Friday, January 29, 2010

Review of The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

A Review of The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Sterns, President of World Vision, U.S.

“Saved by faith. Saved for works,” sums up the message of The Hole in Our Gospel written by Richard Stearns who is the president of World Vision, U.S. Mr. Stearns did an excellent job of writing this book from a balanced view point of doing works, but also of having faith. So many books on this topic address just the need for works, tries to guilt the reader into doing more projects and just makes one feel like slime for not doing everything. Richard Stearns' book is different. He explains the plight of the majority of the inhabitants of the world, explains how it is our Christian responsibility to do something in light of the scripture and then leave it for the reader to discern exactly what God is calling him to do.

This book was a hard book for me to read and is very convicting. How many American Christians are living the easy life? How many of us go about our lives, go to church and think we are fine? It is time to move from complacency into a life of intentional action. This book challenged me to find ways to serve now. I have time, I have talents that can be used where I live now. While reading this book, God planted a few ideas of things to prepare for, for the future. Ideas I wouldn't have dreamed of otherwise. I recommend this book to anyone who needs to see that as Christians we have a responsibility to not only have faith, but to have the works to back it up. Don't read this book if you are happy with the status quo and don't think that one should reach out to others and help them to rise out of their circumstances of poverty. However, do read this to challenge your thinking on why people live in poverty all over the world, why the cycle needs to be broken and what you can do about it. If everyone did something, then eventually, this world will be radically changed. God called us to live radically for Him. Do so.

I was given a copy of The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns from Thomas Nelson to read and review. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

I am going to see if I can get my husband to embed a picture of the cover of the book. I'm having issues. Like normal...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yes, Winter is STILL Here

Woke up this morning to the sound of rain. I wasn't too excited over it as the temperatures are supposed to drop and freeze over here and then have freezing rain later today/tonight. This is south west Missouri. We haven't had weather like this in the eight years or so I've lived down here. In fact, we have had more winter weather this year than all the other years combined. I am starting to wish we could get called to minister in Hawaii. I am going crazy being in the house with the kids. They are going stir crazy too. I guess that after this storm system passes and the roads become passable again (takes a week, our town doesn't believe in plowing the residential streets and half the main roads) I'm going to have to bundle them up and take Hubbs to work and us girls go look at fish, walk the mall and be out.

The kiddos are down for naps right now. It was a long morning. Bugs woke up the Beans before her normal time to wake and neither has been in a great mood all day. In fact, they are both wanting to be held and snuggled, but they don't want to share mommy.

I'm hoping UPS delivers my order from today. I got two packages of toilet paper, shampoo for the kids, three packages of straws (at 40 cents each for those) and I had an impulse buy of some glade air freshner at 55 cents that I tacked on at the end. All told, spent just about eleven and a half bucks total and it is all delivered to my door. I love using for shopping for stuff we need at a very good price. And I don't have to take the kids to the store and juggle them and huge things in the cart, like toilet paper (which always gets sat upon, the rolls squashed, and then they don't fit on my roller well...). I figure due to the FTC, I should state that I was just sharing my experience, I wasn't asked to by anyone (nor was I compensated for it), but figured I should share something that helps me, makes my life easier and saves me money to boot. Figured I should cover my bases there with that one.

Tonight we are supposed to go to church. So I don't have to cook tonight. I love having a big meal together on Wednesday nights at church. It makes my life so much easier, and it is so much fun to eat with the church family. There is something special in sharing a meal with others. Tomorrow I'm making Manwich. I think I spelled that right. Growing up, mom always made our chilli burgers from scratch and we never got the stuff. She always said it was full of salt and didn't taste very good. Well, it was on sale and I had coupons so I got it very cheaply. I loved this stuff as a kid when I would have it at friends' houses. So, I'm going to make some. I just have to make a loaf of regular bread yet. I made some peanut butter bread earlier. Sure does make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches easier and a bit less messy.

