Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Easter Story

I received this in the mail today and my kids were so excited to see what it was like. I was curious too. I've read The Message Translation for adults, but not any of the Message for kids.

It might seem like this would be a good set for 3-5 year olds, but I think it would be better for 4-7 year olds and mostly for 5-7 year olds. I was surprised at how many details were included. Autumn got a lot more from it than Sami.

I do like this set. My kids love it. I gave it 5 stars on Amazon because of that. Autumn asked me, "When are you going to order the other ones, Mommy?" One reviewer on Amazon made a comment about the blood on Jesus on the cross and that she wasn't so crazy about that for her 3 year old. I can understand that. But, my girls are 4 and 6 and they didn't make any comments to me about being concerned about the crucifixion. The blood is depicted on Jesus' body while he is on the cross. I looked up my other children's Bibles to see what they did. Some showed what happened more graphically and others didn't. The Big Picture Bible showed Jesus being beaten with blood across his back, but not Jesus on the cross. My daughters didn't comment on the blood, but my oldest daughter did ask me about Skull Hill. She told me that he was crucified at Golgotha. "Skull Hill" is another name for Golgotha.

I think this set is appropriate for 5-7 year olds (maybe 4 year olds who have older siblings). I like the recording on the cd and it is nice that when the reader asks a question that she allows time for children to share their answers. The illustrations are not my favorite style (I am very old fashioned), but my girls did like them. There are also two songs at the end of the cd that are good recordings.

If you are looking for the Easter story for younger children (2-4 yrs), I'd recommend Volume 2 of the Read Aloud Bible Stories by Ella Lindvall. The Easter story is the last story in it and I think it is very biblical and very appropriate for younger children. But, for children 5-7 yrs, I like this set!

But, be forewarned, the background music is a little "elevator music" ish. It grows on you, though!

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review by NavPress.

Great is thy Faithfulness...

Great is thy faithfulness. Oh, God, my father. Your mercies are new every morning...

...and every evening...and every moment.

It's been a doozy of a two day stretch. It all began yesterday morning when I was sitting writing my blog entry for my making things stretch blog. I had a feeling that I was going to be needing to trust God very soon. Little did I know.

I found water in my basement. A good size portion of my carpet was soaked. And so the journey began. I called the waterproofing company that did the job and someone is coming out Monday afternoon. I began the task of moving 3 huge IKEA bookcases and pulling up the carpet and the pad underneath. Then, I set about figuring out how to help it dry and putting fans out. Then I went to Lowe's and bought a sump pump for outside.

I went to my friend Kim's house for dinner--which was a huge blessing. I was exhausted. I came home and did our taxes and then shot an email to one of the elders of the church we attend asking for prayer as I tackled the sump pump.

He called this morning and offered to come by and do it for me. I took him up on it. He realized though that when he got here and saw the pit, it wouldn't do what I needed it to do. So, he said he'd make some phone calls and get back to me this evening.

This afternoon a friend from church brought me soup and muffin mix for dinner. It was truly such a blessing to me and Autumn loved the alphabet soup!

The elder from church did call later and I wasn't too worried. But, then an hour later, I went to check on the other sump pump that I had been avoiding checking and discovered water on the front wall too. No puddle though because the waterproofing system was doing what it was supposed to there.

I was so upset. I didn't have any idea of what that meant or what would have to be done. I cried and called a friend who's a contractor, but he was out. I left a message for the man from church and he called me back a bit later. He said he was coming over with another man from church who does waterproofing.

They were over in a half an hour. And they set my mind at ease. I understand my house a lot better now and I will be able to sleep not thinking that it's going to fall a part. Matt, the waterproofing fellow, said the system we had put in the house 2 1/2 years ago is a good one and at that crack, it's doing exactly what it's supposed to.

These past few weeks have been a doozy. I'm tired. 8 weeks down, 3 to go. 2 blizzards, 3 kids with pneumonia, everyone with the stomach bug (2 kids and me even at the same time), water in my basement... I think I need to go to sleep. But, I'm thankful for the Lord's provision. He has given me the strength I've needed even when I don't want it and I just want to give in to myself and cry. He has provided people to help me--people who will come right over and make time. I am blown away by this! I have been blown away by how God has taken care of my family during these past few weeks.

Now I really need to go to sleep. Thank you my friends for your prayers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

i a sre

It is so dear to me to see my children attempt to write and spell. The girls were not speaking nicely this afternoon to each other. Sami's voice was snappy at Autumn and Autumn gave her quite the look with her face. So, I told them they had to write apology notes to each other (and in Sami's case draw a picture for Autumn since she can't write).

Well, Sami proved me wrong. She brought me a paper with this written on it...

I A sre. = I am sorry. She realized she had forgotten the am when she sounded it out to me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


A few more thoughts about books...
It has been really interesting this past month as I've considered many of the books I read and what is beneficial for me to read and what isn't. The past two weeks, I've had the option to review several books that I've opted not to. What I review is a choice on my part. In the past, I've chosen to review a lot of books that I've been iffy about, but after last month, my mind has changed a lot about that.

