Sunday, January 31, 2010

A time to cry...

There are moments when I want to cry because I am falling a part. There are other moments when I want to cry out of wonder and amazement and sheer gratefulness.

I am having one of the latter kind right now. It was hard year for me--this past year. I experienced a lot of rejection and walked through some hard struggles. At the end, I wanted to turn inward and refuse to lean on anyone again. I figured I just needed to pull up my pants and walk strong--on my own. But, there was only a part of me that wanted to do that--the hurt part. The other part, which is thankfully much larger, loves people so deeply that I can't live without them. And I don't think that I'm meant to. God calls us to live in community and to love one another.

Last weekend, the kids and I got a stomach bug and I made myself take two friends up on their offers for help--one got some groceries for me and the other picked up 2 happy meals for the 2 kids that were able to eat. It was such an amazing blessing to me.

This weekend we got 4 or 5 inches of snow on Saturday. This morning, my retired elderly neighbor shoveled my walk--before I could tell him not to =) And tonight, my neighbor across the street came over to help me get the kids into the house because we were arriving home so late from church. She was worried because she didn't think I'd be out that late with the kids unless it was an emergency. She was watching out for me.

And tonight at church, I asked for help. I asked if someone could help me with our garage door that doesn't want to go up or down or make up its mind and I asked if anyone could come and help watch the kids for an hour so I could go for a walk. Several people offered and another told me to make sure I called her so her boys could help if I need any heavy lifting at any time. Their offers were so genuine. And it blessed me more than I can explain.

You see, I've done this before. These times on my own. But, I haven't asked for help. I have always told everyone I'm fine. I know everyone's busy and so often I could tell that people were only offering because they felt they had to--I could see it their eyes and hear it in their voices.

But, this time I have made myself promise that I would ask for help. And I'm trying to follow through. The words that I read in Cynthia Heald's Becoming a Woman of Faith study are ones I think I'm always going to remember--an offer isn't a gift unless it is accepted. Until it is accepted, it will only be an offer.

I feel very loved tonight by the Lord--many people have been His hands and feet in my life today.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Listening to the Bible

The Word of Promise (Bible on CD)

I have been reading the Bible for as long as I can remember. I remember being given a Good News Bible when I was in third grade. When I was 14, my great grandmother gave me a copy of the Living Bible. When I went to college, I began to read the NIV and held onto a thin paperback copy for 4 years that I wrote all over. After I graduated from college, I really wanted a nice NIV study Bible and I saved up to buy one. I have held onto it ever since. Last year, I found a tiny ESV leatherbound Bible on clearance and it is now the one I carry with me in my purse.

Interestingly enough, after all these years of reading the Bible, I have never listened to it on CD. I've often considered it. I've listened to lots of teaching on CD from Ravi Zacharias, John Piper, and others, but I've never actually listened to the Word on CD.

Two weeks ago, I received a copy of the Word of Promise Bible on CD. I opened it up with excitement and wonders of what it would be like to "listen" rather than to "read" the Word. The Word of Promise Bible was published 2 or 3 years ago by Thomas Nelson. It is a dramatic reading done by many famous actors including Jim Caviezel, Marisa Tomei, Louis Gossett, Jr., and others. It is a recording of the NKJV translation of the Bible. I have always thought of the NKJV as one of the less easily read translations of the Bible, but these CDs really opened my eyes that it is quite easy to understand, listen to, and read.

As soon as I put the first CD in, Autumn plopped herself down on the floor and began to listen. God has given her such a desire to hear his Word. She loved it. She asked to listen to it during their afternoon room time, but I said that it was something for us to listen to together. There are some things in the New Testament that I suspected Autumn wouldn't be able to understand or process on her own yet--and as we listened through the whole thing I discovered that I was right.

