Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Survivor: Winners at War: Peanut Butter is Not Worth Two Million Dollars

Jumping right into tonight's episode because I'm starting at 10 PM instead of 7 PM. Not that I went anywhere, but I was finishing up some work stuff today because I assembled the frame for a raised flower bed for my front yard today. Someday, hopefully soon, I'll get back to posting more with pictures and such. Maybe, this weekend, I'll make a post. I've been intending too.

But enough rambling, on to the show!

It's night 28 Koru after the tribal council. 

Ben is mad that his move to get Jeremy didn't work out. Sophie went home instead. (Side note: I don't really remember Sophie at all from her season, whenever that was. I know I watched it, but I don't know what I was doing while I was watching it. Not paying attention, obviously.)

Sarah calls the move grimy. She accuses Tony of sinking her game. She is HOT. Tony thinks she needs to put her man panties on and get on with it.
Tony tries to make Ben feel better by telling him about his idol and advantages. Meanwhile, they get pooped on by a bird from above.

The next morning, Tony is climbing up a tree to spy on everyone again. He calls it a spy nest. (He always has to spy someway.) Sarah finds him and tells him it is only her and no one else knows she's hiding. She thinks he's nuts.

Kim is ready to get Tony out, not Jeremy next. She goes to Sarah, Michele and Nick. Even Ben starts believing she has a point.

Over on Edge of Extinction (Day 29), Rob finds a message to the crew. Today they will have a chance to earn fire tokens, but it will take a tremendous effort. Along the the back side of the island, there is a giant pile of coconuts. Each person has to get 20 fire tokens, one at a time. The first six get two fire tokens.

Rob thinks he is in shape and can do this. Adam thinks he's out of shape.

Then after lapping some people, Rob thinks he needs to let someone else lead the pace.

Tyson is supposed to be some kind of endurance athlete, but he can't keep up with the girls. Adam can't keep up with his Grandma.

Rob slips and falls and cracks his elbow. He knows that's it for him on the challenge.

Natalie and Sophie are in the lead. Natalie edges Sophie out.

Yul takes third place. Tyson and Parvati make it next.

Wendell and Danni are next. Then she slips on the rocks and slips behind.

Rob said he wasn't going to let not winning bother him, but it did. He gathered his twenty well after everyone else was finished.

It's still Day 29 on Koru. 

Michele and Denise think they need a tight three and bring Nick in. Kim's their fourth for now, they think.

Sarah tells Tony that Sophie's idol has to be put back in play, so they need to find it.

Everyone else starts looking too.

Ben and Tony are talking when Ben finds it. He tries to be sneaky, but Tony sees it. Knowing that Tony has an idol, Ben wants Tony to feel comfortable in case he decides to go along with Kim and the others.

It's immunity challenge time!

I'd not last 30 seconds. They stand on a perch with their arm over their head holding a chain to a bucket of water. My arm would hurt way too soon. Immunity goes to a man and a woman.

The original version of the challenge in season 3 went 6 hours. Modifications have been made. Adding a perch in a later season. Then, not allowing for the support of the chained hand.

Ben asks for food, but Jeff says, "Not this early."

When Jeremy drops first, next to Ben, Ben startles and touches the supports which is a no-no. Jeff barely catches that he does it and asks if he touched. He confesses and is out.

Sarah is the first woman out.

Nick and Tony are the only men left. Nick offers Tony a token if he goes out. Tony wants to try to make it three in a row.

Kim, Michele and Denise are still in it for the women.

It's only been 15 minutes, and here comes the food. Cookies, peanut butter and milk. Exactly what Ben wanted.

Kim steps out. Michele joins her for the food. Denise wins immunity.

Nick drops out all of a sudden for food with the promise of a token from Tony.

Tony gets immunity three times in a row, ruining the plan to vote him out. Someone may kill Nick over this. Tony thinks it's a miracle because he could have sneezed or gotten bit by a mosquito on the eyeball.

Now, I have been bitten by a lot of bugs. The gnats have gotten the backs of my legs bad this week as I have sat outside. Yet, never, have I ever gotten bit by a mosquito on my eyeball. However, that would have explained my eye itching earlier this week. Still, didn't happen.

Nick realized what he did. He wants to show his loyalty to Ben, so will go for Jeremy. After all, their plan for Tony has to be back-burnered.

Kim and Michele want to come up with another plan, if they can, to save Jeremy.