I guess this is what I'm trying to say is...if I review a book and give it a not so positive review, it will be because I've had high hopes that it will be a good book--otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to review it. I also am choosing not to review books that I know outright that I will disagree with, unless I feel a strong impulse that I should read it. And there have been times that that has happened to me. But, I think that if I'm not the person who would be inclined to buy and read that book, then I don't think that I'm the best person to review it.

Here's an example...I don't think I'm the best person to read a historical Christian romance. After reading the romances last month that I did, I realized that I didn't notice a big difference between them and that they aren't really what I would recommend to people to read. I read the reviews by other people and they loved the books that I only felt so-so about. I'm not anti-romance books, but I like romance when it is more realistic like in The Sweet By and By or Dreams That Won't Let Go. It's the same reason that the ending scene between Jennifer Anniston and Ben Affleck in He's Just Not That Into You makes me smile. There is a genuine sense of being realistic to the relationship rather than simply being about emotion. There was a chemistry between them because they simply loved going through life together in a very down to earth way.

One more quick example...I don't think I'm the best person to review a Catholic Prayer book for Children. There are some distinct facets of Catholic theology as it is taught to children in the catechism that are not what I believe (ie. prayer to saints), so it isn't a book I would buy or check out of the library to read to my children.

When I am given the choices about what to review on Amazon, though, I do not solely review Christian books. Many of the books I choose are not and I have learned so much from them and have enjoyed many of them!

Anyways, I just thought I'd explain a little about why I choose to review the books that I do and don't choose others.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Prayers of Children

These are the things Sami asked me to pray for tonight...

--that my chin wouldn't bump into my nose
--that my nose wouldn't bump into my head

=) Silly girls!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Being Alone

Sometimes being alone is hard. It can also be the best place to be. My mom always told me that when you're alone, you can't run away from yourself. You have to face what's in your own heart and head. I've always believed that she's right and I've reminded myself of what she told me many times. Tonight is turning out to be one of those times.

Loving Others

God is continuing to knock on my heart about love and what it looks like to love others well. Sometimes these lessons come from the absence of love's expression to make me see what it looks like and other times it comes from the presence of its expression to see it. I will try to explain more tomorrow when my tears have stopped falling. But, for now...

Tomorrow, my goal is to tell someone something that I think they do really well and tell them a strength that I see in them. Would you want to join me in this?

My hope is that we will share God's love and lighten each other's steps! =)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homeschooling Organization

I have been pondering for the past two weeks what I would write about the book I finished last night. God has been using a lot of books I've been reading to really challenge me to think about what I read and to make me aware of who is writing the books and also of the perspective that they're writing from.

This morning, I finished reading The Organized HomeSchooler by Vicki Carauna. I was very curious to read this book because it has been given very hot and cold reviews on Amazon since it was published. I'll give you a brief rundown before I explain the thoughts I've had about this book more in-depth. I believe Ms. Carauna's goal in writing this book was to talk about the connections between organization and homeschooling and God and encourage homeschooling parents to be more organized, because God is a God of order and because it blesses our families. I think this is a very good book and though I have some minor points that I disagree with the author on, I do recommend this book.

This may seem like a little rabbit trail, but please bear with me...
There are two ways that many churches preach today. Many churches focus solely on practical, life application sermons. In response and for other reasons, many other churches focus simply on theological and doctrinal preaching in their sermons. There is a balance between the two, I believe. Both are important. If one speaks to the practical alone, God gets lost and it becomes a meal of milk alone...

12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 NIV

Practical teaching can often fall into the trap of spoon feeding people come come to church.

But, on the other hand, if one focuses solely on doctrine and theology, then the heart gets lost and it is easy to forget what it looks like to really live out our faith...

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17 NIV

I find that if we talk too much Christianese and don't talk about what that means to really live it out, we begin to take for granted what it means and we don't keep it on the forefront of our minds and hearts. Practical sermons do spur us on when grounded in solid Biblical teaching. This is why I enjoy Jerry Bridges' books so much--he finds the middle ground. He talks about theology and then looks at it from a practical perspective of what it looks like to live out our faith.

I would like to compare Ms. Carauna's book to a similar continuum with "Practical How-to's" on one side and "Spiritual, Heart Matters" on the other. Many people read her book looking for a book that fell almost exclusively at the practical end of the spectrum. These readers gave this book negative reviews. The reviewers are very honest about this in their reviews--I'm not assuming their feelings.

I think the positive reviewers recognized that Ms. Carauna saw that organization is both a heart issue and a practical issue and wanted to hear what she wanted to share about the heart matters as well as how to live out those convictions about organization in practical ways.

I think that sets the stage. This book is one that you have to read with a humble, open heart. It will quickly raise your defenses if you don't. Ms. Carauna is direct, as opposed to gentle, about confronting people's struggles and resistance to organization. She feels it is heart issue. In a culture where we are surrounded by gentle messages and encouraging words, it is refreshing to be challenged and spoken to directly. But...