In the past, I have been cautious and a little skeptical about dramatized recordings of the Bible. But, I genuinely enjoyed listening to these CDs. The recordings were amazingly well done and I enjoyed the voices of the people they chose to read each of the parts. The Bible was brought to life. One of the most surprising things to me was the reminder that God spoke through different people when they wrote down the books of the New Testament. When I read it on my own, I often forget that Paul didn't write all of the books, because he wrote so many of them. I had always assumed that the Bible would either be read to fast or too slow, but I was so impressed at the speed at which the actors read--it was just right--not too slow or too fast.

This recording is very good and is perfect for sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea and settling down for a long winter's night with or for listening to on a long commute or trip.

Two last quick notes...

1) I love the case it came in because it organized all of the CDs.

2) It's only $20 right now on Amazon! Wow. That's a great price if you've ever wanted to listen to the Bible on CD =)

* Please note that I was provided with a complimentary copy of this Audio Bible set for review by Thomas Nelson Publishing.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 1-5

I miss my husband at Bible Study. God has gifted him with the ability to teach, to understand theology, and to explain difficult Biblical concepts. Two weeks ago, the other folks in our small group and I were a bit stuck on how to answer one of the questions. Normally, the studies we have done come with a Leader's Guide and answers, but not this one. So, I went downstairs and grabbed the appropriate book from our Word Biblical Commentary series. I tried to find an answer, but it was difficult to sift through the words on the pages because of the formatting and how it was written. The Word Biblical Commentary is a very academic commentary which focuses a lot on linguistics.

For personal study, I really like Warren Wiersbe's commentary books. It is an expository commentary. He focuses a lot on what is in the Word as well as what isn't, without reading a lot into the Bible. They're easy to read and not super heavy.

Recently, I received one of the books from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series by John MacArthur. I have always been curious about this commentary series but have never had a chance before now to spend time reading it.

This commentary is an expository one like Wiersbe's, but it goes much, much more in depth in its explanations of the Bible. This book was very different than I expected and I don't think I would have had any idea of what it would be like based on the reviews I'd read about it on Amazon. The book begins with a very short preface explaining what type of commentary this is--an expository one, rather than a linguistic or homiletical (more academic) one. An introduction to the book of Luke follows and then MacArthur begins to explain each verse/passage from the first five chapters of Luke. In the middle of the book was a sermon John MacArthur gave about premillenialism and amillenialism in 2007.

The explanations for each verse were easy to understand and give the reader a thorough understanding of the passage. MacArthur talks a lot about the settings in which the verses can be seen in--including the historical setting, geographical setting, world/national settings, personal setting, and more. As I read different chapters in this book, I became aware of how much I didn't understand about biblical times. An example is when MacArthur talks about Harod and the good things he did--he did a lot of bad things, but he did a lot of good as well. I had no idea he had done anything good. I realized how much I don't know even about the setting and life in the time of Christ's birth.

If you are looking for a commentary that will really help you as you dig into the scripture, then this commentary is very helpful. Commentaries aren't filled with questions for you to answer as you are reading the bible, but rather are meant (I think) to help you understand things that you wonder about or struggle to understand as you are reading the scriptures or are doing a Bible study.

One last note before I forget...with linguistic commentaries, I suppose it isn't as important whether someone is Reformed or Arminian in doctrine. But, with expository commentaries like this one, that perspective does matter. What I mean by Reformed is a belief in predestination and Arminian is a belief in free will when it comes to our salvation and how we are saved. MacArthur does write from a Calvinist and reformed theological perspective and is premillenialist in his perspective about Israel. These things particularly shape the sermon included in the commentary and what he chooses to write about in the commentary, but it only stood out to me especially in a few particular passages. MacArthur's explanations are very thorough and very good. Whether you are Arminian or Reformed in theology, this commentary is worth reading.

* Please note that I was provided with a complimentary with copy of this book by Moody Publishing for review. Thank you Moody Publishing! It is a very good book.

