Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: A Godward Heart by John Piper


A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You by John Piper is a collection of short readings designed to draw you closer to God.  The topics of the chapters are an eclectic mixture, but Piper's desire comes through them all, i.e., that he wants his readers to learn more about God and therefore treasure Him more.

I enjoyed reading this book.  It would make a great add-on to a daily devotion, although it would not make a good devotional by itself since there's no Scripture reading.  I learned some things from this book, and several of the chapters make me think about things in a new way.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my (kindle) copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kayaking


John has been thinking about getting a kayak.  This weekend, we had the opportunity for him to try a few out.


He took each child out for a trip around the lake twice.


My job was to keep the rest of the children from falling in the lake...and to take pictures.


Poor Daniel.  I didn't get a good picture of him in the kayak.  But I must admit that if I hadn't had my iPhone, I wouldn't have any pictures at all.

Do you kayak?  Would you want to give it a try...or stay on the sidelines like I did?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday's Quote: Blogging for God's Glory



I've been reading A Godward Heart by John Piper, and one of his chapters is about Twitter.  While trying to decide whether to use Twitter or not, he decided that "in spite of all the dangers, Twitter seemed like a risk worth taking.  "All things were created through [Christ] and for [Christ] (Colossians 1:16).  The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that's why I tweet."

Piper goes on to say, "I am not inclined to tweet that at 10 a.m. the cat pulled the curtains down.  But I am inclined to tweet:  The Lion of Judah will roll up the sky like a scroll and put the sun out with His brighter glory...."

Before reading this, I had not thought the purpose of Twitter (and facebook and blogging) was to glorify God, but it makes sense.  Everything that happens exists for God's glory and that even includes things that are man-made.

God used this short reading to show me that I don't always use facebook and my blogging for His glory.  As a matter of fact, I planned to post something on facebook last week that would bring glory to me.  He reminded me of Piper's words, and I refrained from writing my prideful status.  And I will continue to pray regularly that God used my facebook account and my blogging for His glory and purposes not mine.

Had you realized before that social media were created to bring glory to God?  Do you think that thought will change the way you use them?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Lots to Be Thankful For



Starting with last week, I am most thankful for Easter, when we remember and celebrate that God the Son (GOD the Son!) died for us on the cross and rose again to pay our debt and purchase for us the gift of eternal life in Heaven with Him.  What a wonderful, wonderful gift!  And everything else He has done for me and given me pales in comparison.


But there are other things for which I am thankful:
  • John being home with us on Good Friday
  • lovely weather (with no mosquitoes!) that lets us spend time outside.  I wonder if we should take our "summer" break now instead of during the hot summer (with tons of mosquitoes) when we just want to stay indoors.
  • a fun visit with friends
  • a nice, long, newsy email from another friend
  • Daniel learning to ride a bike without training wheels
  • a new iPhone.  Yes, I finally gave in and got a smart phone.
  • an abundance of eggs from my chickens.
  • that the raccoon was not successful in getting into the chicks' coop and that he is no longer a problem
What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Conversation with Rachel



One morning last week, Rachel said something about "growing new feet but socks don't.  Right?"

In the space of about two seconds, all of these thoughts went through my head. "What?  What in the world is she talking about?  Regrowing feet?  Who told her that?  We've talked about lizards regrowing tails but not feet."  

What I actually said was, "What?"

Rachel said it again, "We grow new feet but socks don't."

Not knowing what else to do, I tried to clarify.  "Are you saying that if someone were to cut off your feet, you would grow new ones back?"

"No, no!  When you're outside walking on the grass, your feet get better but your socks don't."

Oh, okay.  I got it now.  When you walk outside, you might hurt your bare feet, but they will heal.  If you wear socks and get holes in them, they won't get better.  The holes will always be there.

I feel like I have at least one conversation with Rachel like this a day, where I have no idea what's she's talking about.  Do your children do this to you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl continues the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, but this time the author tells the redemptive stories of Lady Daylily and Foxbrush.