Dumb-butt Ben, tells Tony that they had wanted to blindside Tony. Now, Tony is out for Kim. He confirms with Nick that Kim is out for him.

Nick tells Kim about blabbermouth Ben.

Sarah and Tony think they have to side with Ben. Tony offers Ben a fire token for a Kim vote. They are worried that if they get Jeremy off, the women have a pack and will bring Nick along. Tony thinks they need to start breaking the women apart. Ben is convinced they can get Kim next time.

Michele and Jeremy talk about him using the 50/50 coin of hers.

Jeremy talks to Tony, then to Ben about trying to get Kim out.

Michele gives Jeremy the 50/50 idol.

Tribal time! (Night 29)

Jeff says that last tribal was calm going in until the vote. Was it mass chaos following?

Kim talks about how everything changes by the day. Tony said it's more fluid than day by day.

Jeff recaps what happens at immunity, and the jury shakes their head wondering why.

Paranoid Tony starts whispering, asking Denise and Jeremy for sure who they are going to vote for. It shouldn't matter to him which it would be as long as it's not him.

Ben is watching and is not happy. He tells Tony to chill. Sarah gets paranoid.

All eight start getting up and circulating. Jeff starts a play-by-play like it's some sporting event.

Kim has realized it's her. Ben asks f he needs to use his idol. Tony thinks they are turning to get Sarah.

Kim and Jeremy try to come up with a new plan.

Denise has said all along she is not changing her vote. She's done and ready to vote.

Jeremy votes first.

Michele votes for Jeremy, but states she hopes he puts the 50/50 coin to good use.

Jeff goes to get he votes. He asks for idols.

Tony asks for one minute. He asks Jeremy who he voted for. Tony asks Sarah if she feels good. He decides he will play for Sarah. Sarah tells him never mind.

Jeremy says he's going to do it. Then, Tony convinces him to change his mind which I have a feeling is stupid. Jeremy stuffs the idol back down in his pocket.

No idols are played. It's time to read the votes.

Jeremy
Kim
Jeremy
Jeremy
Kim
Kim
Kim
Kim

Ben is annoyed again. The jury comments on what a boss that Tony is.

Kim's fire tokens are bequeathed to Michele, Denise and Sarah.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Erica Vetsch’s new series transports readers to Regency England


Do You Know Anyone Who Isn’t Ready for a Getaway?
Erica Vetsch’s new series transports readers to Regency England

Who doesn’t need to be swept away to another place and time every now and then? After all, there’s never a bad time for a good story. For readers ready to take a trip back to early nineteenth-century England, The Lost Lieutenant (Kregel Publications/April 21, 2020/ ISBN: 9780825446177/$15.99) by Erica Vetsch is a perfect means of transport.

The first release in Vetsch’s Serendipity & Secrets series, The Lost Lieutenant tells the story of Evan Eldridge and Diana Seaton. Evan never set out to be a war hero—he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. After being injured while saving another man on the battlefield, all he really wants is to get back to his regiment. Instead, his act of bravery leads to him being made the Earl of Whitelock. When the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry, and you don’t say no to the Prince Regent.

Lady Diana Seaton has little say over anything in her life. She finds herself in an untenable position trying to keep her promise to her deceased sister while also obeying her controlling father. It’s debutant season in London, and Diana’s father intends to marry her off to the man of his choosing—one who will go along with his less than honorable plans. She finds herself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. When the Prince Regent steps in with a plan all his own, the members of the Seaton family must fall in line, because it’s worth repeating, you don’t say no to the Prince Regent. Will the arranged marriage to the new Earl of Whitelock make matters better or worse for Diana?

While Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler, what he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. He also knows that whatever it is, it’s important, dangerous—and if he doesn’t recall it in time, it will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

While Vetsch is well-known for her many historical books set in the American West, The Lost Lieutenant is her first venture into Regency fiction. For readers who may be new to the genre and unfamiliar with the historical term, the Regency covers the time period of 1811–1820 in England when the Prince of Wales stepped in as a substitute monarch (Prince Regent) for King George III, who was deemed unfit to rule.

“If there is one thing my family and friends know about me, it is that I always want to be learning and researching new historical topics. I was having difficulty coming up with something fresh and interesting, where I could really dive into the research,” Vetsch confesses. “I had been reading quite a bit of Regency, thanks to some recommendations from an author friend, and the more I read, the more I realized I didn’t know many specifics about the era. Suddenly, there were so many avenues to explore, like the aristocracy, the clothing, the amusements, the Napoleonic Wars, and much more! My imagination sparked, and I was hooked!” She hopes readers will be too.

