Emari's Favorite Birthday Books

We love celebrating birthdays at our house and even though we have so many to celebrate throughout the year it always seems that our kids special days stretch out from the official date of birth to the surrounding weekend. Emari's celebration began Friday at school when her teacher gave her a special birthday crown. She wore that crown to a prayer meeting Friday night and then to church on Sunday morning. We had a Madeline party for her on Sunday complete with macaroni and cheese and croissants. Then on Monday she had cupcakes with her class to celebrate once more. Family from out of town let me know that she will be getting more gifts in the mail this coming week. This girl knows how to party!

As if it wasn't getting enough attention, we spent last week reading books about birthdays and Emari had a few favorites that I would like to share with you here.

Angelina's Birthday by Katharine Holabird

The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino

The Best Birthday Party Ever

 A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban


Madame Blueberry Turns Six

I will never forget the first time I saw Emari-Melina. She looked like a big, beautiful squalling blueberry. Sounds interesting you say? Well, let me explain. She was the fifth installment in my attempt to break the world's record in largest baby ever delivered. My doctor actually induced me two weeks early to keep us from breaking the record (hater) and she still managed to weigh in at over 9 pounds. Did I mention that on the delivery room table we had a little complication the doctor likes to call shoulder dystocia and mommies like to call, "I think I'm gonna die." In reality, its when the baby's head is delivered but the shoulders get stuck. Fun times. Long story short, Emari was delivered in what was nothing short of a miraculous intervention of godly wisdom on my doctor's part and I am quite certain that the Godhead in all three forms Father, Son and Holy Spirit, was present in that delivery room. Her middle name is Trinity and I didn't understand why I wanted that name for her until after the birth and it all became clear as crystal.

A few years ago, we were at a ministry conference with Emari and staying in an atrium room overlooking the services. While mommy and daddy were basking in the Lord's presence, Emari managed to get her head wedged between the column and railing and needless to say began screeching down over the holy proceedings below. People ran up to help us and a wonderful lady pulled me aside as I was comforting our rescued child and told me that she had a prophetic word that our daughter would get her head into places that she might need our help getting her out of. We needed to have the Father's love for her to give her grace and send her in the direction that God had for her.

Here we are and the blueberry is turning six and opinionated as all get out and getting her hard headed self into so many scrapes already. Just this month she has seriously cut herself with a knife trying to slice up an orange instead of asking for help, and she cut her own hair because she said she got too much attention with her long hair and thought that some of the other girls might need some of that attention she had been getting. What is this wonderful creature that God saw fit to bestow upon us?  I know that the party has just started and we are only getting the easy stuff right now. God grant us Your grace, You truly are the expert on dealing with a hard headed and stiff necked people.


The Family That Prays Together

Josh and I started in ministry young, probably too young, and we had kids young, definitely too young. I look back at those years now and looking at my own children I wonder why anybody let us lead youth meetings or let us leave the hospital with the baby. I mean we were babies. We made a lot of mistakes and our leaders had a lot of grace.

One thing I know that we did right was include our kids in the ministry from the very beginning. We went to church any time the doors were open and brought our kids with us every time. As youth leaders, we held lock ins and went to conferences and Tony and Becca were right there with us. They were part of the group, baby carriers, diaper bags and all. I still remember the boys being nice enough to give a four year old Tony turns on the Nintendo right there with the big boys. Tony started on the 12 years and older youth group as a band member when he was only 11 because he could already play guitar. Snowblasts in Gatlinburg,  220 conferences in Baton Rouge, we were there together. Serena went to the mission field with us when she was only six months old and learned to walk on our tile floors in Kenscoff, Haiti. Taylor was the sweet baby all the youth girls wanted to hold and Emari and Zion were our prayer house babies, logging hours in the prayer room when they were tinies. The cool thing is they don't know any other life. This is it. We go to church, that's what we do.

