Monday, February 23, 2015

From Tablet to Table by Leonard Sweet

I am an advocate of family meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, elevensies, afternoon tea, etc. In our house, we eat every evening meal together, the kids & I eat every breakfast together, and I eat lunch alone and then again with my husband (come on, he comes home at 1:00 and I cannot wait that long). And maybe once every two or three weeks, we'll eat while watching a movie together. We do not own an iPad or tablet, but I do understand the affects such items have on meal times. I find it very annoying even when someone calls or texts during our meal times (which, inevitably, one of our mothers does at least once a week).

Leonard Sweet's "From Tablet to Table" was a very interesting subject to me. I know my children are very...obsessed with iPads (which they use at school and flock to whenever we're around someone else with one) so I can't imagine how hard it must be to turn off the tablets and have a decent family meal. I know these are first world, Western problems, but sometimes these privileged problems are really hard to deal with!
image via

Sweet had a lot of really great things to say in his book about how a community is built around the table. How Jesus Christ ate so many meals with so many people to build a community, a church. In the book, he talks a lot about how stories are told and shared and lives shared through communal meals, family meals. I agree with this so much.

The thing that stuck with me most from "From Tablet to Table" was when Sweet talked about people having "versitis." What is this exactly? When we can quote John 3:16 but not 3:15 or 3:17 and we have no idea what STORY this verse comes from! Even I, who did not grow up in the church nor do I have that many verses memorized, realized how bad my versitis was. I am so thankful to know these verses, to have them hidden in my heart, but I do not want to know verses at the expense of knowing the stories in the Word. Knowing the verses in context. I am so thankful to have my eyes opened to this and to, hopefully, avoid this with my children. I want them to get not only the verses, but the big picture, too!

While I appreciate the message of this book, I felt that Sweet, at times, overstretched his idea. When talking about Jesus turning water to wine at the wedding in Cana, Sweet said, "Water that had been set apart for sacred purposes Jesus turned into wine..." The Bible does not say what purposes that water was to be used for, so how do we know it was sacred? We don't. I understand his meaning behind his words, showing that Christ was "thereby erasing any distinction between the sacred and the secular...[using] the table as a gateway drug into the kingdom." Later he talks about the kinds of food Jesus liked and that he enjoyed cooking for others. We don't know if he liked the foods he ate or if he just ate them because that's what was there. We know he cooked fish for his disciples, but he may have loved serving them, not necessarily cooking for them. And more than once, the book mentions that Christ was born in a "table" for animals, a manger. I think that's over stretching the point.

The point of the book is that so much of our lives are learned at the table: identity, heritage, manners, the way of the world, world views. We shouldn't lose that to technology or busyness. I completely agree. And so, tonight, I'll sit down with my family and talk about the things that are important to us: God, family, school, and probably Legos.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may vary from my own.

family updates

Not much news in the way of family. I am feeling much better (mostly) - thank You, Lord! I'm still not up for doing much around the house, but I can get some laundry done and have even done dishes (that smell is awful, let me tell you).

Today I have kiddo home sick. Poor Moose. He was warm at bedtime and shivering. Even at church that morning, he kept saying he was cold. It's cold. It's Kansas. I didn't think much of it. Then after I'd turned out the lights for myself, I heard him up and in the bathroom. Diarrhea. Poor thing. I heard him a few other times in the night, but he's definitely growing up. He didn't come to me even once, although I did get up to check on him.

So while we're enjoying back-to-back movies (something we only do when someone is sick), I thought I'd write on my blog (before writing more book reviews).

My belly is getting bigger. This picture was taken a few weeks ago (I'm 19 weeks today).

I've been running still - sparsely and slowly. I've walked some and done some yoga, too. I'm already more active than I've been in prior pregnancies. The weight gain is mentally tough, but I'm hungry all the time and not usually for healthy items, so I'll deal with the weight later.

I can feel the baby move around sometimes; I love this time when it's like a secret only for me. And yet I cannot WAIT for the boys and Big A to be able to feel the kicks and movements, too. I am very excited about that. Squirt and Moose are excited, too.

