No New Normal

This pic goes back a few years, but it is one of my faves.
We were goofing off in the back yard around our firepit,
being silly while my mom snapped a few pics.
We are a bit dysfunctional
in our own functional way
certainly we have our flaws
yet our hearts we won’t betray
learning the ropes as we go
come what will, come what may
and in the end will it matter
what other people say?
We parent graciously-
mistakes we have made
tightly woven, still are we
this little family of three
No new normal
not for us
though we are not perfect
somehow we trust
that God will finish what he began
for when we think we cannot
He certainly can.
I wrote this for an impromptu Family prompt over at Christian Creative Writers.
It’s Tuesday, the day I serve up some poetic justice…kinda! 
(Doors open at 3)

Experiencing God at Home Day by Day: A Family Devotional by Blackaby & Osborne (Book Review)

I wanted to take the time to share this new Devotional by Tom Blackaby and Rick Osborne, in case you are looking for a great tool for your spiritual toolbox for the New Year. The Experiencing God At Home Day by Day hardcover devotional has a lot to offer families looking for something to share together that still meets the variety, complexity and diversity needed for each individual. It is written to serve as a smorgasbord where many can come eat, but also take something away that allows them to ultimately find spiritual nourishment on their own. If you haven’t shuffled off to find a snack yet, let me tell you more about this excellent resource published by B & H.

The book is small, yet packed full with devotions based on Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. I will share how it is organized so that you can get the sense of the material and how it flows. I actually appreciate the way the layout and structure are condensed well. The devotions are undated, so one could start anytime, or adapt easily for a family’s unique scheduling circumstances.

The devotions are broken into weekly themes, and cover six days, spanning 50 weeks. There are also special occasion devotions for holidays and birthdays. Some examples of the special occasion devotion topics are: Thanksgiving, Election Day, Salvation, War, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Christmas, Baptism; even Halloween is included  as well as a few more.

The Introduction and Instructions chapter lays out clearly how to have family devotional time with a number of ages present and also how to get the most from this time.

The weekly themed devotions begin with what is called “Parent Connection” and introduce scripture and topic. Each day takes up one page in the book. The print is smallish, but not overly hard to read. There are also some great recommendations of additional resources, tools and activities offered. Days 2-6 Begin with a Reading and follow with 4 parts:

1. Quick Start-is a short, focus point or springboard. A Tidbit to stir up the thinking and communication process.
2. Quest – this is the devotional portion which ties into scripture.
3. Quiet Family Prayer- A prompt for prayer also based on the topic.
4. Quiet Time- This section is further broken down into older kids and younger kids and each is encouraged to seek out their own quiet time in an age appropriate way. It’s kind of like individual “homework”, to encourage the child to seek God on His own.

If your family is is seeking to establish a devotional time or if you have grown frustrated in your efforts, this little book could be handy in helping you and yours  find a measure of success in planning and practicing, as you grow in living out this aspect of ministry together.

Practical, handy and helpful is how I would describe this Devotional.

From the Publishers:
Experiencing God at Home Day by Day features 50 weeks of daily devotions that takes families from Genesis to Revelations, allowing them to explore all books of the Bible in just one year. The daily devotions feature a passage of scripture, a parent connection section, a conversation starter, applications, and more. There are also special devotions for important family moments like birthdays, holidays, back-to-school and more, so God can be celebrated and incorporated into all seasons and stages of life. Experiencing God at Home Day by Day not only provides a basis for personal, daily time spent together as a family, but serves as a pace setter for the deeper study of God’s word, preparing children to develop their own habit of seeking God in their lives

Blackaby Ministries International was founded by Henry and Marilyn Blackaby to help people experience God. The ministry focuses on three main concepts: helping people experience God, helping people and churches return to God, and helping church, business and family leaders move people to God’s agenda. Through writing, speaking and teaching ministries the Blackabys share their unique message, drawing on timeless truths to show how God is drawing people close to Him, and setting them free. For more information, visit www.blackaby.net

 I received this book in return for a review from Shelton Interactive. All opinions are my own.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Shelton Interactive who continuously provide me the opportunity to review excellent books! 

Thanks to B & H publishing Group for making the book available. 

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Press Pause for November

Credit

After much consideration and in light of current life circumstances, I would like to fill you in on the days ahead for me here at this little corner of the Blogosphere called, Beneath the Surface: Breath of Faith.

First let me tell you what writing, and specifically, blogging has meant to me over these past few years. I believe writing has the power to save. It has saved me again and again from the pit of depression and despair. It has saved me from feeling I am completely alone. It has been a true Faith and Life Preserver for me in tumultuous times. Writing has kept me from coming undone. Literally. Blogging actually added an unanticipated surprise: Community. Fellow, like-minded, lovers of God and words, who get me. That is beautiful…a precious gift.

I am not unplugging completely, but due to serious personal life circumstances involving a loved one, I must PAUSE from my regular blogging activity and I will return to my journal pages (almost) exclusively, during November. During this time, I will have limited access to the internet. I will be able to respond to e-mails, via my phone throughout the course of the week. I do have some scheduled posts and book reviews planned, but may not be able to share or link consistently. I appreciate your visiting, reading and sharing posts that you love, and will visit and keep up as time and schedule allows. Grace will be needed and grace I leave with you, my friends.

