Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review--A Kingsbury Collection

In A Kingsbury Collection: Three Novels in One, author Karen Kingsbury captures the reader with three poignant stories of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings. 

Each story is independent of each other and can certainly be read alone. However, including them in a three-in-one book made the stories all the more interesting and engaging. 

From inception, the reader is captivated by each plot. The characters are credible and draw one into the story line. There is mystery and suspense which helps explain the character's actions and more often than not, their reaction to their present circumstances. The minor characters are intrinsically interwoven where they do not become a disturbance to the plot but rather a key component for the evolvement of the protagonist. 

Each story highlights the redeeming power of God in the midst of life altering events. Forgiveness and repentance are key themes throughout all three stories.  In Where Yesterday Lives, Ellen Barrett must come to grips with leaving behind the memories of a life she once had to be able to fully embrace the life the Lord is offering her.  Maggie Stovall's story in When Joy Came to Stay painfully reminds us that the past does not always remain in the past.  Her courageous story of coming to terms with the mistakes she made as a young lady only go to show it is never too late.  On Every Side, Jordan Riley finally understands that waring bitter wars will never heal his broken heart but allowing God to tear down the walls around his heart will.  

This book is surely not to disappoint those who enjoy relatable and engaging story plots.  You can read the first chapter here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

In Your Book...

In Your book my days are written out.  They include plans to give me hope and a future but that's not to say there won't be times of trial and affliction.  They are there too, written in to test my faith so that my faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.    They include tears wept through many nights only to show that His joy comes with the morning along with compassions that never fail because great is His faithfulness.  Yes, in this world I will have trouble but just to remind me to take heart because He will deliver me for them all since He has overcome the world.  There are moments I will be be tempted to be anxious but it's only to show me that in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving I can present my requests to God and His peace that transcends all understanding will guard my heart and my mind because He cares for me.  There are so many moments of weakness which are highlighted so that the power of Christ my rest on me. And in those weak moments, He strengthens me with power through His Spirit in my inner being so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith that I may be rooted and established in love having power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.  That I may know His love that surpasses knowledge and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  

your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16

Monday, February 25, 2013

Three Words

It's Monday again.  And while that may conjure thoughts of multiple to do lists and loads of work, I would encourage you to look at Mondays a bit differently.  

Monday is actually my favorite day of the week.  It resonates in my heart with ideas of new, fresh, beginnings and who can't get excited about that?

It's the day I sit down and write my weekly goals that coincide with my monthly goals that are a part of my yearly goals.  Can you tell I like me some goals?

But not too long ago, my husband and I were having a conversation about goal setting with our teen.  We encouraged her to select three words that represented what she wanted to accomplish for that day. They were productive, creative, and restful.  What she did that day had to fall into one of those three categories.  

So today I encourage you to choose three words for your daily goals.

I think I am going to go with:

1. Prayerful--I want to spend more time today interceding at different intervals throughout the day

2.  Intentional--I want to do things that serve a purpose; no idling 

3.  Thoughtful--I want to look for specific ways in which to help and encourage others

What will your three words be?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19
Week of February 17-23

1.  Really enjoyed some edifying conversations with my FIC

2.  Got taxes done...Mr. Tax was impressed with our record keeping:)

3.  Ran errands with the family and returned about $45 in merchandise

4.  Had a Scentsy party at Syd's and am looking forward to receiving my order

5.  Enjoyed Tuesday class...arts & crafts!!!!

6.  Ordered Sara's Lego car at 1/2 off what she was going to pay at Target for it and it came Saturday night...really around 8 p.m.  which is weird but true

7.  Texted with my SIL about curriculum for my niece...I recommended this:)

8.  Have been enjoying slumber party time with the girls

9.  Alicia did a library run with Kianna

10.   Played jumping monkeys with Sara and won each and every round:)!

He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 
Psalm 91:15

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recipe: PW's Fancy Mac and Cheese

As I had mentioned here, we were trying a new recipe this Saturday.  This one came from the Pioneer Woman and you can find it here.  She calls it 'Fancy Mac and Cheese' and it is d-e-l-i-s-h.  We were so quiet during dinner time just enjoying the meal.  And the leftovers on Sunday were even better:)

This is my adaption of her recipe since I don't think we would have liked the cheeses she used.