Last night, we had a prayer burn at church and as I drove up two families were taking their littles in to the sanctuary. They had all the church kid gear: snacks, crayons, coloring books. My heart overflowed because just like Josh and I so many years ago, here were young parents taking time on a Friday night, when they could have been out watching a movie for date night or snuggling on the couch after a long week. Instead, they were packing up their little guys and taking them to the Lord's house. These babies will grow up hearing the music drift up to heaven while they are running around, their parents praying at the altar laying it all down while they are coloring Spider Man in the back row. They won't know any other life than that and that's one awesome beginning.


Bathsheba-Bathed In Grace by Carol Cook

Do you ever wonder how God could ever use you when you have so many flaws and have so many imperfections? I know that I do. This book details the stories of eight women who were truly scandalous by ancient and modern definition. The reader witnesses the events unfold for Bathsheba, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Tamar, and Eve through the main characters' eyes. Each story follows the Biblical account, and yet adds enough detail to pull the reader in to each scenario. You will feel the anger, heartache, bitterness, and joy as the first person accounts are laid bare. Your eyes will be opened to new facets of stories you have read countless times and yet never really took the time to think twice about.

I have always loved historical fiction and even more so, biblical historical fiction. Booksneeze.com sent me a free copy of the book to honestly review and I really enjoyed the reading. The stories of women of the Bible intrigue me and this book brought so many of my favorites to life. Each story drew me in and made me relive each detail from the familiar account. The details and historical accuracy made it come to life. The author did not take too much liberty in my opinion with the things she added and my imagination was pulled along. I especially enjoyed the development of each character. The book challenged me in my own walk with the Lord as I struggle with finding His will for my life. I'm looking forward to reading the next eight stories in the sequel to come and recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction.


Soundtrack of My Life

When Tony was home over Christmas break, he shared a playlist with me of obscure songs he found himself drawn to inexplicably. It just so happened that most of them were songs he had heard from the womb, or riding around in his car seat. He had no clue why he loved them some much, just that he did.

I remember as a little girl watching musicals with my mom and later playing make believe that there were songs playing in the back ground of the action of my everyday life. Some of my earliest memories were my momma cleaning house with the Imperials, or riding in my daddy's truck with Eddie Rabbit, or my grandpa's console stereo pumping out Hank Williams Sr. I remember the solemnity of my parents when the news came on the tv that John Lennon had been shot. My daddy was in a band and the drums still touch the very heart of me. Lionel Ritchie, Dan Fogelberg, Ron Kenoli, all run together and play out the music I hear in my remembrances of times past. Its amazing how music takes you back and defines a moment.

One of my memories of my parents together was their joined love for the music of Bob Dylan and I especially remember them sharing with me a particular song called, Man Named the Animals. It was a cool song and I hadn't heard it for years. But going along with my new mania with children's books, I was in the library this weekend and came across a brand new book that goes along with the song. It has beautiful illustrations to accompany the lyrics and Bob Dylan actually sings the song on the cd that comes with the book. I popped it in the cd player on the way to church this morning and was time warped back to my daddy's music room and the old record player. My parents were there sharing the music with me and yet here I was all grown up sharing it with my own babies.

I am so glad my parents shared their music with me. Thanks mom and dad for pushing play and allowing me to dance.

Snow Surprise!

When I moved to North Carolina I soon realized that there were some extremes of weather here that were very off my normal experiences. I was used to California where the place that it snowed had the equipment to handle it and the people were pretty much used to that. Rain was a sprinkle, not a downpour that would soak you to your skin before you made it out to the car. But, NC is different. Any change in weather and we are closing things early, delaying openings, driving like snails, and stocking up on bread, water and batteries. I have come to love this reaction and love it when we have the opportunity to change from our normal day and enjoy the surprise.

Yesterday the snow snuck up on us. I had taken our dog out in the morning in my robe and barefoot. By the afternoon, there were snow flurries in our backyard and our kids went nuts. In our neighborhood, not much stuck so there were no real snowball fights or snowmen, but it was beautiful to watch it fall. Before the library closed early due to the winter weather advisory, I was able to grab a few books for the kids. Here is what we found and we thoroughly enjoyed each one.

The snow is all gone today, but these books helped us not to feel so sad to see it melt away.


