Monday, June 29, 2009

Art in Words

I didn't really know what to expect. I requested this book after reading the first few pages. It seemed odd, different and yet potentially enjoyable.

Notes from a Tilt A Whirl by ND Wilson is exactly that. It is Odd. It is Different. It is unlike anything I've ever read before. And yet, it is hugely enjoyable! It is part poetry, part philosophy, part stream of consciousness writing, and all art in words. I'm sure that seems hard to imagine based on my description.

I remember reading E.E. Cummings poetry in school when I was growing up. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the purposeful and different placement and use of words. This book reminds me of E.E. Cummings.

This book is published by Thomas Nelson, but it doesn't fit the mold of any of the subcategories of Christian books (in my mind). It is a book all of its own and one I would highly recommend if my description sounds intriguing. I don't think I can do it justice. It is a piece of art.

You can pick up this book and read a page, or even half a page and then smile to yourself at the cleverness of the words and stories shared. You can read a whole chapter and be overwhelmed by all the word pictures and stories you've had the chance to see in your mind.

There are cuss words in this book, there are things that you won't expect. This book doesn't fit any mold and yet it isn't irreverant to the Lord. I didn't think. Some people might be offended, but the author never meant to be offensive. He doesn't take the Lord's name in vain. But, he talks amidst the reality of life.

The author has a website--just google N.D. Wilson. If you read his biography and enjoy it, you'll enjoy his book. If you're looking for a fun read and you enjoy philosophy, poetry, and art, and most of all the beauty of this world that God has created--then go check out this book--I doubt you'll regret it! My husband can hardly wait to read it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bible Story Books

So, for the past 2 weeks, my girls and I have been reading the princess devotional Bible at night and the Play 'n Learn Bible stories book. When I wrote my review of the princess devotional Bible, I noted that there weren't pictures of the stories. Overall, I liked the book, but that was my biggest concern. That concern is bigger now. I think that when it comes to Bible Story books, I would always recommend one that has pictures over one that doesn't. And unless your child knows the stories well, the way devotional Bibles jump around can be very confusing.

Sami is lost! She likes the devotional Bible because it's princessy, sort of. But, she cannot sit still. And this is a girl who loves books! It's starting to drive me crazy. I wouldn't take back the review I wrote of the book, but I would recommend other books over it. Which brings me to my complaint about the other book and an interesting thing I learned!!!

So, the ICB is a paraphrase and the NiRv is the NIV translation for kids with simpler sentences and more periods. BUT (!!!) I learned from a bookstore owner that the NLT (New Living Translation--really a paraphrase) is equivalent to the TNIV (which changed all language to gender neutral language). The TNIV got a lot of flack a few years ago, but the NLT flew under the radar. So, here's something that is really surprising me. I was reading the Play N Learn Bible stories (based on the NLT) and I discovered that it really matters! I was reading one of the stories and all of a sudden I said, out loud, "that isn't right!". The story was about Hannah and her prayer and it was really off the mark! So, I've learned a few lessons. I don't think I'm going to choose any more books based on the NLT. And I think I'm starting to realize that it matters in children's Bible stories which translation is used.

When it comes time, I'm going to get Autumn a copy of the NIRv and not the ICB. Any thoughts? Have you run into this?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Toad Pee

Really. I do mean Toad pee. Last night, my husband brought a toad into the office downstairs and showed it to me. I jumped. Eek!!! What are you doing?! Get that out of here! Eek!!!! My husband burst out laughing and got a huge kick out of my reaction. Then, he set the toad on the floor and it promptly--went pee. Toad Pee!!! On my carpet! My husband then told me that toads pee frequently--so of course it would pee on the carpet. Thankfully, he took it outside a few minutes later.

But, I got the last laugh.

Just a few minutes later, he decided he wanted a little dessert. So, he rummaged through the freezer and discovered some small brown looking bumpy balls. He thought to himself that they must just be some strange dessert I'd concocted. He popped one in his mouth. It took him a minute to realize the brown was not from chocolate as he had hoped--but rather ground beef. It was a meatball after all--a frozen meatball! Yuck! I laughed really hard when he told me what he'd eaten before asking me what it was!