The story starts with Daylily running away on her wedding day.  When she ventures into the Wood, she is found by Sun Eagle and a malevolent force which bend her to their, or rather, its will.  Foxbrush follows Daylily to try to save her, but he discovers that he is in need of some rescuing himself since he's really not hero material...at least, not yet.  The rest of the story follows their adventures and misadventures, as they learn to be true to themselves and others as they, more importantly, learn to trust and follow the Prince of Farthest Shore who is a Christ figure.

I love this series.  The characters are all interesting and fleshed out nicely, and I enjoy the references to fairy tales that Stengl uses occasionally.  I must admit that my family might have suffered a little bit while I read this book since it was so hard to tear myself away from it, but I don't think any lasting damage was done.  :)

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, April 21, 2014

How the Nazis Got it Right. Wait! The Nazis?



I'm reading In the Garden of the Beasts:  Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson, the true story of William Dodd, the American ambassador to Berlin in the time before World War II.  In 1933, a new penal code was introduced, and another diplomat Henry Leverich "found the draft an extraordinary document and wrote an analysis....  He noted...that the code made paramount the protection of the family and thus outlawed abortion."  (page 163)

What?  The Nazis outlawed abortion because they thought the family was important?  We know how wrong the Nazis got almost everything, but in this one specific case, they got it right.  How should we feel that our own country gets it so wrong?

Of course, I have to include all relevant information.  The penal code did allow for the courts to order abortions between "pure" Germans and anyone who wasn't.  But I am flabbergasted that the Germans outlawed abortions.

Are you as surprised as I am by this information?


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin


For Such a Time by Kate Breslin retells the story of Esther with the role of Esther being played by Hadassah/Stella and the role of King Xerxes played by Aric, the Nazi Commandant of a concentration camp.  Hadassah is half-Jewish, but she looks Aryan, and she has forged papers using the name Stella.  When she is rescued from one concentration camp by Aric, he takes her to the one of which he has command, for her to be his secretary.  Of course, love ensues and all the Jews are saved...well, not all, but that's a plot spoiler.

I had such high hopes for this book, especially since it started off so well.  But as it continued, the story felt more and more contrived, and it just didn't feel realistic at all.  The way Breslin brought circumstances together felt forced, like she was trying to follow a certain storyline regardless of how it fit her story.  I guess she was, and it didn't work.

Another thing that wasn't right was how Breslin made no difference between Jewish faith and Christian faith.  Faith in God was all that mattered, and I don't think Jesus was even mentioned.  There is a difference, and it's very important.  Both Hadassah and Aric come to faith, but what their faith is in isn't clear.  It seems like Hadassah's faith is in the Bible which she opens randomly to discover what she needs.  And Aric's faith seems to be in Hadassah.  This story could have done so much more in this area.

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rachel's Appointment Yesterday


We received more good news on Rachel yesterday at her doctor's appointment.  You can read about it here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Birthdays


Part of this post was originally published two years ago on this date.

Today is my birthday.  Since you're not supposed to ask a lady her age, I don't have to tell you.  But I will say that 40 keeps getting closer and closer...but I'm not there yet!

A few years ago, I mentioned to my father that I was born on a bad day. Abraham Lincoln was shot on my birthday (although he actually died on the 15th), and the Titanic struck the iceberg on my birthday (sinking on the 15th). Trying to prove me wrong, that April 14th is not a bad day, my father looked it up on the internet. And we found more bad things: Black Sunday, the worst dust storm of the Dust Bowl; and a massive explosion in Bombay harbor killed 300 people. So much for that!

However, if you believe that God is sovereign, you cannot conclude that April 14th is a "bad" day because only the things that He allowed and caused happened that day, things that would bring Him glory. God can use "bad" things for good. So we have to see Lincoln's assasination and the sinking of the Titanic as good things since God allowed (or even caused) them to happen.