Friday, January 29, 2010

First Tooth Fairy Visit

Autumn lost her first tooth last night. It's been loose since before Christmas! She didn't want to wiggle it. But, this week it was practically falling out. Last night, she gave it a tiny twist and it came out. It looked so weird! I can't believe she's lost her first tooth! And the first thing to come to my mind was, "What if another one doesn't come in? I don't see one!" I know--such a silly thought, but it was genuinely what came to my mind.

She put her tooth under her pillow and although she doesn't believe in Santa and knows the Tooth Fairy isn't real, she and I both pretended and she found a dollar under her pillow this morning. She's a sweetie.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"He who has ears, let him hear..." Matthew 11:15 NIV

Yesterday, I was reading a book that I've been slowly making my way through since November. It is the Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. It is not slow going because it is a bad book--it is actually a very good book, but it is very meaty and it takes me time to get through his books. When I was reading yesterday, everything went right over my head. I couldn't hear--I wasn't hearing. It just wasn't computing. Then, last night, I felt God convict me about how I needed to seek self-control in my life.

Right now I am on my own for a while and I am thankful for these experiences because God uses them in my life (each of the times I've been on my own with the kids for several weeks).

Throughout the fall we had a very steady routine, though there's always room for improvement. What I'm realizing now is that when there's someone else there, it's a lot easier to stay on track and do all the things you know you have to do. There isn't much time for doing anything but what you need to do.

But, when you're on your own, it's easy to plop down in front of the television even when nothing is on and it's easy to surf the internet or get distracted by the computer when I shouldn't be. Last night, I felt God convict me. I needed to seek self control--not self discipline, but self control. There are 2 shows I like--one I watch on the internet and NCIS and then I watch what I request from Netflix. I shared with my husband that I am only going to watch these things and otherwise the TV will be off. This morning I put a pillowcase over the computer during school time. The only time that I will be able to go on is during the kids' afternoon naptime. I did have to go on this morning for a minute when there was a neighborhood emergency and I couldn't find a phone number in the phone book. But, I turned it off right afterwards. And finally, the last area that I was convicted in is that I need to go to bed by 10 p.m. If I go to bed at that time, then I will be able to get up at 6 am and work out and have my quiet time before the kids get up at 7 am. The past 3 weeks, the kids and I had been getting up between 7:30 and 8:30 am and there just was never enough time to get our schooling done before nap/reading time in the afternoon. I realized that homeschooling wasn't fun for the kids because of 1) Autumn's procrastinating and 2) my procrastinating. Fun takes time and I need to get that time back.

So, I started back on track this morning and got up and opened up my Bible and the MacArthur Commentary for Luke first, and then read a few pages in Discipline of Grace. and Bridges' book confirmed and encouraged me by putting into words what God was laying on my heart. He talked about how we need to live "self controlled, upright, and Godly lives"--this reflects our heart towards ourselves, towards others, and towards God. (to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:5 NIV)

I felt such encouragement and confirmation that this is what God wants me to do. In our sinful selves, we want to take the easy route and do what is satisfying in the moment--but it isn't satisfying in the long run. The other was from Proverbs 3:12 "because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." NIV

Being self controlled isn't about punishing myself, it is about doing what I know is best for myself and my family and most importantly about doing what I know God wants me to do because it is by His grace that I am saved and it is by His grace that I am forgiven.

Today's Assignment

Today we read a selection in Autumn's reading book about all the different types of houses in the world. Afterwards, the girls drew pictures of their dream houses.

Autumn's: A house on the water. It looked like a normal house on top of a boat with frilly princess curtains =)
Sami's: A castle

So sweet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back to Work...

I am in my mid-30s and have had 17 jobs, 4 of them full-time, year round jobs. Now, I'm a stay at home mom of 3 little children. When I graduated college, I got a job with a big corporation and thought I'd work there for years. But, a year later, I left that job because I didn't want to move every few months. It used to be that you could live in one city all your life and find jobs there. Now, you have to move to where your job is. The job market has changed from what it was 20 or 30 years ago--even from what it was 10 years ago.

