Posted in From The Altar, With The Kids

Lenten Family Devotional 2017 


Lent is coming! It sneaks up on me every year. This year, the focus of our study will be the ministry of Christ. If you’d rather, skip back to 40 Holy People and study that one if it fits your crew better. Or head on back to the Lenten Reading for Kids schedule if you’d prefer that one. If you’re new to my family devotionals, let me tell you how they work and give you some tips.

Lent is a 40-day season, not including Sundays. It is the season that stretches from Ash Wednesday (which is March 1st this year) to Easter Sunday. This year, I have two pre-Lent devotions and then 40 days of devotions for the Lenten season. These are intended to be done as a family. Everyone. All together. Now, I add some optional activities into my devotions. Use them. Don’t use them. You make this work for you and your family.

For Lent, you’ll have one reading each day except for Sunday. Use them as a springboard to talk to your kids about the life of Christ. I’ve also included some questions to get discussion going. Expect to get as much out of this as your kids get. This isn’t just for them; this is for your entire family. You may want to look ahead each week and see if there are any items you’ll need for activities that week. I will add a quick “need” list at the beginning of each week, but if you’re picking and choosing activities, you’ll need to adjust that to fit you.

Who reads? That is up to you. In our house, I am usually the devotional reader, and the Pastor usually handles a lot of the questions. Although, we do sometimes alternate kids reading. It really just depends on our particular time constraints and if the kids are acting particularly cooperative that season. It varies.

If you miss a day, skip it. Don’t try to pile a bunch into one day. Just skip it and move to the next. It’ll be okay. Really.

I write these for my family and then make them available to you. Adjust them as you need, and make them fit you. If you need something short and sweet, just do the readings. If you’ve got littles, use a storybook Bible to read the stories. Do the devotions in the evening, and then let them do the activities the following day. Whatever works for you is what will be best.

I’ve included the Scripture passages, but also added the applicable pages from The Jesus Storybook Bible and Jesus Calling Bible Storybook. If you have younger kids, you may choose to read from a Bible storybook instead of the Bible text when you can (All the readings aren’t found in both Storybooks.), or you may just want to look them up so that the kids can have illustrations to go with the story. If you have another Storybook you love, use it. I simply chose the two that are the most used in our house.

My prayer is that this Lenten devotion brings your family closer to one another and closer to God during this season. I hope you grow as a family in your walk with Jesus, and I sincerely hope this Lenten season is meaningful for you and your children.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Week Six

Week Seven

** This post contains affiliate links. **

Posted in Under Our Roof

New Bed

This may seem funny to you, but we spent the first 12 years of marriage sleeping on a full size bed. When I got married, the idea of a huge bed was ridiculous to me. Why would I need that much room?

Then I had six kids fairly close in age. That means we always have a toddler and a baby. And I co-sleep. And kids come pile in at night. Suddenly my full size bed was seeming a little too cramped and full.

We thought we wanted to go all the way to king size, but weren’t sure. It might be overkill. A friend of mine had a queen mattress and box springs that she gave to us. We gladly welcomed the bigger mattress, but figured we’d try it out for a bit before we got a bed for it, in case we decided the queen wasn’t big enough.

I’m not sure how it is possible, but I think my husband and the toddler are the only ones who got more room on the queen bed. I was still pushed to the edge by the numerous people always in my bed! We figured we’d make the move to a king size, but wanted to do some shopping around. Then another friend gave us a king size mattress!

The Pastor wanted to make a bed for it. We wanted a low platform bed. And we had specific needs for the color. (We have dark wood bookshelves in our room and light wood drawers, so we wanted the bed to combine both light and dark finishes to help tie our mismatched furniture together a little better.) Now, The Pastor isn’t really into woodworking. He helped my Dad build triple bunks for our boys. He has helped people do random house and wood working projects. But this isn’t a hobby for him or something he does with any regularity. We searched Pinterest and found a couple ideas that he ran with.

bed no mattress

This is the finished product without the mattress. We found this pin with a few ideas. We liked the spaced wood boards, but since we rent, we didn’t want to just nail them to the wall. The pastor came us with this headboard based on the pictures of a few we saw.

Looking through a million pins on Pinterest, we decided we wanted the platform style. We liked being closer to the floor, since kids sleep in our bed, it makes falls and getting up and down for them easier. We used this blog post for the measurements for the wood for the bed. We went to Home Depot and had them cut the wood for us. (They tell you they charge $0.50 a cut, but if you’re a nice patient person, they might wave that for you like they did for us.) With the stain, lumber, and screws, this project cost us about $150. Add the new linens, and the grand total was $230.

bed fx

It took one evening to stain all the wood and make the headboard. Then it took another 3 hours the next day to put the platform bed together and get the mattress on it and such.

