Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BEEsy in the Kitchen: Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, Peppers, & Onions Panini


As Hayden and I prepared for a trip to the zoo this morning, I searched my fridge and pantry for something to pack for our brown bag lunch. Sandwiches sounded good, but I didn't have any deli meats and I wasn't craving PB&J today. I'd just picked up a package of sweet Italian turkey sausage the day before, and I still had some tomato basil bread leftover from a recent visit to Panera. Hmmm . . . Add some sauteed bell pepper and onion slices, a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese, a few sprinkles of grated Parmesan, and a drizzle of pizza sauce. Voila! A new sandwich favorite. And the best part . . . It's healthier than similar versions I've ordered at sandwich shops. I hope you enjoy this recipe! :0)

A few notes about this recipe: Use your panini press if you have one or toast the sandwiches in a skillet or under the broiler in your oven. You can adjust the amount of olive oil used to saute the veggies and the amount of cheese according to your preferences and dietary needs.

Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, Peppers, & Onions Panini
Serves 4

4 sweet Italian turkey sausage links, cooked
2 tsp olive oil
1 large sweet bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 small red or yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup pizza sauce (to drizzle on sandwich and for dipping)
8 slices of your favorite bread
Butter or margarine to spread on bread or cooking/butter spray for bread

Instructions:

(1) Preheat panini press at medium heat or broiler, if using.

(2) Thinly slice each cooked turkey sausage lengthwise. Set aside.

(3) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion slices and saute until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

(4) Spread butter or margarine on one side of each bread slice. (As an alternative, you can spray one side of each slice with cooking spray or butter spray).

(5) Stack the following ingredients in the order listed on the unbuttered side of one bread slice: turkey sausage slices from one link, 1/4 of the pepper and onion mixture, 1 TBSP pizza sauce, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 TBSP grated Parmesan. Place the unbuttered side of another bread slice on top of the sandwich filling. Repeat for 3 more sandwiches.

(6) If using skillet to toast sandwiches, heat skillet on medium-high heat. Depending on your toasting method, place prepared sandwiches on the panini press, in the skillet, or under the broiler. Cook until both sides are toasted and cheese is melted. Serve remaining pizza sauce for dipping, if desired.

Monday, September 27, 2010

BEE Fulfilled: The Mountain Peaks Belong to Him

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
~Psalm 95:3-4 (NIV)~

Each autumn, my family and I set out for a day trip to view the fall colors in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. One of our favorite drives is over Fremont and Independence Passes. This last Saturday, we embarked on a 375-mile scenic drive over these two passes. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for our trek as we marveled at a classic Colorado blue sky, the reddened tundra along the mountainsides, and golden aspen leaves fluttering from gentle breezes. Atop the summit of Independence Pass, I stood in awe at the magnificence and exquisiteness of God's creations. What an imagination our Heavenly Father had when he created the mountains! I'd like to share some of the photos I took on Saturday along with some psalms that sing praises to our Almighty Creator. May they be a blessing to you! :0)


Psalm 95:1-7

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel bef
ore the LORD our Maker;

7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.


Psalm 65:5-13

5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,

6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.

8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

10 You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled wi
th grain;
they shout for joy and sing.


Psalm 36:5-7

5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the skies.

6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.

O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love!

Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.


Psalm 148

1 Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.

2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.

4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.

6 He set them in place for ever and ever;

he gave a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,

9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,

10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,

11 kings of the earth and all nations,

you princes and all rulers on earth,

12 young men and maidens,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

14 He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.

Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.


Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory

above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants

you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4what is man that

you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Friday, September 17, 2010

BEEing A Mom: Oh, What a Mess!

Some rocks, sticks, mud, and water: all the ingredients needed for a boy to embark on a playtime adventure.

As I peeked out my kitchen window earlier this afternoon, I knew this beautiful September day could not be wasted indoors. So I rounded up my crew--my little guy, Hayden, and our golden retriever, Bogie--and off we headed for some playtime at our neighborhood lake.

When we arrived at the lake's southern beach, I realized this trek probably would not end without paws and shoes laden in mud and fur and clothes drenched. I cringed at the gloppy mud bordering the lake's shoreline. I must confess I didn't want to release Bogie from his leash or allow Hayden to veer near the mud and water. Oh, to think of the mess they would make.

But as we strolled along the beach, Hayden inched closer and closer to the shoreline. Just on the edge of the muddy patch, Hayden bent over and gathered rocks, throwing them into the water. A few more steps and he plopped his Buzz Lightyear shoes into the muck. Bogie ran back and forth, begging me with whimpers to allow him to plunge into the lake. I sighed as I knelt to release Bogie from his leash. He dashed for the water, splashing Hayden along the way.

Hayden found a stick and pretended it was a fishing pole. I watched as clumps of mud clung to his shoes. Bogie ran to me and shook his damp fur, splattering drops of mud on my legs and clothes. At this point, keeping clean was a lost cause. So I shrugged when Hayden sat in the mud to empty his water-filled shoes, gathered handfuls of mud in the water, and skated in the mud.