Wow. A really good book worth reading...

I was talking with a friend this weekend and I shared with her a question a good friend of mine, Marcie, asked me a few years ago when Autumn was only a year and a half old. She asked me what I was doing for me--to keep myself interesting, so to speak, so that I wouldn't lose myself in the process of raising my kids. That question has always stuck with me.

Often my husband will tell me all we talk about is the kids, money, and the house. We lose sight of our marriage and ourselves. But, that's when I remember Marcie's question and the advice implied in her question =). Don't forget to take care of you--and in the process indirectly take care of the ones you love.

So, now I read and blog, and write book reviews =) among other things.

Over the past two days, I read a really good book--it's an easy read, but very worth the time.

The book is called Money Strategies for Tough Times.

In the course of the recession, I have come to realize that there are things that I have always done--but that not everyone else does. For example, we've always drank only one glass of juice at meals and then water. We enjoy that juice, but otherwise you can end up guzzling and not really enjoying it. That may sound extreme, but this book is realistic and not extreme in the financial advice that it gives--I think the author would even be surprised by my approach to juice. =) And yet, all that to say, this book does encourage the reader to spend wisely and to really assess what they need to spend and don't need to. But, even more than that--and the biggest reason why I love this book--is that the author treats finances not as a compartment of our life separate from our faith, but as a part of the foundation of our lives that God is entirely a part of.

The book is published by NavPress and Matt Bell. Bell is a part of the Good $ense financial ministry at Willow Creek. The first chapter is all about walking with God through life and how our finances are a part of that. Financial books do happen to be an interest of mine. I get a strange enjoyment from budgeting and talking about finances when people are in debt and want to get back on track. This book is great because this book is not geared towards men or women but both. I have been disappointed in several books I've read about budgeting, but this one really gives a good perspective on how to do that. He talks about debt--unsecured and secured as well as how to get out of debt. None of his ideas are crazy or even extreme--to me. He's very realistic. In the end, he talks about saving--the if savings (6 months of bills), when savings (for when things you know are going to happen do), and why savings (for your dreams). I thought that was a great way of identifying what to save for.

This book is biblical and grounded--not extreme and not a "seeker-sensitive" type of book that waters down the need for accountability. The one tiny point that I disagree with is that when he encourages accountability--and he really does encourage it, he encourages a person to ask another to give them encouragement and support but not advice. I think that there is a time for advice, but I understand the caution on that because sometimes the person you go to only gives advice instead of listening and encouraging.

My very favorite part of this book is a quote that I will likely relate to many of my friends. Bell talks about how we have gotten so messed up by the consumer culture we live in--when what we really need to remember is that our worth is not based on what we own. Owning more does not make us more. We need to "learn how to be children of God again."

I think every newly married couple should read this book--before they find themselves needing it. I also think every newly graduated college senior should read it as well. This book is a really well rounded honest book about finances and what budgeting is all about--and the need to be realistic about it. There are a lot of people I think would enjoy this book--if you can enjoy a book about finances =)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Good News

I grew up out west in the city. I knew nothing--absolutely nothing about ticks! So, now that I live in the land where people find them every day, it often makes me anxious. I was thankful to hear from the Pediatrician yesterday that it actually takes 48-72 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme's disease. So, if they take a bath every night and I check them every night I should be good! That was a relief to me. Lyme's disease and ticks scare me. =(

Monday, June 15, 2009

Todays prayer

We ran our errands this morning and got home late, so at 2:00 the girls were eating their lunch and it started to rain. Autumn had her swim lesson tonight and so she was very sad--for a moment. Sami said, "Let's pray." So, they prayed that God would stop the rain so Autumn could go swimming. I tried to explain to them that sometimes God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want Him to. But, I only got half of it out of my mouth and then let it go as they prayed again.