I am super happy with how this tuned out. Like, really happy with it.

stuck mattress.JPG

This was the hardest part of the project, unless you count wrangling 6 kids in Home Depot while your husband gets wood cut. We managed, but it was looking almost impossible there for a second.

Now I just need throw pillows and to finish that giant crocheted blanket for it.

Posted in With The Kids

Oscha Caledonia Braes Review

CB front wrap

When I was pregnant with Peregrin, I saw a picture on FB of a woman wearing a baby wrap that looked so Lord of The Rings. I thought, “I NEED that wrap!” I sent the picture to a friend. We quickly found the wrap was an Oscha Caledonia Braes. But there weren’t any new ones for sale on the site. Bummer. I figured I would just have to track down a used one.

oscha cb happy

A couple weeks later, I get a series of texts from my friend. “Oscha just relisted the Braes!” “I ordered one for you!” “If that isn’t okay I can sell it!” Of course, it was okay. I sold several baby carriers to fund the new acquisition. The Pastor did not think it necessary to own 8 baby carriers. I don’t know why. 8 seems like a modest number of carriers to own. (I now have 4, which seems like not very many at all!)

oscha cb watch

The Caledonia Braes- 50% organic combed cotton, 50% linen, 230 gsm. I got a size 7, which is long enough for really pretty tails. I love long tails.

oscha cb cello

This wrap is beautiful and tough. It  was soft and wrappable straight out of the bag. Honestly no breaking in was needed at all. It was just great immediately.

CB newborn sleep

It wraps nice and snug. It has the perfect balance of grip and slip. Not too grippy, but not too slippy. You can strand by strand tighten easily. Wrap a newborn with no problems. Wrap a toddler with no problems. This is really a wrap that can work all duties. If you’re only buying one wrap, you need a wrap like this. It works in any weather. Hot or cold, this wrap is fine.

CB newborn wrap

And did I mention it is pretty and perfect for my little hobbit?

oscha cb lean

Posted in With The Kids

Danu Sky Songs Midnight- A Review

danu sky songs 6

A friend of mine graciously loaned me her Sky Songs Midnight to try out. Well, and to help break it in. We’ll get to that bit. I had previously tested a Danu wrap, so I wanted to compare.

danu sky songs 3

Sky Songs Midnight is a wrap made by Danu. It is 55% Irish Linen and 45% cotton. 302 gsm.

danu sky songs 1

First, this wrap is thick. Very thick. And stiff. Very denim like. It is an absolute beast to break in. When I had this wrap, it had been months of attempting to break it in. And it was usable, but still had a long way to go before it was broken. This is one wrap that you might want to consider buying used. Very used.

danu sky songs 2

Now, it is strong enough for larger kids. It is a very sturdy wrap. It is also really grippy, so your passes don’t slide. Makes a great back carry because your passes won’t slide down.

danu sky songs 4

It is also really pretty, while still being a tough wrap. This would make an excellent workhorse/beater wrap. It would also be a really good choice for a wrap conversion because it is so thick and sturdy.

danu sky songs 5

Another really cool aspect of this wrap is that there is no right or wrong side. It made some awesome wrap jobs when you get both sides showing. They flip the hems on the top and bottom rails so either side really is “correct”.

danu sky songs 7

 

Overall, a pretty and sturdy wrap. Not really suitable for newborns. Not really suitable for inexperienced babywearers unless you find one super duper broken in. But a beautiful and tough wrap, for sure.

Sorry I have no pictures of me wearing the wrap. There is probably one on Instagram somewhere. I apparently failed to take a lot of pics of myself during that time. (Super bad haircut.)

Posted in Out Of My Head, With The Kids

Ask LJ: Toddler Advice

Dear LJ,

My toddler keeps knocking things off the shelves in the store! How do I act?

Frustrated Mum

IMGP3001Frustrated Mum,

Is there any chance the toddler is not yours? Not your toddler, you just thank the Lord that today is not your day to deal with that. And smile! Bystanders of toddler tantrums should always smile at mom and dad!

The child is yours? Oh. Can you pretend they aren’t? Just kidding. Though, isn’t that where we all go?

Having raised 4 toddlers already, working on the fifth now, with one more to go, I’ll give you my not so expert advice since in all my toddler raising days I have never raised YOUR specific toddler. Unfortunately, there is likely no one size fits all approach, so you, as the presiding expert on raising YOUR toddler will just have to do what feels right for you.