Oh, what a mess it was! But oh, I'd do it again just to hear Hayden giggle and say "wee" every few steps and to watch Bogie act like the frisky puppy he once was many years ago.


Friday, September 10, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

"Here's a salute to a long life: goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath. May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life."

~Excerpt from Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life~

What if we as Christians were to follow in the footsteps of those in the early Christian church described in the first twelve chapters of Acts? What if we "rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life?" In Max Lucado's newest book, Outlive Your Life, he challenges Christians to do just this. The great works carried out by those in the early church were not intended to occur only once in history but rather to extend over the centuries and generations to follow. Lucado prays: Do it again, Jesus. Do it again.

In the first chapter of this book, Lucado gives readers a snapshot of the heartbreaking problems and issues many face in our world today. He writes:

These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations. Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade and in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases. More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities. As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles. Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.

Lucado recognizes the complexities involved in solving these global issues, but he believes that "God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering." In the chapters to follow, Lucado gives examples of believers throughout history--from those in the early Christian church to those today--who have outlived their lives. He also provides readers with practical ways they, too, can outlive their lives, including opening your door and your heart to others, doing good quietly, standing up for the have-nots, remembering who holds you, not writing anyone off, and praying first and most.

This book ranks toward the top of my list of the best books I've read this year. It stirred within me a deep yearning to seek God's direction on how I, too, can outlive my life. As I read this book, I pondered on how many times I have allowed fear, complacency, and busyness to keep me in my clamshell and prevent me from reaching out to those in need. The believers in the early Christian church showed us how to "let God unshell" us and use us to love and help others. Do it again, Jesus. Do it again.

I highly recommend this book to all readers. It will change your life. :0)

For more information about this book, please visit Thomas Nelson's website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

What would it be like to be hungry all the time? Norman wondered as he looked at the endless rows of corn. There has to be a way this corn can feed the hungry people, he thought.

Right then and there, Norman decided to change the world.


~Excerpt from Andy Andrew's
The Boy Who Changed the World~


In his recent children's book, The Boy Who Changed the World, Andy Andrews tells the story of Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug and his yearning as a child in Iowa to one day feed the hungry. As an adult, Norman accomplishes his dream. But he couldn't have achieved it without the help of Vice President Henry Wallace and the decisions and actions of two men of earlier generations.

This intriguing story focuses on how our decisions today, no matter how small they seem at the time, can profoundly affect future generations. As the mom of a four-year-old, I cherish stories like this one that teaches my son the value of making a difference in the world, of genuinely caring about the well-being of others, and of not being afraid to pursue mammoth-sized goals. With its beautiful illustrations by Phillip Hurst and its timeless story, this book will find a special spot on our bookshelf and in our bedtime reading ritual.

I highly recommend this book to all parents. For more information about this book, please visit Thomas Nelson's website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

"Sometimes, Ruth thought, emotions were like a horsefly. Just when you thought you'd banish it from the kitchen, here it came buzzing back. If only there was a flyswatter that could kill stubborn, stupid, illogical . . . hope."

~From Stephanie Grace Whitson's Sixteen Brides~

If I were to use one word to describe Stephanie Grace Whitson's newest novel, Sixteen Brides, it would be hope. This theme is gracefully woven throughout the pages of this delightful book about a group of widows who journey to the prairies of Nebraska with a dream of owning land.

Their adventure begins in the spring of 1871 when they board a train in St. Louis bound for Nebraska. As an organizer of the Ladies Emigration Society, Hamilton Drake promises each of the ladies one hundred and sixty acres of land free and clear if they stay for five years. But during their stop in Plum Grove, Nebraska--just shy of Cayote, their final destination--the ladies discover that Mr. Drake has not been honest and forthcoming about his reasons for luring them out to Nebraska's prairies. Some of the ladies refuse to continue on the journey and decide to stay in Plum Grove. Soon, seven of them--each with different backgrounds and different reasons for journeying to Nebraska--form a partnership and plan that will have the locals talking and the ladies clinging to hope once again.

I found this book very enjoyable and entertaining to read, particularly its theme, humor, historical setting, and cast of characters. From the first to last page, Whitson masterfully weaves the theme of hope, with each character holding on to it in one way or another. And she had me giggling often at the humorous comparisons and sayings riddled throughout the story. The historical facts and landscape also intrigued me, especially the descriptions of homesteading on the prairies in the late 1800s. But most memorable to me were the characters. Each of the main characters possesses a distinct voice and style and you cannot help but to like them all.

I highly recommend this book to women who enjoy historical and romance novels.

For more information about this book, please visit Bethany House's website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BEE Fulfilled: An Unfailing Love

"Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.


~Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)~

The more I spend time with God in prayer and in His Word, the deeper my love grows for Him. What grips my heart and soul is God's compassion and unfailing love for us. He loves you and me more than our minds can comprehend. Think about the person you love the most. God loves you so much more than that. And that love remains the same, even in our failings. Mind boggling, isn't it?! Yet, it's so comforting and encouraging to know God's love never fades.