Christian fiction fans can be assured they will find elements of faith in the story as well. Along with the characters, they will see that God doesn’t make mistakes, He is sovereign, and He is good. “I love that through the power of story, God can use what we write and reach the people He wants to reach and teach them what He has for them,” shares Vetsch. “Just as every reader brings their own imagination to a story when they read it, so too they bring their faith, their history, their experiences into the spiritual thread of the story. They start from where they currently are in their faith journey, and through the power of story, they can grow that faith and maturity through exploring the spiritual arcs of the characters.”

The Lost Lieutenant is a story of falling in love while learning to trust. Trust God. Trust your heart. Trust your spouse. Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith. The second installment of the Serendipity & Secrets series, The Gentleman Spy, releases on July 28, 2020, to be followed by The Indebted Earl in 2021.


Advance Praise

“An enchanting tale, The Lost Lieutenant was quick to capture my heart and engage my hopes. A wounded hero meeting a heroine on the run is always a perfect recipe for romance; throw in a spy for good measure, and you’ve got a winner from Erica Vetsch! This is a Regency novel that will have fans begging for more.”
~ Jaime Jo Wright, Christy Award winner of The House on Foster Hill

“Original, engaging, and oh so romantic, The Lost Lieutenant is a delightful tale sure to satisfy Regency fans and inspirational readers alike. Evan, a battle-scarred war hero, earns his place alongside the leading men of Austen and Heyer, and Diana is a heroine you’ll relate to and root for as she falls in love with her unintended earl. Rich historical details, authentic faith elements, and a dash of intrigue combine in this winning first installment of the Serendipity & Secrets series, certain to gain a permanent place on your shelf . . . and in your heart.”
~ Amanda Barratt, author of My Dearest Dietrich


About the Author

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Twitter (@EricaVetsch), and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Blue Skies and Rainbows

One of these kids I get to see on a regular basis since he lives next door. Another I have seen when doing a porch pick-up for something I had for her. Until we can get out of the house, enjoy this video from last year's crew. 


Blue Skies and Rainbows
By Gary L. Mabry

Blue skies and rainbows,
and sunbeams from heaven,
Are what I can see, 
When my Lord is living in me.

Chorus:
I know that Jesus is well and alive today.
He makes His home in my heart.
Never more will I be, all alone since He,
Promised me that we never would part.

Green grass and flowers, 
all blooming in springtime,
Are works of my master, 
I live for each day.

Chorus

Tall mountains, green valleys,
The beauty that surrounds me,
All make me aware,
Of the One who made it all.

Chorus

I’m not ashamed of 
the Gospel of Jesus,
For it is the power,
That saves us today. 

Chorus





Friday, April 24, 2020

Wave the White Flag of Surrender

Part 1 of an Interview with Barb Roose,
Author of Surrendered


If COVID-19 has taught us anything so far, it’s that we are not in control. When life gets hard, aspects of the future are uncertain, and we’re at the mercy of other’s decisions, we want more power over the situation. However, those are precisely the times when we need to learn how to surrender, just like Jesus did. In Surrendered: Letting Go & Living Like Jesus, Barb Roose leads readers in a study of Jesus in the wilderness to show that when our need to fix things takes over, that’s when we need to embrace God’s plans rather than our own.

Roose wrote the Surrendered Bible study for the weary woman who needs to let go of control-loving behaviors and learn to live like Jesus in the midst of the hard times or during the heartbreaking circumstances each person will face at some point in life. There are problems in life that can can’t be fixed no matter what we do, and living out the phrase “Let go and let God” is much easier said than done. She asks readers to consider if it is possible that giving up on what they can’t change is God’s path to peace for their life.

Q: There may literally be no better time for this specific Bible study to release! Tell us about the theme of your new study, Surrendered.

In light of what our world is experiencing right now, I would totally agree! Who knew that toilet paper would become the hottest commodity in America?

My new Surrendered study is written for the weary woman who needs to let go of control-loving behaviors and learn to live like Jesus in the midst of hard times or during heartbreaking circumstances that we all face at some point in life.

Q: Surrendered focuses on Jesus’s time in the wilderness. How do you use the wilderness as a metaphor for the reader?