Option 1: Tie that sucker down. I don’t mean it mean. Sure they want to walk. But the buggy can be your friend! Just make sure you don’t get the buggy (or cart or whatever they call it where you live) too close to the shelves. You know that annoying person that walks in the center of the aisle? Well now you know why.

Option 1a: If this is not a buggy kind of store, strap him to your back or plop him into the stroller. Again, take care to stay away from the shelves!

Bonus expert tip: Keep the snacks flowing! They sit happier when they are preoccupied with snacks. Icees are the only way Target ever happens.

Bonus expert tip: Singing ridiculous songs very loudly can keep a toddler quite for quite some time. In my experience, toddler happiness > personal embarrassment. Great Big Poop one more time, everybody!

Option 2: Leave. Seriously, some things are not worth fighting over. If it isn’t a necessity, hang up the gloves and let the kid win. Get out of there!

Option 3: This can be combined with Option 1. Make your necessary trips fast! If your particular brand of toddler has zero patience, a leisurely stroll around Target is ill advised. Get your junk and get out!

Option 4: Don’t attempt any store with your toddler. I know this sounds drastic, but there are some toddlers… Work out some arrangement by which the child does not have to darken a store until they are 4. Or 5. Or maybe 16.

Option 5: Online shopping. What can’t you buy online?

Now, whatever you do, don’t do the following things:

-Yell. They don’t listen. Eventually they’ll train you on this one.

-Act like a toddler. As tempting as it might be to join them in pitching a fit, refrain. Someone has to be the grown up around here and it sure isn’t them.

-Reason with them. They aren’t there yet. If you find yourself arguing with a toddler, you need to rethink some things in your life. And they don’t know WHY. Gravity. I mean, the answer is usually just gravity.

-Lecture them. Wah wah wah wah wah wah. Look! You turned into Charlie Brown’s teacher.

You’ve got this, Mum! Go get ’em!

**Ask LJ is a fictitious advice column based on search engine searches that send people to my site somehow. All advice given is by me, who is, again, not an expert on your kid.**

**If you really need help with a toddler, I have a couple book suggestions you can check out in all that free time between poop and jam and broken toys and more poop and baby powder in the carpet. Making The Terrible Twos Terrific. Your Two Year Old.** This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in Concerning Strangers, From The Altar, On The Reading Chair, Out Of My Head

Affirm Their Worth

So, what is this common courtesy business? Well, I consider it a spiritual discipline. In fact, this spiritual discipline is more difficult for me than prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, hospitality- anything else. When God first started working on my heart about common grace, you could feel my soul yelling, “Anything but this!” Seriously. Some people find this sort of thing easy. I do not. A punk rock teen grew up to be a punk in adult’s clothing. Polite is almost the opposite of my core. To me, polite felt like a lie. It felt wrong. Chit-chat seemed like wasted meaningless words. A waste of the limited time we are given! Oh how wrong I was. I mean, I thought I was right. My logic made sense. But God has a way of taking those things we hold as true and exposing them to light, and we see that we only saw a shadow of the issue at hand.

“Once we get over our egocentric arrogance about the fact that people don’t really want to know how we are when they say “How are you?” we can see that it is just an American way of acknowledging our presence. We can wave and acknowledge their presence too without feeling the need to give a prognosis on our latest headache.” – Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Did that hit you as it hit me? Honestly, that single concept took me years to master. Years. And I still think I struggle with it from time to time. My brutal and completely open honesty struggles with this concept.

“The specific acts will vary from culture to culture, but the purpose is always the same: to acknowledge others and affirm their worth.” -Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

You read that? Read it again. Let that sink in. Does my need for this ideal of brutal honesty mean more than the worth of the person in front of me? No. Does my internal punk screaming for truth matter more than this moment to affirm this person’s worth? No. In these seemingly small moments, we make people. We breathe into them that thing we find in our Great God- worth. We shine a light into their darkness and say, “Hey, you! You’re worth my time and my attention.”

Titus 3:2 (CEB) They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone.

pip handYears ago, the thought of someone touching my baby would have sent me into a tizzy. You’ve seen that Steve Harvey video? No, not the Miss Universe one, the one about the woman who didn’t want strangers touching her baby. (I linked that for ya, just in case you somehow haven’t seen it.) Well, that is the world’s wisdom. And years ago, I would have been the first person and the loudest person saying, “If you want to touch a baby, have your own baby!” But you know how God works in ways different than the world? And you know how God changes us sometimes, even those pieces we didn’t think needed to be changed? Well, that is what He did to me.