16-ounces of mushrooms
2-cups of spinach
1-cup of shredded and drained tomatoes to top
8-slices of bacon
1/2-of a white onion (I put this in the food processor along with garlic)
3-garlic cloves
5-tablespoons of butter
1.5-cup of Mexican blend cheese (I also added parmesan cheese to the sauce)
1-box of penne pasta (I forgot to add elbow noodles to the list so I used what we had)
1/4 -cup all-purpose flour
2.5-cups whole milk
2-whole eggs beaten
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese to taste

I basically followed her instructions but I skipped the layering of onions since I am not a fan of onions and instead shredded them and the garlic to flavor the shredded bacon.  I half-baked the bacon in the oven then shredded it and added it to the sauteed onions and garlic with the mushrooms and spinach.  Once everything was cooked (bacon and mix, noodles, and sauce), I topped it with the tomatoes.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

Week of February 10-16

1.  Loved what Randy spoke during the church informe...I know that it was the Lord!

2.  Mami called me on Monday to let me know that Tia Gladys went home to be with the Lord...truly You are Good and Faithful

3.  Tuesday's class was so full of energy from the children...they were so excited looking at the eagle books

4.  Watched reSTARt with Alicia 

5.  Encouraged to hear how a SIC is standing firm on the Word of God!

6.  Spoke to Mami again during the week and love to hear how the Lord Jesus has strengthened and helped her through this

7.  God glorified Himself at our dentist appointments!!!!!!!!!!

8.  Made family Costco run

9.  Have been enjoying some really good reads lately (this was me last night:)

10.  Randy and Sara are running errands (some ingredients are for tonight's new recipe...excited to taste the results)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Favorites--Homeschool:Teacher Edition

As a homeschooling mom, you can be bombarded by a plethora of "it will change your life" gadgets.  I think the balance between buying everything that may work for someone else but not you and not buying anything is assessing your "needs".

Personally, I like:

An item as to meet this criteria in order to make it into the (virtual) shopping cart.  

These are some things that make my homeschool day (as a teacher) run smoother or make it prettier (because my aesthetic surroundings are important to me).  

Topping this list and probably every list for me is the Bible, so I will keep it in a category of its own.  I can't imagine homeschooling (or anything) without the Word.  It is our foundation and road map along the way.  CAUTION:  Do Not Attempt Homeschooling without the Bible!

My Top 5 Favorites:
1.  This carousel has helped me corral those loose items that we are constantly using.  It also helps that it's right in the middle of the desk making it highly accessible. (The one I have is different from the link.  I bought mine at Hobby Lobby with a coupon code and free shipping:)

2.  Post notes--whether to serve as a page marker or write a quick reminder, these are a staple

3.  Planner--need I say more?  It helps me stay on track and having it color coded this year just made it all the more inviting to use.  I had used a flex binder, but the ability to take out and add just added a distraction in the record keeping/scheduling that I do not need

4.  Book holder--this is such a blessing.  Because I am usually multi-tasking, it helps to have the TM open to the page instead of having to open it up constantly.  It also frees up space:)  

5.  Clean Space--I am not able to concentrate in busy (aka messy) places so keeping our homeschool area clean and orderly is essential for me.  Instead of spending time to look for things, there is a place for everything and everything in its place (most of the time at least:)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review--Pocket Your Dollars

In Pocket Your Dollars, Carrie Rocha's approach to financial success is right on the money. 

The book is divided into three sections: 
1. The five attitudes that must go
2. Skills you need to change your attitude
3. Now that you're ready, some simple budgeting advice

Unlike other financial help books, Pocket Your Dollars begins with the crux of the matter-one's outlook towards money. Without properly assessing one's attitude regarding money, any attempt to remedy one's financial situation will be thwarted rather quickly. 

In the first section, the author provides an assessment of one's attitude after each chapter concerning the five attitudes that must go. This evaluation provides insight for the reader to know which areas to focus on. 

The author does not leave us with just an assessment of our attitude but also the skills necessary to change the attitude. She focused more on what one should do instead of a long list of don'ts. This, alongside the authors personal account of her journey to being financially debt free, kept the reader motivated and encouraged. 

The last section provided useful resources and tips to further implement the changes aforementioned throughout the book. The author made it a point to leave this for the last section instead of the first one surmising that if left untreated, the bad attitude would eventually deplete any money that was found through budgeting, sales, or couponing. 

Whereas I would have liked to read more Biblical references throughout her journey and the Bible as one's ultimate handbook regarding money, I would recommend this book for those looking to have a financial makeover.

I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

Week of February 3-9, 2013

1.  I had a very edifying conversation with a SIC and know that the Lord continues to ministers our lives...thank you Jesus!

2.  Pizza night and sleepovers:)

3.  Ability to pray one for the other

4.  Speaking to Mami from Ecuador

5.  Late night talks with Alicia

6.  Leftovers!

7.  Family Bible Study

8.  The Word was so good on for my soul!

9.  God exalting Randy in his You be the glory

10.  Ability to pray for matter where or what is going on...God is control!
The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 146:10

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review--One Glorious Ambition

In One Glorious Ambition:  The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, author, Jane Kirkpatrick "combines historical accuracy with the gripping narrative of a woman who recognized suffering when others turned away"  in order to tell the story of Dorothea Dix.

The book states this as a story of "one dedicated voice to the suffering of many."  But was hers a desire to alleviate the suffering of many or her own?

Whereas, the protagonist's life experiences shaped her future work, I can not accurately state from this book that its desire stemmed from a heart desiring to do God's will rather than satisfying her own desire to find her life's purpose. 

