Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Inconvenient Christmas by Joseph S. Bonsall and A Cup of Devotion with God by Dan and Dave Davidson

I had the pleasure of reviewing two wonderful books from New Leaf Publishing Group. Here are my thoughts on these books....

First, I reviewed a book called An Inconvenient Christmas by Joseph S. Bonsall about a family whose idea of the perfect Christmas gets sidetracked when they encounter several unexpected events, but which all end up leading up to the best Christmas ever. I read this over a couple of nights to the boys, leading up to Christmas, and they really enjoyed it. I think it's so important to remind our children (and ourselves too) that just because things don't always go the way we plan them or the way we think they should, it doesn't mean that the situation can't come out being truly wonderful anyway. What a great book to remind us all of that truth in a simple and easily understandable way.

The book info given at the website says...
It’s Christmas Eve and the Winstead family is on its way to Grandpa’s house for a traditional Christmas with lights, tree, presents, and turkey dinner. . . well, almost. A last-minute letter in the mail, an unexpected snowstorm, car trouble, and a fire all add up to make an inconvenient (to say the least!) Christmas for the Winsteads. Through it all, however, stripped of material encumbrances, the family learns about the true spirit of Christmas. • Heart-touching story by Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys • Beautiful hardcover gift book, fully illustrated in color • Expresses a need for a more spiritual Christmas • Relates the true meaning of Christmas in a unique way • Makes a super Christmas gift Foreword by Larry Jones, president of Feed the Children Inspired by the Oak Ridge Boys’ hit song, “An Inconvenient Christmas,” written by Kyle Matthews This is one Christmas that the Winstead family would like to forget, but they will remember it forever.

A couple places where you can purchase this book are at New Leaf Publishing Group, and

The second book I reviewed was a great little devotional called A Cup of Devotion with God. What really drew me to this devotional is the fact that I'm such a big fan of coffee and this devotional has a unique way of intertwining coffee and devotion time. The book is very small and perfect for keeping in my purse with my small Bible that I use during my devotion time in the morning as I have a half hour wait at the school before my middle son can go in. I love this time because it's quiet and I have my travel mug of coffee with me and I can just focus on the Lord. Once my devotions are done, my middle and youngest sons and I pray together. It's just such a great way to start the day. This little devotion book will be a great addition to that time. There are seven different topics that each include scripture, inspiring quotes, encouraging stories and coffee trivia. I've looked through it and plan to really dive into it when school goes back next week. Such a fun way to "perk" up my morning and share some wonderful time with the Lord.

The description of this book from the website is...
Fill your mug with fresh mocha, curl up on the sofa, and warm your heart with this uplifting gift book. The rich devotionals include encouraging narratives, inspiring quotes, and life-giving Scripture stirred up with reflections of coffee, treasures of friendship, and fellowship with God. Flavored with humor and blended with the aroma of quiet time, this book is a great friend to share the afternoon with. If you’re a coffee lover, this is the book for you. A Cup of Devotion with God is an assortment of pleasant thoughts and sage wisdom that will percolate through your mind all day.

Some of the places where you can purchase this book are New Leaf Publishing Group, and

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wii NERF N-Strike Elite and Hasbro Family Game Night 2

My boys were very excited to discover a Nintendo Wii game console under the tree this year. We celebrate Christmas by spending the night on Christmas Eve at my Mom and Dad's house and then all wake up on Christmas morning together to open presents and enjoy the day. In fact, we're still at my Mom and Dad's and will be here until sometime Monday. The boys have been having a blast with the new Wii and so have all the rest of us. Seriously, this thing is tons of fun and there are so many options for games that it's perfect for anyone!

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to review a couple really great Wii games and wanted to share some info about them with you and what my boys' thoughts are on them.

The first game we were able to review is the NERF N-Strike Elite game. Being boys and loving to play with squirt guns and NERF guns, this game is right up their alley. It's a 2 player game too, so Gavin and Riley can both play together and have fun. I am not a fan of shooting games that depict killing and violence, so I am very happy to see this game is full of shooting at targets, robots and other objects and not at people. The kids are excited that they get to choose the NERF gun they want to use too. The game even comes with a toy gun that they can use during game play or just on it's own with the little foam darts it comes with. The boys thought this was really cool because it gives them the option to play with it in more than one way. The gun also has a lens you can look through to read hidden messages and see enemy weak points too. All in all, the boys have really enjoyed playing this game and I feel like it let's them be boys and play shooting, without being in a violent way. That makes this momma very happy!

The product features are....

Weapons available in NERF: N-Strike Elite include 16 different NERF blasters, both real and fictional, each with their own specific strengths and weaknesses.

Enjoy a classic rail shooter packed with arcade style shooter action where your path through the game is laid out in advance so you can concentrate on having fun.

Bundled with the game is the NERF Switch Shot EX-3 Blaster, which is compatible with other games utilizing the Wii Remote, and as a standalone NERF gun with a three NERF projectiles capacity.

Your blaster also includes a detachable decoder lens through which special codes and enemy weaknesses can be seen in-game.

NERF: N-Strike Elite features 2-player offline multiplayer co-op functionality for twice the fun and four different characters to play as.

The second game we were able to review was Hasbro Family Game Night 2. Now, I love this game! It's a 4 player game, so that means almost our whole family can play at one time and that's great. In fact, we plan on spending New Year's Eve at home with the kids and having a family Wii night and this game is on the top of our list of games to play. There are 5 different individual games within this game. They are Operation, Jenga, Connect 4X4, Bop It and Pictureka! We love to play the Pictureka board game together, so that one is a definite favorite. Gavin got a Bop It at a family Christmas party last week and has hardly put it down, so he was really excited to see the Bop It game. There's also a feature that allows you to dress up Mr. Potato Head, which Asher thinks is super cool. I like that there are so many different games within this game that our whole family likes, so we have lots of options. This really is a great one.

The product features of this game are...

Family-friendly multiplayer fun for up to four players that includes Mii avatar support.

Sequel to the award winning Hasbro Family Game Night.

Play classic and all-new versions of your favorite Hasbro games: Operation, Jenga, Bop-It, Connect 4x4 and Pictureka.

Play with your Nintendo Mii in the Hasbro Family Game Show, which encompasses all five classic games included.

Customize Mr. Potato Head and earn new themes and trophies.

I am very happy with both of these games and excited to see that the boys are having such a good time with them. As I said, we are planning a family game night for New Year's Eve and are going to include these games in the rotation, and we're all looking forward to it.

So, if you've got boys, the NERF N-Strike Elite game is sure to be a winner and if you like to use your Wii as a great way to bring your family together for some fun, be sure to check out Hasbro Family Game Night 2. I think you'll be happy you did!

Disclaimer: I received these products for free for review purposes. My opinions expressed in this review were honest and genuine and I was in no way persuaded by the company involved.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The winner of our last Holiday Gift Idea has been determined by, but don't worry, there will be many more giveaways to come. I plan to have at least one giveaway a week and do special events around the different holidays (Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, etc.) so be sure to check back often for new giveaways and reviews too!

The winner of the set of glass marble magnets from Mostly Magnets is...