Not long ago, in a coffee shop, I had Pip all wrapped up snug. It wasn’t cold out, and his feet are so dang fat socks are just not an option unless he really might freeze without them. So, I am standing and waiting on my café au lait, and a woman approaches me. She says, “Oh! Those feet!” Now, the judgement police sirens are going off in my head. I am sure I am about to get a lecture about how he will certainly catch pneumonia and die in 70 degree weather. I smile and mention that his feet are too fat for socks. She says, “May I?” Nodding to his fat little foot poking out of the carrier. I say, “Sure.” The lady proceeds to just hold and rub Pip’s foot for a minute. She has this sad kind of smile while she does. Pip is just grinning at her, because that is what Pip does. She then says, “Thank you so much for sharing him with me today. You have no idea how much holding that fat foot meant to me.” And then she walks off.

Now, five years ago, I would have in no polite way told her that she may not touch his foot! I would have likely acted like I couldn’t hear her when she first spoke to me, since I assumed she was just being Judgy McJudgyPants. But God was working on me. And in this moment, I chose to just show simple kindness. We’re not talking about some incredible heroic act. I was simply kind and polite. I shared my baby’s foot with a stranger for a minute. I’ll never know what that woman was going through. And I will never know what that moment meant to her. But to me, it seems Pip and I were there as an act of grace to her that day. We simply acknowledged her, and somehow we brought a little light.

Common courtesy is a simple act of compassion. It is a small act of service. Are you like I was, unable to small talk because of your own ideals? Perhaps those assumptions of others are keeping you from the smallest kindness? Will you acknowledge others and affirm their worth? Will you pray for opportunities to practice small kindnesses to strangers?

Posted in Concerning Strangers, From The Altar, On The Reading Chair, Out Of My Head

Common Courtesy

Common courtesy. Small talk. A smile. Giving a little of your time to make the day of a stranger a little better. On the one hand, we gravitate toward stories of the small “random acts of kindness”. We post them on social media. They might bring a tear to our eye. But when it is us in a situation where we could use a little common courtesy, how often do we find ourselves showing that small grace?

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Usually our reasons to not be courteous seem valid.

We’re busy! We need to get home and get dinner started or we won’t have time to feed the kids before they need to be at the ball field. We have a ticking clock in our heads telling us there are not enough hours in the day to make our obligations. We certainly have no time for chit chat. We certainly have too much on our plate for patience.

We’re stressed! All those million things that jam pack our schedule full all fall on us my shoulders right this second. If the kids are late, my fault. If their homework isn’t done to perfection, my fault. If their dinner isn’t healthy & nutritious enough, my fault. It all falls on me and it is all bearing down every second of every day. Stressed seems too tame a word for what we feel!

We’re tired! Burning the candle at both ends, trying to make all of this work. Kids finally get in bed and we’ve still get a few hours worth of work before we can tuck in. And just as we do, someone is crying in the night needing us. We haven’t slept in a decade and that never seems to be ending soon!

We’re selfish! Let’s stop pretending. We don’t want to chit chat when we could be reading our e-mails or playing Candy Crush in a moment of zoned out peace. We like to talk about “me” time and try to sneak it any way we can.

We feel judged! Usually because we judge ourselves. We feel like every statement is somehow a commentary on our lives. We may find we are quick to judge others, and assume the same. And yes, sometimes this really is the truth, but so are all the other things I listed.

We’re oblivious! You might say, “Well, this belongs under selfish!” Stop judging me and let me talk! (Ha! JK) This is when the selfishness gets so engrained, that it literally doesn’t even occur to us to think of someone else. You might argue, but we’re parents, we are always thinking of others! Thinking of your kids and thinking of complete strangers are two completely different things. But too often we get so into our own lives that we are completely oblivious to the lives of others.

I have absolutely been there. God has been working on me with this issue for years. Honestly. You can ask some of my small group peoples. I don’t do common courtesy. Until this past year or so, that is. This anti-chit-chat girl has become friendly to strangers. It didn’t happen overnight. And I still have to actively force myself into this common courtesy business. But I think this is something we all need to hear. I think this is something God is calling us back to in our culture. I’m not talking about online. Redeeming social media is another discussion completely. I’m talking about real life. We’re talking about loving the neighbor right in front of you right now.

I’m breaking this down into smaller bites, because what I have to say may get long. And you may need time to digest each piece. I know I did. This is also written to Christians. I don’t expect the World to live like Christ. I expect that of Christians. So, my secular readers, read on if you find interest in the inner workings of Christian life, but know where I am coming from, The Cross.

