Monday, August 31, 2009


I am doing a Bible study on James by Tim Keller out of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. It has really been challenging to me. This morning, I am working my way through Ch. 3 and there is a quote I wanted to share because I thought it was really helpful in thinking about Ch. 3 (the first 12 verses).

"Self-control is the ability to choose the important thing over the urgent thing. The important thing is to please God, to bring him joy; the urgent thing is to please yourself (i.e. to seek joy apart from pleasing God). Its opposite is a lack of discipline. Its counterfeit is will-power through pride."

I thought this was really well put and it has given me much to chew on this morning!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Humble Backpedalling

Last week, we were sitting in a church service when a gal spoke and described the place that some people are at as driving the car with the red gas light just going on--warning you that you're almost empty. I thought that was a good description for where I've been at for a while. This summer has been one of the most humbling of my life. It's been hard and I've pouted and whined and griped at God. I've been just like my kids! Coping with Molly, 3 kids, homeschooling, and my husband's absence for a total of 4 months in the last 10 has taken a toll.

I was at another church this morning and as I corrected Sami and was frustrated with Eli, I realized all the backpedalling that I need to do to get back to where I feel God has called me to be as a mom to my children and a wife to my husband. The other moms at the church were calm and their kids were behaving--because they had trained them. I did not feel judged or pressured. Rather, I was upset with myself--knowing where I need to be and want to be and am not. My heart is not calm or patient with my children right now and that is where I desire to get to--I'm not sure if I've ever been there. Life seems to like throwing me curveballs. But, I do feel convicted that I need to learn how to get there and to calm down--the chaos that is ever present in my life is just that--ever present. That fact is that I have 3 kids and a puppy and that isn't going to change. I need to trust God's sovereignty and lean on Him and seek to glorify Him by not giving in to my own desires, but rather seek self-control and love my family well.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Read and Share Bible

I couldn't figure out how to post a picture of this book--I'm not especially technologically savvy, but I wanted to post a review of it. It was interesting because I received it today--the same day I got the other Bible storybook in the mail.

In comparison to the other book, this one had more pictures, included engaging questions to ask your child, and read less into the Word (interpreted less) in its storytelling. The last aspect is really the most important to me. I don't think I thought as much about that until this summer when I started to realize that not all Bible storybooks tell the stories they include the same way!

My Story Bible...
This is a story book collection of 66 Bible Stories. I was glad to see several stories in this collection that I haven't found in other Bible storybooks.

There is no introduction or explanation by the authors about why they chose the stories they chose. So, I am unsure about the goal of the authors as they wrote this book. The writing was good and the pictures were very easy to look at and very good visual explanations for the stories--but...

As I read through the stories included, I found myself going back to the Bible several times to find out what the Bible really said. When I read a Bible storybook, I really want it to agree with the Word--in big and little details. And I found that there were enough discrepancies for this storybook not to be my first choice. But, they weren't really discrepancies--rather the authors read into what the Word does say.

In the bible it doesn't say how Saul was renamed Paul, simply that Saul was also called Paul. In this storybook, the authors said that Saul chose to be called Paul.

Another example. In the story of Mary and Martha (yay for its inclusion), Jesus simply says let it be, stop worrying. When John describes his vision in Revelation, I wouldn't have been able to tell as a child what the point of the revelation was. Whereas, the Big Picture Bible--written for the same age group--really does a good job explaining Revelations and what John saw in a very biblical way.

My husband thought it was a nice storybook, but if you are only getting one or two, it probably wouldn't be the one he would buy. But, it is nonetheless, a nice storybook--with nice pictures and good bedtime length stories and our daughters enjoyed listening to them.

Bible Storybooks

I think I have learned a lot about Bible storybooks this summer by reading 5 different ones. At first glance, it seemed like they are all okay, but then I started reading more closely. And I want to come up with some wise conclusions, but I'm afraid they are likely going to be very simple.

1. I found that I often questioned the truth of the stories. Details I had always assumed to be in the Bible weren't in the stories and it caused me to go back to the Word and really examine what the Bible says!
The Princess Devotional Bible misrepresented the story of Deborah. The Bible
says that the honor will go to a woman--because of how Barak goes about the
battle. The devotional Bible omits that as the reason why a woman will get
credit--it focuses on the action of Jael.