Comment #24 - Michiganmommyx4


As always, the winner has been notified and has 24 hours to respond to claim their prize. If they don't, I will draw a new winner!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Wisdom Hunter

Multnomah Books (September 20, 2003)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Randall Arthur is the bestselling author of Jordan’s Crossing and Brotherhood of Betrayal. He and his wife have served as missionaries to Europe for over thirty years. From 1976 till 1998, he lived in Norway and Germany as a church planter. Since 2000, he has taken numerous missions teams from the United States on trips all over Europe. Arthur is also the founder of the AOK (Acts of Kindness) Bikers’ Fellowship, a group of men who enjoy the sport of motorcycling. He and his family live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (September 20, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590522591
ISBN-13: 978-1590522592


PART 1: 1971-1972

Jason cleared his throat. His wife knew what was coming next, and the pain within her rose again. At every evening meal for the last five hundred and fifteen days he had prayed aloud for their daughter, always working his way slowly through the prayer, emphasizing each word as if to prove his sincerity.

"0 God," he said tonight, "wherever Hannah might be right now, we ask that she'll know your protection. Thank you for watching over her. And thank you even more that one day you'll honor our faith and bring her home."

He paused, as if to arrest the Almighty's attention, then continued with a faltering voice. "Just-just make it soon. We miss her... "

LYING ON THE living room couch, Hannah Freedman proudly realized once again that she was the reason Cody had emerged from his loneliness. He was absolutely consumed by her-and the thought was enthralling. Admiring her diamond-studded wedding band, she gratified herself with the reminder that Cody always treated her like a princess, as if by royal decree she had somehow granted him a new life.

At this very moment, alone in their suburban Miami home, she could feel his infatuation. It lingered in every room, echoing in the easy recall of Cody's loving words and embraces.

Hannah turned heavily upon her side, the baby in her womb preventing her from rolling all the way over onto her stomach. She smiled. It was like a fairy tale. She and Cody had met only ten months ago-she a runaway, not yet eighteen; and he a well-bred, 25 year-old professional. Now they were together forever. How could it be real? How could they have it so good?

She reached over her head, retrieving from behind her a framed photograph of Cody that sat alone on the end table. The picture had been taken only weeks before she met him. It was the same handsome face, the same green-eyed, ash-blond man who was now her husband-but he had been so different then. There was a smile on the face, but it was hiding a sense of loss that had governed his life ever since the death of his parents in a plane crash two years earlier. From that seemingly unshakable disorientation, she had rescued him. Likewise, Cody had taken her from a miserable existence and placed her on a lofty pedestal of fulfillment beyond her wildest dreams.

Her spirit soared with gratefulness as she pressed the photograph to her chest. Lost in blissful thoughts, she relived for the thousandth time the nonstop passion of the last ten months. First, the explosive romance-the instant chemistry, like gunpowder contacting fire. Then came the unplanned but welcomed pregnancy, followed by the exchange of wedding vows seven and a half months ago. Every day had been glorious. If she could live all of it over, she would not change a single detail.

A wall clock across the room began to chime the hour, and Hannah closed her eyes and stilled her thoughts to listen: Four o'clock. It was four o'clock, Friday afternoon, December 15th. The "Christmas spirit" with its commercialism was in full swing-and she, Hannah Freedman, had everything in life a woman ever dreamed of: a large and beautiful home, a flaming love life, and emotional security. In only forty minutes her lover would be home from a day's work at his veterinary clinic, ready for their usual early and intimate dinner together. And in only fourteen days, according to the doctor's calculations, she and Cody would cuddle their first child.

She lifted the photograph and contentedly stared through tears at Cody's picture. For the first time in her eighteen years, she knew what it was to live and to love.

She slowly reached over her head and carefully returned the photograph to its place. She contemplated getting up from the couch. But due to an early morning burst of energy she had already put in a full day of cleaning house and baking Christmas cookies, and the work had left her exhausted. Her small frame, now carrying an extra twenty-six pounds, simply refused to rise.

AT 4:40, CODY came in the back door. He slipped quickly through the kitchen, moving his six-foot-three, 170-pound athletic body with the fluidity of a cat, and began singing: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to live with a blue-eyed Georgia girl, hey!"

On the living room couch Hannah awoke from her light sleep, and broke into a smile as Cody continued singing heartily off-key: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to love my blue-eyed Georgia girl!"

When Cody poked his head around the corner, Hannah was applauding. "Coe," she said, extending tired but inviting arms, "you can love this blue-eyed Georgia girl anytime you want to."

Like a moth to a flame, Cody was drawn into her arms. Kneeling on the plush gray carpet beside her, he kissed her full, moist lips as if he had been starving for her for weeks. When he finally withdrew, he looked into her eyes and said with intensity, "Hannah, you're so beautiful-even when you're tired"

So often before he had told her she was beautiful-and had never stopped, even after her pregnancy began showing. Spreading her arms playfully like wings, Hannah nodded toward her body. "You like it, huh?"

Cody smiled his reply, then ran his fingers slowly through her long, thick auburn hair. "Hannah," he moaned in earnest, "I'm missing you, bad."

"How much?" she asked with delight.

"You really want to know?"


Cody grinned. "Well, I'll tell you. I accidentally gave overdoses of antibiotics to four different dogs today and killed them all," he joked, "simply because I couldn't get my mind off you. All I've done today is dream about being with you."

Feeling aroused, Hannah slowly pulled him into another fiery kiss.

It took every ounce of self-control Cody could muster to keep from going further. When Hannah finally released him, he fell reluctantly to the floor and stretched out on his back. "Just you wait," he said with gusto, "till we're able to be together again. I'm going to make it unforgettable."

Hannah laughed seductively. "Are you sure you can hold out until then?"

With surprise, she watched Cody's mood turn sober. He rose to kneel beside her again, and took her hands in his. "Hannah, if I had to, I'd be willing to wait the rest of my life for you."

There was no doubt in Hannah's mind that he meant every word. She felt his sincerity as certainly as if it were rain pouring down on her. Instinctively she pulled him into another tight embrace.

“Cody,” she confided in his ear, “this will be the best Christmas I've ever had. And the reason is you…”

AFTER DINNER Cody raved as Hannah placed the tray of Christmas cookies on the dining room table beside him. "Better looking than Mother's used to be," he said. Taking a bite, he nodded, "And every bit as good!"

An LP of instrumental Christmas music was playing softly in the background. Hannah sat down to hear Cody finish telling her about his day: setting a German shepherd's broken leg, diagnosing an old tomcat that was refusing to eat, bobtailing a four-day old boxer, and giving an array of shots.

"And Mrs. Gravitt brought in her Dalmatian again," he said, then paused.

"And?" Hannah asked.

"And it should be the last time!" he smiled with satisfaction. "He's fully recovered, and Mrs. Gravitt is as happy as any client I've ever had."

"She should be," Hannah reassured him. "That dog was nearly dead two months ago when she first brought him to you. It was a miracle anyone could save him. But what can I say? You're the best!"

"Well, maybe not the best… But..."Cody tucked his thumbs beneath imaginary suspenders, in a mocking pose of greatness. They both erupted into laughter.

"Say," he said after finishing another cookie, "I called Reed's Travel Agency this morning. They promised they could reserve the cabin-"

Before he could complete the sentence, he saw Hannah suddenly gasp for breath, tense in her chair, then let out a low groan. Cody was immediately face to face with her, gripping her shoulders. "Are you all right?" he demanded.

She finally began breathing, then looked him in the eye and gave the most surprisingly beautiful smile he had ever seen. "I think so... I... uh... yeah, I'm okay," she answered. "My water just broke." She could feel the warm fluid puddling around her buttocks and running down her leg. For a moment she was embarrassed, but the feeling was quickly overcome by an acute surge of pain.

Still trying to figure out what to do, Cody saw Hannah tense again. He gripped her hand in silence, stunned by the piercing hurt locked on her face.

Several seconds later, Hannah relaxed and took a deep breath. "I'm not positive," she said, "but if that was my first contraction, we may be mommy and daddy two weeks earlier than we thought."