Posted in Among The Homeschool

Back To School Planning

education quote

We’re entering the fast paced beginning of the school year time. Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, hybrid schoolers- whatever we are, we’re getting ready for the next year. The next year when we can make a difference in our kids’ lives. Will this be the year they find that thing that sparks them? Will this be the year they develop a love for reading, or writing, or math, or running marathons? The beginning of the school year always comes with such high expectations. And then wait, come April, we’ll just be hoping we didn’t mess them up too much this year.

I’m a homeschool mom. Our year here won’t start until September. In fact, we’re finishing up our last school year still. Testing has to be done this year. But the planning for next year is beginning. And I know I’ll overplan. I’ll want to do too much. There are just so many beautiful and awesome things in the world and I want to give all of them to my kids. I want them to be able to write all the wonderful thoughts that come into their heads. I want them to read ALL the books. I want them to see, love, and create art. I want them to see how the world works and watch it amaze them. I want them to hear the stories of our past as humankind and hear their take on things. I want them to learn languages to expand their horizons and not limit them to what is written or spoken in English only. I want to teach them to play ALL the instruments. I want them to understand mathematic concepts so they can create, understand, and develop the world around them. I want them to learn liturgy, theology, apologetics, and more about our Lord. And it is all so much.

But then I remember that I am still learning. They have their whole lives to explore this world. They have their whole lives to read. I’m still reading, writing, learning. I’m still creating, listening, exploring. And hopefully they will be too, when they are my age. I have to remember that I am teaching them how to do these things- how to learn, how to explore. And I’ll enjoy the wonder as they go along.

I’ll still overplan. I’ll try to be flexible. I’ll try not to be hard on myself come April when everything just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I’ll still want to show them the whole world all at once and tell them what a beautiful place it is- to look for light in the darkness or better yet, be the light in the darkness. The weight of the task will still be heavy. But I’ll try not to be overwhelmed. I’ll try to let the weight inspire me. I’ll slow down enough to enjoy this time in their lives when the wonder comes naturally.

Posted in On The Reading Chair

2014 Books In Review

I’ll admit it, I did not read very much in 2014. I honestly don’t know what happened. I just had a slow reading year. I ended up reviewing a bunch of non-book products (crib sheets, stroller, baby carriers, vacuum, toys, etc.). But I did read, on average more than one book per month. Here they are:

revivalRevival: Faith As Wesley Lived It by Adam Hamilton

5 Stars

Written by a United Methodist Pastor, Revival is divided geographically. Each chapter focuses on a place in Wesley’s life and ministry and ties that back to Wesley’s teachings. You’ll find pictures of the author’s journey to these places. You could even use the book as a guidebook to a Wesley centered trip. He quotes Wesley’s sermons and relates them to modern life. This is a book easily understood by laity, and easily appreciated by clergy. You’ll find snippets of Wesley’s life, snippets of Wesley’s thoughts, and snippets of current Wesleyan perspective- all in one book. While not exhaustive, it is certainly a good peak into the life and mind of Wesley and into the theology of Wesleyans.

hereinisloveHerein Is Love, Volume 3: Leviticus by Nancy E. Ganz

5 Stars

I cannot tell you enough how much I love this book. I got it for homeschooling. We’d been going through the Old Testament and I found myself stumped when it came to Leviticus. This book is amazing. It ties the Old Testament to the New in a way that kids can understand. It is set up with lessons in the beginning and questions in the back. It can easily be used for Sunday School type curriculum, as well. This is understandable by grammar school age kids, but isn’t below middle or even high schoolers. My 5 year old was able to remember all the steps to becoming a priest! This book was a huge help and a huge blessing. I cannot recommend it enough!

soupclub

The Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Lasko, and Julie Peacock

5 Stars

At first, I just wanted this book for the soup recipes. And there are plenty of those! The range of the recipes is pretty wide, but if you’re not a foodie, not many of them are going to appeal to you. There are also some very difficult to find specialty ingredients in a lot of the soups. If you live near a large metro area, it likely won’t be difficult for you to acquire them. If you live in more rural areas, you’ll have a lot more trouble with a lot of the ingredients. (We’re talking about things like Marmite, specialty cheeses, fresh chestnuts, celeriac bulbs, sunchokes, masa harina, kombu, nori, etc.) There are also several non-soup recipes. I was thrilled with the recipes included. And the recipes are huge, which is a plus for this large family momma.
But what really surprised me is how much I actually like the idea of a soup club. I usually shy away from dinner clubs, mostly because they just don’t work for my family. But soup club is something I could really get used to. I look forward to finding a few friends to try soup club with me.
You’ll need a few things to make this cookbook work for you. You’ll need a huge stock pot. The soup recipes are intended to be split among 4 families. That means each recipe makes 8-9 quarts of soup. (And if you’re a large family mom, like myself, that means their might even be leftovers!) You’ll need an immersion blender for several of the soups. You may need a food processor for several soups. And if you’re starting a soup club, you’ll need quart sized jars, small jars for garnishes, and canvas tote bags for delivery.