Today I was reading a story and it said that Saul chose to be called Paul. I
learned as I went back to the Word that I knew that many of Jesus' disciples
were renamed by Him. I had assumed the same was true for Saul/Paul. But, in
fact, it says in Acts 13, "Saul, who was also called Paul". I couldn't find a
definitive answer. But, to say that Saul chose that name isn't necessarily
correct or incorrect. In the second Bible story book I'm looking at, the story
is more accurate and it simply says "Saul, who was also called Paul" just as the
Bible does.

2. I think that the translation the authors used does matter! I have found that a lot of the new Bible story books are using scripture from the NLT rather than the NIV. The NLT is similar to the TNIV which uses gender neutral language and changes how the Bible is read. The NLT is also, I believe, supposed to be more culturally relevant. I don't think the point of the Bible is to be culturally relevant. My favorite Bible storybooks are still the Read Aloud Bible Stories from the late 80s and the Bible Illustrated for little Children, published in 1985. I prefer these books because they are so biblical and I haven't found anything questionable.

3. Pictures are important. My daughters love pictures. We were looking at a new one today and Autumn's first comment was that she wished there were more pictures. They enjoy the pictures. I don't like harsh pictures. I think that is more a matter of taste though. I much prefer the pictures in the Big Picture Bible to the Jesus Storybook Bible.

4. The recommended age for a Bible Storybook isn't always what I think is really appropriate--whether for reading level or comprehension. The Jesus Storybook Bible really is for children 6+, not 4+, in my opinion. I think my children are pretty average. Not really far above average or below average. The age appropriateness of a book is a very personal matter for a parent to decide--I can see that. You know what your child understands.

5. I haven't quite figured out why there are so many Bible storybooks. When the author writes an introduction, it helps me understand why they chose the stories they have, but if there isn't an introduction, sometimes it is hard to understand.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about Bible Storybooks and what you think! Do you agree with me or disagree? =)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just a minute...

I seem to say that all the time and then there are times when I just sit for just a minute. Like last night when my kids were all in the bathtub. Then, suddenly, Autumn says to me, "Mommy! There's poop in the bathtub!" Sure enough, Eli had gone poop in the bathtub--I don't think that's ever happened to me before with any of the kids. But, there's a first time for everything! And last night was the first time for that. So, I got them all out. Drained the tub, cleaned the tub, filled it back up and gave the girls a quick bath (Eli's bottom of course was clean) and then got them all ready for bed. So much for a calm bath time! =)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Homemade Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes are a funny thing here in Maryland. I have to say--people don't eat them out west. I had never eaten one before we moved here. People do eat a lot more Sushi though out west and a lot more Chinese food and a lot more Mexican food. But, here in Maryland, it's crabs =)

So, today I made my first crabcakes from scratch (and we've lived here almost 4 years!). They were pretty good. As good as a restaurant, I think. I followed the America's test kitchen recipe and you really got the flavor of the crab. I am very thankful for the suggestions from a coworker of Chris'. She suggested broiling them on the top rack for 5-6 minutes on a side, rather than panfrying. I can't imagine panfrying them! They would have really fallen a part on me. The recipe I used also suggested chilling them once formed, before cooking and that helped a lot!

So, yay! My crab cakes were a success--and they made my husband smile =)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

growing up

Isn't it the little things that remind us that our kids are growing up?

Today, Eli walked up to Sami and gave her a big hug around her middle. I smiled a big smile.

Autumn and Sami are doing a craft with glitter glue and little squares of paper--making a mosaic. I smile every time I look at them working away.

Sami came downstairs after rest time with 2 pig tails in her hair--courtesy of her big sister. Not all of the hair was in them, but they weren't bad! She really looked cute.

Eli carried Molly's food dish to her crate and shut the door on her. Eli was very insistent and everyone gathered around to support him.

At lunch Autumn asked "How does Satan live on earth?" Now, isn't that a fun question to explain to a 5 (almost 6) year old! and "What is Satan?" Sami was very certain that Satan is a snake and is always a snake. Lots to explain ahead...

Anyways, that's been our Saturday =)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dishwashing detergent

Is it just me or is it totally frustrating when the soap doesn't dissolve in the dishwasher? I bought a box of powder--I've been using liquid ever since we've had our mini dishwasher. And all it did was cake. It seemed like it was all still in the container when the load was done. But, I hated to dump the box out. So, I've started to pour some in a small dish, dissolve it in water and then pour it into the cup in the dishwasher. It seems to be working and thank goodness I won't have to do it forever! Just until the box is empty...and it happens to be a big box...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The 5w's and 1 h

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Six questions that my daughter needs to learn by heart. They teach us so much when we ask them. And they help us understand what we are reading and learning about.