I'd like to share with you a prayer I wrote this morning from three Scriptures in the Bible. For the past several weeks, I've participated in a Bible study at my church using Beth Moore's Living Free book. As part of the study, Beth Moore introduces the practice of praying God's Word. She describes praying God's Word as "speaking His language. It means talking to Him using His words." My assignment for this morning's study on experiencing God's peace involved choosing from a list of Scriptures and spending time praying God's Word using those Scriptures.

May the truths in this prayer be a comfort and encouragement to you today. :-)

Heavenly Father, I call on You, for I know You will answer me. Give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonder of Your great love. You save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes. Lord, keep me in the apple of Your eye. Hide me in the shadow of Your wings. (Psalms 17: 6-8)

Father, show me Your ways and teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God, my Savior. My hope is in You all day long. Remember Your mercy and love, for You say in Your Word they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to your love, remember me, for You are good, O Lord. (Psalms 25:4-7)

Lord, You say in Your Word that though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, your unfailing love for me will not be shaken nor will Your covenant of peace be removed. Thank you, Lord, for Your unfailing love and the peace You give. (Isaiah 54:10) I love you, Father! In Your glorious and precious name . . . Amen.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BEEsy Writer: The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

"Sun Tzu wrote: 'He wins a battle by making no mistakes.' My hope is that this manual will help you avoid the mistakes and write stronger books and win the battle to get and stay published."

~James Scott Bell in The Art of War for Writers~

In his most recent book on writing, James Scott Bell shares with writers what he has learned in his 20 plus years as a fiction writer. The Art of War for Writers consists of 77 short chapters organized under the following three sections:

Part I:Reconnaissance focuses on the mental game of writing.

Part II: Tactics offers tactics and techniques on the craft that help "you go deeper, to do things that will set you apart from the vanilla slush that's poured into the offices of tired editors and agents."

Part III: Strategy includes advice on the publishing business.

This compact red book surprised me with the abundance of wise and practical advice it offers to writers. I particularly found the "Reconnaissance" section helpful as it addresses many of the mental battles we writers face on our journeys. Some of the chapters included in this section include:

  • The writer must understand the essentials of success for a long-term writing career, and count the cost accordingly.
  • A foundation in discipline is always the first step toward victory.
  • "Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain."
  • Status, worry, and comparisons are the ways to madness, not victory.
  • Stay hungry so your determination will not flag.
  • Finish your novel, because you learn more that way than any other.

I highly recommend this book to all writers, especially beginning writers. I've placed this book near my computer and plan to refer to it often as I continue on my journey as a writer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: The Dragon and the Turtle by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark

Padraig landed on a branch and popped a bug into his mouth. He grinned as he chewed. The bug was crunchy on the outside and squishy on the inside, and it tasted like nuts and sweet oranges.

~Opening lines of The Dragon and the Turtle
by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark~

Released in bookstores today, The Dragon and the Turtle by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark tells a sweet story about prioritizing the needs of a new friend over your own. After embarking on a pirate adventure, a young turtle named Roger cannot find his home and seeks help from his newfound friend, Padraig the dragon. Padraig flies high in the sky in search of a home that looks, sounds, smells, feels, and tastes like the one described by Roger. Padraig is hungry for crunchy, squishy, nutty bugs, but he sets asides his needs to help his friend find his home.

My four-year-old son, Hayden, and I have read this book many times since we received a copy from the authors a month ago. This delightful and entertaining story, which is beautifully illustrated by Vincent Nguyen, tugs at the heartstrings of boys with its description of Padraig's favorite food (crunchy, squishy, nutty bugs) and Roger's love for playing pirates. Parents will especially find helpful the guide at the end of the book, which gives parents ideas on how they can teach their children the valuable lessons about friendship conveyed in the book. And with a recipe included at the back of the book, parents and children alike can indulge in making the Chocolate Chip Snappers that Roger's mama makes for the young turtle and his dragon friend.

For more information about this book and the authors, please visit The Dragon and the Turtle website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for the purpose of reviewing it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington

"Christy Williams didn't see the cop until his red lights flashed in her rearview mirror. By then it was too late. He was tailing her, and she had no choice but to ease her Honda Accord onto the snowy shoulder of the freeway and let the cruiser slide in behind."

~Opening lines in C.J. Darlington's
Thicker than Blood
~

May Williams has not seen her older sister, Christy, in fifteen years after Christy ran away following their parents' deaths. May yearns to be reunited with her sister. But ashamed about the path her life has taken, Christy avoids her younger sister, too afraid that May will not accept her. As Christy faces a series of events that threaten her livelihood and life, including an accusation that she stole a first edition Hemingway book, Christy flees her home to the only place she feels she will be safe--May's ranch in Southern Colorado. But the two sisters soon must confront the deep pain and uncertainties each faces in their own lives and in their relationship.