Elated, Cody held her in a big hug and said, "Can you believe it?" He started dancing around the table. "We're going to be a family!" he shouted, as Hannah laughed.

THEIR CELEBRATION was soon tempered by the quickly recurring pains, and the rush to leave for the hospital. Within twenty-five minutes from the time Hannah's water had broken, she was seated beside Cody in their Ford station wagon. He was timing her contractions, which now came at less than three-minute intervals. The quickly paced labor pains, coming so soon, made Cody nervous. He tried to relax, but it was all so new. And this was his wife, his baby.

This is happening too fast, he thought, calculating that the trip to the hospital would normally take twenty-five to thirty minutes. This time, he decided, it would have to be less than twenty. No stranger to speeding, he was confident he could meet the challenge.

He glanced at his wristwatch-5:51-just as they were leaving their residential area and approaching the nearest main road. One look ahead quickly confirmed a rising worry: It was rush hour. Traffic on the main road was packed, moving at only a fraction of the normal speed.

For the first time, Cody felt panic. To hide it, he forced a grin and said to Hannah, “I love adventure, but this is a little too much of the good stuff.”

She smiled briefly, before yielding to the start of yet another contraction.

Soon the eruptions of pain were less than two minutes apart. Hannah bravely fought back. Everything's under control, she kept telling herself. Be strong, be strong. Impossible as it seemed, each contraction hurt worse than the last, worse than anything she had ever felt in her life.

"Just hang in there, babe," Cody said. "I'll get you there."

The line of cars crept forward to an intersection which he realized was approximately their halfway point to the hospital. The flow of traffic halted again as he saw the same set of stoplights change to red for the second time. With mounting fear he looked at his watch: 6:16.

Suddenly, Hannah leaned forward, grabbed the dashboard with both hands, and screamed. Cody reached out and touched her shoulder. He was now almost beside himself with panic. "Are you going to make it?"

When her pain had passed its peak, she found her breath and shot back, "I don't know... Just hurry!"

He knew then what he had to do. And on impulse, as if the adrenaline surging through him had switched on a machine, he did it.

Trying to take charge of this desperate situation, he lurched the station wagon out of their traffic lane. Sounding his horn and flashing his headlights, he charged through the intersection and down the avenue, straddling the middle line.

Hannah did little more than flinch. The thought of how crazy it all seemed flashed in and out of her mind.

"I'll get you there," she heard Cody say again.

My Personal Thoughts On This Book:
I'm still reading this book, but it has been excellent so far. Any extra time I can squeeze in, I've been reading it. There have been so many twists and turns and I'm only about a quarter of the way through, so I'm really looking forward to the rest of it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shadow Government by Grant Jeffrey

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Shadow Government

WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Grant R. Jeffrey is the internationally known prophecy researcher, Mideast expert, and author of Countdown to the Apocalypse, The New Temple and the Second Coming, The Next World War, and twenty other best-selling books. He is also the editor of the Prophecy Study Bible. His popular television program, Bible Prophecy Revealed, airs weekly on TBN. Jeffrey earned his master’s and PhD degrees from Louisiana Baptist University. He and his wife, Kaye, live in Toronto.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400074428
ISBN-13: 978-1400074426


Part 1




Chapter 1


In the War Against Privacy, You Are the Target

An undeclared but very real war is being waged on your privacy and freedom. Your movements, personal communications, preferences, loyalties, habits—all these things are no longer private. And in spite of the fact that our privacy and liberty are under attack on multiple fronts, the average citizen in the Western world seems blissfully unaware of the threat.

We assume that our privacy, “the right to be left alone,” is secure. We couldn’t be more wrong. High-tech surveillance methods used by governments responding to the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, tax evasion, and organized crime are stealing one of your most basic human rights—the right to privacy, the right to be left alone.


An interesting metaphor for the invasive surveillance society is found in a fascinating proposal for eighteenth-century prison reform. In 1785 philosopher and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham advocated that the English government build a state-of-the-art prison to more efficiently observe and guard dangerous prisoners with twenty-four-hour surveillance. Bentham’s proposed Panopticon prison called for the use of optical instruments and mirrors to allow a very small team of guards stationed in a central tower to observe hundreds of prisoners. Bentham’s system was designed in such a way that prisoners would never know when they were under active surveillance.

The idea was that the fear of continuous surveillance would motivate inmates to police their own behavior. Tragically, the practical application of Bentham’s nightmare vision is becoming reality in the twenty-first century. Advanced surveillance technologies available to government, corporations, and even your neighbors have created a twenty-four-hour, 365-day, total-surveillance society—the same system that would have violated the privacy of British prison inmates in 1785.

The current British home secretary, Jacqui Smith, exercises political control over all UK counterintelligence operations. This includes Scotland Yard’s

Counter Terrorism Command, the Security Service (MI5), and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British government’s global eavesdropping operation. Smith is working to establish an enormous computer database that would collect for analysis every telephone call, all Internet searches, and all e-mails being transmitted within or outside of the United Kingdom.1

Your Life on Camera

Smith’s plans are but one manifestation of the all-seeing, all-hearing surveillance. The installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places makes our daily activities, including our private interactions, a matter for close examination by unseen observers. My wife, Kaye, and I conducted a research trip in the United Kingdom in 2008. Although I had previously documented the massive adoption of CCTV by local councils and national authorities in the UK, I was stunned to see the extraordinary expansion of that type of surveillance. By the end of 2008, millions of CCTV cameras were monitoring the activities of every citizen and visitor in the country. The United Kingdom, the mother of Western political freedom and democracy, is now the most obsessively watched society in the West.

Surveillance cameras followed us during every step of our passage through UK customs and British immigration at Heathrow Airport. And it didn’t stop there. We were on camera as we acquired a car at the rental car agency office and as we proceeded out of the airport parking garage. As we entered the main highway, we noticed traffic-control cameras monitoring virtually every mile and covering every road, even in small towns. More than two thousand car-recognition cameras capture photos of cars, license plates, and drivers along with their passengers. Cameras recorded us as we purchased gas and food. Recent estimates by British authorities suggest that citizens and tourists alike will be captured on camera an average of five hundred times every day. Even London’s city buses are outfitted with an astonishing sixty thousand cameras, in addition to the ten thousand CCTV cameras on subway cars and trains.

But despite the almost universal presence of CCTV, even in back alleys, law enforcement authorities report that the cameras have not suppressed violent crime as much as they have displaced it. Surveillance cameras motivate criminals to move their activities a few blocks away—to a location with less-active CCTV surveillance.

A few years ago a million CCTV systems were operating in the United Kingdom. However, a 2008 article in the Guardian stated that an astounding 4.2 million CCTV cameras were being used in the surveillance of UK citizens and tourists.2

Cameras That Hear

It now goes far beyond simple cameras mounted on utility poles. Scientists have developed “listening” cameras that, paired with artificial intelligence software, recognize particular sounds such as gunshots, car crashes, and breaking glass. In response to certain sounds, the camera rotates and captures what could be a criminal or terrorist act. Despite the enormous financial cost and the invasiveness of the CCTV system, a report by the UK Home Office concluded that better street lighting is seven times more effective in preventing crime.

If watching you and listening to what you are saying is not enough, some new versions of CCTV technology enable police supervisors to confront you verbally through a speaker system. Law enforcement personnel can issue an immediate warning if they feel you are engaging in illegal behavior. And just in case all of this has not been disturbing enough for you, some UK municipalities are broadcasting local CCTV coverage on television. They ask citizens to tune in and watch so they can inform on the activities of their neighbors. Welcome to the world of block informers, a system you thought was limited to the horrors committed by the Nazis, the Soviets, and Communist China.