My next ultrasound is March 13. The boys will be joining us since they start spring break that day. I am planning on finding out the baby's gender, but I'm not sure if we'll share that news or not. I'm not even sure Big A is going to find out, although neither of us thinks I can keep it secret. We'll see.

Moose had his Blue & Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts this past weekend. He did a great job singing his den's song and telling his jokes. He does need to learn to not get quite so loud in the microphone, but better loud than mumbling, I think.

Not much else going on around here, just waiting for spring! We've had some pockets of wonderfully warm weather this winter but I'm ready for green grass and park time!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lord, Change Me by James MacDonald

A year or so ago, I went through the James MacDonald DVD Bible study "Lord, Change My Attitude." It was wonderful, very thorough and deep set in Scripture.

I have known for awhile that I need to deal with my selfishness, so I thought reading James MacDonald's book "Lord  Change Me" would help me like the Bible study did. This book was not what I expected.
image via Amazon

"Lord, Change Me" is a great starting point for someone who doesn't know the Lord but knows he/she needs a change. It has a great outline of the gospel - Christ came as fully-God, fully man and died on the cross in payment for our sins and rose again from the dead. Very great news; best ever. Just not a Bible study on the changes that occur afterward; how to change your heart or sins like selfishness.

The fonts in "Lord, Change Me" had bold and regular and italics. It was really distracting for me. Allowed me to scan more than I like to in a book. Fonts should not distract from the text and I feel these did.

Overall, a good read if you're not a Christian, are a new Christian, have questions about Christ and Christianity - what's it all about. Just not exactly what I was looking for at this time.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may have differing opinions from mine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure by Tony & Lauren Dungy (book review)

One of the smartest pieces of marital advice we got and now give is to find another couple to mentor you. Nothing fancy, but just tell you about their marriage - the ups AND downs. Help you navigate these waters that are tumultuous just as often as serene. We have a wonderful couple who has been this to us for the past several years.
image via

That, in affect, is what "The Uncommon Marriage Adventure" by Tony and Lauren Dungy is - in devotional form. This once a day devotional tells the ups and downs of the Dungy marriage and family life. Nothing new under the sun, necessarily, but great advice paired with biblical wisdom.

I didn't get to read this through with my husband but combed through it myself. I didn't just learn from Lauren but from Tony's husband perspective. Sometimes I think I need marriage advice and counseling much more than my selfless husband.

He has Day 64 down perfectly: "Be willing to step up and do a little more than usual when the situation requires it." This message is paired with the Scripture 1 John 3:11, 16 which talks about giving up our lives for our brothers and sisters. Big A has done that gracefully these past few weeks of gestation. He's done dishes every day (even yesterday when he was ill himself) because that smell just makes me ill. He's cooked most of our meals. He's brought me cereal at 6:30 every morning. It's just a beautiful reminder to me of how Christ loves us.

That's the kind of selfless love that "The Uncommon Marriage Adventure" urges us toward. Loving one another as Christ loves us; doing for others because we love them without expecting a return gesture. Old-fashioned romance that doesn't seem old when you're in it.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. I have done so although my opinions may differ from others'. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

double dog dare

My friend Evi has been so challenging, convicting, and heart-wrenching in my life. I love her so much and wish I saw her more. And now she's challenging me to be more grateful through her blog, Gratitude Gal. It's fabulous; she has a wonderful writing style that makes me jealous.

Her post today was about how she's had a rough week but found some highlights, like Michael Keaton's Golden Globe acceptance speech (watch from 2:13). Then she put a few dares on her blog for us/me. I'll answer one today.

  • Dare Choice 1: Write down three things that have deep meaning in your life.  When something goes wrong today (as it probably will), shift your thoughts back to your list.
Dare Choice 1:

#1: Redemption: I could have nothing else and only have redemption from Christ's sacrifice on the cross. That would be enough. When I leave this world, I am going to heaven with my Father. When I truly let this sink in....truly, then what else can I complain about? 