Winner of the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel, Thicker than Blood delivers a heartfelt story about forgiveness, God's grace, and second chances. Blending solid storytelling with an interesting cast of character, this story kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen, especially toward the end of the book with a couple of gripping action scenes. I also found the messages about God's grace to be refreshing and encouraging. I recommend this book to readers and look forward to future books from C.J. Darlington.

For more information about this book, please visit Tyndale Houses Web site.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for the purpose of reviewing it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

BEE Mine: Thirteen Years Ago

Thirteen years ago, I awoke to a beautiful summer morning in Western Colorado, knowing the special day ahead would mark the beginning of a new life with my beloved Ryan.

Thirteen years ago, I joined my family and friends for breakfast at the hotel where Ryan and I met each other two and a half years earlier. (We both worked at the front desk of the hotel. But how we met . . . Well, that's a story for another time. :-)

Thirteen years ago, I was a giddy bride, getting all dolled up for the big event.

Thirteen years ago, a friend who I thought was not able to make it to the wedding surprised me by showing up at the church just hours before the ceremony. (She planned the surprise with Ryan months before the wedding. What a wonderful moment that was for me!)

Thirteen years ago, I stood in the lobby of the church with my dad, waiting for the signal to begin our procession down the aisle. Tears filled my eyes when the music began and my dad linked his arm with mine just before we entered the church's sanctuary.

Thirteen years ago, my dad gave me away to Ryan in front of our family and friends, a sweet moment I will cherish always.

Thirteen years ago, I stood next to Ryan at the front of that small church and vowed to love him for my lifetime.

Thirteen years ago, Ryan and I exchanged wedding rings and shared "the kiss," both symbols of the lifelong commitment we made to each other.

Thirteen years ago, my wedding gown swayed back and forth as Ryan and I hurried down the aisle toward the church's lobby, clutching each other's hand and laughing and smiling along the way.

Thirteen years ago, my brother chauffered us to the reception hall in a red convertible. My brother played the role well in his ultra-cool sunglasses and tuxedo.

Thirteen years ago, we danced and laughed and celebrated the glorious event with our friends and family.

Thirteen years ago, I married the man I love deeply and cherish as a friend, so much then and even more now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BEEsy Writer: Editing Fiction Course

A lesson I'm learning early on my journey as a writer is to continually seek ways to improve my craft. During the last year, I've enroll in several online writing classes and webinars. Last summer, I stumbled upon the Web site for The Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network (PEN) and discovered this organization offers courses beneficial to not only proofreaders and editors, but also writers.

I'd like to share information about one of the classes I took last year--Editing Fiction. This class, taught by freelance editor Jeanne Marie Leach, teaches participants about the fundamental techniques of good fiction writing, including opening hooks, Point of View (POV), plot development, character development and emotions, proper dialogue, showing vs. telling, active vs. passive writing, and overused words.

As part of this five-week class, participants receive weekly lessons and are assigned homework, which they submit to the instructor and other participants for review. I particularly found the homework assignments to be one of the most valuable parts of the class. These assignments allowed me to apply what I learned during the week's lesson, and the feedback I received from the instructor helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses with each of the techniques explored. In addition, the discussions among the participants and the instructor expanded my understanding of these techniques.

I would highly recommend this class for beginning writers.

The Christian PEN is offering this class from July 19 to August 16. Cost for the class varies depending upon your membership status, ranging from $60 to $90. For more information, please see the course description on The Christian PEN's Web site.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

BEEsy Writer: A New Column on BEEsy Mama

Several months ago, I began a new blog called BEEsy Writer. I had hoped to share my experiences as a new writer on this blog. After careful consideration, I have decided to merge BEEsy Writer with the BEEsy Mama blog.

Next Wednesday, I will introduce here a new column called BEEsy Writer. In this column, I will share my experiences about my writing journey, resources and classes for writers, writing book recommendations, and writing quotes. If you are interested in writing, please stop by and check out this column on Wednesdays.

Please be assured that I am still committed to writing about the adventures of being a mama. Thanks so much for your support of this blog. I greatly appreciate it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BEEing A Mom: The Nest (Part 2)

The morning after the blackbirds attacked our mama robin, I peeked into her nest hoping to find the eggs. To my surprise and delight, the babies hatched from their eggs overnight. Tucked away safely in the nest, I could only see the tops of their fuzzy heads. The mama robin sat in the nest with her babies most of that day.

From a quick internet search, I learned that baby robins typically stay in the nest for up to two weeks. The mama and daddy robins hunt for worms for the babies, capturing as many as 100 meals a day.

Over the next two weeks, we watched as the parents cared for the three babies, each taking turns to retrieve worms and guard the nest. I marveled at the dedication exhibited by both parents and how they worked together to nurture their babies.

Hayden and I visited the nest daily to observe the progress of the babies. We kept our visits short, not wanting to disrupt the parents' efforts in feeding them. On two occasions, one of the parents swished by my ear, warning me to not get too close. I quickly stepped away from the nest, respecting the robin's request.

We always knew when the babies were being fed. A raucous of chirps erupted from the nest during each feeding. With the nest just outside my bedroom window, I often awoke early each morning to the babies' indulging on their breakfast of worms.