Anyway, today is my birthday, and I hope that we have a nice, quiet day of celebrating.

What kinds of things happened on your birthday? If you don't know, this site is a good one to check.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Helpful Advice from Unexpected Places


I've been having problems with Sarah Beth in school.  Not disciplinary problems, but a hole in her learning that I wasn't sure how to fill.  I've asked a couple of veteran homeschooling mothers about what to do, but their suggestions just didn't fit the situation.  So we continued stumbling along, doing out best.

One day, I complained about discussed this problem with some homeschooling friends, and one of them had an excellent suggestion, one that is helping to fill in the "hole."

In my arrogance, I would not have asked for her advice because this is her first year of homeschooling while this is my third.  But she threw out a suggestion which proved to be extremely helpful.

My point with this story is that you never know where you'll get the best advice...and you never know if the advice you give will be exactly what the other person needs to hear.  If my friend had kept her mouth shut because of her relative lack of experience compared to my relative amount of experience (three years isn't much more than one, really), I would still have my quandary.  But she spoke up, I listened, and my problem now has a solution.

The next time someone brings up a problem that you have a possible solution for, speak up!  And the next time someone tries to offer you advice for a problem you're relating to them, listen up!  You never know how the advice might help the other person.

(Of course, you have to take all advice with a grain of salt, taking into account who is giving the advice and whether they're really someone you want to learn from.)

Have you been in a situation like this?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Last Week's Adventures


Last week started out with a bang...literally.  I started a load of laundry Monday morning before breakfast, and while we were eating, the washing machine exploded.  Apparently, this isn't an uncommon thing for LG washers, but we had no idea.

Since my parents were coming Tuesday, we scrambled madly to find a new washing machine before they arrived...so they could have clean sheets!  (They wouldn't have minded too much, though, if they'd had to sleep on not-quite-clean sheets.)


While my parents were here, we took a trip to the Houston zoo.  It was loads of fun.


And I finally remembered to take some pictures of my mother with my children...


and my father.


I even took one "posed" picture although they weren't thrilled about it.

My children are already asking when their grandparents are coming back.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

March Update of 2014 Goals


Along with my yearly goals, I tackled another big project this month:  potty training Mary.  She was the easiest of my four children, and while she's still not completely accident-free, she's doing great!

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I will read many other books, as well, I'm sure.  I read one book from my reading list, and several others.
  • Continue walking on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  I think I did this every week in March.  
  • Look for a job...assuming I passed the law test.  I'm still stalled at my resume.
  • Go through every room in the house, one a month, to clean out unwanted and unneeded items.  I'm sick of the clutter!  I worked some in my closet which was a huge mess, but I got sidetracked while potty training Mary.  I forgot how much extra work that is:  cleaning up accidents and lots of extra laundry.
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Fail.
Goals as a Mother:
  • Do something (like a playdate) with someone (and her children) once a month, whether it's having someone over for lunch, going to someone else's house, or heading out for a field trip together.  We saw a real, live play with some friends and had lunch together afterwards.
  • Continue having one fun day in school a month.  We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with green pancakes, reading a book about Saint Patrick, and watching a short video about him.  We finished the day with green Rice Krispy treats.
  • Continue taking my children on one field trip a month.  There is so much to do in the Houston area!  As I said above, we went to a play.
  • Do a service project with my children every month.  Fail.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house, like mopping and folding clothes.  What a great way to build their self-esteem.  We're still working on laundry.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Continue monthly date nights for John and me.  Fail...but I don't feel so bad since John was the one who didn't want to.  (I think it was the cost of the babysitter.)
  • Do something weekly to make John feel special.  (I got this goal from Tracey at Girls to Grow.)  Hit and miss....again.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  Fail.
  • Start having Game Night once a month.  Fail.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Hit and miss.
I didn't do as well this month as I would have liked, but that just inspires me to do better next month.

How are you doing with your goals for the year?