The wilderness is a spiritual symbol for those long, difficult and uncomfortable seasons in life. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Yes! I’m in a wilderness season. This is going to be great!”

Usually triggered by change, our wilderness seasons are often characterized by spiritual confusion or a long-lasting situation that seems to press the “pause” button in our life. Wilderness seasons are frustrating because there are no quick fixes and we often have no control over how long it will last or ultimately, how that hard situation will turn out.

Yet, the wilderness season is a beautiful invitation for us to experience God in new and powerful ways. As we travel through hard days or heartbreaking times, the wilderness is often a place where we experience God’s might power, abundant provision and comforting presence in ways that we never have before.

Remember that both Jesus and the Israelites spent time in the wilderness. Jesus’ forty days model for us how to live by faith during his wilderness seasons while the Israelites forty years teach us valuable lessons on what can happen when we allow fear to overrun our hearts in hard times.

Q: It’s not a sin to be tempted, so why do we feel so much shame and guilt because of our temptations, after all, Jesus was tempted?

While it’s not a sin to be tempted, we’re often feel shame around the source of our temptation. Once we feel shame, silence and isolation quickly follow. Satan loves to show up in our spiritual isolation, but that’s when his lies stick the most. As long as we’re silent, we’ll struggle against Satan’s assault on our own—and that’s dangerous for us!

However, Jesus showed us that we can find victory over temptation and avoid getting trapped in spiritual isolation by fighting back with scripture and relying on the Holy Spirit.

Q: We’re seeing a lot in the news about stockpiling due to future uncertainty. Let’s talk more about God providing what we need for today, and how you began practicing your “Principle of Daily Bread.”

I believe that God takes care of His children at all times, especially hard times!

When my adult children were young kids, I used to panic if I couldn’t immediately repurchase or replace something that broke or ran out. One of the ways that I used control to push back against the panic was to join the coupon craze. I’d spend hours each week clipping coupons or printing them. I’d haul home handfuls of free toiletries or snacks and store them in a closet that I called “my stockpile.”

However, a season of life came when I couldn’t even afford the newspaper to clip the coupons. Eventually, my stockpile went away, and I hit a spiritual rock bottom. I began to reflect on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:11, “give us this day our daily bread” and realized that I’d placed my faith in a stockpile, not in God.


The “Principle of Daily Bread” means that I will trust that God will provide exactly what I need for the day in front of me. Like the Israelites had to wait for God to provide manna each day, I learned to wait for God to provide and stop letting the amount of food in my cupboard or the amount of money in my bank account, determine my level of peace or joy.


Q: How is Surrendered designed to be used? What other resources are available to groups?

I wrote the Surrendered study for the control-loving woman who is exhausted from trying protect what she loves, fix what’s broken or trying to get everything in her life back on track. This six-week Bible study invites participants to follow Jesus’ footsteps into the Judean wilderness and immerse themselves in studying how Jesus overcame those trials and temptations.

As I dream about the control-loving woman who knows that she needs to let go, I dream about a supportive community of friends who will take this journey toward surrender along with her. Surrendered is a study that should be experienced and shared with others!

The Surrendered Study includes a participant workbook, leader guide and DVD.

Q: What are the components of each week’s study? Are there daily lessons too?

Each week’s study includes specific letting go topics as well as application exercises and various. There are five lessons combining study of Scripture with reflection and application. As part of the study content, you’ll find Extra Insights; a weekly Memory Verse; a Daily Surrender Prayer and short, memorable Surrender Statements to stock your Surrendered toolbox.

Throughout the study there are practical exercises that will provide you with real-time opportunities for reflection and create next-step action plans for your life, whether that might be working on a spiritual breakthrough, destroying a mental stronghold, or following through with a Spirit-led act of obedience that God may be asking you to do.

Each daily lesson should take about twenty to thirty minutes. These lessons will help you prepare for the discussion and activities of your weekly session, if you are meeting with a group. Though you can do the study individually and reap benefits, it is designed to be done with a group for encouragement, support, and accountability. As you gather to watch the Surrendered DVD, you also will have the opportunity to share what you are learning and pray together.

Each video message is designed to follow and complement the content that you have studied during the week. Whether or not your group watches the video, it’s so helpful to share your struggles and victories in your journey to surrender. As you do, you’ll encourage one another and find strength to complete the study and put into practice all that you’re learning.