When I came across this book, I expected a book with a lot of How-to's. I expected it to be mostly about finding a new job. It is actually mostly a book about coping with unemployment. This book is very readable and interesting. The crux of it is how to cope and realize that your job is not who you are, but to remember that our identity is in Christ. After tackling that issue, the author does tackle how to start finding a new job by telling the story of a hypothetical case study of a guy named Jerry. It was interesting to me that many of the things he recommended doing are the questions and ideas I have posed to friends looking for jobs over the years.

Part of me felt very bleak after reading this book. It portrayed the reality of finding a new job as very difficult today. That was discouraging at first. But, the author desires people to be realistic and honest about tackling the task ahead of them. So often in our culture we do romanticize things. People quit jobs because it's "just not what they want to be doing" rather than being thankful for the jobs they have. By not having our heads in the clouds, I think the point is that we will better be able to cope with the challenges along the way to finding a new job--we'll be expecting them.

One thing I'm not entirely sure that I agreed with in his book was that he encouraged a lot of self-employment. But, Mr. Adams does talk a lot about the difficulties and struggles of being self-employed. I think that a lot of the reason people today want to be self employed is a struggle in our hearts with being under the authority of others. We don't want to have to follow anyone else's rules or directions--it's part of our sinful nature. Ultimately, though, we are all under authority--God's authority. That was the one heart issue that I wish he had addressed.

The greatest strength of this book are in pointing people to the Lord as they walk through the process of unemployment and finding a new job--which brings me to an important point. Yes, this is a Christian book.

The second greatest strength of this book is that is a very personal book for the author. He himself has had to go through several career changes and times of unemployment. What he is writing about is very real and honest from his heart and his own experience. He is not writing as one who looks from the outside in--He is inside. He's been there, done that. Also, he is older--in his mid 50s, I believe. Many people, my mother included, face the prospect of being unemployed at an older age. I know unemployment is a lot harder to cope with and handle as we age.

Obviously, if one is unemployed, then finances are tight, and people in this position won't likely be buying books. So, who would I recommend this book to? I would recommend it to family and friends who know someone who is unemployed or to church families. Put this book in your church library or out on the book table at service. Give it to a friend or family member as a way to encourage them.

Jenna's Cowboy--a Christian Romance

Reading this book really made me ponder what "Christian Romance" means. One of the types of fiction my daughter's first grade reading book talks about is "realistic fiction". What makes a romance different than realistic fiction?

A romance centers around the story of a romantic love between two or more characters. It seems as if romance--and attaining the love of the character's life will fulfill the lives of the main characters. That love is greater than anything else.

Books that are romance novels are often not realistic fiction, but I think a lot of authors attempt for them to be realistic.

I read Jenna's Cowboy hoping for more of a realistic fiction book that happens to be a romance--rather than the other way around. Jenna's Cowboy is more of a romance. I'll be honest. When I first read it, I didn't think it was a book that I'd really recommend. But, then last week I read a book that I'd really not recommend and it put some things in perspective.

So here are my thoughts...

The Story: Very predictable, but isn't that we all want in a romance? It is a bit slow progessing, though.

The plot centers around Jenna and a ranch hand that used to work for her dad that returns to town and comes back to work for her dad. What does the future hold for them?

The Writing: Competent. Not bad, not great. I don't mean that badly, but it wasn't one of those books that I "just couldn't put down".

Strengths: Discussion of PTSD, Compassionate support of family and friends. My husband is a veteran and I appreciated the author's discussion of PTSD and the portrayal. I'm not exactly sure that it would play out the way she wrote about its progress, but the author details her research about it for the book.

The Romance: Believable, but when someone who they've barely started dating calls his girlfriend "Honey" --the believability suffers. They were too familiar too fast for never having dated.

In Conclusion: Good TV movie like reading.

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Revell Books.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A thought...

So, here's a thought that was shared with me today.