#2: Marriage: I didn't understand marriage when I got married. I didn't fully understand the vows. The sickness and health. The for richer or poorer. Mind you, neither of us has been very sick. Nor have we been very, very poor. And yet I have found great examples of godly sacrifice, selflessness, and peace through the times in our marriage that have not been butterflies and rainbows. My husband is a shining example of a godly man. His name could be in Hebrews 11. He'd deny this, too, which makes him even sweeter. He's not my idol; I've seen his flaws, too. And yet, he has the most childlike faith I've seen and when I have doubts or am far from Christ, I know I merely need to follow his example to find Him for that's who Big A follows.

#3: Motherhood: This long-winded word that has been since almost the world began has changed my life. It does not come naturally to me. You don't find me cooing and coddling and playing on knees all day with my children. I've worked very hard at being a good mom - and I've failed a lot (don't we all?). I've also come to terms that it's good to fail. It keeps me humbled. It keeps me from having a big head. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me close to God. I love my sons and this little guy or gal growing deep inside. I love them even when they make me sick (baby) or drive me nuts. I love them fiercely with a love I didn't know I could have. I didn't grow up wanting to be a mom. I assumed I'd have children but didn't give it much thought. And then it was thrust at me. I've had many a curveball in my 7 years of motherhood. I've said and done regretful things. I've also said and done many beautiful things. I didn't know motherhood would speed up time either. Yet 7 years seems like the blink of an eye. Long days, short years. So true. I wouldn't trade a minute of it....except perhaps the vomiting pregnancy moments. :) 

Monday, January 12, 2015

gratefulness found in the letting go

Months ago when we were debating on whether to have another kid or not, I had in my mind a few ideas about this pregnancy. Looking back, I was naive without reason to be naive. I've been through two other pregnancies that were about the same and yet I had hope that this one would be different.

I thought I could run through this pregnancy. I'd forgotten about the several weeks/months of the beginning that were full of nausea and vomiting. I thought 'it's been five years, maybe it won't be the same.' I forgot that genetics don't really change in five years so I could have mentally prepared myself for this better. I thought I'd love it. I'd forgotten how I hate this part.

Yet it's been a good challenge. I've gotten very self-reliant in the past 5 years. I can cook fairly decent meals (not as good as those of my supper club partners but I have a few tricks up my sleeve). I can keep a fairly decently clean house (no one's eating off the floor here but it's not bad). I can run up to 18 miles at a time (not without injuring myself apparently but still). I've become the housewife and mom I've really wanted to be. It's taken a lot of work on my part; this has not come naturally to me.

And now. It's all changed. I've given over all of my household duties to my family. My sons clean toilets and sinks and tubs and microwaves and dust (kind of). I'd been handing that off to them for a few months but it's more imperative that they help. My husband cooks meals except when dear sweet friends have dropped off wonderful meals to supplement. My husband does laundry (which I can fold, thankfully). He vacuums (granted, he always does this because I don't think to as often). He does dishes (oh that smell!!!).

What I'm learning most is from him, my sweet Big A. I have not heard one complaint from him in all of this. He even lets me soak his shirts with my overly emotional tears.

Do you know how often (prior to pregnancy) I would complain about laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning?????

We have a son who is naturally a complainer, a whiner, a grump. And he comes by it most naturally. Certainly not from his father. And that has been all too apparent in my eyes these past few weeks. Poor kid.

I am learning to let go because I know my husband has never loved me because of my stellar domestic skills. I know my children have never loved me because of the hours I spend cleaning their toilets (hours? uh minutes).

I know my worth is found in the Lord and His righteousness and all else doesn't matter. It's hard in my human perspective to see it doesn't matter but when I dry my eyes and really use my brain (although it's hard lately!), I know God loves me because He loves me. It doesn't make sense and it doesn't have to but I'm grateful I don't have to earn my way to heaven. I'd be failing, miserably. I know I have a spot in heaven because Christ came and died on the cross in my spot. Nothing I ever have done or will do (because, thankfully, pregnancy does NOT last forever!) will change that.