crochetwithoneCrochet with One Sheepish Girl by Meredith Crawford

5 Stars

I am a very beginning crocheter. This book has the basics in the beginning of the book, though crochet is a little hard to grasp in book form, so you may want to watch some YouTube videos to help with the beginner basics. There are several patterns in this book, all of them pretty unique. (I hate it when I buy a craft book and can find every single pattern for free on the internet. This book isn’t like that.)
Patterns include: Granny Square Infinity Cowl, Color Block Ribbed Turban, Bow Brooch, Striped Bow Clutch, Sweater Makeover (Adding crochet hearts to a sweater, not the pattern for the sweater), Collared Shirt Makeover (Adding a crochet trim to a button up shirt), Scallop Stripe Cowl, Home Cozy Home Pillowcase, Crochet Edge Frames, Yarn Bag Makeover (Adding Crochet touches to a ready made canvas bag), Ombre Basket in Three Sizes, Crochet Hook Organizer, Heart Pocket Apron, Teacup Coasters, “Enjoy” Place Setting Placemat, Cottage Tea Cozy, Diana Camera Purse (looks like a camera, doesn’t hold a camera), Tablet Case, Gift Boxes, Chocolate Latte (crochet to go coffee cup, doesn’t actually hold coffee), Blueberry Muffin (again, a “play” muffin), Party Hat Garland, Snow Cone Garland, and Crochet Edge Cards and Tags (cards are printed in the back of the book so you can make copies of the cards she has or add the trim to your own).

charcuterieThe New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette

4 Stars

This is a well laid out book. There are plenty of pictures, even step by step pictures helping you wade through the unfamiliar territory. You’ll need more than the average American kitchen contains, though. You’ll need a meat grinder. For many recipes, you need a separate meat curing fridge. You’ll need a sausage stuffer. None of these recipes will make your kitchen more efficient or save you money. This is more of a hobby cooking type endeavor. (Telling you his first few hams didn’t turn out, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t won’t fly when you’re counting on that ham for dinner.)

You should also be aware that this book, particularly in the introduction, is quite crude and contains a few profanities. I wouldn’t usually expect that in a cookbook, but think it is pertinent info, particularly for those giving the book as a gift.

Overall, a beautifully laid out, well explained book. Just not something the average American home cook is going to necessarily employ.

goodadvice
Good Advice from Bad People by Zac Bissonnette
4 Stars
This makes for an interesting coffee table book. Organized with a quote on one page in large print and then the story of why the quote is so humorous coming from that person follows on the next page or two. Some of the quotes and stories are not so amusing, some are. Makes a great conversation starter, for sure.
afterworlds
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield
3 Stars
This book is two books in one. You have the book, “Afterworlds”. Then you have the story of a young up-and-coming author writing “Afterworlds”. Chapters alternate between the stories. The timing between the stories is very well done.
“Afterworlds” by Darcy Patel would have gotten a 5 star review. And I would sit anxiously awaiting “Untitled Patel”. It was the second story of Darcy Patel flowing through the pages that brought the rating down. Don’t get me wrong, the book premise was genius, the timing of the stories flowing together was nothing short of epic. The characters in the Darcy Patel story just lost their fizz and definition as the love relationship in that story began. The plot took over and left nothing for the characters themselves to be. Darcy began acting not like Darcy, but by a pawn of the plot. Huge bummer because this book could have been epic. Darcy was just all wrong from the beginning. (She should have been a dude- that would have made so much more sense because she didn’t ever feel like any girl I have ever known. The soul of the character felt like an insecure boy.) Read it, because you have to- this is Scott Westerfeld we’re talking about. Enjoy the genius in the premise and in the Afterworlds story. But know that the Darcy Patel story is just a flat, soulless blah once you get beyond the perfect timing, insightful industry look, and innovative idea.Parental blurb: (This book is YA. Recommended for 14 and up. So I am dutifully including the info parents might want to know.) This book contains the following:
-terrorism
-cult in minor detail
– violence, but nothing excessively graphic
– violence against children
– cursing, not excessive, but a few f-bombs
– underage drinking
– sex in vague passing references, nothing graphic
– homosexual relationship is one of the main stories in the book

breastfeeding
5 Stars

I have breastfed all five of my children, so I am not new to this, nor was any of the information in the book really new or unheard of to me. However, this made me heart just sing reading about the beauty God created in the mother and child dynamic shared in breastfeeding. I will go back and read this again and again. And I highly recommend it!