Ultimately, women can discover that the blessing of living a surrendered life is a healed heart, a calmer mind and open hands that willingly accepts or surrenders whatever God allows.

Q: What are some ways women can creatively come together to do the study as a group, even if they aren’t able to meet in person?

While I hate the difficult circumstances that the COVID-19 outbreak has created around the world, but I love seeing how God dropped some opportunities in place before we realized that we needed them. Here are a few wonderful opportunities that are available during these wild times:

Here’s some exciting news! One of the ways that I want to serve women in the midst of the virus crisis is to provide an online gathering for them to do the Surrendered study. So, I’m hosting the Surrendered Online Study beginning on April 22. I’ll be doing live teaching on Wednesdays in a private Facebook group and then, Thursdays will be our group discussion day. I’m excited about this because many women can’t meet with their groups, and I don’t want that delay to keep them from experiencing the Surrendered study. More information is available at barbroose.com/onlinestudy/.

Here are a few other ways that women can experience the Surrendered study:

1. AMPLIFY – To help groups stay connected and continue to study the Bible together during this time of social-distancing, Abingdon Women and Amplify Media are making the video sessions of Surrendered: Letting Go and Living Like Jesus available for free for group members to watch at home from any device. Sessions will be available free of charge from April 7 to June 30, 2020.


Amplify Media is a streaming service allowing churches large and small unlimited video access in order to discover, customize, and share diverse resources that encourage deeper discipleship and equip churches to pursue their mission with greater impact. Learn more at AmplifyMedia.com

2. DIGITAL DOWNLOAD – Each individual session of the Surrendered study is available for digital download at cokesbury.com/surrendered.

3. ONLINE GROUPS – I’m so encouraged and inspired by women’s Bible study and small group leaders across the country who are so dedicated to leading their groups in these challenging times. I’m also a group leader at my church, too! Like many group leaders, our group is leveraging technology like Zoom, Facebook Groups and other platforms to meet together online.

Visit Barb Roose’s online home at barbroose.com. Readers can also keep up with her on Facebook (BarbaraRoose), Twitter (barbroose), and Instagram (barbroose).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Your kids have the questions, do you have the answers?


Part 1 of an Interview with Janelle Alberts and Ingrid Faro,
Authors of Honest Answers: Exploring God Questions with Your Tween

Who would have thought a month ago that we would be facing so much fear and uncertainty? There are so many unknowns, so many questions, and if we have them, we know our kids have them too. And they are going to be asking a lot of them in the coming weeks, including questions about God’s goodness and if prayer works. Are we prepared to answer their questions concerning faith? Janelle Alberts and Ingrid Faro set out to help parents confidently have these hard conversations with their new release, Honest Answers: Exploring God Questions with Your Tween (Kregel Publications).

The tween years present an incredible opportunity to build trust with kids and to keep them coming back to their parents for answers rather than finding other sources. With the tools and conversational tips in Honest Answers, moms and dads can engage in a hopeful conversation and help their children build a Christian faith to hold them steady their whole lives.

Q: At what age do kids generally start asking faith questions that aren’t easy to answer?

Janelle Alberts: That depends. My kids each started in with questions that gave me pause before they hit double-digit ages. But the irony is they were easy questions, rather obvious observations such as, “Wait, I thought it was two by two?” when we hit the line in the Noah story that he was to take “seven pairs” rather than the “two of every kind” that we had read in the chapter before.

It’s no wonder that Jesus said we should all accept the kingdom of God like a child, because little kids happily embrace the core tenets of our faith with such abandon. It’s that very sweet, simple acceptance that our kids bring to bear when they then try their faith on for size, like my son when he started reading the Bible for himself—only to lob at us over breakfast the next day, “That book is not like the pages we’ve been coloring at vacation Bible school.”

We parents want to feel confident enough to say to our kids, “Let’s talk about that,” right at their point of interest. However, that is not an easy thing to do. These core tenets of our faith have been debated over centuries and have involved councils, creeds, Bible translations, extraordinary feats of faith, and also terrible behavior.

But we’re the parents. These kids want to know what there is to know from us. If our kids see a pattern that when they come to us, they get honest, forthright discussion even if we do not know every answer, that will keep them coming to us as a resource as they mature in their faith.

Ingrid Faro
Ingrid Faro: It also depends on what life circumstances your child might have encountered.