BUT, as with any book, you need to remember that Ms. Carauna's words are not God's words--they are not the Bible. What she shares is what she thinks and it may not always sit well with you. That may be sometimes because it has shown you something God wants to work on with you, but it also may be because what she feels may not be what you feel God has asked of you and what He has laid on your heart and convicted you of. (def. conviction: a belief that you feel so strongly about you feel compelled to act upon it)

Ms. Carauna is a public school teacher and she homeschooled her 2 boys (born 18 months apart) for elementary school. She is married to a man who is the organizer of their home. Both she and her husband gravitate to organization. All of those things affect her perspective. She says on the first page of the first chapter, "I will share with you what works for our family, but I caution you not to assume that there is one best way to be organized. Every family is different, with different personalities and needs...I invite you on a journey to find out for yourself what works for you and what doesn't." pg. 12-13 I would encourage you to remember that as you read this book. I have 3 kids and I reminded myself several times that the author of this book had 2--and our third turned my whole world upside down!

My husband works a lot and I am the keeper of our home. He works very hard to take care of us, but I do the cooking and cleaning in our home. I have a friend, on the other hand, who's husband does the cooking and cleaning. I am sure that organization of our time and living spaces looks different because these differences.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is homeschooling and feels that God is calling them to look at their hearts and homes. This book is about organizing our lives as homeschooling families--not just about organizing our homeschooling materials. The beginning of the book addresses issues of the heart and issues of rebellion (which I have struggled with many times), then she progresses to how our hearts affect how our homes operate and what to consider when we plan how to become organized. She then talks about organizing our time, our priorities, our paperwork, etc. It wasn't until a moment ago that I realized that this book is really about Living an Organized Life--as a Homeschooler, rather than being organized in our homeschooling.

I don't give many books 5 stars, but I would give this one 4 1/2. This is a book worth reading...

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Crossway Publishers for review.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It is a funny thing about love...
When someone loves people that are close to your heart, you feel loved. When they are left out, you feel left out.

Or at least I do as a mom.

This week I had two experiences that reminded me of these things.

1) We went to Awanas last night. The girls had a wonderful time as always. Even as I sit here, I can't help but smile because the leaders are all so kind and loving to my girls. Sami struggles at preschool when she goes to school and often cries. But, she has never had a hard time at Awanas. She wants to go every week. But, I've also been blessed by the kindness of the folks to me--that they smile when they see me and say hello. They are glad to see me--and I am glad to see them! God uses the people at that church to encourage my family every week.

2) We went somewhere else as well and I watched as my girls didn't realize that they were left out. There wasn't enough room at the inn. It wasn't on purpose or anyone's fault. It was just what happened. Someone realized that there wasn't room and then found room for them. But, by that time, my heart had already hurt for my girls. I had Eli in my arms and there just wasn't much that I was able to do on my own. (I do know this was completely accidental--I firmly believe that God was using this in my life because of something that I'm working on and thinking about.)

It is the joys that we cherish and that make us smile and want to love others. But, it is the hurts (both accidental and purposeful) that help us to love and remind us to love others.

At least that's what I've been learning...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sometimes it's worth it to just read a few pages at a time...

Sometimes I think it's worth it to just read a few pages at a time, because then you get to savor, meditate and consider what you read more deeply--rather than racing to the finish line as fast you can as I often do. When I come across a really, really good book, I love to savor it. Whenever I share with a friend that I review a lot of books or that I read 80 last year or 10 last month, their eyes open in surprise and ask "How?" I explain that I am a fast reader. I am. But, I also skim. I will admit to it. If a book is not that good, I just am not able to force myself to read every word. But, when a book is really good, I read every page and every word.

This year two fiction books would qualify for that. June Bug by Chris Fabry (Tyndale) and The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry (Moody Publishing). In non-fiction, it has been such a blessing to come across so many more that have drawn me in. The Cynthia Heald series "Becoming a woman of..." and Jerry Bridges books Trusting God, Respectable Sins, and now Discipline of Grace. Interestingly, they've all been published by NavPress.

This morning (after 4 months), I finished reading The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. I remember starting it back in November. I read it alongside whatever Bible Study I've been going through for my devotions in the morning. At first, I was interested and then I lost steam and set it down for a few weeks. Then, in January, I picked it back up and began finding my way through it again. I wish everyone would read this book--I can't recommend it highly enough.

So many people come up against the question of Freedom in Christ and what that gives them freedom to do. And if they themselves haven't, I'm sure their children (who are a part of the entitlement generations) have. It grieves me to watch young people assert that they have the freedom to do whatever they want and that if someone tells them that they shouldn't, then it is legalism. It's not and Jerry Bridges explains that in his book.