Note: I am not Catholic, but I found the book amazing nonetheless. I am Protestant/Methodist.

hyperbole
Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh
4 Stars
I don’t read the blog, but I bought the book anyway. I wasn’t exactly aware of how much the author likes the F word. I found the book amusing. I would caution readers that it does contain a lot of profanity, so if that is something that bothers you, skip this book. There is no getting around the profanity.
fallout
The Fallout by S.A. Bodeen
4 Stars
I did not think The Compound really needed a sequel. It was a great stand alone story. I wish authors would rebel against this new trend toward making everything a series. With that said, I liked this book. I didn’t want it tagged onto The Compound, but I did enjoy it.
baked
Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
5 Stars
If you know me, you know how much I love baking. And I love the premise of these recipes- decrease the sugar where you can, add more chocolate where you can. There are recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, and more. If you’ve never baked a cake before, you might want to start with something simpler, but for those that know their way around a mixer, you’ll love this book!
lectures
Lectures in Old Testament Theology by Dennis Kinlaw with John Oswalt
5 Stars
As I was preparing to teach the kids about the Old Testament this year, I found myself with a lot of questions. So, instead of trudging along blindly, I picked up this book and began to read and help answer some of those questions. This book was undoubtedly a blessing to me. It helped me understand the Old Testament, helped tie it to the New Testament, and gave me more insight into the Bible than I have had before. While this book was written for academia, I find it very easy to understand with no theological or Biblical degree. I would recommend it for clergy and laity, alike.
bibleamongthemyths
The Bible Among Myths by John Oswalt
5 Stars
In addition to the previous book, I picked up this book to help further answer some of my questions. Living in a time where everyone spouts “truth” as it is known to them, it is easy to find yourself a bit confused on what is and isn’t actually true. This book helped frame the world when the Bible was written. It helps you understand the concepts of myth and history and how the Bible fits into that. It is a little more difficult to read than Lectures in Old Testament Theology, but readable nonetheless, for those with an interest in the subject.
Note: Dr. Oswalt was one of The Pastor’s seminary professors.
holdon
Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
5 Stars
I read this book at such an opportune time. My kids have just started playing with other kids around the neighborhood and I was able to see a lot of what the authors were discussing playing out in the early stages. And I was really surprised how quickly the kids’ attachments went from our home to homes around the neighborhood. It has definitely given me more to think about and more of a leg to stand on when certain relationships my children have make me uncomfortable. (And usually, it isn’t a matter of the other kid being a bad kid. It is just how much emphasis and how much of themselves they throw into the relationship, even at relatively young ages.) This is definitely a book to read, particularly for those entering the world of raising kids who have their own friends and relationships outside of the family. It is easier to foster healthier relationships from the beginning than to be scrambling to fix them when things go bad. (Though if you’re in that second camp, this book will help, too.)
angryconvos
Angry Conversations With God by Susan E. Isaacs
4 Stars
I really couldn’t relate to Susan’s story at all. I don’t know what it is like to be a single adult searching for your mate. I don’t know what it is like to move across the country while single. I don’t know what it is like building a career while searching for Mr. Right. I didn’t do those things. And that life is so foreign to me, I just couldn’t relate. I know nothing about church hopping and trying to find the perfect church. (I’ve always been of the “grow where you are planted” variety and try to make my church better and take the things that I dislike about it to make myself a better person. I’ve never moved to a new city and had to shop for churches. In every move, I had a church home waiting for me, and I made that the best I could.)
This book is funny and snarky. And I enjoyed it, despite the author being nothing like myself. I like peeking into the spiritual journey’s of others. It gives me more insight into choices they make and why they tick. So, I did enjoy the book, though I didn’t necessarily find it personally edifying or touching.
handsfree
You’ve already seen my review of Hands Free Mama and all the ways I dislike it. If you haven’t, go read it. I gave it 2 out of 5 stars, and I think that was being pretty generous.
protecting
Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker
4 Stars
I really liked Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear. That book really should be read by all parents. This book, had its great points. If I was in a different situation in life, needing childcare providers on a regular basis or something, this book would have likely gotten 5 stars. There are screening questions for daycares, schools, and babysitters. There are tips on things to look for, things to ask that you may not think about, and just the general word to trust your gut. Parents today need to hear that. Trust your gut. We get so bogged down in the lists and the comparing that we often try not to listen to ourselves, even when we should. This book also helped me navigate some personal parenting issues that had come up in my life, which was invaluable. I just found that I really liked about half the book and then just kind of got through the other half. It isn’t a topic we usually like to dwell on, but Gavin de Becker does such a great job of getting right to the heart of the matter that it immediately deals with our anxieties and then leaves us with nothing but newfound strength.
makingafamilyhome
Making A Family Home by Shannon Honeybloom
2 Stars
The book is full of beautiful pictures… of the author’s perfect home and perfect kids and perfect life. Of course, likely all taken on the same day and likely not quite as perfect as projected. (I think we’ve all seen similar on social media.) It was seriously just room by room of her house and how to make your house like her home. I didn’t find it all that helpful or inspirational, it just felt pretentious. But the pictures were pretty.
lovingthelittleyears
Loving The Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
4 Stars
Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were parts that were very encouraging. Parts that had me tearing up. Parts that I felt convicted to do better for my kids. I think her views on how children change a mother’s body are amazing and could read an entire book just on that subject.
I did conclude that Mrs. Jankovic and I are very different parents. And to me, that is okay. However, I wish she wouldn’t have talked so much about discipline in her book since that is where she and I would majorly disagree. I also didn’t find it helpful to the overall grounding and encouraging tone of the book. I also found it humorous that a mom whose oldest child is 5 is talking about long term discipline approaches. She really should have left that part out, added a few more uplifting and encouraging chapter, and called it a five star book.
mamarazzi
Mamarazzi by Stacey Wasmuth
4 Stars
This book is overall a good help to taking great pictures of your kids. It contains tons of pictures along with the camera settings uses to take each picture. There are tips on how to make handmade photography helps, like diffusers and reflectors. It is a very good resource for the technical aspects of photography, explaining aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There were tips and tricks for photographing newborns through teens. It also has info on how I choose a professional photographer when you need one.
The downsides of this book are small, but keep it from being a 5 star book. The book was copyrighted in 2011, so many of the website and specific products recommended are gone. Including websites in a book is helpful, but certainly dates a book. All the photo editing is specifically geared to Adobe Photoshop. There are recommended iPhone apps, which only scratch the surface of what is currently available. The advice on choosing a camera is really limited to Canon and Nikon. There are plenty of other options available. It also recommends a dSLR because of previous limitations with digital cameras. I own a dSLR myself, but there are plenty of digitals that are blowing folks away these days.
I think my favorite quote from this book is, “Buying a fancy camera does not make you a photographer.”
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Posted in From The Altar