My son began asking tough questions about death and monsters, what happens when someone dies, why people kill other people, what heaven is like, and what angels look like around age four or five.

Q: What are some of the most common questions that come up about how the Bible came together and was handed down to us today?

There are a number of common questions, depending on kids’ ages. How did we get the Bible here in our hands from so long ago? Who wrote it exactly? My friend has Bible sections that are different than mine—why? What can I tell my friend who has never been to church or read a Bible? How are Bible stories different than stories we hear at school about Mayan civilization or Greek mythology?

We may not have perfect responses on the spot, but that’s not what parents are on the hook to deliver in every situation. We are on the hook to give our kids permission to dig into God’s Word and into their faith honestly, even if this does not showcase us as perfect parents like we wish it would. That’s okay for one reason in particular: God’s given us that permission for years.

This can feel scary as a parent, but remember, dialegomai was good enough for Paul and the apostles as they discussed, disputed, and reasoned out the ways of God and how to spread the truth. God will be with us while we handle our children with that same verve and commitment, even if it looks messy.

Q: For us as adults, it’s hard to understand what seem to be unanswered prayers, so how do we explain not getting the answers we were hoping for to our children?

These times emphasize that one should not be a Christian alone. It makes a monumental difference for our kids to see others in the church who have suffered the anguish of perceived unanswered prayers and how they have still walked that out in faith.

To that end, we can let our kids know that prayer is a chance for them to sort out their relationship with God even more than it is about asking for stuff. So when they’re disappointed, mad, hurt, or confused by what they perceive as unanswered prayer, we can let them know they can take that to God.

That’s what Jesus did. When the moment came for Jesus to face what was about to happen to him in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did not sit by stoically, calmly praising the Father and counting his blessings. He was distraught and brought that before his Father bluntly and emotionally. We can encourage our kids to do the same. They can pray as though God wants to hear the actual truth of what’s going on in their hearts and minds—because he does!

We walk through conversations that help kids practice prayer, speak candidly, and maintain and grow in awe and affection of a Lord who personally and palpably loves them very, very much.

Q: What does it mean to practice “praying unedited”? Why is this an important part of teaching your children how to pray?

“Praying unedited” is an idea from a lecture by Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Kathy Keller. The idea is that prayer helps us get a grip on who we are and who God is, yet it is a process that may take a little time and even, dare we say, trial and error.  “Practice, practice, practice. Trial and error, repetition,” Keller said. “Just like riding a bike, you get it wrong a whole lot of times before you get it right.” With that kind of foundation, our kids stand a better shot at sticking with prayer over the long haul, rather than abandoning it when times get tough.

Kids regularly pick up a habit of fear when it comes to prayer. They can grow afraid to speak honestly in prayer because it might look to God like they doubt him. But prayer is not an entrance exam for our kids to showcase their “goodness” to God and therefore score a spot in his valued family. We want our kids to know they already belong. God wants our kids to know that he knows them and wants to be known by them. His longing for this cannot be overstated. That is a good reason for our kids to be themselves in prayer.

If our kids can approach God’s throne with a real sense of honesty and with an eye for relationship, their prayers will be personal, not just something they recite.

This kind of praying and talking to God is demonstrated throughout the Bible in the psalms of lament (which make up about one-fourth of the Psalms) and other parts of the Bible, like Lamentations and in many of the prophets.

Janelle Alberts
Q: How can parents prepare for the Bible versus science questions that are sure to come up as their kids progress through school? This is probably something parents are really facing now that the kids are doing school from home.

We can be honest with ourselves that our attempts to neatly marry truths of God’s material world (science) to God’s written truths (Scripture) in clear, cogent, concise ways regularly turn out to be . . . none of those things. Yet God made nature, and he made Scripture. Digging deeper into one shouldn’t threaten the truth about the other.

We run into a bind when we insist the Bible should serve as a science textbook. For example, our church forefathers insisted the sun circled the earth rather than the other way around. Martin Luther wrote, “As Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”

We might help our kids by listening to a church forefather even further back in time. Third-century bishop Augustine of Hippo warned believers that we “should not rush in headlong and so firmly take a stand on one side that, if further progress in search for truth justly undermines our position, we too fall with it.”

Almost two thousand years later, we Christian parents can practice that. It’ll give our kids the learning chops necessary to evaluate theories and ideologies in patient, consistent, coherently systematic ways. It’ll help our kids develop a steadfast resolution that all truth originates from the same author.