Three mornings ago, I was about to open the back door to let my golden retriever outside when I saw one of the babies perched on the deck's railing. I held my breath as I watched it explore the world outside its nest. What a glorious sight it was to watch the baby fly!

I checked the nest, and only one of the babies remained in it. Throughout the day, the parents continued to feed this baby, and several times, I found the baby perched on the edge of the nest, contemplating whether to leave it and join her siblings.

As I was cleaning up after dinner that night, Hayden rushed into the kitchen and said, "Mommy, the baby fell out of the nest." I hurried outside with him and searched around the tree for the baby. Moments later, we found the baby standing on a rock below the tree, unharmed and observing her new world.

With nightfall approaching, I had hoped the baby would remain in the nest overnight, as it was safer up there than on the ground. We watched her as she struggled to flutter her wings and fly. My husband and I considered trying to lift her back up into the nest, but when I stepped outside to check on her, I found she was no longer on the rock. We soon found her hopping across the street to our neighbor's front porch.

The mama robin stood on a nearby fence, watching the baby. Every so often, she'd fly down next to the baby and chirp at her. The baby kept fluttering her wings, trying to fly. Each time, she seemed to gain more height. She soon disappeared into the shrubs as the moon rose in the east and night fell on the first day of summer.

Hayden and I entered our house with heavy hearts, once again hoping for the best for the baby robin. As we were saying our bedtime prayers that night, Hayden prayed for the baby robin. He looked up at me and said, "And God hears us."

"Yes, honey," I said. "He sure does." My heart warmed at the faith my son showed me.

I don't know if the baby robin made it through the night. Over the last two days, I've seen at least one of the babies perched in the trees surrounding my house. Deep within, I want to believe she made it.

I'm saddened about the birds leaving the nest, but I'm also celebrating their new lives and the lessons they taught us--how to stand up for the vulnerable, how to be a nurturing parent, and how to believe with our hearts that God really does hear us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

BEEing A Mom: The Nest (Part 1)

Little did I know four weeks ago that a nest wedged between the branches of a tree in our front yard would bestow upon my family and me valuable life lessons.

We first discovered the nest as we built a planter box underneath the tree. A mama robin sat dutifully in the nest incubating the eggs. At first, she acted skittish around us, flying away as we neared her nest. Not wanting to disturb her, we quickly assembled the planter box and left her alone.

In the days that followed, my son, Hayden, and I visited the mama robin several times daily. Soon, she grew comfortable with us and stayed in the nest. I often talked to her, telling her what a great mama she was. Neighbors who overheard me and didn't know we had a nest in the tree probably thought I had become delusional. But I was proud of our mama robin for her diligence and dedication to her motherly duties.

One evening, Hayden and I discovered a group of blackbirds congregating near the nest. One of the blackbirds acted injured, struggling to climb up an air conditioning unit and flutter its wings. At first, I felt sorry for the injured bird until I realized that the blackbirds were trying to steal the mama's eggs from her nest.

I called into the house for my husband Ryan to seek his help in protecting the mama robin and her eggs. As we devised a plan, a few of the blackbirds swooped in on the mama. Ryan lurched toward the blackbirds and shouted at them. They scattered, many flying to the higher branches in a nearby tree.

I retrieved our garden hose, determined to defend our mama robin if any of the blackbirds neared her. As one inched closer to the nest, I aimed the hose at it and sprayed it. All the blackbirds in the tree flew away.

Hayden jumped up and down and said, "You're the best mommy for fighting off the bad birds."

At that moment, I felt like a hero to my little guy. I later realized that both my son and I learned a valuable lesson that evening about standing up for the vulnerable.

We stood guard until twilight. None of the blackbirds returned. As I entered the house, I hoped and prayed the eggs would still be in the nest in the morning.

*****

~To Be Continued~

Please stop by BEEsy Mama tomorrow for Part 2 of BEEing a Mom: The Nest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: The Word of Promise New Testament Audio Bible

Thomas Nelson's The Word of Promise New Testament Audio Bible contains a 21-hour dramatization of the New King James Version. Packaged in a 20-CD set, this audio bible features a well-known cast of actors, including Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Stacy Keach as Paul, Louis Gossett, Jr. as John, Micheal York as the Narrator, Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Mary (mother of Jesus), and Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene.

With a satisfying blend of readings by the actors, an original music score, and sound effects, this version of the New Testament not only entertained me but also expanded my literacy of the Bible. I was particularly moved by Jim Caviezel's performance of Jesus dying on the cross in the book of Matthew.

The only downside of this audio bible for me was the amount of time it took to complete it. I found the best place to listen to the CDs was in my car. Because I no longer commute to work, it took me about four months to complete the set. Yet, I would recommend this audio bible because it offers listeners an alternative way to expand their knowledge of the Bible and delivers a high-quality production.