CCTV surveillance doesn’t end with cameras posted in public places. Miniature security cameras designed to promote safety and control crime on private property are now used for vastly expanded purposes. Companies use CCTV for the continual surveillance of employees during work-hours. They are observed at their desks, in washrooms, and throughout the office area. Employers justify the spying operations against employees, vendors, clients, customers, and visitors as a way to combat theft and industrial espionage. No matter what reasons are used to justify the surveillance, you are losing your privacy in just about every setting imaginable.

We live in a total surveillance environment that closely resembles the horror described by George Orwell in his famous novel 1984. Orwell described a future global regime composed of three totalitarian governments. In comparison to his horrific vision, computer technologies developed in the last few decades have created a daily environment far more threatening than any faced by the character Winston in 1984.


The loss of privacy goes far beyond having your public activities monitored on camera. Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, declared some time ago that “privacy is dead, deal with it.”3

There are legal means that individuals and businesses can use to acquire and store information about you, obtained from your use of the Internet and even from such ordinary activities as shopping for groceries, buying a movie ticket, or ordering items online. You might think that you don’t provide information to governments, law enforcement agencies, and marketers. However, you are dispensing vast amounts of personal information every time you use a check, credit card, or debit card. Every time you make a purchase using these forms of payment, you supply information on your bank account, financial history, buying habits, and product preferences.

It seems that no information about you is insignificant. Your Internet searches, your online shopping, the e-mails you send, and the Web sites you access—all of these are of interest to someone. The subjects that attract you, the causes you support, your brand preferences, the topics you research on the Web, your reading habits online—all of these are important to Web site operators. Everything you do on the Internet, including visiting Web sites and chat rooms, sending and receiving e-mail, researching health issues and medical questions, and shopping is permanently recorded in a computer database. Google, the most popular Internet search engine, has admitted that it gathers and stores information on every one of the more than 330 million Internet searches completed every day.

What’s more, every e-mail you’ve ever sent or received and all the online searches you have completed are available to police and intelligence agencies. Who is so careful in what they say in private e-mails that they would never include a statement that might someday be considered suspicious to certain government authorities? And who considers the potential damage to their future career plans or credit rating that could result from research they have done using the Internet? For example, an innocent medical search to gain information about a disease such as Alzheimer’s, even if you are doing the research for a relative or friend, could be accessed by an investigator during a background check when you apply for a job. Even the possibility of a link between a prospective employee and a devastating disease could be sufficient cause to reject your employment application.4

Your Entire History on Exhibit

Attacks on privacy are not new. Beginning in 1917, after destroying the first elected government of Russia, the new communist dictatorship of Lenin began a process of secret police surveillance of its entire society. Even in the democratic nations of the West, government intelligence and police agencies created a surveillance system to monitor citizens’ activities. Prior to this war on privacy, only the few individuals suspected of criminal activity, sabotage, or sedition were considered worthy of police surveillance. But now, with rapid advances in sophisticated surveillance devices and computer technologies, most national governments have developed an intense interest in every citizen. Governments gather enormous amounts of previously private information on the assets, activities, communications, financial transactions, health, and political and religious activities of virtually every person on earth—and with relative ease.

Many military intelligence agencies, government agencies, and large corporations have introduced sophisticated security systems requiring employees to wear a badge containing a radio frequency identification microchip. This RFID chip enables companies, agencies, and organizations to monitor the location and activity of every worker during every moment he or she is on the premises. When an employee enters the office, a computer records the exact time and begins monitoring his or her every move throughout the day. Security sensors at strategic locations throughout the office complex record the location and duration of the activities of the badge wearer.

Many office phone systems monitor all private phone calls made by employees while at work. Computerized phone systems maintain a permanent record of all known phone numbers of clients, customers, and vendors. If an employee places a personal call, the phone system records the unauthorized number and produces a report of the employee’s private calls, along with the duration of such calls. This data can be used against the employee at the next performance evaluation.5

It’s interesting that U.S. corporations are using secret employee surveillance more than businesses in any other nation. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned, “Criminals have more privacy rights than employees. Police have to get a court order [to eavesdrop on suspected criminals], whereas in the workplace, surveillance can be conducted without safeguards.”6 Computer network security supervisors in many companies go as far as to monitor the keystrokes and productivity of all employees who use a computer in their work. Employees often complain about the stress they experience knowing they are being monitored constantly throughout the day. In many companies, computer spy ware monitors an employee’s Internet activities. Add to this the growing use of random drug testing, secret cameras in washrooms, and intrusive psychological questionnaires. The bottom line is that companies are creating an adversarial and unhealthy psychological environment for workers.

You should be appalled to know that your local and state police, federal intelligence agencies, government officials, employers, and even curious neighbors and business competitors can acquire virtually all of your private information. A record of your travel destinations, the newspapers and books you read, your video rentals, your pay-TV choices, your traffic tickets, your medical tests, as well as your private purchases are recorded in computer files. Anyone with enough computer knowledge can access your information, legally or not.

There is a growing public awareness and concern about the numerous attacks on our privacy through the misuse of computer records. However, the United States Congress and Canada’s Parliament have failed to enact serious laws to protect the privacy of citizens’ medical, criminal, and financial records.

Your Secret Life Now on Camera

Security companies that work under contract for large corporations have found ways to make use of advances in surveillance devices. Virtually invisible pinhole cameras can be placed behind a wall to monitor everything that goes on in an adjacent room, both visually and audibly. The tiny lens, which is the size of a pinhead, is unnoticeable. Infrared cameras can record images silently and in near-total darkness. Another type of surveillance camera can be concealed in a mobile telephone, recording events through the tiny hole normally used for the microphone. This tool often is used for industrial espionage, stealing trade secrets from a competitor. It is also useful in gaining the upper hand in business negotiations. For example, during a face-to-face meeting in a protracted negotiation, the user of the cell phone can leave the phone in the boardroom when he exits to take a break. As the other team discusses their strategy, supposedly in private, the cell phone is recording the conversation.

Surveillance devices are also being used much more widely by individuals. For several hundred dollars, you can obtain a device that enables you to monitor every conversation that takes place in your home or office while you are away. A remote monitoring device known as the XPS-1000 allows you to listen to conversations in your office or home by using the telephone. From a remote location, you dial your phone number using a secret activation code. The phone will not ring, but from that moment on, you can monitor every sound in the room where the phone is located. Another tiny device, a micro transmitter powered for three months by a miniature battery, can be left in any room and will broadcast for a distance of up to one thousand yards to a hidden radio receiver–tape recorder.

While fascinating, the miniaturization of cameras, microphones, and recording devices has stolen what was left of our privacy. If a person is determined to monitor your activities, you can’t prevent it. You can try to guard your privacy by using a software program or device designed to protect your communications. But in doing so, you will have inadvertently alerted intelligence agencies and private investigators that you have something worth keeping private. This may cause them to increase the level of surveillance in an attempt to discover why you want to avoid it.

Abuse of Legitimate Data

All U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), can access data from the National Identification Center to identify and monitor every registered gun owner in the United States. However, we have to ask this question: what else will government agencies pursue using legitimate and legally acquired data?