Happy Valentines Day!

I have always loved Valentine's Day and having kids is a great excuse to make heart shaped cinnamon rolls for breakfast and lunches full of red and pink treats. We even make heart shaped individual meat loafs. Goofy, but we love it. Having kids is so much work, so I figure we can milk this thing for everything its worth. We're making memories ok. Here's a look at the books we finished up the holiday with.

Ball and Chain

Most people when asked about their time would admit that they are way too busy. Busyness permeates our society and rules our week. I'm a working mommy of six kids and pastor's wife. All of my "free" time belongs to somebody else. I was blog hopping a few weeks ago and found a recommend for this book and it really jumped out at me that it was divinely timed for me to read it now when within the first chapter the author wrote about kairos time. My husband had just begun a series of sermons on the very same subject. Kairos is not just time, but a specific time, like "such a time as this" time. So this book was a kairos time book for me.

In reading it, I was freed from the feeling that I always have to say yes to be a good person, and reminded that God desires for me to spend each day talking to Him about what I should do with each moment. It was so awesome to read that it is perfectly alright to do nothing on my days off. I don't have to get some project done or beat myself up about taking time to just be still. In fact, that's what sabbath days are all about! Resting from the work done, and revamping for the week ahead.

Don't allow time to be a tyrant, seek God for each day and follow His leading.


Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy New Year!

To celebrate we made chinese lanterns and ate yummy eggrolls and fried rice! Of course, the day would not be complete without a few more books to recommend.

An easy read with bright, colorful pictures.

The drawings in this book were so beautiful and Zion was really excited about the jade dragon carving. A touching story of the link between a Chinese family in America and their relatives in China.

Childhood Regained

Friday was one of those days. You know the kind, lots of work, emotions running high. TGIF, you mutter to yourself, realizing that moms don't really have Friday nights anymore. I already wrote about the changes at work and that all hit full throttle on Friday. I had my very last chapel with my little guys and had to say good-bye and try not to blubber all over them. Moms and grandmas told me how much they were going to miss me and we all had tears in our eyes. I packed up my room and moved it to the next building, took my little kid stuff home to hopefully bring out again next year, and needless to say my truck was crammed full of kids and backpacks and school supplies and bookcases and an empty aquarium and everybody was squished. We had to drive across town to pick up Rebecca and somehow try to fit one more body in the car. Zion has a car seat, so he doesn't complain too much when we are crammed in. His borders are defined by the outline of his protective gear. But Emari doesn't have such luxuries anymore and being the youngest girl she gets stepped on in the floorboard at times like these. However, she is not a shy and quiet thing, so the complaints ring out until every body has piled out at the house.

Rebecca runs to check the mail as always and comes back with a small package for me from my mom. I'm thinking, "It's not my birthday, too early for Valentine's, what's going on here?" I wait until everything has been unpacked from the car, the items put away in the house and everyone is getting ready for a semi-quiet night at home. Then I slip away to open my surprise. And it was. Inside was a copy of Panda Cake, and a tiny little note in my momma's handwriting explaining how she had read my blog and bought the book and when she read it she remembered too. And it all fell away with a rush. That horrible, no good, very bad Friday was a memory and I was a soppy mess of happy tears. Remember the good things.


Elementary School Valentines Remembered

Do you remember the drama centered around elementary school valentines? I sure do. These stories bring those feelings all back.



I think that I should have learned by now that just as soon as I start feeling comfy and cozy in a situation, God's gonna come over and mess it all up! You think that maybe you're in a new season and calm and tranquility can prevail, but oh no. No laying down on the job around here. Getting married to my husband is a roller coaster of activity anyway. I went from a house that sipped tea in the afternoons, and listened to classical music and Gordon Lightfoot. We were church attenders and took long leisurely drives just because we had the time. Not so in the Goodman household. We drink coffee at night to keep us awake for whatever high impact activity we got ourselves into. We rock out to country, rap, jazz, worship, what have you, but always at the highest volume the stereo can produce. Church attendance is at every event, most times one to two hours prior to said event because we are the ones in charge of the event. We get into the car when we have a clear and direct purpose for going somewhere.