There are several notable books on grace that have become classics. What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey and Max Lucado's book In the Grip of Grace are the two that come to my mind immediately. But, each of those books address God's Grace in a very different way than Bridges does. Yancey's book is all about showing grace to others and Lucado's book talks about what God's grace is. Bridges talks about God's Grace and what it means to live in God's grace each day and what it means to "preach the gospel to ourselves every day".

First, Bridges identifies what the gospel is. Then, he explains what it means to preach the gospel to ourselves--because both believers and unbelievers need to hear the gospel, but for different reasons. Then he goes on to talk about how we seek God's grace. It amazed me to realize the struggles that are all connected to this discussion of living out God's grace. He addresses legalism and discipline and freedom in Christ--in context. So often we discuss these topics separately, rather than as interconnected aspects of faith in Christ.

This book is meaty. It is not like a Max Lucado book. It is not as thick as a John Piper book, though or one of Eugene Peterson's spiritual theology books. I hope you will read it and that the eyes of your heart will be opened and that you will feel God's grace and seek it daily.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from NavPress for review.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The things Sami likes

I asked Sami on Sunday what she most likes to do. This was her answer...

I like games and I like to watch tv (which we don't do a lot of actually).

Then, she said...

And I empty the trash because I know it's important.

She was so sincere when she said it. She took full responsibility for emptying the trash.

Do you feel like that a lot of days? I do. I know it's important that I clean, so I do it. Today I spent the day cleaning the entire upstairs and tomorrow the downstairs is on the agenda. I just don't have time regularly to do a lot of cleaning, so I do the basics each week and a deep clean twice a year. Usually, I spread it out over a week, but for some reason, I just want to get it done! So, I pushed really hard today. I knew I hadn't dusted in a long, long time! I even washed walls and dabbed paint where it had been scraped off. I put polyurethane on the window seat where Molly had worn it away. I put a coat of butcher block oil on the counter, cleaned the refrigerator, washed the drapes...

And now, I'm tired. And I still have to do the basement! At least, my house will be clean when it's all least until I have to do all the deep cleaning again in another 6 months =)

We did just the essentials for homeschooling that couldn't be put off--spelling pretest, 2 writing lessons from Writing with Ease, piano lesson, and a math page. I better go to sleep now so I can get up in the morning again and clean to my heart's content =)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists and a lot of other thoughts...

I wrote this review right after I read this book a few weeks ago...

After the last book I read, I wanted to stop reading for a little while and stomp my feet and shake out what was causing me to cringe and feel yucky. But, three packages arrived today and this book was in one of them. I thought "Hmmm...Maybe this book will remind me that there are books that I want to read." Thankfully, this book is indeed helping me get back on track.

All that to say--I can't say that I agree 100% with this book (I have some strong reservations), but there's a lot of great stuff in it. Michelle Larowe put together a book of 112 lists of things that are useful for a mom or mom to be of a 0-5 year old. A friend of mine is doing respite foster care and I think it would be a great book of lists for her too.

Mrs. LaRowe is a Christian and though it doesn't say it on the back, this is a Christian book. It's important that you understand that because so often people complain when the back of the book doesn't mention that it is Christian. But, if you're a mom and you love the Lord, I think you'll like this book. There are several lists that are particularly helpful for moms working outside of their homes. But, I think every mom of a young child will find something helpful in this book.

All that being said, this is a book that you will find yourself agreeing with sometimes and disagreeing with at others. She is a certified international nanny so she has great ideas for toys and what to do with kids and ideas about teaching sharing. Her list about discipline is a starting point, but not a complete solution. I think all the moms I know would agree that discipline is never a one size fits all kind of thing. I remember thinking when I had one child that I knew what to do--and then my second came along, and then my third... and God humbled me very quickly. Her list makes it sound like discipline is a one size fits all thing and I just don't agree with that. She is approaching this book as a nanny and mother of one child.

I agreed with her book lists for children and for adults about parenting. I would add one more, though and that is Super Baby Food--this is the best book about what to feed your 0-12 month old and when. My other favorite lists were what to pray for your child before they're born, ten practical Christian principles to teach your Christian preschooler, Age Appropriate Chores for Young Children, Fun Family Traditions, and a few others. I also thought her list about considering Adoption very wise.

Yet, her list about family friendly movies isn't one I really agree with. My oldest child is 6 and I wouldn't be able to show her any of the movies on the list. I think we have to be really careful to be sensitive about what our children can handle. The themes addressed in the movie Fireproof (a movie she includes in her list) are really for adults--not children and I wouldn't even say for tweens or preteens.

As for what I didn't agree with, I did refer to two things earlier (movies and discipline), but there is one more that I want to mention it in case you do read this book. There is a list entitled "Selecting a Family Friendly Church". I believe that we are all called to go to church and worship the Lord-- and that it is about God, not about us. The questions are supposed to help you decide whether a church is family-friendly.

But, is that why you go to church? For what it does for you and your kids? I wish that instead there had been a list of qualities to look for in a church and what to pray for in your search for a church home. Perhaps it could have been a list of open ended questions like...

1) Do you want to go to a church which practices family worship or one with separate children's church?