At 4:15 p.m. when we left the house the sky was clear and blue. And it stayed that way for the rest of the afternoon--including Autumn's swim lesson.

I guess mom is the one who has the most to learn =)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bugs eating the house

Yesterday, a dear friend informed me that it's termite mating season, so I need to watch out and not let them get in the house. I freaked out! Truly, I really freaked out. I don't know why, but the idea of termites unnerves me so much!

So, I'm fixing lunch for my girls.
This is how the conversation went...
My sweet girls said," Well, Mommy, we need to pray."
"I can't pray right now. I need to calm down first."
"Well, we'll pray...(commence praying) Dear God, please kill the bad bugs. And please keep them from eating our house. Amen"
"Okay, Mommy?"
"Please be quiet girls, I'm still stressed."
"Let's pray again..."and the prayer commences again...

Dear sweet girls, praise God that they know what to do--to turn to God for their strength and comfort even at 3 and 5!

I told my husband this story and he burst out laughing at the "Please kill all the bugs. and Please keep them from eating our house" bit. =)

The aftermath--after I had freaked out for an hour--was that I had to go outside. And there weren't any around--just maybe one or two. The concern is when there's a lot. That's a bad sign. So, my heart calmed down. We do have a termite warranty on our house and it gets inspected every year. I just get so anxious sometimes! =)

Perfect for bedtime or in the morning…

100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs by Stephen Elkins

I like this book. A lot, actually. There are so many collections of children’s Bible stories and songs out there. Before I became a mom, I remembered only a small handful of songs. So, I had a lot to learn! This book is a collection of 100 Bible stories from throughout the bible and 100 songs to go with them. There are several unusual stories included that I haven’t found in other children’s Bible Storybooks. The songs are surprisingly very appropriate!

What I love most about this book is that the stories point towards God—not towards Man. Someone once said to me that the Bible is supposed to point us towards God, not Man. So, not all of the details of every story are included—and there’s a reason for that.
I can see that in this book. When the author retells the story of Samson, which is surprising to me, he notes that Samson was strong when he obeyed God, but he wasn’t strong when he disobeyed. He doesn’t mention Delilah or his temptations. The details the author included were very appropriate and written well for a 3-5 year old.

The book comes with 2 CDs that my kids love listening to any time and the book is very good. If you are looking for a Bible story book to read to your own children who are in preschool, I think you would really enjoy this book. Or if you are looking for a gift, this would be a great choice.

I do want to note—that when I first opened up this book, it did seem to me to be just like the other Bible storybooks on my shelf and not to be anything special. It was as I sat down and began reading that I realized how the stories were written to point towards God and not man and that they were written in language with appropriate details that young children will easily understand. The songs bring home the message of the stories and will help your children connect with the stories as you talk with them about them.

This book is a keeper!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Wow. So, 2 weeks ago, my husband showed me how to use the weedeater. I had always been afraid of it, but I realized I just had to get over my fear. So, For the past week and a half, I've been weedeating almost every day for a half hour to an hour when the kids go to sleep either during their afternoon nap or at night. I've been trying to edge our yard and we have these tall grasses that have invaded all the borders of our yard. Eek! I can't believe how long this is taking me! We only live on 1/4 acre! And I'm still not done. It seems so silly! I got a half an hour in at 8:10 until 8:40 and then it started raining. I still have about 1/4 of the fence left. All the edging is done--thank goodness. Now just to finish that last section of grasses along the fence!! If only it would stop raining long enough for me to do it =)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I have to say, I think Bangs are one of the most annoying things when you're growing them out--whether you're 5 or 35! =) I keep reminding myself that I'll be glad I did this in 6 months!

And just a funny side note, did you know in Australia, they're called "fringe" not "bangs". Kind of funny!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sweet Bible Story Book for little girls

So, we got a new devotional Bible for the girls in the mail today.

