to each of the characters.   Add this one to your family read aloud time, as it may bring up some questions for the younger kids, but I think everyone will find it enjoyable...if not downright inspirational.

Find out what other holiday books the Crew recommends by checking our our Books for the Holidays post.
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Elfing - A Family Tradition

Before I was married, I had the habit of making lots of Christmas sweets for co-workers and family members.   When I married, it became a frugal way to gift extended family and friends.   Then, along came the children, and somehow this event morphed and became known as “Elfing.”   The girls and I spend hours baking cookies, making candies, and wrapping up gift boxes full of Christmas cheer.   The husband then takes the kids out to “Elf” people.   The list changes from year to year, adding a new acquaintance or random stranger who looks like they need a pick me up.

Peanut butter balls is by far the most requested item from my Christmas kitchen.   These little delicacies aren’t nearly as difficult as people imagine, but they are time consuming.   They are a perfect project for kids in the kitchen!

Peanut Butter Balls


  • 1 jar of your favorite peanut butter (I like Reese’s)
  • 1 pound of butter or margarine
  • 2-4 pounds of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ pound paraffin wax (found in the canning supplies)


Over low heat, melt peanut butter and butter together, stirring often.   When completely melted, stir in vanilla.   Add 2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar and stir well.

At this point, you will need to determine if your mixture is thick enough to form into balls or if you need to add more confectioner’s sugar. This is not an exact science as it is a different amount each time.   You basically want it to be the consistency of Play-doh (yum).   Once you’ve got the right consistency, begin to roll the mixture into bite size balls, and place the balls onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet.   Do this before the mixture is completely cool.   Once all the mixture has been rolled, place the cookie sheets into the fridge for an hour or so to chill (or pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes).
In the top of a double boiler, melt your chocolate chips and paraffin wax, stirring well.   Using a toothpick, dip your peanut butter balls into the chocolate mixture and return balls to the waxed paper.   The chocolate coating dries quickly and these stack well in containers.

Our second biggest hit in our “Elfing” is potato candy. This candy has reduced recipients to tears on more than one occasion, as it reminds them of past Christmases with their own parents and grandparents.   You can see a more in depth tutorial at my blog, S.A.H.M. I Am!

Potato Candy Ingredients:

  • 1 small potato
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • peanut butter
Peel, boil and mash potato. Mix in vanilla and butter. Mix in sugar (using your hands works best). Mix well. Place mixture between wax paper and roll it out very thin. Remove top sheet of wax paper, spread peanut butter on top of mixture. Roll up like a jelly roll.

Chill and cut into thin slices.

I hope you enjoy these delicious treats as you celebrate the Christmas season with family and friends!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
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Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Favorite Review Products

This has been one of my busiest years as a reviewer.   We've done thirty-three reviews for the Review Crew, and that does include product and book reviews I've picked up on my own.   I thought I'd share a few of our favorites with you.

Our absolute, #1 pick would definitely be Heirloom Audio Productions.    The whole family loves listening to these audio dramas, and one particular child listens to them over and over and....yeah, over.  We've reviewed Beric the Briton, The Dragon and the Raven and The Cat of Bubastes.   It's a close tie between Beric and the Dragon for first place!
Our number two  pick is the Glass Castle from Shiloh Run Press.   Both girls have read this book several times, and having been hoping we'd get to review the sequel Ruby Moon.   They don't know it's already ordered and will be a shared Christmas present this year, grins!
We have a round up of  2016 Review Crew favorites, so be sure to pop over and take a peek!

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