Two of America’s most secretive agencies, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Security Agency (NSA), maintain a massive global surveillance system known as Project Echelon. This system can monitor every telephone call, fax, Internet search, and e-mail transmission worldwide. (We will look more closely at the remarkable capabilities of this massive surveillance system in chapter 5.) We need to face the sobering truth that we can’t escape the growing surveillance capabilities of all governments, both East and West. These developments turn our attention to the last-days prophecy from the book of Revelation about a coming totalitarian police system. John warned that a person’s every activity will be controlled: “That no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”

(Revelation 13:17). Remarkably, John was describing a universal population control system that would impose some kind of numerical identification on every person in order to monitor his or her financial transactions, trade, business, and ability to buy and sell. This system will enable law enforcement authorities working for the Antichrist and his partner, the False Prophet (see Revelation 13:16), to control the world’s population through a unique ID, based on the number 666, on everyone’s right hand or forehead. The recent subcutaneous pet identification chips could easily be inserted in each human being.


Government authorities, national security agencies, and businesses that market and sell consumer products know far more about you than most of your friends and family will ever know. People you will never meet have compiled personal information about the details of your daily life, place of residence, type of residence, spending habits, and financial assets. Government agencies justify the invasion of your privacy by reminding us of the threats posed by international terrorism, organized crime, the influx of illegal immigrants, and citizens who defraud the government as welfare cheats or tax evaders.

The NSA possesses detailed records of millions of U.S. citizens, including your communications, health status, medical treatments, employment status, vehicle ownership, driving record, criminal record, and real-estate holdings. In addition, all of your credit records, banking and financial transactions, credit rating, educational transcripts, and travel records are available to many major corporations and government research institutes.

Your life is also of great interest to foreign governments. Most of the Western democratic governments, as well as the governments of China and Russia, are thought to maintain enormous computer databases filled with details about millions of U.S. citizens. Data storage is just the first step. Next will be the most effective ways to organize, categorize, and use this private information. This hurdle will be removed when the government assigns a unique identification number to each citizen. Once that is accomplished, the staggering number of separate files on individual citizens in various databases can be combined into a single massive intelligence file. (We will talk more about this process in chapter 3.)

A confirmation of the consolidation of citizen data was publicized in the Canadian press on May 19, 2000. The Canadian government reluctantly confirmed that up to two thousand significant pieces of information had been assembled on virtually every Canadian citizen in a massive database known as the Longitudinal Labor Force File. As a result of strident public criticism following these revelations, the Canadian government promised to destroy the computer program that linked these files. However, the federal government admitted they still will retain computer data on more than thirty million Canadians— data that are retained in separate computer files held by a variety of government departments, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Immigration, and provincial police forces.7


Your credit and debit cards are much more than a convenient way to pay for goods and services. The magnetic strip on a credit card or debit card holds electronic data verifying your identity, as well as information validating your right to access particular computer databases, such as your bank accounts. More and more, these cards are being replaced by higher-security smart cards that contain even more information about you. A smart card contains an embedded RFID chip capable of holding millions of times more digital information than is contained in a card’s magnetic strip.

Smart cards provide high levels of security, since they are capable of storing biometric information, such as the iris pattern in the eye of the authorized user. These new cards will document the user’s identity by measuring 173 distinct characteristics from the rings, burrows, and filaments within the iris. The stored data is compared with an iris scan made by a surveillance camera that can read your iris pattern from a distance of several yards.

Other identifying data include your precise hand geometry, which involves identifying you by measuring the length of your fingers and the translucence and thickness of your skin. Infrared scanners can reveal and record the patterns of veins on your palm or the back of your hand. Voice-recognition software can confirm your identity through digital measurement of your voice tone and timbre. Incredibly, a new machine can puff air over the back of your hand, analyze your subtle body odors, and detect as many as thirty separate trace chemical elements that supply a positive identification reading.8 All of this data, and more, can be stored in an RFID chip.

Soon you will be able to replace your credit and debit cards with one very secure smart card that is virtually immune to counterfeiting and attacks by hackers. The data will be encrypted, and your unique passwords—including biometric information—will be required for you to use the card. More than two and a half billion radio frequency smart cards now in use worldwide can perform these functions:

cash transactions such as rechargeable stored-value cards that carry a predetermined monetary value
confidential transferring of medical data to paramedics and hospital in the event of a medical crisis
control of entry into high-security workplaces and computer systems
access to air travel as well as to trains, subways, and buses

These are some of the benefits of the smart card.9However, the growing use of RFID cards will make it possible for government, police, and intelligence agencies to track the activities, location, communications, and financial transactions of every citizen from cradle to grave.


Growing concerns over privacy have motivated representatives of member nations of the European Union (EU) to create an international standard for privacy. The basic rules are as follows:

All privacy regulations apply to both government and private organizations.
Data collection should be limited to that which can be obtained legally and with the knowledge and consent of the citizen subject, except where this is impossible or inappropriate (e.g., criminals).
Data sought on individuals should be limited to the original purpose and kept up to date. The purpose of data collection should be specified, and subsequent use of data should be limited to the original purpose.
No personal data should be disclosed to others without the consent of the subject or without a court order.
All personal data must be kept secure using all reasonable precautions.
All citizens should be able to access, review, and challenge inaccurate data held in databases.
The government agency controller of the database should be legally and criminally accountable for abiding by these privacy principles.
The policies and practices of organizations holding databases on individuals should reveal the information to those who legally inquire.
Private data collected by EU member corporations and states may not be transmitted to organizations in nations that do not have privacy regulations equal to those of the European Union.10

The introduction of similar legislation in America, Canada, and other democratic nations could provide significant protection against the abuse of our privacy. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international group of twenty-nine developed nations from North America, Europe, and Asia that has suggested the creation of powerful, binding privacy standards for both governments and businesses.11

The reality is that the growing attacks on our personal security are rapidly overwhelming the proposed defenses. One potential solution is to use a smart stored-value card that would allow a person to make a payment while the card restricts the merchant from accessing the purchaser’s identity. The card would also prevent merchants and anyone receiving an electronic funds transfer from tracking previous purchases made by that customer. For example, a smart card developed by Mondex International allows customers to transfer funds from their card to a merchant’s account to make a purchase. However, when the merchant’s bank accepts the transfer of funds to cover purchases made using Mondex cards, the bank is not able to identify the actual purchasers. A similar system is used by Visa International in its Visa cash card. The disposable card does not permit merchants to identify the person who used the card.


There are hopeful signs that, after years of indifference to the threats to our privacy and financial security, the public is awakening to the heightened dangers posed by new surveillance technologies.

When it was revealed that Intel Corporation had embedded in every Pentium III chip a secret serial number that would allow the person using the computer to be identified, customers and privacy groups launched a protest.12 Additionally, Microsoft had embedded a hidden identification number in all documents produced by any computer using Microsoft software. The protests that followed forced the company to provide a free software program that eliminated the identifying number.13 However, the vast majority of computer users of Microsoft software are unaware of the privacy problem, and most lack the expertise to fix it.

If we are to protect what little privacy we still have, we should encourage a healthy debate about the relative advantages and disadvantages of each new technological development. Citizen involvement and thoughtful protest against the governmental and corporate threats to our privacy can slow down this relentless attack. We need to defend our right to maintain a personal life that is free from outside interference and intrusion.

Still, in violation of constitutional guarantees to the contrary, our society continues to move toward an all-encompassing surveillance society, which is described in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. We will live to see the time when our right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone are nothing more than distant memories.

My Personal Thoughts On This Book:
I honestly am not finished with it yet, but what I have read is very interesting and disturbing at the same time. Sure makes me glad that I am a Christian and makes me want to get out there and disciple others even more.

Monday, December 14, 2009


All of the winners have been emailed and have 24 hours to respond to claim their prize or new winners will be chosen. Thank you!

And the winners are...