It was a very pleasant surprise—it was different than what I expected. God's Little Princess Devotional Bible is a collection of Bible stories with short reflections, activities, scriptures, and lessons for parents to read to their little girls. It is most appropriate for ages 5-7, but could be read to a 4 year old if they have good reading comprehension and can understand a story without pictures. Most of the stories from the Bible in this collection, focus on a woman in the Bible.

This book is a little different than every other collection of Bible stories that I have for my daughters. First, almost all of the stories each focus on a woman or at least include a girl or woman in the story—so, many people that are included in other children’s Bibles are not in this book—like David and Joseph. But, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This book was not intended, it seems, to give little girls a sense of all the stories in the Bible. The author has chosen specific stories to illustrate specific lessons—devotions—that she wants to share with little girls.

I am embarking on a new age with my oldest daughter. She has just finished kindergarten and I realized that there are a lot of things she is now ready to learn about. The devotions in this Bible hit the mark! They are what I’ve been looking for. I just read God’s promises for Girls to them, but it focused so much on God’s love and not on the reality that little girls do make bad choices sometimes, but they need to try to love God, love their families, and love others.

The one thing I would wish for this book is different illustrations. The reason I think it isn’t the best for a four year old is that there aren’t any pictures to go along with the Bible stories. That would make it difficult for little girls who need pictures to help them understand what is being read. In addition, the pictures of Gigi (I believe that is her name) seem to be of a very little girl (under 5), which is much younger than the girls who are most likely to read this book with their parents.

Overall, I would recommend this devotional Bible to any mom of a little girl who loves to dress up and who is looking for a Bible that combines lessons about manners, Bible stories, character lessons, and scripture. These are all the things I want to talk with my little girls about this summer!

Weeds and Gardening

Molly is a smart puppy, I know that. She knows she's disobeying. She know she wasn't supposed to chew on the cherry tree that she chewed through and killed. You can see it in her eyes. I had to chop it down. It was easier than getting upset about it day after day until it literally would have fallen over. Dogs only have their own desires to satiate. I think I would describe Molly as a little bit of a strong willed dog--in that she wants to please some--it will keep her in check in the house--but outside she will not listen and listens instead to whatever she wants to do. It reminds me of why God gives us boundaries. Inside, I can manage Molly and I like to be around her. Outside, I don't and the girls think it's funny when she runs around but not when she nips at them. Outside is where she nips the girls during playtime. Outside, she digs holes, tears up the grass, and poops wherever she wants--so the girls can't play outside without shoes anymore. Since we've housetrained her, there's no poop inside. Thank goodness.

I am thankful for the boundaries God gives us--I can see that they make our lives easier--and for our best. We may want to go crazy and do whatever we want, but in the end, discipline makes for a happier and more rested heart, I think.
I was reading a devotional this morning about weeds and it compared sin to weeds. When weeds are small, they're easy to root out, but when they get big, they're much harder to get rid of. I agree with the devotional that sin can be like that in our lives. And the funny thing is about weeds--is sometimes they can look almost pretty on the outside--isn't sin sometimes that way, too? It doesn't always look so bad--it depends on what it is. I have been weedeating the yard this week, little by little. We hadn't done it yet this summer, so there's lots to do and I'm new to it. I came across this monster weed. I saw it before I started weedeating and it was actually part of my motivation for wanting to get it done. Last night as I was going to sleep, I came across a big weed in my life. I think it's time to do some weeding!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Teeth and a Cold

One funny and one rough thing for Eli.
1) He's definitely Italian. He gobbled up his first taste of meatballs and noodles with sauce tonight. He loves meatballs!!

2) He's cutting teeth and has a horrible cold. He cut one yesterday, one today, with a second coming through (in 1 day) and a 4th on its way probably tomorrow or the day after. Poor little guy!

