Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Traditions

I love the holiday season! Just think of all the coffee flavor choices only available this time of year! Peppermint mocha, Gingerbread, Pumpkin spice...Yummmmy.

As we prepare to embark on our family travels, I have a confession. My husband and I have been in complete rebellion for cooking Thanksgiving turkeys. That's right. We don't make turkey for Thanksgiving. Actually, to be honest we don't cook ham or turkey at all during the holidays.

Even at a brief glance, I realize that we will have holiday dinners at least 7 times in the next 10 days. That's a lot of turkey, my friends. (And we are glad to eat it :) Who knows how many more events we will attend in December?!?

So in an effort to fully enjoy our holiday gatherings, we will once again be saving our turkeys and hams (purchased at holiday discounts) to cook in January. And when we show up at your doorstep, we will be ready for your yummy stuffing, sweet potatoes and fried turkey - happily!
As for my menu plan? We're having lasagna.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Read It ~ Share It

Do you ever wonder why different sources quote different statistics? Are you frustrated to hear that Christianity is in decline? I challenge you to read Bradley Wright's book called Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ...and Other Lies You've Been Told.

Wright gives us a behind the scenes look at how survey questions are worded and how the phraseology affects results. Charts and graphs accompany many of his studies to show how we interpret data, sometimes in flawed ways.

For example, a group of people were asked to classify themselves using different religious labels. Instead of using the word Christian, they used the word evangelical. The results showed huge negative feelings toward evangelicals. Why? Because many people thought the word referred to television evangelists. The response to the question merely reflected person's feeling about television evangelists, NOT Christianity as a whole.

Hundreds of examples and explanations are reviewed in this book. Oddly, I was encouraged bythe misrepresentation of faith in our media. Maybe things aren't as bad as they seem. Could church attendance percentages be inaccurate? What about the number of people who convert from mainline Christianity to Mormonism? Maybe everything we've been told is only a foggy outline of the truth.

Next time you are watching your favorite news channel, steaming cup of java in your hand, step back from those opinion polls and ask yourself how the results may have been skewed.
Read It ~ Share It

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Read It~Share It: Sixteen Brides

Striving to create new homesteads in the frontier of Nebraska, sixteen women embark on a journey of self discovery. Each woman has compelling reasons for leaving the comforts of a former home - loss of a spouse, rejection, or simply being beyond "marriable" age. As the train arrives in the small town, the women are shocked to discover what the men of the Plum Grove were expecting - brides.

Sixteen Brides takes a fresh perspective on historical fiction. While there is a romantic element, the story focuses on healing, self discovery and supporting one another during difficult circumstances.Ruth, Hettie, Caroline and the others struggle through many of the same issues women experience today because of separation or divorce.

Many of my military spouses friends will appreciate this story as it touches on our desire to be strong when our husbands are away. How many times have you had to "homestead" without him? Have you faced weather conditions foreign to your experiences? Have you felt like an outsider?

Be inspired to courageous living as you embark on your own adventure! Read it! Share it! And don't forget the coffee!

As always, the views I express about this selection are my own. Thank you to Bethany House for providing this and other titles for review.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Sacred Journey

Road trips are an integral part of my existance. Perhaps this craving for a journey is what intrigued me about Charles Foster's book, The Sacred Journey. He suggests that a pilrimage is an essential part of every faith inluding Christianity taking Jesus' words to "follow me" in a literal sense.

Foster shares stories of how faith development is a series of experiences. He travels the globe in a nomadic lifestyle exploring faith in a way most of us would shy away from. While I disagreed with some of Foster's conclusions, I found the anecdotes thought-provoking. Some may even consider his views on theology to be offensive, which the author fairly warns in the preface. Regardless of your assessment, you will find that journeys change our lives forever. Will you find God on your personal pilgrimage?

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The ideas expressed in this review are my own.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Fine Line...

Some boundaries are clearly defined like the yellow stripe on a busy street or a wall around a summer garden. They keep us in... or out.. of certain spaces. The rules about these boundaries are easy to identify because they are marked with tangible objects. With some boundaries, a list of laws is posted so you do not forget what the boundary means.

Is there any doubt what the creator of this sign means?

Emotional and relationship boundaries are much more confusing. This week a friend and I were talking about "where to draw the line."

When your child is venting about a tough day, when does it become disrespectful?

When moms give and give and give and give of themselves, when does it become unhealthy?

When a relative makes a suggestion about how you should raise your kids, when does it become critical or even hateful?

The fine line boundaries seem to ebb and flow like the tides. I know when I've crossed one, because I can feel the tension. But how can we expect others in our lives to respect our boundaries, when we don't communicate in traffic signs or brick walls?

Take time today to examine your own fine lines. What one thing could you do or say to communicate your emotional boundaries?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

MilSpouse Top Ten List - Part 2

My Top Ten - Tough Things About Being a Military Spouse

10. Monday mornings...
9. The week before deployment.
8. When the base gate is locked down, and I'm late for an appt.
7. Keeping all the acronyms straight. POC? POV? PCS? PDA?
6. Constantly living in a state of "change of address"
5. Changing doctors, dentists, and schools
4. Industrial tile in my dining room. Thank you base housing.
3. My social security number no longer means anything.
2. You measure time by where you are in the deployment schedule.