Interrupted By God

bonhoeffer interrupted

I am so ridiculously over scheduled. I know it could be so much worse. I actively try to keep my commitments to a minimum. So, I know it could be so much worse. But I find myself with no time. Ever. No time to really stop and think about those around me. No time to really even see the person in front of me. It is popular to blame technology, but that really isn’t it at all. I’m just self absorbed. Period. Blame the phone. Blame Facebook. I can’t see those around me because of me. I’m over schedule because of me. The handwriting all over the calendar is mine. The schedule that keeps me from that theoretical ideal was created by me. I think it’d be easy to blame our technology centric culture or blame other parents who “make me feel” some certain way. But blaming everything but my own bent heart will get me nowhere. It won’t take the ink off the calendar. It won’t open my eyes to the struggles of those around me. It won’t free me for the work of God.

I’m trying to get free. Not free from Facebook, my smart phone, or any of the other bogey men we like to blame. I’m trying to really be free. Praying God will remove my blinders, turn my heart outward, and realign my priorities. I can waste my days focused on me- my schedule, my kids, my life. Or I can open myself up to being interrupted by God. Open myself up to being led instead of trying to blaze a new path each new day. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis.

How about you? Want to actually leave the blame behind and allow yourself to be interrupted by God? Friend, I have no idea what that will look like. I make no promises or assumptions about a life where I am not the center. I just know it won’t look like this- with my calendar inked with all the “have to’s” that have no eternal significance. I just know my focus has to change. I need to stop thinking about being a better mom and focus on my children. I need to stop thinking about being a better wife and focus on my husband. I need to stop looking for what to DO for God and just seek His face. There is a lot of doing in the Kingdom, but His face is first. I’m going for it. I’m going to be ready for God to interrupt my life.