TickleMe Plant
Comment #5 - S.Smith

Golden Moon Tea
Comment #2 - LLJ

Hair Accessories by Emily Wootton

Comment #20 - PS

Congratulations everyone!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Great Gift Idea #13 - Fun Little Magnets from Mostly Magnets *With a Giveaway*

I received the most fun little glass marble magnets ever from a great Etsy shop called Mostly Magnets. I was sent the Silly Monkeys magnet set and they are currently on my fridge, displaying some fabulous artwork from my very own silly monkeys! They are so darn cute and the kids think they are awesome! The great thing is that there are 9 in a set, so they each get three to use to hang their stuff up with. I'd say that worked out nicely. They have so many more designs to choose from than just these incredibly cute little monkey magnets, so you absolutely must check them all out. There is something for everyone, I'm sure of it. In fact, I had a hard time picking which ones I wanted to review, so I told Marie two that I really liked and had her pick between them for me! I think she picked just the right one too. Soooo much better than those ugly magnets from businesses and other places that litter my fridge. Now I'm getting rid of them and using these cute little guys instead. Mostly Magnets also makes push pins in the same style as these great little magnets, so if you use a cork/bulletin board, just think how much more fun these would be than those boring old push pins you've got in there currently. What a great gift idea for a teacher! The magnets would also be really cool if you have a child in school who has a locker. They always want to hang stuff up on the inside and they could do it with these fun little magnets. There really are so many possibilities!

Marie from Mostly Magnets has been kind and generous enough to offer one of my readers their very own set of glass marble magnets! See below for all the ways you can enter! (THIS WILL BE A SHORTER TIME PERIOD THAN MOST GIVEAWAYS, SO GET YOUR ENTRIES IN NOW!!!!)

This contest will be open until 11:59 PM on December 16th. At that time I will use to determine the winner. The winner will then be emailed and have 24 hours to respond, otherwise I will choose a new winner. This contest is open to U.S. residents.

Leave separate comments for each entry and leave your email address in this form - Jane (at) yahoo (dot) com

Mandatory Entry: Visit Mostly Magnets and take a look around. Come back and tell me which magnet design is your favorite. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:

Follow my blog-You can use this as an entry whether you are a new follower or a current follower. (1 entry)

Blog about this giveaway with a link to my blog and leave me the link to your post (5 entries) This counts as 5 separate entries so leave a comment for each and just number them.

Make a purchase from Mostly Magnets. (5 entries) This counts as 5 separate entries so leave a comment for each and just number them, also be sure to tell them that you heard of them from Finally Finding Me...I Think.

That's 12 chances to win! Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free for review purposes. My opinions expressed in this review were honest and genuine and I was in no way persuaded by the company involved.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update On My Appointment Today

Well, I really liked the doctor, she was hilarious and she took all my concerns seriously, so that was great. She felt the mass in my left breast and with the history I have had with fibroadenomas, she said she thinks it feels like a fibroadenoma because it moves, unlike a cyst that is attached to something. Anyway though, she is having me get a mammogram and see a surgeon. I have to call tomorrow to make my mammogram appointment and I see the surgeon on the 21st. So, I'm hoping that's all it is and we'll see whether I need to have it removed or not. Also, I will be anxiously awaiting the pap results, since I've had abnormal results and a biopsy before. I'm trying to just roll with it and not worry. So, hopefully I'll remain like that. I'm sure that's all that the lump is and while I hate the thought of possibly having to have surgery again, I can say that I have been blessed to have not had these for almost 16 years now and if that's all it is, I can praise God for that for sure. So, if you could please be praying for me that all of this would go well and everything would turn out fine, that would be so comforting to me.

(These are the exact words I typed to my friend Leanne, so if you're reading this Leanne, you're not really did read the exact same things before. LOL It was just easier to copy and paste than retype it all again.)

Ugh, let's just get this over with already.

So, this day is crawling for me. I mean, I've kept busy. I got a lot done around the house, baked some cookies to take to Brian's aunt and grandparents today, all that good stuff...and yet, the time is still crawling. What am I so anxious for (and I mean anxious in the not excited way)? Today I see a brand new gynecologist. Yuck. I had such an amazing doctor who delivered 2 of my children. He was like no doctor I have ever had before. He remembered my husband and kids' names, he would talk to me about what had been going on with them the last time I was in and would just really engage on a different level than just a doctor/patient, he was more like a friend. Although I certainly have never looked forward to those great little yearly appointments us ladies have to go to, I always did look forward to seeing him and was actually a little sad when I knew that I wasn't going to have anymore children because it meant I would only get to see him once a year. Well, a year and a half ago he had a heart attack and died unexpectedly. He was only in his early 50s. I was devastated. I seriously cried for days about it. I had seen him in February for my yearly and then in June, he was gone. Well, I couldn't stand the thought of having to get established with a new doctor and all that kinda stuff or even going into that office and having him not be there. It just seemed so weird. So, I never did go last February for my yearly. Shame on me, I know. That was really dumb. So, last week I called to see about getting a new doctor and getting in there. I told the girl that I had been one of Dr. Murphy's patients and that I hadn't been in since he had passed away, so I was well overdue for a yearly exam and needed a new doctor. She started telling me about a new doctor who was in there that she thought I would really like and so I proceeded to make an appointment. I had my 2010 planner out because surely they wouldn't be able to get me in until some time in January, especially since I typically ask for late afternoon appointments. To my surprise she said they had a 3:45 appointment available today! Seriously, just a little over a week from when I was making the appointment, they could get me in? Now that is nice.

Ok, I'm sure you're thinking "Um, big deal, you have to see a new doctor, is that really something to get so anxious about?" Well, that's not really the part I'm anxious about. Here's what is...I am waaaaaay overdue for my yearly and being someone who has had abnormal paps in the past and has a family with history of cervical issues, I'm kinda worried about that (and feel even more dumb about waiting so long to get in to the doctor). The other thing is I've been having some discomfort in my left breast and can feel something there. Feeling something isn't really the thing I'm most worried about, because I had 3 different surgeries to remove fibroadinomas from my breasts between the ages of 13 and 16 and I believe what I'm feeling might be scar tissue that I couldn't feel before I lost almost 30 pounds, but the fact that there is some aching and sometimes burning sensations there is making me kind of nervous. So, yeah, I'm a little anxious about that. I am hoping that she will take my concerns seriously and have that looked into, because if she doesn't, I believe I will seek a second opinion. I just really do not want to mess around with stuff like that.

So, that's my anxiety issue. I don't want to assume things that aren't there or overreact, so I'm just trying to be calm and all that about it, but I still can't help but be slightly nervous too, ya know? So, any prayers would be greatly appreaciated. Just for things to go well with establishing a relationship with a new doctor and for my concerns to be looked into properly and ultimately for a clean bill of health.

Thank you, ladies, for listening to my rant. Sometimes it just feels better to get your worries and anxieties out there. Phew. Now for 3:45 to get here and get this show on the road.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Great Gift Idea #12 - Gorgeous Hair Accessories from Emily Wootton *With a Giveaway!*

I LOVE unique, pretty hair accessories. If you know me, you know I typically have short hair, but sometimes I like to shake it up a little and wear a cute headband or hair clip. Well, I found some of the most beautiful hair accessories I've ever seen at a great little Etsy shop called Die Bloom: floral designs by Emily Wootton. You simply have to see these hair accessories to know what I'm talking about. Gorgeous, I tell ya!