I got Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons from my mother-in-law yesterday. From everyone I know who has used this book, I am so excited to start this with Bugs. She has been complaining that she doesn't know the words in books we've not read together. In fact, she will only look at books anymore that we have read so she can tell herself the story. Reading with mom or dad is fine if it is a book she hasn't "read" before (and it only takes one or two readings until she knows the story to tell it to herself). I plan on starting the lessons next week. I'm going through it first to get familiar with it. I taught reading using Abeka when I taught school and it works great. However, results happen faster with this program from what I've seen and most kids are reading well before the last lesson in the book. And I mean reading bigger books than those readers that a lot of kids find absolutely boring (My MIL was talking to a friend of hers whose 4 y.o. boy is reading in a preschool Bible after three months of lessons, which made her want me to teach Bugs with this method. She was pretty happy that I knew of the system and book, and had wanted it before then. She bought it for me and everything.) I think when Bugs starts the lessons, she is going to just absorb it and be reading in no time. I'll keep track of the progress on here. Hopefully to encourage you that yes, you can teach your child to read before mandatory attendance age. Frankly, kids can learn way more earlier than what most people think....but that is a topic for another time and another place.

I should get going and reading some in my book. I joined Book Sneeze through Thomas Nelson. You get free books in exchange for reviewing them on your blog and at least one retail site. I need to get reading so I can write the review and request a new book. I love to read, I love books, and who can beat free ones? And I need to go check on the munchkins. I think they both may have actually gone to sleep!!!!! If I didn't think it would wake them, I'd crank the music and do a happy dance.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Baby is a Big Girl

Last night, Beans decided it was a great night to learn how to climb out of her crib. And since she has the personality of if I do something once, I'm going to keep at it until I master it, we had to convert her crib to a toddler bed after Hubbs got off work. I don't think any of us was ready for it. Beans doesn't adjust to change too well without plenty of advance notice (didn't think that was genetic, I'm the same way). It was a long night. Followed by being awakened at five thirty as my babysitting boys arrived. I totally forgot they were coming today. Whoops. So, I'm tired. I'm about to make a second pot of coffee. Something I never do. It was funny, after we ended up taking the light bulb out of their over head light to keep her from turning the light on, she cried and curled up on the train table and went to sleep with a dollie pillow. However, I didn't wait long enough to move her and woke her back up. Took until twelve-thirty to get her to stay down.

Bugs is growing like a weed. I'm waiting on a book to get here to start teaching her to read. My MIL bought me Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons I can't wait to try it. I have had several friends use this successfully on their kids, and before the age of what the public schools says they should be. Bugs is three and a half, and she is itching to "know the words on the page." as she says it.

This morning, I got my kitchen somewhat decent. It isn't what I classify as a health hazard anymore. I need to pick up and mop the floor, but not with the kids awake. And I am going to be too tired after they go down tonight. Maybe Monday. Too busy tomorrow, and it is Sunday after all. I also made a batch of laundry detergent. I'm fiddling with the recipe as I didn't like how thickly it congealed last time. I have laundry in that needs swapped at the moment. I should go and do that. However, finding energy to move off the recliner is something I must do first. I keep telling myself I could make some coffee or a cup of chai, or some hot tea or something to give myself a little oomph. But the effort at the moment seems too great. However, I must stay awake. I have my boys until two thirty or so and I can't leave them unsupervised (granted, at six and eight, they are more capable of taking care of themselves than my girls, they aren't mine, so I can't risk it).

Tomorrow is church, hopefully a trip to the library to pick up the movie I requested (Up, love it) and then making desert for small group tomorrow night. For Christmas, my mom got me cupcake pans in the shape of ice cream cones. I'm going to make cupcakes in them and then we are taking frosting and sprinkles and letting people do their own, sort of like a sundae bar for real ice cream. It should be fun.

I'm contemplating what I'm doing for Valentine's day this year. It is a Sunday and we haven't decided if we are holding small group that night or not. I do have a few steaks in the freezer that I got at the salvage grocery last week for super cheap. I think I may couple it with one of those microwavable bagged dinners like a shrimp alfredo and a salad and serve it by candle light after we get the kids down one night to celebrate. Maybe rent something out of the Redbox or find something from the library. We'll see. Then, Bean's birthday is three days later. She turns two! My little baby isn't a baby any longer. We are thinking of doing a Veggie Tales themed thing. Complete with a Bob and Larry cake. And since she is turning two, she is getting her own light saber. Somehow, that has turned into a tradition in our family. I don't know why. Then, I'll be the only one without a light saber. Might have to ask for one for Mother's Day. Got to admit, that would be better than getting a washing machine...(though, in defense, it was the one I chose and we got it with out tax return that year, still running great, haven't had a single issue with it and I love it!).