For more information about this audio book, please visit Thomas Nelson's Web site.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Adventures in Odyssey: Take It From the Top (Volume 51)

Adventures in Odyssey's Take It From the Top includes 9 different stories offering hours of entertainment for children and their parents. Featuring the Parker and Jones families along with John Avery Whittaker of Whits End and his eccentric assistant Eugene, this volume contains creative and thought-provoking stories that will teach valuable moral lessons to your children, such as storing up treasures in heaven, the importance of family, and responsibility.

I was first introduced to the Adventures in Odyssey audio series when I was child, listening to it on the radio on road trips with my family. Many years later as a mom of a preschooler, I was thrilled to discover that Focus on the Family and Tyndale Publishers are still producing this family-friendly series. Both my son and I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. My son giggled at the tale about Whit's Imagination Station while I was moved by the story about the Jubilee Singers. This audio series can easily be used to entertain your children while running your errands around town or during longer road trips.

I highly recommend this volume of the Adventures of Odyssey series to all families. You will cherish the lessons each of the stories will teach your children. For more information about this volume, please visit Tyndale Publishers Web site.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

BEEtween the Pages: The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

"Ahead lay Chedworth Wood. The warnings of years echoed through her mind. 'Don't stray into the wood at night.' Wild dogs stalked that wood, and thieves and poachers camped there, with sharp knives and sharper eyes, looking for easy game. A woman of Olivia's four-and-twenty years knew better than to venture into the wood alone. But her mother's cries still pulsed in her ears, drowning out the old voice of caution. The danger behind her was more real than any imagined danger ahead."
~Excerpt from Julie Klassen's The Silent Governess~

Set in England in the early 1800s, The Silent Governess tells a tale wrought with secrets and misunderstandings that threaten to jeopardize the fortune and happiness of the story's characters. At the center of this novel is Olivia Keene, a 24-year-old woman who unexpectedly becomes a governess at an English manor house. Fleeing from her a home after a frightening incident, Olivia stumbles upon Brightwell Court and inadvertently overhears a secret that could ruin the future of the estate's heir. Fearful Olivia will divulge his secret, Lord Bradley forces her to take a post at the manor house so he can monitor her actions. As Olivia cares for the children living at the house, an attraction begins to develop between Lord Bradley and her. But as the secrets of both their pasts begin to unravel and intertwine, hope begins to fade that this attraction will blossom into an everlasting love.

In The Silent Governess, Julie Klassen crafts an intriguing and satisfying story that highlights the protocols and challenges of an English governess in the Regency era alongside the personal struggles of the story's cast of characters. Klassen's masterful storytelling shines from the first to last pages of this novel as she skillfully divulges pieces of the mystery at a pace that keeps the reader wondering what will happen in the next chapter. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading other novels from this author.

For more information about The Silent Governess, please visit Bethany House's Web site.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Sense and Sensibility (Bethany House Insight Edition)

"We do not have the living dead to offer in our annotated look at Sense and Sensibility. Nor do we threaten her with dull, scholarly analysis. Rather, we leave Jane's classic story untouched and focus on providing notes, facts, and thoughts in the margins that we hope will help you understand the story a little better, see the characters in a new light, or simply make you smile."

~Editor's Note in Bethany House's Insight Edition of Sense and Sensibility~

Jane Austen's first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, tells a timeless tale of two sisters search for true love and the heartbreaking circumstances they endure along the way. Bethany House's new annotated version of this classic offers readers historical and cultural details about England in the early 1800s, facts about Austen's life, references about films based on the novel, themes of faith, and comments about the novel's characters and plot.

Unlike many editions of this novel, Bethany House's version contains a foreword of only two pages and does not give readers a detailed, scholarly analysis of the novel and Austen's life. Instead, this book provides facts and tidbits of information on the pages' margins. I found this edition simple to navigate and many of the notes offered interesting and helpful information to better understand the story. Another unique feature of this version are the scriptural and moral reflections sprinkled throughout the book. The editors often quote verses from Proverbs.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Jane Austen classics and does not need a detailed introduction about the story and the author's life.

For more information about this book, please visit Bethany House's Web site.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BEEsy in the Kitchen: Easy Chicken Chimichangas

Rummaging through my fridge tonight searching for something to make for dinner, I celebrated when I discovered I had all the ingredients needed to make chicken chimichangas--shredded chicken, green onions, salsa, cheese, tortillas, and sour cream. This recipe, given to me by a friend many years ago, is quick, easy, and tasty. If you can, cook and shred the chicken the day before you plan on making the chimichangas.

Easy Chicken Chimichangas

2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2/3 cup chunky salsa
1/3 cup green onion slices
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp salt
8 flour tortillas
Melted butter or olive oil, to brush on tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (can substitute with cheddar cheese)
Sour cream, salsa, and guacamole for toppings

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. In a large skillet, combine first six ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Brush one side of each tortilla with butter or olive oil. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto center of unbuttered tortilla side. Top with 2 tbsp shredded cheese. Fold two sides over filling. Fold ends down. Place seam side down in 13" x 9" pan. Repeat for other tortillas.