2) What do you feel God is calling you to do in this matter?

3) Does the congregation have grace for you and for your children?

4) Will the church love you and your family?

5) Can you love the people in the church? Will you be able to serve in the church?

The other thing I'd mention is really just a minor one. She writes this book from an upper-middle class perspective. Most of the time that isn't really important. But, it is relevant to the lists of what you need for your child's first year. It made me chuckle when she wrote "high-quality wipes" as one of the items you need. In reality, we do the best we can. You don't "need" a snuggle wrap or sheet savers.

The book of this type (all in one parenting advice and resource) that I would recommend most is the series of books titled What to expect when--you're expecting, in the first year, and in the toddler years. But, this might come in second. As I read through it, I kept a package of sticky tabs with me and tabbed the lists I want to come back to regularly because it isn't organized and formatted in a way that makes it easy to find lists you like easily.

So, in the end, how would I describe this book? As a great gift for a friend who just discovered they're pregnant (along with a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting). Honestly, no parenting/childbirth preparation book is perfect and has everything you're looking for. I guess that's why I can recommend this book. Even though there are lists that I disagree with the author on, her lists did make me think about how I feel and what I want for my kids--and that's always a good thing.

But, would I recommend it for you to purchase for yourself? I'd recommend checking it out from the library, but not purchasing it for your home library. Get the What to Expect books first and Super Baby Food (if that's what you're looking for).

Please note that I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for review by Revell Books.

Swinging on a Star

Earlier this month I read a Christian romance and it made me realize that I prefer books that would be simply called contemporary fiction more than contemporary romance. But, I had already committed to reading and reviewing Swinging on a Star. So, here I am. I've finished it and now it's time to figure out what I think of it!

This book is all about romance. It honestly was a lot like Jenna's Cowboy, except that Jenna's Cowboy really had a message and a theme that the author wanted to share (PTSD). This story is simply the story of Bella, who has recently taken over her family's wedding planning business. In this installment of the Weddings by Bella series (this is book 2), Bella is planning a medieval wedding for a couple that is beyond anything I can honestly imagine. It sounds amazing!

This book truly is a romance and though it tries to be somewhat realistic, I think that when you read a romance you don't really expect it to be entirely realistic. Do you? I don't. There have been a few romances that I've read that have been exceptional (like Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers), but in general I'm finding they're pretty similar.

So here are my thoughts...

The Story: Very predictable. The story moves at a steady pace--not too fast, and not too slow.

The Writing: It's a romance novel.

The Romance: Sophia is looking for love; Laz and Rosa fight like they're married, but aren't; Bella's been dating D.J. for 3 months; then there's the Hollywood "hottie"; Rob and Marian who are to be wed... Who in the story isn't in a relationship? I think they all are!

In Conclusion: Made-for-TV movie like reading.

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

Saturday, February 13, 2010


My daughter just showed me the Valentine she made. Inside it said...

I love you!
From: Autumn
To: Autumn

=) chuckle chuckle. She made me laugh. She explained that she didn't know who would give her a Valentine if she didn't give herself one. I explained to her that Mommy and Daddy have one for her. She smiled at that.

Wooing...Some thoughts about love

Last night, I watched the movie "I Hate Valentine's Day" with Nia Vardalos and John Corbett. I'm not sure if what I did can really count as watching the whole movie though because I fast forwarded through over half the movie. But, I watched the last quarter in full. The first 3/4 is completely predictable and I actually was irritated by Vardalos' character, so I just fast forwarded to see what would happen. There was some wisdom in the last 1/4 that I wanted to write about. (*Please note that this entry is full of spoilers about the movie)

The main character, Genevieve, has always thought that romance is love. Her dad cheated on her mom after 25 years and when her mom found out, she cried and he chose to leave her. The dad calls his daughter periodically and leaves messages for her. Towards the end, she finally confronts her dad and tells him that he should have done what he did--he shouldn't have had an affair. You can tell he has no remorse and he replies that she doesn't have the right to say anything because it doesn't have anything to do with her and because it doesn't affect her. She tells him that yes, it does. Because of him, she has never gone on more than 5 dates with someone because she refuses to let herself get hurt the way her mom did by her dad. Her father is unrepentant and looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

That scene was very real to me. I have a friend who's husband has said the same thing in many different ways since the day he left his wife of almost 20 years. He thinks that his actions are only about him--that he has the right to be happy and that those actions don't affect his children. That's just not true.

Genevieve realizes that she had gotten all the wrong ideas about what love is. She faced her dad and then began to face her life. Her delivery man for her floral shop comes in and she asks him if that is what love is--the regular living stuff--going through life together. He is puzzled and then explains how crazy his home is but that he wrote Happy VDay on her plate in syrup when his wife wasn't looking and she cried. He admitted that he likes to go home. It's where he wants to be.

By this point, she had lost the man she loved, Greg, because of her 5 dates rules (you only go on 5 dates with someone because after 5 dates, the romance fades and love is gone), but she still loved him. Her friends tell her that she needs to "woo" him.