It's really fun to see him start interacting with the world around him. He points to things and reaches out for the things he wants. He's really starting to try to communicate! I can't wait till he is 15 months old. For some reason, that's been such a pivotal point for both of my girls--they just seemed to suddenly understand so much more!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


It was very ironic to me that as I was reading the book I'm reading for my devotions in the morning, the author mentioned Victor Frankl. The Noticer also mentioned Frankl. I've been trying to articulate why the Noticer is so unsettling to me for 2 days now. I'm going to try once more =)

In the book I'm reading as part of my devotions (the 7 hardest things God asks a woman to do), the author relates how Dr. Frankl observed that it was hope that sustained people who seemed likely to die more than physical strength. It was hope that portended what would happen to them in the future. He also observed that the last human freedom that is left when a man has nothing else is the ability to choose how we will react to his life and situation. This is very much in line with the whole point of the Noticer--that you choose your perspective and that changes your life.

But, in the 7 hardest things, the author juxtaposes Frankl with the Biblical truth---
That the Bible reveals the truth that we must have hope. We need to choose to give thanks and be grateful in everything. But, the most important point, I believe, that the author makes is that we make the decision, but God gives us the ability to do this--to be grateful in all things.

That very last part in parentheses is what is missing in the Noticer. It only reminds people about the decisions we make and doesn't acknowledge the fact that God enables. There is a truth that hope and a good perspective can and will change our lives. But, it will not last unless that hope is truly because of what is important: The Lord above all else, the people he's brought into our lives, and the lives of others that he uses us in.

There is a tone about the whole book, The Noticer, that unsettled me from the beginning. It is that tone of self-sufficiency--that I can do this on my own--I can change my life--I can be anybody I want to be. The idea that the secret of life is to be positive and encouraging (since those are the people like), so that people will like you and want to be around you makes my heart fill with heaviness by the false teaching. That is not the secret of life.

The secret of life is the Truth--that God sent his one and only son...
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

I humbly and in tears thank you Lord for your son. This life is not about me, as I forget every day when I get upset and complain or grumble, but about You. Please use me this day to love my children and the people in my life well. Please guide my heart, my words, and my deeds. Amen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


As I was reading some blogs on Amazon, I found out that Thomas Nelson has started a blogger review program (hence the little symbol on the side of my blog). I went to the website ( You have to have a blog and be willing to post a review on your blog and a commercial website like Amazon or CBD of the books you request. A fun new thing to do!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Okay, two bewares.

1. It surprises me when I read "Christian" books that aren't about Christ at all. I just read the Noticer by Andy Andrews. It is categorized as Christian Life/Self-Help. There isn't anything Christian about it. Christ is never mentioned. The premise of the book is basically that what you think about your life, that is what it will become. It's similar to The Secret (which I haven't read but have heard about) that came out a few years ago. It's also similar to the theology that Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers preach. My heart is so grieved about it! I wrote a review (only 1 of 2 one star reviews on Amazon). I went back and read a lot of the reviews. No one even mentions God in their reviews. People genuinely believe that if you change your own perspective then your life will be great.

Whoa. No. That's not the answer! Christ is the answer! He died for us--sinners! He died to take away our sins--to save us. When he is at the center of our lives, then our lives will make sense--we will have "perspective", but without Him, we can't get perspective.

This reminds me a lot of the Shack. It reminded me that we have to be careful about what we read and put into our minds--bad theology begets more bad theology.

One blogger/website I found that is helpful: Tim Challies has put together this website and analyzed various books and their theology. Another site I love is that of Hearts and Minds bookstore in Dallastown, PA. Their website is The owner, Byron, also blogs about books--both Christian and secular. I have really enjoyed his reviews!

2. Be careful about answering telemarketers calls just to be polite. Recently, I had a friend who answered the phone. They recorded his yes(s) out of order and manipulated his answers to say that he committed to purchase something. Now, they are threatening to take him to collections if he doesn't pay. The salesman was hard to understand (speech wise) and it sounded very similar to something he did know about. I know there are many times I've answered and tried to be polite in how I've hung up. But, I don't think I'm going to be answering any more!! I wanted to post that just so you would be aware.

Please forgive me if this entry sounds preachy. I just feel very passionate and alarmed about these two things and I feel like I want to shout it out from the rooftops and say Hey be careful! to all the people I love and care about =)