The girls and I are reading a new book as part of our nighttime devotions. It is called The Jesus Book. Two years ago, I read "Everything A Child Needs to Know about God" to them. It was great. It explained who the father, son, and Holy Spirit are. It explained what the Bible is and why we go to church. And it was perfect for a four year old. This book is perfect for a 5-6 year old or even a 7 year old. It answers the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How about Jesus. I have agreed with almost all of the descriptions and explanations the author, Stephen Elkins, gives. The only one I disagree with isn't really a disagreement--it's rather a wish--a wish he'd explained it a little more clearly. I wish he had explained repentance in words that would have helped my oldest daughter understand it a little better.

But, aside from that, this is a great little book. It has a visual of a gameboard to help explain when in the timeline of Jesus' life. In the section that addresses where, there are two simple maps, and then several pages that explain what happened at each of those places. What a blessing it is to have a good book to transition Autumn into to help her understand at an age appropriate level of content!

And bonus: there is a cd included. The book is a good book in and of itself. The cd does sound a lot like the cds in Stephen Elkins other books, but it is always nice to have another cd to listen to!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I was talking to my mother in law today and I learned form her that the man who taught all of her children how to play piano wouldn't take students until they could read. I can definitely see why. Autumn has now been taking lessons since the beginning of July and being able to read has made it so much easier for her. I will definitely wait to start Sami on lessons until she can read =)

Almost there!

Wow! 3 more days left this week and then next week will be here! Monday we'll start homeschooling. I printed up my schedule of how to work my way through the subjects today and put them in my binder. It's so different venturing into first grade this year. I feel a lot more responsibility to cover what needs to be covered. I tested her reading level and she's starting out at independent 2nd grade/instructional 3rd. I can't believe how much her being able to read helps her to be so much more independent.

This morning she went downstairs and practiced her piano lessons on her own =)

I went through the checklist that I have for Sami for PreK4 and it surprised me to see how much she has learned by sitting with Autumn and me on Autumn's lessons the past 2 years. There isn't a lot for her to learn before kindergarten! Goodness. =) Sami is very competitive and always trying to keep up with Autumn. It is definitely showing in a good way.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hillbilly Housewife website

Has anyone made any of the recipes from the Hillbilly Housewife website? I am trying to put together a list of the recipes we make and find some quick bread recipes in the process. I was looking at some of the recipes on the site and they looked good, but I wondered if anyone has tried them. I can't remember who told me about that site a long time ago.

Are there any recipe websites that you really like? I've been skittish about them, but have found a few recipes that I've really liked over the years. Please let me know if you have any suggestions! Thanks =)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Eli and words

Eli has 7 teeth and says no words. He's 1 week shy of 16 months. It's interesting. My girls didn't start talking until they were 20-22 months old. Eli seems to be 2-3 months behind them so far (teeth/walking/crawling). I'm not really worried, but it's interesting to see what he can do. I think it's the things that he can do that make me not worry.

He can follow directions. Yesterday and today, he has carried the dog bowl full of food to Molly's crate, set it in the right spot, and then shut the crate door on her! He is feeding himself yogurt with a spoon right now--although he might turn out to be left handed. He seems to prefer his left to his right. Can I train him to use his right or is that an innate trait? I don't know. Anyways, I don't feed him at all. He picks up his food and feeds himself. I am very thankful for this. And he does communicate with sounds and grunts and lots of cries =) just not with words.

It's interesting to me to watch him grow up. I am constantly struck by the amazingness of how God created us!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Grocery Stores

I shop at BJ's, Costco, Aldi's and once a month at Trader Joe's (for coffee and Macaroni and Cheese). Today I went to Shop Rite. I so quickly forget how expensive everything is at regular grocery stores. As I walked the aisles, I was so struck by how much I don't buy for my family! I really buy mostly basics.