Why is this important? Because it’s true.

Q: How can parents prepare their children to react well when their faith is brought into question? How do they equip them to speak the truth?

It depends on the situation at hand, but a general encouragement might be this: God is real.

We can let our kids know directly and repeatedly that we, their parents, know God is alive. We can also give them personal examples from our own lives about why we believe that:
·         How we came to that faith
·         Instances where we faced others calling our faith into question
·         Our own doubts and how God has called us back to that truth over and over again

We can encourage our kids to remember that they are not defending a religion; they are building a relationship with a God who wants to have relationship with everyone, even though not everyone wants a relationship with him. That is a complicated matter, but our job (especially as younger Christians) is to simply walk out the relationship we are developing and enjoying with God. That way when our friends have questions, we can honestly answer what we know about praying to God, reading his Word, and getting to know God in context of our own walk with him.

Q: What question that one of your own children asked caught you most off guard or was the hardest to answer?

Janelle: When my daughter was in third grade, she prayed for her brother in kindergarten to win a raffle at school, but when he didn’t, she was crushed. I told her he was fine! After all, the most important thing remained true, which was this: God loved him.

She teared up and said, “This is what God’s love feels like?”

Ingrid: When my son was eleven, he asked why he couldn’t have died instead of his dad, who had taken his own life. The process of walking through that loss and pain took years, but the personal healing and restoration of relationship with God could not have happened if we hadn’t continued to talk and question and pray and love together.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Survivor: Winners at War: Extortion and Inflation

I am having a tremendously hard time this week with knowing what day it is. This whole stay at home thing, and I've been working a lot since I have a lot to do has turned into late nights and work whenever, and today, I am so discombobulated.

I haven't been setting an alarm lately because I have been getting up just fine. Not this morning. I looked at the clock this morning at 9:22. I had a weekly Zoom meeting at 9:30. I messaged I would be five minutes late, grabbed the first set of clothes to fall out of the dryer and set about my day.

After blogging on Survivor tonight, I may go straight to bed. It is Wednesday and Survivor night, right?

Ok, so if I'm remembering right, Tyson went back to Edge of Extinction with the tribal council vote last week. It's been a long week.

Night 25 at Koru...

Jeremy waits for everyone to arrive back from Tribal. He left, using his advantage not vote, but have immunity. He asks what happened when he left. They are slow to talk about it.

Jeremy tells Ben that he (Ben) is in trouble now with Tyson gone. Ben thinks Jeremy is a bigger threat than he is. Tyson was Jeremy's shield, and now that he's gone...

Michelle and Kim are talking about how their minds are blown and really didn't know what was going on.

Day 26 at Koru...

Everyone is still asleep, except Tony. Tony decides this is the time to go hunt for idols. He thinks since an idol was played last night, it's back out for grabs.

Nick must have the same idea. He asks if Tony has combed a certain area. Tony considers his style cramped.

Tony whoops when he finds a package. He's a little loud to be secretive. He runs off into the woods to read the message.

Sarah is painting with the leftover flag paint. She's thinking about what happens after she's a cop (kind of weird phrasing). She says everyone thinks she's smart and funny and pretty, but she's creative too. She can make clothes. While out on Survivor, she's started her own clothing line. I don't know where she got the fabric. I think she's lost it.

She talks about how she and Tony play very different. She plays a social game unlike him.

They do a fashion show. Maybe that's what you do when people are around and you get board.

Tony decides he needs to go undercover. He goes out where Jeremy is roaming around and shares a little about what happened at tribal. Then Tony talks to everyone, pretending to be on their side. I don't know why anyone trusts him.

Michele and Jeremy say they want to work with Tony. He thinks they have a thing with Denise, Kim and Tony. Denise and Kim don't' seem fooled. Kim thinks Tony is her biggest enemy.

It's Day 27 on Extinction. 

I just have to ask this question. Is it somehow colder on Extinction than it is 200 yards away on the other island? The castoffs always look so much colder than the others. Is it old age or something?

Tyson talks to Wendell about how some people go home and have struggles with not winning the game for years. He thinks Adam is going to have a hard time.

Parvati is hungry and looking for wood for a fire. She and Natalie find a wine bottle with a clue. They agree to not tell anyone. They try to figure out what the clue means and head up to the high point to see if there is anything along the way. Then, they realize what they are looking for is under the bed because everyone is laying there all day.