We all put our best foot forward. A friend shared with me that every psychiatrist she's known in her life has their own problems, too. Yes, sometimes it might seem like we don't take our own advice--but don't we all do that? We know what the best choices are to make and yet we still sin and give in to ourselves. And God still forgives us. I think we need to have grace for each other just as God does for us.

Here's an example: How can I respond to a mom of a one year old who tells me she knows exactly how I should discipline my three kids? By listening and then realizing that someday she may know herself what it's like to have 3 kids and the craziness that ensues sometimes. And on the other hand she may never know--but that's okay. Rebuking or responding curtly would only be hurtful and unkind. I think it's one of those things that I'm learning with age--to realize that they too will learn someday the lessons I've learned and am learning as I'm growing older. It's not my job or responsibility to do God's job. It's His and His alone. My job is to love people and to love them well.

Every time in my life that I have thought I knew what to do in someone else's shoes, God has given me a chance to experience that--and be humbled. Today what loving others means to me is to tread softly and carefully with steps full of grace--forgiveness, acceptance, and humility. I think that's one of the things about convictions--we believe so strongly in our own convictions that often we think that our way is the best way for everyone else, too. We think we're right--"more right" than other moms. But, it's just not true. We're all so different from one another and our children are different from one another too--as are our spouses and situations. Advice can be helpful as ideas of things to try and consider.

But, please don't think that I don't think there aren't absolutes--there are. The Bible is the Truth. God does give us direction and guidance in His Word. But, also God says that it is not for me to judge the speck in another's eye, but rather to love others because it is by loving one another that His love is made complete in us and through us. =)

And now, I need to go lay down--the kids and I are all sick at the same time. Thankfully, this doesn't happen all at once like this very often!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Not sure what to think...

I have had a lot to contemplate this week about the books I read. Today I have something new. I am having a new experience. For the first time, I am reviewing a book by someone that a good friend of mine knows. Because of that, I have knowledge of who this person is--not who they present themselves to be in their book. I connected the two last night when I read the description of the author.

So, I find myself in a quandary. How does that affect how I feel about the book? How does it shape what information I'll take from the book? Can I trust the advice the author gives in her book? Do I want to look to her book for advice?

Here are the conclusions I've come to after talking to my husband about it and a friend. My friend pointed out to me that a lot of people present themselves one way and really are another. But, we love them and show them grace anyways.

My husband pointed out that I need to review the book based on the book's own merits and exclude what I know. He compared it to watching Minority Report. He enjoys the movie, but doesn't agree with Tom Cruise's beliefs at all. I think this may be a little different because this is a nonfiction book (not a fiction one), but I definitely can see his point.

I think the conclusion that I am coming to is that for this particular book, I can review it on its own merits. I had written, but not published, my review before I realized who she was and I will leave it as it is. If I was reviewing one of the books that she's previously written--because of their subject matter--I don't know if I'd be able to do the same. I'd really have to pray about it. My thought at this time is that I'd have to return the book and abstain from reviewing it period--if it was one of her other books. When I review the book I just read, I realize that I'm not giving a blanket recommendation to her other books or website.

Becoming a Woman of Faith

I just finished this Bible Study this morning. It is the second one that I've done by Cynthia Heald in recent months. I was so excited to begin it. And I know why. Cynthia Heald is a wise woman. This Bible Study is similar to the Becoming a Woman of Grace study. It is more focused on God's Word than on Mrs. Heald giving her thoughts about the Word. And I appreciate that. But, I love what she has to share. Her thoughts are candid and honest and encouraging. The quotes she includes are worth remembering and contemplating. This study addresses doubt, testing, walking by faith, and staying strong in our faith.