Well, that is it for here today. I don't have anything deep or thought provoking, I'm too tired.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Getting Back on Track

Today has been fairly profitable. I've gotten the living room nearly decent again. And the laundry is about all washed. We are holding a folding party tonight after supper to teach the eldest how to fold socks and undies. At three and a half, she's old enough to learn. Beans is down for her nap, so I can't vacuum yet, or even get the vacuum cleaner out as it is stored in a closet in their room.

I'm planning tonight's supper. Breaded pork cube steaks, cream of mushroom gravy, probably brussels sprouts and noodles to serve with the gravy. Though, unless I miss my guess, Hubbs would prefer stuffing. He asks for stuffing when I make ham...

I found a great website today thanks to a friend on a forum I frequent. It is Home Sanctuary. She has a great plan on keeping up the sanctuary that is to be our homes, writes about it in a nice conversational way with a touch of humor, and is a great motivator. You can find Home Sanctuary at: Home Sanctuary I hope I embedded the URL correctly. I don't know why, but I've been having the worst time figuring that out (and Hubbs, the computer programming, website designer that he is, thinks it is funny I can't do something so simple... I'd love to see him try and make laundry detergent, get Beans to get her clothes back on, settle an argument between Beans and Bugs and answer the phone all at the same time...I don't say that to make him look bad, but to show that we all have different strengths and gifts and jobs.)

I'm behind this week on my chore list as it is. I was sick with a severe sinus headache yesterday. I seriously felt like my head was going to explode. It wasn't pleasant. And of course the kids knew I didn't feel well and took advantage of it. I can't find the floor in their room at the moment, they took apart the train table somehow and put a blanket over it to build a tent (yet, they can't get under the train table as it is so short) and found all sorts of mischief to be a part of. Oh well, those days happen.

It is dark and dreary here today. I'm not enjoying it. I'm trying to be thankful for another day, however, when it is dark out, I go up the wall. I have a bit of seasonal affective disorder and days on end without sunlight can be hard. I'm contemplating making a light box as the bought ones are so expensive. However, we don't have any wiggle room in the budget to spring for the stuff to make one right now. That's ok. I know the sun will come back eventually. And I can turn on LOTS of lights inside the house and light candles (yes, out of the reach of the little ones). I will be more grateful for the sun when it returns this way. We can't truly appreciate the sun for what it is until we have a few days of clouds.

So, my question for you today, are you appreciating times of sun and clouds? Are you thankful for whatever circumstances you find yourself in? What is God trying to teach you right now? Think about it today as you go about your work. I'm thankful for my family and for our home (I know, cliche) I'm grateful my husband agrees that my place is to stay at home and raise the children and make our home. I'm grateful for a washer and dryer that works (been through a period where I did laundry in the bath tub for six months and hung it outside on rigged up ropes to save money for a set). I'm grateful for a full freezer and that I don't need to worry where our next meal is coming from. I'm grateful that God has given us exactly what we need, when we need it.

Until next time,

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Popcorn Kernels Don't Go There

Today was just one of those odd eclectic days that seem to happen rather frequently with young children.