4. Bake in oven for about 13 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

5. Top with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, as desired.

Friday, January 29, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill

". . . Jesus is our one hope of reconciliation in the here and now. He is the only one I can think of who holds the power, the moral authority, to bring us together. He is the antidote to mistrust and bitterness and resentment. He is the one who convinces an Arab like me that the Jews are not my enemies but rather my cousins, going back to Abraham's house."
~Excerpt from Once an Arafat Man
by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill~
Once an Arafat Man tells the story of Tass Saada, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the 1950s and 1960s. From his experiences as a refugee, Tass learned to hate the Jews of Israel at a young age. When he was 17, he ran away from home to join Fatah and became a PLO sniper and chauffeur to Yasser Arafat. But years later while living in the United States, Tass converted to Christianity and the hatred he harbored for many years soon dissolved. This was the beginning of a new journey for Tass and his family, one focused on love, hope, and reconciliation.

This inspiring story deeply stirred my heart. I was moved by Tass's immense love for the Palestinians and Jews and his committment to reconciliation. He gives a unique perspective of the Palenstians and shows through the Bible how God blessed these people through Abraham's son, Ishmael, and how he deeply loves them still. Tass also gave me a profound understanding of what it means to be obedient to God's calling in our lives and God's faithfulness in providing what we need to fulfill His callings. Tass serves as a great example what it means to walk by faith.

I highly recommend this book to all readers.

For more information about this book, please visit Tyndale's Web site.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

BEEsy in the Kitchen: Feeding the Whole Family By Cynthia Lair

Are you looking for healthy and nourishing recipes for your whole family? Would you like to include more whole grains in your daily diet but need ideas on how to prepare them?

Cynthia Lair's Feeding the Whole Family might just be the cookbook for you. With more than 180 recipes, this cookbook gives parents a wide variety of recipes to prepare for their entire family, including hot cereals for breakfast, sandwiches, soups, dinner entrees, side dishes, breads, and desserts.

This cookbook offers valuable information about what whole foods are, how to incorporate them into your family's diets, how to prepare them for your baby, and how to raise children who eat healthy food. Lair also provides directions on how to properly cook whole grains (e.g., quinoa, millet, bulgur) and beans. And one of the perks of this book is Lair gives special instructions on how to prepare each recipe for babies six months and older.

About a year ago, I purchased this cookbook after a nutritionist recommended it to me. I've prepared several recipes in this cookbook and most have been delicious. One of my favorites is a recipe for Five-Grain Morning Cereal, which is a hot cereal containing toasted wheat berries, millet, spelt, brown rice, and quinoa. I prefer this hot cereal over oatmeal.

Other recipes I've tried and liked include Mexican Bean and Corn Casserole (you use polenta in this recipe), Black Bean Tostados, and Orange Millet Raisin Bread (I used dried cranberries instead of raisins--delish!). In the near future, I hope to prepare Thai Coconut Chicken Soup, Mediterranean Quinoa, Spinach Feta Quiche, Pumpkin Pecan Muffins, and Gracie's Yellow Birthday Cake (I may make this for my husband's birthday next week!).

BEEsy Mama Question: What are your favorite healthy cookbooks?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BEEing A Mom: BEEing A Kid Again!

Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again! To play all day, not worrying about how I'm going to tackle my mile-long to-do list or fretting about my job or finances. How glorious it would be to wake up each morning ready to embark on a series of new adventures--hunting for dinosaurs in the backyard, building a sand castle, or sailing on a pirate ship in search of buried treasure.

Each day I encounter many opportunities to be a kid again. But how? Through my three-year-old son, Hayden. You see, every day he invites me to join him in his playtime adventures. And many times I gladly accept his invitations.

Last week, we journeyed over the high seas as pirates on a quest for a treasure--Hayden as Captain Hook and I as his shipmate Timber Timber (Aye, shiver me timbers!). The snow covered ground became our ocean, pine cones our treasure, and the compartment on Hayden's tricycle our treasure chest. During the hour we played pirates, I began to feel like a kid again--the worries of adult life diminished as I immersed myself in Hayden's playworld.

But I must admit, some days I feel trapped in my adult mindset and miss out on being a kid again. These days often feel like a mad dash as I race through my day trying to cross off as many items on my to-do list as possible. Being so focused on getting things done, I forget to stop and indulge in the joys my son offers in being a kid again. Later, when the quietness of night settles on my household, I realize the opportunities I missed out on and vow to try harder to slow down and enjoy the perks of childhood.

Now, I know we can't abandon all of our adult duties to be kids again 24/7, although some days it's tempting. But just maybe we can learn to slow down and take time each day to join our little ones in the pleasures of being a kid. Mencius wrote, "The great man is he who does not lose his child's-heart." Or for all the BEEsy mamas out there: The great woman is she who does not lose her child's-heart.

BEEsy Mama Question: How do you become a kid again with your children?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New BEEginnings: BEEsy Mama Makeover


Whew . . . I never realized revamping my blog could be so much work! Over the last day, I've spent hours trying to find the right blog template, learning how to customize it in Photoshop, and fretting (just a bit) when the HTML codes didn't work properly. But finally, I somehow figured it out!