Today, I had a coupon for $5 off $25 or more, so I thought I would go (and a coupon for a free dozen eggs). So, I bought 2 # bacon, 4 bottles of mayo (on sale and with a coupon), 2 cream cheese containers (sale and coupon), chicken (sale), ground pork, pork chops (sale), cilantro, cereal (sale and coupon), milk, 1 dozen eggs, tortillas (coupon). I think that's it. It came to $55 and some change. I was wowed. It added up so quick! Then he took off my coupons and it came to $38 something. Then, I read through my receipt and realized that I had thought the Mayo was $2 not $2.49 before coupons. So, I pushed the huge (!) cart with the car on the front back to check. While I was looking two carts came up behind me and asked me to move. I don't think I was there very long, but I guess they thought I was rude. In any case, I went back up and talked to a cashier. She went back and checked and said I was right. So, we went over to customer service and I got one for free and the right price on the other 3. $3.96 refunded. So, all in all, it all cost $34.23.

I am thankful for that price, but it left me wondering about what everyone buys when they go to the store. How is everyone affording everything at the grocery store? I am thankful my mom never raised me to buy all of those things. Yet even so, we've overspent on our food budget so many times. It comes more from eating out, though, than the grocery stores. I understand how people overspend--only when we write down everything that we spend are we really able to keep track. And when I put it off, I always end up getting myself in trouble. I just forget one or two things and then it throws everything off! We've vowed that we're going to stop eating out so much and hopefully that will really help. We don't eat at expensive places--but everything adds up, doesn't it!?

Anyways, those are my random thoughts for tonight. I really need to go to sleep. I've got Sami's curriculum for the year all organized and I'm getting Autumn's in the right spot. I just need to go make some copies so I don't have to do it later on!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Needed Encouragement

This morning I am so very thankful. Last night a gal called me and we began to talk about a local homeschooling co-op that gets together for activities. I had been puzzling about this just this week. I had almost joined a secular coop and I have really been trying to figure out what to do! One friend pointed out to me that the motivation from many people in that group in how they raise their children would likely be very different from ours as Christians and they're coming from a different perspective. I have realized that this is really important to me because of what I desire from being involved in the group.

I need to be around other moms that enjoy being with their kids! I struggle so often to take the time to watch and listen. By being with other moms who take themselves less seriously than I do (a very good thing), I remember to relax and slow down! Talking with this gal last night was such a blessing to me. I am looking forward to going to the group next week. I think it will help fill in the gaps socially with friends that I have felt with my girls.

And on the other hand, I do not want to keep them away from the world in a Christian bubble. I signed them up for a ballet class this week, which I also now feel was the right thing to do--and I feel that the Lord has blessed that. I happened to call a friend after I had signed them up and found out that the girls teacher is a Christian and a long time friend of the gal I called. It will be in a structured environment and I think really good for the girls.

I am getting excited for this year and all that the Lord has in store for us!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good to stay home

I realize at the end of several days of spending a lot of time at home, that it's just good to do it =) I tried to spend more time with the kids this morning and tonight we had a popcorn picnic after dinner.

I have decided that I'm going to try and attend a nearby (20 min. away) homeschool co-op group that plans field trips and activities. I was debating about weather to join a Christian or a secular one. But, a gal called me tonight and I think that I am going to go visit the Christian one next Wednesday. There are a lot of things that I don't want my kids to miss out on by being homeschooled and I think this will help. I am very excited!

I also realize that it's really good for me to be around other moms who enjoy their kids--I think I take mine too seriously and I miss out on a lot of fun with them and a lot of neat things that they would like to tell me because I think I'm too busy to listen and be with them in the moment.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Which by the way...

It is so ironic to me that it seems that having a baby is expensive--when really all the activities and things they need as they get older are so much more expensive! =)

I've tried to be as affordable as we could about Homeschooling this year, but it still adds up.
Piano lessons for the year--$500
Homeschool P.E. (per child) $110
Ballet (per child) $125
Awanas --Free =) I think
Materials -- $300-500 (I lost track, but I think it's closer to $500, but not over)
Preschool for Sami at the local high school $60/yr

I've always wondered what I should aim at for an amount to budget for homeschooling. I'd love to hear how much others try to budget for homeschooling expenses =)

I really have seen God's graciousness to us in how he has helped us to stretch what we can afford. I found a wonderful piano teacher for Autumn through a friend and the parks and rec make ballet much more affordable than it would be elsewhere. And garage saling has helped me get a lot of supplemental materials for less. I bought a box of paints and brushes for $3 a few weeks ago right after I had just gotten done planning out my art curriculum. I am very thankful to the Lord!