Whew! I am in my second year of teaching fourth grade and absolutely love it. I love the kids, I love the curriculum, I love the school. But this is my last week in with the little guys. On Monday, I am moving on up to sixth grade. Boom! Totally different in every way possible. I don't wanna, and yet I can't say no. I don't want to have to adjust to new surroundings and new people and greater expectations. Yuck!

But, since I know that God is in control of ALL things, even the little seemingly insignificant things like which class I teach, I can rest knowing its gonna all work out. Just like all of the other changes that He has forced upon me in the past, this is going to strengthen me, stretch me, empower me to be a better vessel for His use. That's what it's all about anyway right?


More Chinese New Year Reads...

We plan on reading a few books each night this week about the Lunar New Year and here are a few more that we enjoyed.

 This book emphasizes the new start and clean slate that a new year brings.  A little boy helps his mommy clean house and get rid of the mess from last year.

A little girl's daddy works away from home all year and returns each New Year's Day. A very sweet story.

Apparently I am the last person to read this book in my house. All of my girls said, "Oh, I loved Tikki Tikki Tembo, its so cute!" So there you have it, Goodman approved.


Chinese New Year

I love celebrating any holiday I can get my hands on and the awesome thing about Chinese New Year is the food! But, this is a blog about books, so here are a few that we read this week:

I grew up in California and loved taking day trips to San Francisco. Chinatown was always so busy and colorful, exactly the way this book portrays it through its brightly colored pictures. The kids enjoyed trying to find the little boy and his grandma on each page.

This book is about an immigrant from China who comes to America for a new beginning. It is set in San Francisco as well but takes place 150 years ago. It It is a true story of how the Dragon Parade celebration was first organized. There are a lot of words, but the pictures kept them asking questions.


More Valentine Books...

Finishing up on my manic assault on the library this week, we read several more great Valentine books.

Again the idioms were lost on Emari who was simply enraptured by the flaps on each page. I guess we're suckers for interactive reading. This book was simply fun.

A little boy writes a valentine for each special person in his life from pets to siblings. The kids liked the rhyming verse and the colorful pages.

This book answered Emari's question of how Valentine's Day started in a simple and straightforward way. Also, it included instructions on how to make homemade valentines which Emari loved so much she fell asleep looking at it.

This was a lovely story of two people secretly in love with each other and how it all worked out in the end. The setting is a coastal town, so I might be a little partial, but I loved the story.


Valentine's Day Books

This year I requested just about every Easy Reader having anything to do with Valentine's Day from both our local library and the school. Here are a few that we enjoyed.

This book is about a little girl who loves to make crafts and goes a little overboard with her valentine box. Sounds like a little girl I know! She even forgets to make Valentine cards for her friends, but the day is saved when she realizes that she actually does have something to give each one.

Amelia Bedelia as a little girl reminds me a lot of Emari, what with her taking everything literally and such. Always a fun read.

A beautiful vintage book with gorgeous pictures, and the story is well told. A little boy makes golden arrows, but never uses them to shoot his friends, the forest animals. The king demands it of him so that he can have a gift for the princess he is courting, but the boy refuses and is thrown in the dungeon. Everything turns out for everyone in the end. When it was over Emari asked if it was a true story and if it was where Valentine's Day comes from. I guess we'll have to find one.

Ground Hog Day!

Emari is always up early, even on Saturdays, so when I realized that Groundhog Day was going to fall on a weekend I was really excited. Apparently, groundhogs get up earlier than five year olds so we had to watch a you tube version of this year's prediction. All the pomp and circumstance leading up to a boring appearance by a rodent was lost on her. She begged to be released to resume Saturday morning cartoons. However, the day redeemed itself with this book.

It is a cute story about a young groundhog who doesn't want to waste away her winter by sleeping. Her uncle promises her that if she falls asleep and is the first one awake, she will learn a secret. Emari loved the idea of the secret and changed her mind about "boring" groundhogs.
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