The chapter on doubt was especially good. I'd like to include a sample of how she writes...
"After many years of walking with the Lord, I have experienced countless testings. I can say that with every test came the way of escape--a whispered Scripture in my heart to guide or encourage me or a check in my spirit to turn away from what I was about to do. I was given a way out, but it was always my choice whether or not to take it. If you find yourself telling God that the testing is too great or it's overwhelming you, perhaps it's a signal that you are trying to face it in your own strength instead of His. In God's mysterious way, He sets a limit on the test--God will allow only what will strengthen your faith, not tear it down, if you turn to Him for help." p.65 I like how she puts things. It's straight to the point, but not watered down.
"I become so focused on myself and the strength I need to live daily that I forget that "He will cover you with his feathers...His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Psalm 91:4 NLT"" p.56 She is honest about her own heart and her own struggles.

And I loved these quotes from the chapter about doubt...
"In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, it is not the right method to tell him to stop doubting. It is rather the right method to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself. G.K. Chesterton " p.25

"A doubting temper, fond of dwelling on difficulties and objections, is fatal to unity of mind, heart, and will. doubts, if they assail you, are neither to be timidly shrunk from nor idly played with, but honestly faced and fought. But the grand secret of conviction is to dwell first and constantly on the positive evidence of truth. E.R. Conder and W. Clarkson" p.21

This Bible study has encouraged me so much this past month and challenged me to remember the truths I know about what it means to walk by faith--to live out my faith--and to seek to glorify God daily by having faith in Him.

The only thing that puzzled me is why she chose to quote from the NLT when she quoted from scripture. It seems that a lot of studies are quoting it these days and it isn't the translation I usually read because the NLT did go the way of gender neutral language (from what I understand--I don't have a copy of it) and it is much more of a paraphrase than other versions of the Bible. It doesn't take away from this study for me though because she only quotes scripture once in a while. Almost all of the time, it is for the reader to look up the scripture for herself.

I do highly recommend this study. It is the best Bible study series for women that I've done in a long time. I did receive this book as a complimentary copy from Navpress, but I would have purchased it myself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not so good books... A few thoughts

Sometimes it can be a very good that I have to press on to the end of a book that I have agreed to review. Sometimes it can be a very discouraging thing.

This week, it is the latter. Last night, I finished a Christian fiction book that I will be posting a review about in 2 weeks. It really wasn't very good. Honestly, I respect authors for writing books. But, I think that we are still supposed to be discerning about what we fill our minds with. And I am going to be a little more reticent to request books that I don't feel very sure about.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

I know that there are going to be times when we read a book and there's going to be hard parts in it--amidst the conflict and struggles of the characters. I do expect that. But, I don't expect a book to be filled with characters who have all engaged in premarital sex and couples who are engaged (but not yet married) and living together and all are attending church (and have for years) and are seeking the Lord. Only one time in the book was there one line when a character (who isn't in the rest of the book) mentions the word "chastity" and then its blown off.

Will this book be enjoyable to anyone to read? I don't know. It wasn't for me. It didn't point me towards God or provide any fun, relaxing reading. I struggled through it and made it to the end. Sadly, I still have a bad taste in my mouth as I puzzle about the book.

And you know one of the funniest things about this book, it isn't until the end that the author actually gives some description of how the people look physically (and it's completely different than the pictures on the front and back covers of the book). Isn't that strange?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts on Books and Culture...

Rather, I should say "questions", not thoughts.

I am reading a Christian fiction book by an African American woman. I felt like I should read it, so I requested it. I'll be honest, I'm caucasian. This book has caused me to ponder a lot of questions about books and writing and I'd love your input. Please forgive me if I use the wrong or not politically correct terms--I get so confused nowadays about what words I'm supposed to use. So, if I use the wrong words--I don't mean to.

1. Do white authors expect black people to read their books? Do they hope they will?
2. Do black authors expect white people to read their books? Do they hope they will?
3. What does race equality mean when it comes to books and movies?

So, here's what's going on. I am reading this book. The first third of it I was totally confused! There was no cast of characters in the front and words like "bishop" and "reverend" were used interchangeably. I visited a black church once in Denver, Colorado and served for an inner-city camp in California that was primarily black. In Georgia, I was told by a pastor's wife that black women would only listen to other black women for advice and not to white women. For example, they wouldn't listen to Family Life on the radio because, though it had good things to say, it was the speakers were white. All of these experiences have taught me that the culture of the Christian church and what people expect when they go to church is different for white and black people.