Oh, for those who are doing November’s Second Chance Fitness Challenge– I may have to save my additional plans for January. Please feel free to e-mail me questions ( I will do my best to get back to you) , and also to check out the link at the top left for the 31 Days of posts and supporting links.

Prayer for our family is greatly appreciated.
I will pop in periodically as able.
Grateful for all of you, and this crazy Bloggosphere.
In His Grace, Dawn
PS: I’ll be back!

Best Summer Moments Captured (#1 Mystic Aquarium)

In June we visited the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, with fellow Homeschoolers for our end of school field trip. Pictured above My Girl with one of the Beluga Whales that resides at this beautiful aquarium.
So, this Monday is the Monday that officially ends Summer. Unless you live in Narragansett, Rhode Island, in which case, the end of Summer is celebrated locally with an appropriately named beach gathering: Summer’s End Festival. Until then, I have decided to take a fond look back on my favorite Summer moments and share them here. Since I live like a local tourist, one never knows what (or whom) might be captured with my random, wandering lens! 
This Summer we visited Mystic Aquarium, and while my hubs and sweet girl wandered off to the Stingrays, I lingered snapping hundreds of photos of the Beluga whales. One of the funniest, cutest moments I caught on camera, by happenstance, occurred when a group of middle school aged boys approached the glass to observe and photograph the giant, gentle creatures. I continued to snap away, but what made this memorable was the Beluga’s response to the boys. One boy in particular who was wearing an orange cap, caught the Beluga’s attention. Captured below is the photos in order of occurrence. The Beluga seemed to have something to say to this boy, or perhaps he was opposed to orange. Either way he continued to circle, each time singling out this boy and gesturing a vocal-less scream! The first time it took everyone by surprise, since they mostly swim, smile and wink as they circle. It was just such a great laugh and memorable moment. I wish I could have caught the boys response better- they all got such a kick out of it and were taken aback with outrageous glee. 

Counting on…
472. We made it through the first day of homeschool AND LOOK- I even squeezed a blog post in- Woohoo!
473. Yard sales!
474. Meeting so many nice folks while selling my junk  treasure… junk...STUFF!
475. My Dad making it through two surgeries wonderfully so far with one to go – maybe? Answered prayer. Amen.
476. A smooth first day of homeschool. Apparently I am going to gloat on this one for a bit. Thank you, Lord. I will not fear tomorrow. I will not fear tomorrow…
477. Oh, sweet Word of God.
478. Freedom bringing, joyful giving OBEDIENCE to His will! The power, presence and authority to do as He wills.
479. Grace for the day. Enough.
480. The beauty of releasing stuff that no longer serves me. Learning to really LET GO. Because I do not need every single piece of paper my daughter has ever written on since birth. No really, I don’t. Amen. But saving a few. 😉
481. Beautiful Summer memories
482. Our SUmmer was not perfect, we had some really challenging and NOT fun moments.Thank you, Lord that your grace IS sufficient for all of our moments. The good, bad, ugly and not so perfect!

 
Titus 2 Tuesdays @ Cornerstone Confessions

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On Savoring the Good @ 5 Minutes for Faith

I am over at 5 Minutes for Faith today sharing a bit of what God has been working in me recently. Instead of sharing a piece of that story- although the lesson is related to my message there, I thought I would share a bit about the picture I used in the post.

On our recent family vacation to Maine, this mama and her 7 ducklings became a springboard for God’s messages and ministry to my heart. You see the owner of our cottage explained that this particular mama had nine babies, but the foxes had gotten two. Now there were a number of duck families about the lake we stayed but there was something about the freshness of these babies and the way they made their way every morning and evening by our cabin that was significant, tender and oh, so sweet. We found ourselves looking for them and I began to measure God’s faithfulness daily by the assurance of those 7 baby ducklings rummaging through the berries in front of our cabin each morning. Then one day after a rainstorm, they did not return. Coincidentally we were experiencing some unexpected disruptions and discord in our vacation plans. I found myself feeling extremely sad and down, and the feelings seemed magnified by the absence of those sweet babies and their mama.

There are times when all of our circumstances seem to magnify the bad side of things in our lives.

 But God longs to be our Good. Always.
He is good even when things are bad. 
And there are times when they, in reality are- 
BUT He remains the same Good God. 

Ironically, the weather cleared. Blue skies returned as did our mama with her 7 baby ducklings. You know, friends…God knew I needed to see His faithfulness in a special way and the return of blue skies and ducklings reminded me of the hope I have in Him, in all circumstances.

I know God wants me to learn to really savor the good so that in difficult moments I am not overwhelmed by despair. To savor is to pause and recognize in the present moment. It is a powerful reckoning. We so easily can lose perspective, miss the small gifts that God lays in our path daily. He reminded me ever so faithfully this vacation, to savor the good. Recalling in all of my moments His faithfulness. His hope. Remembering that He is Good, regardless of the weather, or circumstance.

So today’s message is brought in part to you by the Mama and her 7 ducklings. 
I would love it if you joined me there!

Waddle on over…read post at 5 Minutes for Faith

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