And now--drum roll please--I'd like to present to you BEEsy Mama's new look . . .

(I'd love to hear your comments on BEEsy Mama's makeover! :-)

Monday, January 11, 2010

BEEcoming Aware: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. A few days ago, I discovered a song by Take No Glory entitled "Beautiful Slave" that brings awareness to human trafficking. Please take time to view this video and to learn about this issue.

(If you have problems accessing the video below, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jYU9meVXKg.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

BEEing a Mom: Teaching Little Ones About Winning & Losing Gracefully

Earlier this week, my son, Hayden, and I played a few games of Candy Land. For the first two games, Hayden moved into the lead early on. Each time he drew a card from the pile and moved his game piece, he announced to me, "I'm going to win this game." Smiling from ear to ear and giggling, Hayden was clearly having fun. He won the first two games, and I gave him a "high five" to congratulate him.

But early on in the third game, I took the lead. Hayden's upbeat disposition quickly turned to a glum one. With his bottom lip pushed out and tears forming in his eyes, he said, "You can't win, Mom!" When I reached the Candy Castle and won the game, he announced he didn't want to play anymore. Gently, I tried to explain to him that sometimes we win games and sometimes we lose them, but the reason we play is to have fun. He didn't seem to understand this.

Hours later, I found myself reflecting on this experience, wondering when is an appropriate age to begin teaching little ones how to win and lose gracefully. I flipped through several of my parenting books but couldn't find an answer to my question. I then searched for articles on the Internet and soon learned that Hayden's reaction to winning and losing is common among young children, and I found many examples of other parents beginning to teach their little ones lessons about winning and losing.

With Hayden turning four next month, I believe now is a good time to begin teaching him these lessons. One of the best ways to do this is to model how to win and lose gracefully. When we play board games together, I can model graceful losing by congratulating him for winning and graceful winning by not gloating and by telling him what a great game he played.

But I also realize I need to be cognizant of how I act in other winning and losing situations in life. As we all know, our kids watch us very closely and learn from our actions--the good ones and the bad ones. And they mimic us. So in all our actions, we need to be alert to the unspoken lessons we're teaching them. For example, if we don't receive a promotion at work, we need to model to our kids how to gracefully handle this situation, even when we don't think the outcome was fair.

Another way to teach my son about winning and losing gracefully is to talk to him about how to do this. How do you win gracefully? I might explain to him that you don't brag about it, you don't criticize the loser's performance, and you shake his hand and tell him he played a good game. And how do you lose gracefully? I might tell him that even though he may not be happy about losing, it's always nice to smile and congratulate the winner. I might also tell him when he starts to lose a game, he needs to hang in there and finish it. It's not fair to the winner to forfeit before the game is over, and in any game, an underdog still can pull ahead and win before it's over.

Finally, when my son is in the midst of winning or losing, I can use this situation as an opportunity to teach him about his emotions and how to appropriately respond to them. Young children are learning about their emotions, and they don't always know how to respond to them. But as parents, we're given the job to teach them about their emotions and how to use them. When our children are winning or losing, we can ask them how they feel, help them label that emotion, and teach them how to appropriately respond to it.

I realize teaching my son how to win and lose gracefully will require me to be consistent and intentional. He may not understand these lessons during our next game of Candy Land, but I hope that with each game he plays, he will begin to comprehend and adopt them.

BEEsy Mama Question: How are you teaching your children to win and lose gracefully?

Monday, January 4, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible

"Thomas Nelson's NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible is intentionally designed as a treasury of the most well-loved and impactful stories from the Bible. This is not a Bible. Instead, this heirloom edition uses Scripture portions from the New King James Version to tell the story of God and His interaction with humankind."
~NKJV Greatest Stories
of the Bible~


Thomas Nelson's NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible contains 250 stories directly quoted from the New King James Version (NKJV). In this heirloom book, you will find a wide variety of stories from the Old Testament (e.g., Adam and Eve Challenge God, The Red Sea Crossing, David and Goliath, Esther Becomes Queen, and Job Tested) and from the New Testament (e.g., John the Baptist Arrives, Jesus' Birth, Loaves and Fishes, Jesus Is Abused and Crucified, Paul and Silas in Captivity, and Final Victory). For a few of the stories, the publisher included scriptural references from different books in the Bible. For example, the story about Jesus' birth quotes Scripture from Matthew and Luke.

This compilation allows readers to easily navigate through the major biblical stories and would especially be beneficial to readers not familiar with the stories as well as families desiring to introduce them to their children. This book does not contain any footnotes or study resources. For me, I would prefer to use my study Bible in lieu of this book. However, as my son grows older, I think this book could be valuable in teaching him about the biblical stories. As a result, I would recommend this book to parents of older children as a resource to teach their kids about these stories.

For more information about this book, please visit Thomas Nelson's Web site.

Note:
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.