I thought for sure my husband was supposed to be to work at noon today. So, I cook and serve lunch at ten-thirty, we were out of diapers, so the girls and I take him to work so I could get some (outgrew our cloth ones, haven't been able to afford more, yet I know if I wasn't spending money on disposables, I could. Hate the irony of it.). Ended up getting a small package of diapers for night use and a had a great coupon for Pull-Ups which made it cheaper than the store brand so I got those. Hopefully soon we won't be needing those and I can save up for a better stash of cloth diapers. Anyway, we get home and I put the Beans down for her nap and get the laundry started for the day when Hubbs emails me on his first break. He told me that he was supposed to have been in at two, not noon, but they let him work two extra hours (I thought for sure he was to be there at noon. Until I checked my day planner and found out I was the one who messed up...I don't mind the extra two hours of pay, but it meant I could have gone shopping alone for the first time in ages). After Beans woke up, I gave the kids popcorn for a snack. They have always been good about eating popcorn so I wasn't worried. I called my mom, who wasn't home so I talked to my dad for a half hour. While I'm on the phone, Bugs comes over to me and says she has something up her nose and to get it out for her. I look into her nose and discover an unpopped kernel of popcorn in her left nostril. I bid Dad a hasty farewell and try and get Bugs to blow through her nose while I'm holding the right nostril shut. She blows through her mouth instead. She really starts to freak out a bit and starts to sniff in as hard as she could and sticking her finger up there in an effort to pry it out herself. I take her to my bedroom and lay her down on the bed and pull out my tweezers, praying I could get a good grip on the kernel. The second Bugs saw the tweezers in my hand she starts throwing her head back and forth and flailing her arms and legs and screaming "Don't hurt me!!! Don't hurt me!!!!. I quickly see that talking to her about not moving and I won't hurt her isn't doing any good, so I decide to try to get her to blow one last time. I show her what to do with my nose, offered up several desperate prayers to please let it come out, plug her right nostril and tell her to blow through her nose. The popcorn kernel came shooting out of her nose and bounced off my chest. I had hoped we had passed the stage where random items are shoved into odd orifices. She's almost three and a half. I guessed wrong. Now to survive this stage with Beans....and hopefully Bugs learned her lesson...My dad called back five minutes later to check on the Bugs.

After playing EMT, and being relieved that we weren't out the ridiculous copay for urgent care, I was very shaky the rest of the day. I didn't get half of what I had planned to do done for the day. Oh well. My kids survived today, at this point, that is what matters.

Going to have to pick my husband up from work in about an hour. I can't wait to have him home for two days in a row next week. Tomorrow and Monday. Haven't had two off in a row in over month except for his requested vacation days over New Years.

Speaking of husbands, what out of the ordinary nice thing have you done for yours lately? Not to brag, but last night I gave mine an hour long massage after he got home from work (he closed). He really enjoyed the surprise of it. And he's thanked me several times today, mentioned how great he feels a several times and I think he really appreciated it. Have you done something to show your husband how much you appreciate him lately? It doesn't have to be an hour long massage, or anything expensive. Maybe just baking him a batch of his favorite cookies and slipping them into his lunch as a surprise, or maybe a copy of that new book he's been wanting to read and then you take the kids out for a few hours so he can get a start on it. Really, it could be anything to make him feel special. I want to challenge you to do one thing as a surprise for your husband this week to make him feel special and cared for.

Have a blessed Sunday and into next week. I've got a busy few days coming up between church and small group tomorrow and then Monday we are going to the salvage grocery store for our monthly stock up. I still have cereal and bottled juice from the last trip. Opened my last package of cheese today. I love the salvage grocery. It basically is just items that got damaged while waiting to be put on shelves at the big chain stores. Cereal boxes that got whacked with a box knife while the pallet was being cut open, boxes that got crushed and dented cans. The one we go to also gets restaurant overstocked items and things that are no longer at the restaurant that were limited time promo items. It is a great way to save a ton of money. I can totally fill the trunk of our car for a hundred dollars. I can't do that anywhere else.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Housekeeping and Spiritual Life are Intertwined

Over the past few weeks I've been doing a LOT of thinking. And being hit with realizations that I don't necessarily want to make. I have never been a great housekeeper. I have always wanted to stay home with my kids, be the housewife and such, but I never thought of all the work involved. Work that I don't particularly like. So, of course I let it slide, and the house gets to be a mess. I started really cleaning at the beginning of winter, and I would just find myself gravitating to the cleaner rooms of my house. It was more peaceful there and I could think more clearly. I started to check out some books from the library, such as Restoring Order to Your Home by Vicki Norris and Keeping House, The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson. Both are Christian books in their perspectives, both come at the issues of keeping a home a little differently. I highly recommend both. In fact, I hope to someday own them.