She becomes a bundle of nerves and stresses out trying to think of what to do. First, she makes him some muffins and then sends him 2 or 3 gifts. He sends her a thank you note, but no phone call. Then, it's Valentine's Day and he's bitter, she's bitter and a man gives Greg the advice that he just needs to do something stupid to show her that he loves her. So, he does and of course the last scene is them telling each other they love the other. It's quite sweet.

But, it got me to thinking. I've been married almost 9 years and my husband and I do most of the same things when we have time. I'm still bad about keeping secrets and surprising him. But, I try. I don't know if I'm very creative in wooing him. As women, we want to be wooed. But, I think as wives, it's good to woo our husbands and show them that we love them. We are wives first and moms second. It's so easy to lose sight of that amidst little feet running through the house and children's voices.

I started trying to think when I woke up in the middle of the night about what I could do. And I've only come up with one thing so far. I'm going to try and write him at least part of our story. He is a reader and that's what he loves to do. I don't know that I'm a very good writer, but I think it's a start. In case, he actually does happen to read my blog--I won't post any more ideas I've decided upon. But, if you have any for me, I'd love to hear them!

The love in our marriages is in the day to day choices we make. But, much of the romance is in the wooing--or at least that's something I think this morning. And I would agree with Genevieve, this wooing business is hard. It's hard, but I think it will be worth it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowshoeing in MD =)

I haven't written a haiku in a long time and a friend emailed me hers about the snow this morning. So, this is my attempt...

blanket of white snow
rough lines form a strange design
poles and shoes in hand

The difference between snow shoeing in MD and CO?
The altitude--other than that not much difference today in my backyard =)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What prompted me to think about the NCV...

I have just finished reading a wide variety of selections from the Mom's Bible. This Bible is the NCV (New Century Version) with notes by Bobbie Wolgemuth.

There are some things I really liked about this Bible and then there are some things that I'm not so comfortable with. I've read several of the other reviews by other moms and I was surprised by how well liked this Bible is by them and how much they like the NCV. It makes me wonder if I am odd in being concerned about whether I read a paraphrase or a translation as my primary Bible.

This Bible is filled with devotions that are related well to the verses that they site. There is a short introduction at the beginning of each book of the Bible that explains what the book is about. At the end, there is a short reference list with all of the devotions listed. There is also an Appendix with questions that children ask about God. I really liked the answer to the question about what the trinity is. The answers are geared towards 2nd-5th+ graders. My little girl who is in first grade wouldn't quite understand all of the questions and/or answers. I thought her answer to whether the Bible says drugs are wrong was very different. I don't think it's the answer I would give. I would talk to my children about what drugs do to our bodies and that God tells us in the Bible to take care of our bodies.

There are a few things that I get particularly concerned about as a mom when I read a Bible or a devotional book. I think a lot times people read into the Bible and infer things about people in the Bible that God didn't include. An example is when people talk about Noah's wife. The Bible doesn't talk about her at all. A few years ago, Debbi Pearl's daughter wrote a devotional about how submissive Noah's wife was and how she did exactly what her husband said. But, the Bible doesn't say either way. Bobbie Wolgemuth writes an entry about Noah's wife and though she doesn't infer as much as Debbi Pearl's daughter did, she does infer information that isn't included in the Bible.

Another thing I get concerned about for women is how submission and authority is addressed. As a culture, we sidestep the issue of submission and many churches preach the idea of "yielding to one another" (as the NCV says) rather than wives submitting to their husbands. It feels like we are surrounded by a culture that tells us we only have to do what we want to--we deserve to be treated certain ways and so on. But, we are to live in this world and not be of it. When we look to a translation and devotionals that soften the words and meaning of such verses, it feels like we are becoming a part of the world--changing the words so that we can accept them more easily and be comfortable with with they ask us to do and be.

On one of the other reviews of this book, I found a link to this page:
I hadn't considered that the NIV has a reading level 3 years above the NCV. I think this Bible would be very nice for a mom who struggles with reading or who is a new Christian. It would be easy to read and the devotions would encourage her as a mom.

I am glad to have had the chance to really read and look at the NCV. I've wondered about it. It has made me think again about translations and paraphrases and what I read. This Bible also made me think about what I am convicted of when I found myself sporadically disagreeing with what Mrs. Wolgemuth wrote. And eventhough this isnt' a Bible I personally would read regularly, I deeply respect all that she and her daughter wrote in the devotions. There is a lot of good, solid wisdom in this book for moms.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for review.

Comparison of Verses

Tonight I was reading the Mom's Bible again (NCV) and compared this verse:
NCV Ephesians 5:22-24
22 Wives, yield to your husbands, as you do to the Lord,23 because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. And he is the Savior of the body, which is the church.24 As the church yields to Christ, so you wives should yield to your husbands in everything.