The story portrays Dorothea Dix as unattached to her own mother's plight of insanity while being all consumed with the suffering of others who were insane.  This inconsistency made her seem cold and distant, often self-absorbed rather than compassionate.  In her relationships, she seems to be so needy and selfish that no real relationships are formed and sustained until the latter portion of her life and that may have resulted more in the singleness of purpose with those who shared her interest.

The author's portrayal of her character and ideals left me uncertain as to the morals of the character.  Dorothea blames the democracy's 'excitement' for the insanity of many.  Her cure namely being the moral treatment of patients with order and discipline.  She crusades on the behalf of the mentally ill being above "politics" but not above "charm campaigns," all the while battling not to become the mentally ill herself.  She does not question the ethics of her campaigns to "polish the soul" of those whom she wants to contribute to her cause as long as she remains the "top that keeps on spinning."

This book did not elevate my opinion of Dorothea Dix in any way but rather caused me to look at her work as a result of personal ambition rather than for God's glory.  

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February Goals

1.  Work on Proverbs with girls on weekdays
2.  Memorize 2 Bible Verses
3.  Pray for SIC for the entire month
4.  4 Meatless Meals (I have to look for some recipes:)
5.  Freezer cooking 2x
6.  Homeschool Evaluations
7.  Mail out package and letters for Nthati & Abdi
8.  Finish 6 weeks of Project Life 2011
9.  Finish workout weeks

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

January Goals Update

1.  Read Proverbs to the girls during weekdays
2.  Memorize 2 verses this month (joining right here)
3.  Pray for a SIC for entire month
4.  Incorporate 4 meatless meals into menu
5.  Homeschool evaluations
6.  Write letters to Nthati & Abdi
7.  Finish 1 month of Project Life 2011 (yeah, I know:)
8.  Freezer cooking 2x
9.  Finish workout weeks
10.  Write 2 reviews

January felt like it came with a blast.  There was a lot going on and it seemed too much at times but nothing that the Lord doesn't have covered.  

Much of our normal routine was interrupted by the painting of our room, which turned out fabulous.  I still have some small (and I mean really small touches to add) and it's done!  Our Proverbs reading and gym workouts suffered because of it but weren't completely eliminated so it gets a cross out in my book:)  The meatless meals were half cross and the freezer cooking too because it only got partially done.  

Alicia and I are memorizing Scripture together, but not the same verses.  I love having an accountability partner that is as equally competitive as myself.  

My letters to Nthati and Abdi didn't get mailed out (or written for that matter) because I kept on postponing it and then when I did go to the post office, I completely forgot.  God willing I will write and send them out this week along with a little package for someone as well.

One of my biggest victories was not only finishing one month of Project Life 2011, but finishing 2 months! I ordered the pictures yesterday and am so excited to slip them in.   I continue to go back and forth about how to document our family and the girls.  Once I got back our 2012 album from Shutterfly I was convinced it was the way to go for 2013 but then I go through Project Life 2011 and think that's the best way.  Project Life?  Shutterfly?  Project Life?  Shutterfly?  We will see who wins.  

Count Your Blessings

Picture 19

Week of 1/13/13-1/19/13

1.  I have a new student in Sunday School!!!!

2.  Had a ceviche dinner at Mami's....yummmmmy

3.  Sara received Maria's gift and was soooo grateful

4.  Grace for new beginnings

5.  Mami didn't let the obstacles stop her from congregating....she's a warrior for God's glory

6.  Ordered Shutterfly album

7.  Mami gave me macadamia nut cookies:)

8.  Got PF gym bag for free:)

9.  Looked at Project Life 2010 with the girls

10.  Women's Prayer...majestic views

Week of 1/20/13-1/26/13

1.  God ministering our hearts:)

2.  Celebrating Mami's Birthday!!!!!!!!

3.  Still finding items to throw out while Randy starts painting the room

4.  Picking up our SIC b/c of the cold weather

5.  Slumber party with the girls, a husband who works sooo hard, and a beautiful room

6.  Late night talks with Sara thanking me for everything (thank You Father for Your Words)

7. Working on Shutterfly albums

8.  Lots of eating out with the family (pizza, Applebees, Sabor LaChino:)

9.  Sara's reaction to her Daddy not understanding

10.  Last Women's Prayer Service....for now:)

Week of 1/27/13-2/2/13

1.  I love car prayer!!!!!!!!!!!!

2.  Girls waking up to see Daddy off (Sara kept saying it was the best day ever!)

3.  Dentist appt. and visited my in-laws afterwards

4.  Randy took off to rest...thank You Jesus

5.  The Word on Thursday was wonderful and the prayer was just what we needed to hear

6.  Got to throw out a furniture piece that was just tooo big for us and underused

7.  Alicia is enjoying History and I am submitting to our curriculum changes...You lead, I follow

8.  Randy went to work at the church...You are his strength

9.  Alicia's smile

10.  God ministering Randy and I....thank You Father for not leaving any footholds!

God is so good that we got to go out to dinner with my in-laws and my SIL and nieces.  We had such a good time!
Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Psalm 31:4