And the number one tough thing about being a military spouse...

1. Saying goodbye.

Monday, May 3, 2010

MilSpouse Top Ten List

Today's top ten list is brought to you by:
MilSpouses Rock Blog Carnival at Wives of Faith

TOP TEN Best Things about Being a Military Spouse

10. Military discounts!
9. New wardrobes for every PCS based on climate.
8. PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) meets worldwide.
7. Sense of security especially when you have to show your ID to go home.
6. Sort everything you own, every two years.
5. Military installations offer one-stop shopping: Commissary, BX/PX, gas station, library, Burger King...
4. Ahhh. The sound of aircraft taking off warms my heart.
3. Good reason to decorate in red, white and blue all year round.
2. Make friends all over the world.

And the number one reason...

1. My man looks good in a uniform!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

MilSpouse Bible Verse

Military spouses across the country are joining the blog carnival sponsored by Wives of Faith. Today we are sharing a scripture verse that impacts our lives.

A few months ago, we PCS'ed to Cannon AFB in New Mexico and I met a wonderful group of Christian ladies. One day as we were praying about an upcoming event, the Lord led us to Isaiah 35.

"The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom
like the crocus"

Isaiah goes on to describe the streams in the desert and the restoration of the people of God.

I am thankful that even though we live in a desert, either physically or spiritually, God causes the flowers to bloom like a beautiful oasis.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My MilSpouse Story

I met my husband in college and never dreamed I'd be a military spouse. Jamie was in the Marine Corps reserves which made it more of a weekend hobby than a lifestyle.

Then on our honeymoon, we heard that Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. He knew that our new life together was going to be a bit different then we had planned. Three months later we celebrated Thanksgiving, announced that we were expecting our first child, and sent him off to Operation Desert Storm. Through his experiences in the "catbox" he heard God calling him to ministry.

Ten years later, after seminary and local church ministry, it was time to return to the military,this time as an Air Force Chaplain. We love it!

You can find more stories from Military spouses this week on the Wives of Faith blog carnival.

A Distant Melody

Sarah Sundin beautifully weaves historic details into the love story of a humble hero and an heiress betrothed to a man she doesn’t love. Later, a chance meeting between Allie and Walt kindles a tender relationship during the fierceness of World War II. Over the course of months, the two correspond through the unpredictable mail system leading to misunderstanding and secrets. Can faith mend two hearts separated by uncounted miles?

Readers will experience pain and fear as seen from a bomber crew in both successful and failed missions. Then, glimpse life on the homefront, where family and friends face the reality of rationing and newsreels. A Distant Melody is a well researched story that brings enlightenment to the era without the stuffiness of a textbook. As the wife of a military member, I enjoyed reading both perspectives.

I am eager to read Book 2 when it is released this fall. You can bet it will be on my list!

You can find this and more amazing book reviews at Author's Choice Reviews

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fair Warning

A variety of signs greet visitors at the gate of our military installation. No Cell phones while driving. 100% ID checks. Another lists the FPCON.

My kids like to figure out meanings for the various acronyms. FPCON? Fruit Pizza Coming Out Next? French Puppies Can't Open Newspapers? Actually it stands for Force Protection CONdition, or in layman's terms the amount of security (force) to maintain our military installation for a given situation. You might remember DEFCON levels from the movie War Games. Similar concept.

In a sense, FPCON levels give fair warning to me when I enter the base as to how much extra time I need to get where I'm going. For our military members, it means heightened security procedures.
For practical purposes, higher levels mean more inconvenience for the average civilian.

My children (creative and theatrical) have developed the MOMCON system to give each other fair warning about the status of how "inconvenient" life may be for the day.

MOMCON 1 ~ Mom is generally content.
MOMCON 2 ~ Mom is slightly agitated and may be settled with a cup of coffee or a coke.
MOMCON 3 ~ Mom is cleaning something to use up her "extra" energy from being so irritated with the fact that "No one cares that the house is a mess, but ME!"
MOMCON 4 ~ Mom cannot be appeased with any amount of chocolate or Twizzlers. Find something to do, or you will be recruited to do chores that never end.
MOMCON 5 ~ Mom is going to the Java Loft. Do not call her 16 times on her cell phone. Do not call the Java Loft and ask if your mom is there. Do not call Dad looking for Mom. She will be home later.

You have been given fair warning. Send coffee!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Too Much Coffee?

There are days when I drink one too many cups of coffee.

2 Cups: I check for neighborhood kids before backing out of the driveway.
4 Cups: I announce to the neighborhood children that I am getting ready to leave the driveway and would they mind lining up on the sidewalk and count to 30.

2 Cups: I wonder who accidently dialed my number.
4 Cups: I google phone numbers that show up on my caller ID just so I can know who called.

2 Cups: I facebook my friends about things I find on sale.
4 Cups: I buy extra of everything so my friends won't miss out.

2 Cups: I turn on a morning news show while I check my email.
4 Cups: I channel surf between 4 major news channels (so I don't miss anything) while I email, facebook, twitter from my laptop and play Words with Friends on my phone.