The way the book is written that I'm reading assumes a lot of knowledge about black culture and families that I don't have because I'm white. I would like to understand. Genuinely, I would like to understand.

Unfortunately, earl on in the book, the reader realizes that all of the characters have slept with other people before marriage and it gives the reader a very strange impression of young people in black churches. I am left wondering what impression did the author think her book would give a white person who read it? Did she only intend to write to a black audience? I remember from school that when you write, you do choose an audience that you are writing too. I am very puzzled by all of this am trying to sort it out.

I am not racist. I am not prejudice. But, I do believe that we all have cultural differences. My husband is Italian and an Easterner. I am polish and a Westerner. We have distinct cultural differences between us and we have to navigate them in our marriage.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This was something I learned in Sunday school this morning. It seemed very obvious when it was pointed out, but I had never thought of it this way before...

Doubters have their own set of beliefs. (it was a point from Tim Keller's book The Reason for God)

When I think of someone who doubts God, I usually simply think that they don't believe in God. But, when you doubt God, or for that matter you doubt anything, you still believe something--it just isn't what you're doubting.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A very practical person

I'm a mom of 3 my purses have to be very practical. I remember when my friend Becky had both a big diaper bag and a little one that she took into stores with her. I followed her example. I'd leave my big bag in the car and take my small one with me. Now that Eli is bigger, I have been able to transition out of the diaper bag stage--but not completely. I still have to be practical and be able to carry all the miscellaneous stuff that I need (including 2 diapers and a few wipes).

Last year, I found a new little bag at a garage sale and I was excited about it. I thought it was very cute and I showed it to a friend and she said, "Oh, how sporty." She said it in that way that I knew she was trying to think of something nice to say because she didn't like it. I understood--we had totally different styles. But, it still hurt a little. It made me realize that I really am very practical in my style.

Remembering the gal's comment, I was so tempted by the Coach purse store this summer--wanting to be a regular gal again who carried a regular purse. But, I realized that 1) it just wasn't me and 2) it just wasn't practical.

So, for Christmas, I got a new purse--my REI backpack purse was showing a lot of wear. I found it on REI =) Here it is. At first, I was unsure about it, but I actually love it. It holds everything, but isn't too big and it's really durable. it was fun to find it on sale at the REI Outlet (for $30) It's the Overland Donner Bag. But, the best part about it was that a stranger stopped me today to ask me where I'd gotten it! And then another woman walked over and asked me too! That made me feel so good! Like I'm not really so strange after all =) I may be different, but maybe not so different--

It's funny how a little compliment can make you feel so good!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Soup Recipes

Strawberry Soup by Sami


Put them in a pot. Mix them. Turn the oven on.

Soup by Autumn

20 Tablespoons to put in the pot. Chicken broth with some Honeydue. with some eggs. then put it on the stove for 30 minutes!

(Punctuation and spelling exactly as she wrote it) =)

My husband and I couldn't stop laughing when I shared these with him tonight.

Once an Arafat Man: Good Reading!

Today I finished reading Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill. It is Tass' biography/autobiography of his life. He was born in Palestine and then forced to move with his family and live as a refugee. He joined the Fatah and fought under Yasser Arafat. This book is his story--of both his life and his faith.

Last week, we watched the movie, The Kingdom. It was a powerful and frightening movie. As I read the first part of this book, I put Tass's story in the context of what was in that movie to help me picture what he did and what life was like for him. The first half of the book is very easy to read, not too gory or bloody in its description. It isn't especially engaging writing, but the first half does convey the story of Tass's life well. The second half is really what makes this book worth reading. There are a lot of interesting things to think about in the second half. Pg. 196-200 were particularly powerful to me. On page 197, there is a quote near the bottom that I think is worth pondering...