NIV Ephesians 5:22-24
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

The Message
22-24Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

ESV Ephesians 5:22-24
22Wives,submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

It was interesting to me to see this comparison. Yield definitely reads something into the text for me. When I think of a yield sign, I think of driving, looking both ways and if no one's coming, then I keep going. And if I do have to stop--it's only for a moment and then I keep going. That is a very different picture than what the word "submit" says to me. Submit means, well, it means...

"when the word submit is used in the Bible, it refers not only to a yielding and obedient attitude of the heart, but also, and equally importantly, to an attitude of co-operation and support"
from a sermon that is transcribed at this address:

I didn't read the whole article, only the definition. But, I liked this definition because it identifies that submission isn't only being subject to another and it isn't only yielding and it isn't only supporting another. The word submit says a lot more than yielding alone says.

I think that's an example of why I feel more comfortable reading the ESV or NIV than a thought for thought paraphrase.

NCV...more thoughts about Bible translations

Did you know that the NCV, New Century Version, is really an update of the International Children's Bible (ICB)? I just learned this yesterday when I started reading the Mom's Bible (NCV). The introduction explained the translation process and philosophy behind the NCV.

This left me with a lot of questions...
1) Is there really a translation that is the best translation?
2) Are all paraphrases now being called translations?
3) Is it wise to read a paraphrase as the Bible you read most frequently? Does it matter?
4) Aren't they all the Word of God?
5) Why does any of this matter?

It is an interesting thing to me that the ICB has been renamed with a new name so that it can be marketed to adults. In my cynicism, I struggle with marketing. Is all of this being done by publishers with a pure heart desiring to spread the Word of God?

I started reading Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur last week and he talks in the first chapter and forward about the western ideas of church growth and evangelism. He takes a pretty strong and direct stand about what he feels.

I hesitate in taking a strong stand and answering some of the questions that I'm pondering myself. When I committed to writing reviews for Crossway, I committed to always honoring the Word of God and glorifying to God--never devisive or slandering or not beneficial to the edification of the body of Christ. So, I looked to others for answers or at the least the beginning of some answers for myself...

Here's what I have at this point...
1) Is there really a translation that is the best translation?

Best may not be the right word. Maybe accurate is a better word. I found this article from and interview with John MacArthur. His concern was that the translations are not accurate.
Here is a second link:
The second link states Desiring God's perspective (John Piper's ministry)

2) Are all paraphrases now being called translations?

More accurately, I suppose translations are all at least a little bit of a paraphrase. From what I've read, if a translation leans towards word for word translation, it is described as a "translation". When it leans towards "thought for thought" translation and attempts to make it culturally readable, it is considered a paraphrase.

I think what makes it confusing is that Bibles that were once marketed as "paraphrases" are now being marketed by publishers as "translations".

3) Is it wise to read a paraphrase as the Bible you read most frequently? Does it matter?

I think it does matter. But, that's a very personal opinion of mine. When you read a translation that is more of a paraphrase, more has been interpreted FOR the reader rather than BY the reader. I know that the scripture says this...

18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

It is God who opens our eyes. But, when we make a translation so readable, I get concerned that we aren't trusting God to open our eyes or the eyes of the people that we may give a Bible to.

Here is what the NCV says of the same verse from Ephesians 1:18

8 I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people.

The process of meditating--praying and thinking about what the verse says in the NIV draws us into the Word. I think when we don't have to think about what it says and ponder, we're more likely to rush through it. It's like eating peanut butter and jelly vs. a steak. You have to cut the steak bit by bit, so it takes longer to eat. But, the peanut butter and jelly you can just grab and start eating.

My feeling is that it's nice to read a paraphrase periodically so that you can see a different view, but that it's wiser to read a more literal translation--a readable close to "word for word" translation.

4) Aren't they all the Word of God?

Yes, I think they are. But, we all want things to be easier and not to have to work for them. If one's motive in reading a paraphrase is because it's "easier", I think that is something to think about and consider.

5) Why does any of this matter?

Why do we read the Bible? Because it is God's Word and it is the primary way, I think, that he speaks to us. It holds His instructions about how to live rightly. It is by reading His Word that we are encouraged and strengthened in our faith in the Lord.

But, why would it matter if you are reading a paraphrase or a translation? This is the thought that came to my mind. When you love something, you want the original. I grew up listening to the song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. I still love the song. My father always told me it was the story of him and his dad, but though I never told him, I knew at the time that he was recreating the same story in his relationship with me though he didn't see it. Since Harry Chapin recorded the song, there's been a lot of artists who have rerecorded it and put their own spins on it--their own interpretations. Yet, I always like the original best.