Too much to keep track of

I think I'm getting there...
I have 2 subjects left to plan.
I signed the girls up for P.E. and ballet.
I found out when Awanas start.
Autumn's in piano lessons.

I think I'm getting there. I better get to those last two subjects =) before they get away from me!

I need to start making more lists... =)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

So many things...

So many things have been running through my head that I've wanted to write down. I don't even know where to start. My husband and I have learned over the years that it's not the best choice to purchase the cheapest of an item or the most expensive, but rather the one in the middle.

I hope that will be the case with the motorcycle he bought on Saturday. He had a Harley and then traded it for a BMW and then sold that and let things lie for a few months. On Saturday, he bought a Honda. It's in the middle of the other two in a lot of ways. It doesn't have the name of either of the other two--the bragging rights, so to speak. It isn't a cruiser or a touring bike, but rather a standard.

I think one of the hardest things that I've observed about buying motorcycles is that motorcycle dealers can be just like car dealers--out for their best interest rather than yours--and not really interested in staying in your price range and selling you what's best for you. That always leaves such a bad taste in my mouth--not matter what it is that I'm buying--when a salesperson is like that.

I hope this bike will be the keeper--the one that will fit the bill. =)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Real Church

I just finished this book. If you had asked me if I would recommend it while I was reading the first half, I would have definitely said, "no." But, I pressed on. And when I came to the second half, I discovered that this book is definitely worth reading.

So, first, skim the first half and then read the second half. The premise of this book is the question of what does real church look like? What should the churches we belong to look like--but more importantly who should we as members be? How should we love the body that we belong to? What does that even mean?

The reason I would recommend a skimming of the first half is that Crabb seems to spend a very long time talking about the opposite side in order to make the points that he wants to make in each chapter in the first half. And as a reader, I got mired down and distracted and even upset by what I was reading as he tried to make his point. He uses words that could definitely cause the hairs on your back to stand up (like a cats) when you're wary. The specific example I have in mind is when he mentions that one of the two churches he likes to go to is led by a Biblically Grounded Mystic, who I believe is a woman. What image does that conjure in your mind? It conjured very strange ones in mine--I kept thinking of Saul and the witch that he consulted. I consulted a bookstore owner I respect and he explained that a biblically grounded mystic is someone who believes that experiencing the relationship with Christ is important but that that experience doesn't trump the Bible. Ah, that helps! But, I wish Crabb had explained that (even as a footnote) in his book. I had a hard time understanding where he was coming from when he said that was his favorite book. A second statement that caught me off guard was when he talked about the results by of a study done by Willow Creek. What he states isn't true. I did some checking via Google.

But, I digress. At this point, you may wonder why I think this is worth reading if it ruffled my feathers so much! The second half is good. In fact, very good. He talks about what it means to really have a relationship with Christ. And what that looks like in a church--in a real, rather than superficial way. That is where the good meat of this book is--the part really worth reading. Eugene Peterson wrote a book several years ago about Spiritual Theology. Basically, Crabb is writing about the same thing--the need to have a spiritual theology in a less academic way. I greatly respect Peterson's writings, but they are often too deep for me to digest. He is my husband's favorite author. But, I understand the need for this discussion and so I am very glad I read this book.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Computer

I am on my computer. I like it. When I got married, I came with a laptop that my husband said it was slow. It was. It is true. But, it meant a lot to me because I had paid for it and it worked =) This last week we got a new family computer that we hooked up to a tv and I discovered very quickly that it was hard for my eyes to read. Very hard. I was very sad. I didn't know what to do. My husband was okay with it and so we bought me a laptop. I didn't want a desk top because Eli is prone to pressing buttons (he did it every time I tried to get on our old computer).

I am very thankful for this computer. It has a keypad for numbers, which I really like to use thanks to my grandma's insistence that I learn 10-key when I was 11 years old.

So, I am sitting here pondering. I know where I need to get to, but I'm not there. I wish I was, but I'm not. This is where I need to get to--I need to get to the place where I trust God's view of who I am--trust God to take care of me--trust God to provide for my family--trust God in all things =)

...I didn't get to post that yesterday and now it's a day later. I don't have anything else to add. I think that sums it up =) 2 1/2 more weeks before homeschooling starts up for the fall and I think I have some planning I need to finish up!!!