"The pattern of finessing the truth, of saying one thing but doing another, is epidemic in Middle Eastern politics. It explains why progress is often so excruciatingly slow. It also illustrates the desperate need on all levels, from high government halls to the common street, to speak honestly and accurately about one's intentions."

I think that right now the same could often be said about politics in the U.S., but I think that is a whole other kettle of fish and I don't know that in the U.S. we finesse the truth quite the way it is culturally acceptable to do so in the Middle East.

I appreciated Saada's description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as what he believes are the reasons behind it. I think it would be good for every Christian to read this part of the book. I think it would give us all great deal of compassion for the Palestinians and understanding.

Last year, I read Jimmy Carter's second book about Palestine and Israel. It was very good (as was the first), but this book is different because it comes from an insider. Saada above all wants peace for all and truly wants to live out the Lord's command for us to Love One Another as God has loved us. This book is such a worthwhile read!

Please note... I was provided with this complimentary copy from Tyndale, but I would have read it on my own. If you want to understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, read Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace, not apartheid and this book. The two books are different, but I think they compliment each other.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Random Thoughts for the New Year

I was cooking spicy black bean soup when I began to have a lot of random thoughts that I wanted to write down... So, here goes...

I miss the places I've been. I grew up out west and I didn't appreciate it as much as I wish I had. I miss Quaker Meadow Camp, going to USC football games, going to the Rose Parade each year, and In-n-out. I hope I will be able to help my children make the most of the experiences they have and help them learn to savor them. I never thought I'd end up living so far away that I wouldn't get to enjoy these things again and yet here I am. I miss those familiar things that I loved about my childhood.

Yet, of all the places I've lived, I loved Colorado the most. That was where I really felt like I fit. At the time, I lived there I never wanted to live in the South. Yet, the South is the second place I felt the most comfortable. I am thankful for the warmth and hospitality of the folks in the South. I learned to appreciate manners and politeness. I learned to write thank you notes...

Which leads me to my next random thought. I read a good quote yesterday in my Bible study that made me think about Christmas and learning to write thank you notes.

"In order for a gift to be truly given, it must be received. Without the recipient's acceptance and acknowledgment, the gift is, in effect, an offer."

Good food for thought... As I just typed it, I thought about how often we will offer to help a friend, but it isn't truly a gift until that friend takes us up on our offer and then we are able to give. There are many gifts that are given without expecting a response in return, but it is the response or thank you note that tells us what they meant to the other person.

I am looking forward to writing thank you notes with the girls this week as we get back into homeschooling. Growing up out West, thank you notes weren't common practice, but they were in the South. Even though I miss the West a lot, I'm thankful that I've had the chance to live in different places and learn from each place I've been.

Very Funny Chick Flick Clip...
We watched this clip last night on Amazon. It really was funny. It's from a movie called He's Just Not that Into You. I didn't want to want to watch it when it came out because of the title. I just didn't think I'd like it. But, it turned out that I loved it. There is definitely a lot of language I could do with out and a few scenes (hold onto the remote), but I LOVED the end! In the middle, my husband (who I actually got to watch it with me and he enjoyed it) turned to me and asked me if it did end okay. I told him--yes--the end is my favorite part.

A few weeks ago, while mired down amidst taking care of the kids, Molly, our house, and my husband, I was just getting through each day. My husband came home and told me about how he had related the story of our engagement/proposal/dating to a gal and I could tell that he (and the gal) thought it was a great story. At the time, I couldn't see it. It didn't seem particularly romantic to me, just pretty normal, I suppose.

But, I watched the end of this movie and there is a scene that is very romantic and genuine and it made me feel the way my husband did when he told our story about when he proposed to me and about our engagement. That was a blessing to me.

I can't give a blanket recommendation on the movie without warning you that there really is a lo of bad language in it (not really much more than other movies these days though) and there are a few sex scenes, but they don't show much. But, if you've seen it or if you do see it, I'd be really curious to know what you think about it.

Either way, watch the clip, you'll really laugh!