Emily is such a sweetheart and she sent me a set of Peacock Feather Bobby Pins that I chose from her shop to review. I was so excited when I got the little box in the mail and when I pulled them out and saw how bright the feathers were and how pretty the brown shell accents were, I just loved them. I took them right into my bathroom and started trying them all different ways in my hair and can't wait to debut them! So cute and so unique! I don't know anyone else with bobby pins even remotely as cute and interesting as these! See for yourself!

Here are some more of my favorite hair accessories from her shop...

Purple Delphinium Bobby Pin Set

Delicate Bridal Hair Clip

Her hair accessories are only one great part of what she does. This girl has some serious talent and her pieces are so beautiful! I wish I had known about her when I got married because I surely would have gotten my hair piece from her, as well as my flowers (we do plan to renew our vows in 2011 though, so I will certainly be keeping her in mind for that)! Here are some of the lovely wedding floral pieces she does...

Bridal bouquet with Peonies and Tulips and Boutonniere

Bridesmaids bouquet with phalaenopsis and berries

She also does Home Decor and Holiday floral and hair designs, but I'm going to let you head to her shop and check those out on your own!

Wanna hear the really cool part? Emily has been kind enough to offer one of you, your choice of a set of Bobby Pins from her shop! She has lots to choose from and something everyone is sure to love, so check out the ways below that you can enter to win!!!

This contest will be open until 11:59 PM on December 13th. At that time I will use to determine the winner. The winner will then be emailed and have 24 hours to respond, otherwise I will choose a new winner. This contest is open to U.S. residents.

Leave separate comments for each entry and leave your email address in this form - Jane (at) yahoo (dot) com

Mandatory Entry: Visit Emily's shop and take a look around. Come back and tell me which of her creations catches your eye. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:

Follow my blog-You can use this as an entry whether you are a new follower or a current follower. (1 entry)

Blog about this giveaway with a link to my blog and leave me the link to your post (5 entries) This counts as 5 separate entries so leave a comment for each and just number them.

Make a purchase from Emily's shop. (5 entries) This counts as 5 separate entries so leave a comment for each and just number them, also be sure to tell Emily that you heard of her shop from Finally Finding Me...I Think.

That's 12 chances to win! Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free for review purposes. My opinions expressed in this review were honest and genuine and I was in no way persuaded by the company involved.

We Have More Winners!!!

The winner of the Membership is...
Comment #1 - Jeni

The winner of the Seeds Family Worship CDs is...
Comment #13 - Bethany

The winner of The Gift Of An Ordinary Day books are...
Comment #10 - S. Smith

Comment #3 - Jeni

Comment #7 - Alexandra

Comment #2 - LLJ

Comment #16 - Stephanie


The winners have been emailed and have 24 hours to respond or new winners will be chosen.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not Too Small At All: A Mouse Tale and All God's Children

I had the opportunity to review 2 children's books from New Leaf Publishing Group. Here's some info on each book and what I thought of them.

Not Too Small At All: A Mouse Tale by Stephanie Z. Townsend

Book Description: Little ones have a very special place in God’s Kingdom uniquely their own. Enjoy the delightful story of a young mouse who learns this important faith message!

What is God’s purpose for me? It’s something everyone wonders about, even small children. With a world that is so big all around them, young children can be overwhelmed by the thought of trying to accomplish anything. Follow the charming story of Grandpa Mouse’s journey to the ark as children see how they too can accomplish big things despite (or even because of!) their small size.

I thought this was a cute book where the Grandpa Mouse tells the story of Noah's Ark and discovers how even though he's small, he can do things that are important. It's a huge thing for me to provide my boys with self-confidence and the knowledge of who they are to God and I thought this book was really cute for that. It's perfect for Asher's age (4) and even something Riley (7 1/2) can enjoy too! The illustrations in the book are just adorable too.

Available to Purchase at: and

All God's Children by Ken Ham

Book Description:A unique and interactive book kids will love! • Book is easy for kids to handle and uses easy-to-read rhymes • Book is die-cut in the shape of the children. • Beautiful full-color illustrations of children from different nations, each dressed in their native clothing. • Bible references are included for parents who want to “dig deeper.” • The rhyming text, the shape, and colorful design of the book will appeal to children; the biblical doctrine will appeal to parents. • Features children from China, Africa, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Fiji, India; and includes American Indian, Eskimo, Arab, and Caucasian children Children are full of questions and, thankfully, the Bible is full of answers. One question that sometimes puzzles even adults is “Why are there different races of people?” or it might be worded “Where did the races come from?” This beautiful cutout children’s book explains the answer to this question in a rhyming text that every age can understand. According to the Bible, there are no “races” - there is only one race: the human race. We are all descended from Adam and Eve, and this book tells the story of how the race began with them, and how and why the diversity came later. This wonderful, biblically correct story will be a favorite of children everywhere.

I really liked this book for a few's an easy read and easy for kids to understand, the detailed pictures of the kids are interesting for my kids to look at, there is a little globe on each page that shows the location of where in the world that particular child is from, and the Bible references allow you to look into the Word with your children and show them that we can know what the book says is true because it says so in the Bible. Great, easy to understand book to teach your children (and maybe even yourself) about the people in different parts of the world! The fact that it is a sturdy board book is nice too, because it will stand up well for younger kids who are sure to want to look at it over and over.

Available to Purchase at: and

Disclaimer: I received this product for free for review purposes. My opinions expressed in this review were honest and genuine and I was in no way persuaded by the company involved.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Great Gift Idea #11 - Tea From Golden Moon Tea *With a Giveaway!*

Now, I know at least a few of you who are going to love this one! I am sitting here typing this while I enjoy my 3rd mug full of yummy, warm tea. It's Tippy Earl Grey loose leaf tea from Golden Moon Tea and it is sooo good. I'm usually a big coffee drinker, but when I got the tin of this tea in the mail and opened it up and smelled the amazing aroma of it, I had to have some. Not to mention, the container it came in was so cute, cute enough to leave out on my counter. I tried it for the first time last night and instantly loved it.

I've had earl grey tea a few times, but it was never this good.
Golden Moon Tea has tons of teas to choose from like Coconut Pouchong, Kashmiri Chai, Vanilla Mint, Honey Pear, White Ginger, Sugar Carmel Oolong, and so many more. They also offer tea bags, teapots, tea kettles, tea cups...pretty much all things tea! If you like tea or know someone who does, you should definitely check it out. It would make a great gift!

Would you like to try this yummy Tippy Earl Grey tea? Well, here's your chance! One of my readers will receive their very own tin of Earl Grey loose leaf tea! Below are the different ways you can enter!

This contest will be open until 11:59 PM on December 13th. At that time I will use to determine the winner. The winner will then be emailed and have 24 hours to respond, otherwise I will choose a new winner. This contest is open to U.S. residents.

Leave separate comments for each entry and leave your email address in this form - Jane (at) yahoo (dot) com

Mandatory Entry: Visit Golden Moon Tea and take a look around. Come back and tell me which flavor of tea sounds the best to you. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:

Follow my blog-You can use this as an entry whether you are a new follower or a current follower. (1 entry)

Join the Golden Moon Tea facebook page. (1 entry)

Blog about this giveaway with a link to my blog and leave me the link to your post (5 entries) This counts as 5 separate entries so leave a comment for each and just number them.