Keeping my house is a reflection of my spiritual life. I am going to just say it, I've been rather lax in maintaining one. I haven't had personal devotions in a rather long time. I haven't been too consistent with prayer time (I am improving on that one). My spiritual life is a mess, just like my house. It isn't that I don't care, for me it is to the point of being overwhelming. Something I need to strive to do better at. And if I can start to reclaim time to read the Bible regularly, the rest of my life will be more in line also.

My home is slowly getting more organized (interestingly enough, it started getting more organized around here when I started praying more consistently). We did get our room cleaned, decluttered and un-kidded (banned their toys) and hung up and put away all the clean laundry (I hate the putting away part of the laundry process, it is the most redundant for me for some reason). Then, on Wednesday we got the girls' room cleaned up and reorganized. Next up, not sure which room to tackle next. I am thinking the bathroom as I can totally overhaul that one by myself and we aren't going to have a day in the next week to tackle one together. This week, we are using Hubb's day off to run the hour and a half over to the salvage grocery to do our major shopping for the month.

We host small group at our house the end of February, so this massive cleaning and organizing purge will have to be done by then. And the youngest turns two in a month and I don't know if anyone is coming out family-wise for it or not yet.

More reflections on why one should strive for their best in the realms of house work another time. My husband just got home from work, and I want to spend precious time with him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm Back (Finally) and I Guess a Formal Introduction

So, it is obviously way past the first of the year when I thought I'd be on blogging more regularly. Well, I've spent the past week and a half playing catch up with housework. And random child squabbles and potty training mishaps and, well, you get the picture. I apologize and hopefully at least once a week, (I want to a few times a week) I will be posting. I have all sorts of ideas and thoughts that are just dying for a place to come out and be expressed.

First things first though, I never did formally introduce myself, did I? Quite rude of me, I know. So, I'm Crystal. I'm 30 years old now, and frankly, I don't understand the fear of 30 now that I am that old. It isn't too bad, in fact, it is like being 29. I am married to the most wonderful man of God ever (ok, I'm a tad bit biased). We've been married for four and a half years now (July 8, 2005). We dated for nearly two and a half years before our wedding day, and were friends for like three years before that. I honestly can not imagine being married to anyone else. Hubbs takes care of me when I can't or refuse to take care of myself. He has helped me through some really rough patches in my/our life and I know I am who I am today because of him and his thoughtfulness, caring, and support of me. I'm a mom to two wonderful daughters. Bugs is three as of last September and Beans will be two next month already. They are both beautiful and smart. As it is, we are looking at starting kindergarten with Bugs next fall. I have the best two daughters anyone could hope to be given (again, I may be a wee bit biased...)

I am a believe in the One True God. The denomination we attend doesn't matter. Jesus is all we need and to follow Him. Everything else is secondary. My husband used to be an associate pastor at a church until budget cuts eliminated his position. We are looking for a new ministry and we do have our application in at a church we both really like so we are praying that we are called there.

I am also a homeschooling mom. I believe that God gave us our children to raise up and teach. It is up to us if we are going to delegate the education of our children to others or take it upon ourselves. No matter what we choose, we will be held accountable for what our children are filled with. We have decided that we will be better stewards of our children and their future if we teach them at home and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. We are open to the possibility of putting them into school in the future, but at this point in our lives we are convinced this is the best choice for us to make. It isn't the easiest or cheapest, but the best for us and them. I do not aim to start a debate on homeschooling, public schooling or private schooling, whether you can change your mind on what you have chosen later and all the politics involved with the decision.

I prefer cloth diapers over disposeable, I love a great baby carrier/sling and I am a proponent of natural and home birthing.

Pretty much, I am just a stay-at-home wife and mom who is more than just that. I am a human being, created in the image of God who has many facets to her being. If I tried to totally explain myself, this blog post wouldn't ever get finished, and you would be extremely bored. Besides, I've got a slightly cranky Bean on my hands. She didn't wake up well from her nap today and is acting like her molars are bothering her. I intend in the next couple of days to post what I plan on doing on this blog this year. Just don't have time or space for it now.

Until we meet again,