Finally, at sunset, people wander off to go watch the sun. Parvati distracts them while Natalie digs for it.

It's an extortion advantage. It gives them the opportunity to block one person from participating at the next immunity challenge and from voting at the next Tribal unless they meet the demands. They can try to extort as many fire tokens as possible for someone. Who do they want to mess with? Do they want a lot of tokens or do they want to intentionally mess up someone's game?

Koru, Day 28

After discussing Nick's vampire features, Tony sneaks off to read the scroll he saw down in his bag that morning. He's giddy. He loves the word extortion. He thinks he can extort someone. He's all excited until he reads that this is being played AGAINST him. They want 6 tokens. He only has 3. He has to figure out how to pay by the time tree mail arrives.
Denise reads the mail with the clue for the immunity challenge.

Tony approaches his "fake alliance." Michele doesn't have any. She has to come up with a story that she has an advantage once she gets to Extinction. That cost her four tokens.

Now, Tony starts rambling about inflation. Michele asks for the paper to show Jeremy. Worried that they need Tony to vote with them, Jeremy gives one of the two he has.

Now, he has to go to his real alliance. Nick is willing to give him one. Ben agrees to give him one. He has his six now, so pays up.

Today's challenge involves standing on a balance beam and holding an idol up with a long pole. As they move further down the pole, the harder it gets.

Kim's statue falls first.

After a certain amount of time, everyone gets to relax as they step back a step.

In the transition, Michele and Denise drop. Sarah drops.

Nick drops. Sophie loses her balance.

Jeremy wobbles. Ben has a nice save, then down. Jeremy drops for who knows what reason. It looked like he gave up. Tony wins.

GRRRR.

Kim didn't want Tony to win, but two wins in a row puts a target on his back. She knows Tony's playing Jeremy, so she's figuring she has to join forces with the people she doesn't trust. The plan is to split votes between Jeremy and Michele.

Jeremy knows they are after him. Kim and Denise throw out the idea of voting Ben, thinking they have Tony.

Denise is in cahoots with Kim to blindside Jeremy.

Everything Ben does now annoys Jeremy. He goes to Michele about it.

Michele and Ben talk about how fast a million dollars goes. Interesting (not).

Most of the strategy talk quietens.

But, then, Tony decides he it's time to blindside someone else. He goes to Nick to team up with Jeremy and Michele to get out Sophie.

Tony tells Jeremy that Denise and Kim aren't with him. He gives Jeremy the plan to vote for Sophie. He tells Jeremy that otherwise, it's Jeremy gone. Jeremy doesn't know what to believe anymore.
Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to tribal council we go!

Jeff asks Sophie about everyone coming last time with all their weapons and what to expect (or not) this time around. Jeremy says that everyone is always telling half-truths and you have to figure out who you trust more than others. Sarah says everyone is trying to build their resumes now. Jeff asks Nick if there are ever times you don't want credit.

Jeremy talks about timing, and Jeff asks about leaving tribal last week. Jeremy said he would be sitting in Tyson's seat if he didn't. He knows this week may be the same. Ben said it was quiet around him today too. Is he next?

Sarah talks about having to change things up.

It's time to vote.

Jeff tallies the votes. Does anyone have an immunity idol they want to play?

Jeremy
Michele
Jeremy
Michele
Jeremy
Sophie
Sophie
Sophie
Sophie

She proclaims, "Idol in my pocket!" Then, she almost catches her hair on fire as she drops her torch into place. It's time to distribute fire tokens. She gives them to Sarah and Kim.

She is traumatized to be blindsided.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch - Enter to win a special giveaway

Go to the end of this post to enter!
For the next few weeks, my team of bloggers will be tour The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch, the first in her new Serendipity and Secrets series. Learn more about the book below, and be sure to enter to win the prize pack which includes:

- A copy of Erica Vetsch's The Lost Lieutenant
- A Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice scarf
- A "Just One More Page" 12x12 pillow
- A "Between the Pages" book inspired candle


All you have to do to enter is to fill out your name and email address, but there are lots of ways to earn BONUS entries. It's completely up to you how many you want to do.


About the book:


He's doing what he can to save the Prince Regent's life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero--he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn't think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn't have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there's something he can't quite remember. It's important, dangerous--and if he doesn't recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone's very life.


Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.




About the author:

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Twitter (@EricaVetsch), and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).





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