That's 8 chances to win! Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free for review purposes. My opinions expressed in this review were honest and genuine and I was in no way persuaded by the company involved.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sharing God's Love

I had such a wonderful day with the boys today. Brian is gone visiting his brother in Ohio for the weekend and I really wanted to spend some special time with the boys on my own. We started out the day with Gavin's basketball game this morning. We then came home and all worked together measuring ingredients and making cookie dough. We stuck it in the fridge to cool and got started on what was my absolute favorite project of the day. I got out all my stamping stuff and each of the boys made a card. The best part about these cards was who they were for. I came across a wonderful organization called Spirit Jump a while back and decided that this would be the perfect time to introduce the boys to what it was all about. Spirit Jump is a place where you can go and sign up to be a "Jumper", from there you can read through the different posts by "Jumpees" and decide who you would like to send a card, a gift, or whatever you decide to. Just something to boost the spirits of these people. Why do they need a spirit jump? Well, that's because the "Jumpees" are people of all ages who are battling cancer or similar diseases. I was reading through the posts and my heart was tugged so strongly for two particular people. One being a 7 year old little boy named Dylan who was diagnosed December 1st of last year. I read his story to the boys on Thursday and told him that I thought it would be nice to send him a little package to just brighten his day. The boys agreed it would be a great thing to do and we decided we would go shopping after I picked them up from school on Friday. When I picked them up, they couldn't wait. They picked out 4 matchbox cars for he and his brother to play with, as well as a candy cane filled with M&M's and a cookie mix with a snowflake cookie cutter, because his story tells about how he loves to cook.Then today, they each made him a card. I was so touched by the time and care they put into it, especially Riley. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that he is the same age. He literally spent close to 2 hours on his card to him. He told me he was going to write "Love, Riley" because he loved him even though he didn't know him. Talk about melting a mommy's heart. During the time they were working on those cards, I was making one for a girl named, Crystal. She is 26 years old and was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer when she was just 22. She has been through so much more than I could ever even imagine and I just want her to know she is being thought of and prayed for. When we were done with that, I made some of the kids' favorite foods for dinner, Mexican meatloaf and homemade macaroni and cheese. When we were done with that, we decorated and baked our cookies from the dough we had made earlier in the day. Then we had warm cookies and hot chocolate and watched a Christmas special. The perfect ending to a perfect day. I just praise God for my sweet boys, for the wonderful time I had with them today and most of all for the loving and compassionate hearts that they have. What more could a mom want?

I hope you will check out and shine a light into the life of someone who could use your encouragement and love and just the knowledge that someone out there is thinking of them. We plan to make this something we do several times throughout the year, not just at Christmas time. When you've been blessed with so much, how can you not want to share that blessing with someone else. God is so good and loves us all so much and this is a perfect opportunity to remind people in bad and sometimes desperate situations of that. So please, check it out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Essie In Progress by Marjorie Presten

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Essie in Progress

Kregel Publications (April 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Marjorie Presten for sending me a review copy.***


Marjorie Presten is a native Georgian who has her own fair share of experience juggling career and motherhood. She lives outside of Atlanta with her husband, Tom, and their three children.

Listen to a radio interview about the book HERE.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082543565X
ISBN-13: 978-0825435652




In a thirty-second phone call, Hamilton Wells would make a decision that would earn him more money than he could spend in his lifetime. Everything was on the line, but he was not nervous, euphoric, or eager with anticipation. In Hamilton’s mind, the matter was not speculative, debatable, or anything less than a sure thing. Hamilton had the gift, and it had never let him down. Yet even before he made the call, he knew money wouldn’t cure the unrelenting pain of his grief. He sat at his desk with only a single orange banker’s lamp for illumination and cried silently.

Her death had been inevitable, but feelings of helplessness still overwhelmed him. His young son’s dependency on him only multiplied his grief and anger. Six-year-old Jack Wells had insisted his father do something to help Mama, but the only thing Hamilton could do was sit at her bedside and try not to cry. Now it was six weeks after her death, and Hamilton knew his son needed him to be strong, to return life to normal. A neighbor had enrolled Jack in the local church baseball league. They played a game every Wednesday afternoon. It will be good for him, they’d said. Life has to go on.

Hamilton cradled his head in his hands and groaned. The enormity of the risk he was about to take didn’t concern him. It was purely mechanical. He would surrender all he owned for just one more blissful afternoon at the lake he and his wife both loved, but now that was impossible. His wife was dead. Nothing he could do would change that.

He remembered the book of Job. Would a loving and caring God do this to the love of my life? Well, he did, Hamilton thought bitterly. Earline had lingered for months. The doctors said it was miraculous that she had endured as long as she had. Be grateful for these last days to say goodbye, they’d said. But for Hamilton, the prolonged end only added anger to his bottomless sorrow. Standing alongside his son as a helpless witness to her slow deterioration and suffering in the final weeks was more than he could bear. It was the worst time of Hamilton’s life. Nothing really mattered anymore, and it seemed he had nothing left to lose.

Under different circumstances, he might have played it safe and put the proceeds away for his son’s education, bought a new house, or perhaps invested in a bit of lake property. He could have become like the rest of the players and worn monograms on his starched cuffs so everyone could remember whose hand they were shaking. Instead, he had gone it alone. His brokerage business had few clients. He was the only big player left. Now he planned to risk everything on something happening on the other side of the world.

Ham couldn’t remember exactly when he had recognized his innate ability to pick the winner out of a crowd. It had always been there, ever since he was conscious of being alive. The talent had blossomed in the military when the card games occasionally got serious. Now, with every dollar he had to his name, Hamilton approached wheat futures with that same instinct. The Russian harvest had been a disaster, and the United States was coming to the rescue. The price of wheat was going to go through the roof, and then through the floor. He was going to make a fortune on both ends.

He picked up the phone and dialed a number on the Chicago Mercantile exchange. He listened for a few moments as the connection was made. Young Jack tugged at his father’s shirtsleeve. “Pop? Can we go now?” Jack held a baseball in his hand and a glove under his arm. Hamilton swiveled his chair, turning his back to his son.

A familiar voice announced his name. “How can I help you?”

“It’s Ham,” he said. “Short the entire position.”

“What? Everything?” the voice asked.

“Everything.” No emotion colored his voice.

Young Jack crept gingerly around the chair to face his father. “Pop,” he whispered, “come on, the game is about to start.” Hamilton shook his head and looked away.

The voice on the phone was still talking. “Most folks are still enjoying the ride, Ham. You could get hurt.”

“It’s not going a penny higher. Short it all.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Warn me? My wife is dead. What else matters?”

The voice mumbled something about her passing.

“She didn’t pass. She’s dead. Just do what I ask.”

“OK, Ham.” The phone disconnected.

Jack was standing there in front of him, shoulders slumped. The ball hung loose at the end of his fingers, and the glove had fallen on the carpet. “Pop, can we go now?”

“Sorry, Son. Not today.”

“It’s not fair!” Jack erupted. Hot tears sprang up in his eyes. “What am I supposed to do now?”

Ham looked down, silent.

Jack hurled the ball to the floor, wiped his tears angrily, and stormed out of the house.

Ten minutes later on the futures board, wheat ticked down.

It ticked down again.

And so it would continue. Ham would be richer than he’d ever imagined. He’d never experience another financial challenge for the rest of his life. It was not really important, though. Scripture came back to him: “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

He would trade it all to have his love, his life, back again.

But that was not an option.

Out his window, Ham could see young Jack riding his bicycle furiously down the street. He watched with a passive surrender as his son’s small frame shrank into the distance.

My Personal Thoughts on this Book:
I thought this was a cute book. I found myself giggling at some of the things Essie encounters and the antics of the kids. Any mom would be able to appreciate the struggles she faces with being a mom and wondering if you've got it right. Not only that, but the interactions with her husband, mother, sister, father-in-law and neighbor are all things many of us have faced at some time or other. Just a fun read with a feel-good ending. I really enjoyed it.