I like reading the ESV. It is considered the closest and most readable Word for Word translation today. It feels like I get a chance to more closely hear the God's heart--not another man's interpretation of it. It is the closest I can get to the original--the Greek and the Hebrew--since I don't know Greek or Hebrew =) By choosing not to read a paraphrase, I feel like I'm not copping out. I'm not trying to interpret the Word for myself. I know and trust that it is God who opens my heart and helps me to hear rather than me helping myself.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A good reminder

I appreciate good reminders. I feel like there's so many things that I'm trying to remember, and often forget. I forgot to really teach my children about the snow today and really enjoy it. I shoveled and got lost in the business of taking care of them. I'm very human. But, I enjoyed Shepherd Press' blog tonight just before I head to bed and the reminder that it is God who made this snow and just like everything else that happens, it is a reminder to trust Him and know that it is He who has created all things. =)

I think tomorrow we'll go make some snow chairs and measure how deep the snow is in different places--Monday's math! Are there any good and easy science experiments for little ones with snow? Maybe we'll hypothesize about how heavy the snow is or how much snow we can carry or we can problem solve and try and figure out a way to carry snow... the gears in my mind are starting slowly turn =)


One of the hardest things about parenting, I think, is that it is constant. I am continually reminded of how I need to keep a better eye on my children. It's hard to imagine what it will be like in a few years when they're older. But, I suspect, I'll have to keep my eye on them in a different way =) then.

Juggling three kids while shoveling snow is not a good idea. Yesterday, I went out by myself. Today I went out with them. I am realizing that I need to simplify things and only try to tackle one thing at a time--otherwise it just gets tricky fast! I only have two eyes =) I really wish sometimes that I had 4--though that would look very odd!

The Best Fiction book I've read in a while...

"Warm, pollinated air whispered over me. The hospital's circulation filters removed all the germs and odors from the indoor air, but they also stripped it of its personality." writes Christine Berry in The Familiar Stranger

From the first chapter, and even the first paragraph, I knew this was a good book. It reminded me of NCIS (probably my favorite TV show). The characters have personality. As the reader, you see their flaws, but they're part of who they are and you want to know their story.

I realize more and more what a skill writing a good story is---to convey important details about a conversation and not make it feel too slow or too fast, but very real and believable. That was what pleased and surprised me about Ms. Berry's writing. It didn't feel stilted or ingenuous.

I wanted to read this book because the premise sounded intriguing and different. And it proved to be so! I don't want to give anything away about this book. From the back of the book, you know that the story is about a man who was planning to leave his wife (though she doesn't know) when he has an accident and wakes up with amnesia. I thought I knew how it would end at the beginning and it did turn out that I was right, but it felt like a long shot and there was enough doubt in my mind to make the journey from the beginning to the end very interesting.

Honestly, this is the best fiction book I've read in a long time. Please check it out if you're looking for a good read!

Please note that I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book for review by Moody Publishing.

Dreams that Won't Let Go...

Just now I began to think about the title of this book. If I had picked up this book up at a bookstore, I would have assumed that the dreams spoken of in the title were good dreams that someone was chasing after to achieve. Actually, this book is very different. It's a good one, but different than what the title sounds like.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a book that really made me consider what makes a book a "good" book--one that I would recommend. I ran into a lot of issues with that book. Since it was the second book in a series and I hadn't read the first, I had to consider the question whether it could stand on its own. In the case of that book, it couldn't very well. It was difficult to follow the story and understand a lot of cultural assumptions that were made about what the reader would understand.

The book I'm reviewing today is actually the third in a series. I didn't realize that at the time I agreed to review it. Dreams That Won't Let Go is written by Stacy Hawkins Adams. She has written 5 other novels. It intrigued me that it is considered contemporary fiction rather than contemporary romance. It made me curious about how this book would be different than the two other books I've read recently that were called "romance" novels.

So, let me begin...

One of the marks of a good book to me is that it makes you want to read it--you want to know how it is going to end--there are questions you want to know the answers to. Another mark to me is that the characters are real and believable. Their struggles are genuine as well as their joys. One last thing that I think is really important in light of recent books I've read is that the reader can really follow what is happening in the story and not feel ignorant or at a loss about who is who.

This book is about a black family living in Jubilant, a small town in Texas just north of Dallas. The parents of Reuben, Indigo, and Yasmin died when they were young. Their paternal grandparents took them in as their own. The story begins as Indigo is preparing for her wedding and Reuben has decided to move back with his family to Jubilant. The story follows the challenges that Indigo and all of the family face as her brother moves back.

The Story: Good. The twists were realistic, but unexpected at times, too--but not overly so. I would compare it to a good cup of coffee. It wasn't too strong, or weak.

The Writing: Interesting, easy to read, not too slow or fast. Honestly, Ms. Adams' writing reminds me of Karen Kingsbury's novels. There was one particular detail that the author includes at the beginning of chapter 28 about black Baptist church customs that was really interesting to me. But, it was written in a way that was relevant to the reader no matter what the racial background is of the reader. After reading Songs of Deliverance a few weeks ago, I really appreciated this. She skillfully included it.

Issues: It was not a soap opera and marriage/romance is not portrayed as the center of one's life. Rather, it was portrayed as a part of life. When counsel was given by friends to one another, it was honest and biblical, but not preachy.

In Conclusion: This book is good and I would recommend it. I enjoyed it and I'm glad that I read it.