2 Cups: I "encourage" my children to do their chores.
4 Cups: I preach about cleanliness while running around the house like a banshee with the vacuum and a container of Clorox wipes.

2 Cups: I write a book review.
4 Cups: Well... I write things like this.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Story of Easter Book Giveaway

The Story of Easter (Tommy Nelson) presents the story of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem to His resurrection using passages from all four gospels and other New Testament passages. Each section of the story is shared in a two page spread. The illustrations clearly depcit the content for non-readers with facial expressions of the characters giving clues in each section. A statement or question follows each step of the journey encouraging interaction between parent and child.

A pictorial collection of events can be found at the end of the book for children to retell the story in their own words. What a perfect opportunity for children to share the heart of the gospel!

I was thrilled to find a DVD included with this book. Sunday school teachers and parents will enjoy the coloring sheets and short trailers perfect for this season. The collection of printables is perfect for varying levels of abililty.

While my children have outgrown picture books, I'm certain this one would have been in our home library. Want it in yours?

Leave a comment below including your favorite part of the Easter story. Be sure to leave your email address. One lucky winner will be chosen on Friday morning to recieve this lovely hardbound edition with DVD.

Refill your coffee...
Read It~Share It

Thomas Nelson has provided this book free of charge through BookSneeze. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Blitz: Homeschooling for the Rest of Us

After working in a homeschool bookstore and teaching workshops to new and experienced home educators, I am familiar with most books on the subject. Sonya Haskins offers grace and encouragement to families previously intimidated by homeschooling perfectionism.

Chapters address common themes including schedules, socialization, and academics and offer a variety of suggestions to meet the needs of a diverse population. Single parents, families with specials needs, families with multiples and creative households will delight in the freedom to design a productive environment that meets their specific needs.

I especially appreciated Haskins focus on living a lifestyle of education. Everything we do with our children enhances their ability to develop academic, social and life skills. Homeschooling for the Rest of Us appeals to all styles of teaching from classical to unschooling, organized to random, storytellers to list makers.

We all want the best for our kids. Learn how to create a vision statement for your school and build a curriculum and structure that is both comfortable and academically sound. Thank you, Sonya Haskins - you give us hope!

This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House publishers. The opinions expressed in this review are my own under no pressure or compensation by the publisher.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Read It~Share It: Rediscovering God in America

The homeschooling mom inside me was thrilled to receive my copy of Rediscovering God in America through Thomas Nelson's Blog Review program. Newt and Calista Gingrich guide readers through each monument and building in Washington DC noting the influence of Christianity on the founders of our nation.

Beuatiful photographs grace each page with descriptions and quotes from original source materials making it both a resource and a conversation piece. I was especially encouraged by numerous quotes from Presidents, Supreme Court justices, and other leaders pointing to the belief in a sovereign God who guides our nation. "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God." John F. Kennedy

Rediscovering God in America will encourage you to patriotism and faith in what God can do. I challenge you to read this for yourself and share it with your children.

Read It~Share It

Read it ~ Share it: Miss Match

Any novel that features a coffee cup on the cover draws my attention. Erynn Mangum knows how to to entice the coffee-lover into the world of Lauren Holbrook, star of Miss Match.

Lauren's career in photography brings her in contact with families, business people, and singles from all walks of life. But her real devotion surfaces as she matches her friends with prospective mates. Just like Yente from Fiddler on the Roof, Lauren discovers that our assumptions about the perfect match are often wrong.

Mangum uses peripheral characters to emphasize Lauren's quest. The reader discovers that Lauren wants what all women want - true love.

While Miss Match and sequels, Rematch and Matchpoint, are geared toward twentysomething readers, this fortysomething reader enjoyed the lighthearted style of each story. The protagonist reminds me of Jane Austen's Emma, innocently compassionate in her intentions to see her dearest friends happily married. Ah, to be young again.

After comsuming the Lauren Holbrook trifecta, you will be happy to know that Erynn Mangum offers a new series, also with coffee on the cover, the first entitled Cool Beans to be released next month.

Read It~Share It... and in this case smell the aroma of French roasted espresso beans with a dallop of real cream on top!
Disclosure: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as a part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC 16 CFR, part 255: "Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lost and Found

After every PCS (Permanent Change of Station, for you civilian readers) we struggle to find a new rhythm of life. It is easy to focus on all we have lost in the moving process. We left friends and business partners. Our children lost an amazing dance studio and community theatre. We knew where the best thrift stores were located. Best driving routes. Free activities for kids. Nicest playgrounds. Target.

Craving what I have lost only makes the transition more challenging. Instead, I choose to see what I have found.

A most incredible selection of local cuisine.
A great public library.
Opportunities to serve others.
An incredible homeschool theatre group.
Road trips to "the city" in search of Starbucks coffee.
Neighborhood kids for my son to play with.
Internet shopping.
Quaint, small town experiences.

My new commitment is to spread this "Lost and Found" philosophy to those around me. Many people at our new installation are less than pleased about what our location lacks - beauty, culture, entertainment... a Target store. Now, I turn the tables and tell them what I've found.

What great things have you found in a new place?