Even in this time of spending too much time with my face in a toilet cleaned by elementary students, I know I am blessed. Not with material things, necessarily. Not even with my beautiful family. But with a Savior's love that no one can take. He loves me whether I'm supermom or laying on the couch. He loves me whether I'm running or sleeping. He loves me whether I'm puking or smiling. How can I ask for more? And yet He's given me so much more.

Today I'm grateful.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Haggerty (book review)

I can't remember why I wanted to read "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet" by Sara Haggerty, but I'm glad I did. I wasn't that in love with it when it started. I wasn't taken in by her sorrowful account of infertility; maybe because I have a friend whose story is so similar and familiar to me.

I completely understand that infertility is a hard pill to swallow and foreign to someone like me. I have tried my very hardest to be comforting and patient and gentle with my friend and so I put forth the same while reading this book. I ended up really falling in love with the struggles of the Haggertys. That sounds strange but so often in books, we don't see the struggles, and so we feel like our lives are wrong if we struggle. Yet here is this author telling us of her struggles to love her husband, to fill a void of an empty womb, to mother these children not knitted in her womb but fully in her heart. I came to love that openness and appreciate her being so vulnerable with her words.

image via BookLook
I will say this sparked such a fire in my heart. For many years my husband and I have talked of adoption; I believe  since prior to our wedding even. Yet it's been put off by the raising of the biological children we have (or are in the midst of having). But after I was through with this book, I told my husband that we need to adopt. In the past this has been a difficult thing for us to discuss because it's not like adoption is cheap! Yet this time he was all chill about it. I think that means something special.

Then I will quote one spot in the book that really touched my mother-heart.

"...motherhood's greatest fulfillment is not when children become vibrant God-followers who change the world for Him. Though this goal is certainly high on my list, I would be left bereft in the day-to-day reality of parenting if my eyes were on this alone. If this is my highest goal, then what am I to do when anger floods her limbs and his heart seems stuck, when I'm waiting and praying but not yet seeing fruit? If my chief end as a mother is anything less than knowing Him and carrying His glory in my life, I will walk through these years empty."

This really hit me because I've always said that was my goal, to have my children love the Lord. And yet, Haggerty is so right in this. I must know Him and carry His glory in MY life. I cannot make my children love the Lord; in fact, I have friends who love the Lord very much and raised their children to do so, too, and yet they do not. Did they fail as mothers? No because they were raising very human children with free wills, just as I am. I cannot make that choice for my children. I can point them in the right direction and the best way I can do that is to live it myself.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own.

looking ahead to 2015

My friend, Evi, is a much better writer than I. She set up a gratitude challenge around Thanksgiving to get all of us to really think about what we're grateful for - and to be grateful! She had some questions on her blog to help us reflect on this past year and look ahead to 2015.

1. Looking back, what (and who) am I grateful for this year?

Of course, I'm grateful for my family. My incredible husband who has taken care of us and put forth even more effort while I've been dealing with nausea, vomiting, and lethargy with this pregnancy. My children who are driving me crazy today (can it warm up so they can run off some energy?) but who also drive me crazy with their love and sweet cuddles. I LOVE these kids. I am grateful, too, for this budding child inside my belly. July can't get here soon enough!

What I'm thankful for could be any sort of material thing. I have so many things I'm thankful to have, but they are just things. I am really thankful for the time friends have spent on me this year. For my friend Kim who unfailingly will pick my kids up when I am unable (even with mere minutes' notice), my friend Rachel who always has an encouraging word, my friend Linda who is always up for a walk with me, my other friend Linda who has spent much time teaching me the art of quilting, my friend Kara who has opened her beautiful home to me just to talk, my friend Stacey who takes even the smallest amount of her limited internet time to message me and encourage me and challenge me through her blog. There are others, of course, but my limited brain power only works so fast lately.

2. Where have I felt true joy?

I have found true joy in these moments of clarity with the Lord. When I feel His presence, when I understand something about His Word, when I get to worship with my church family, when I feel His words and convictions penetrate my heart. That's my true joy.

3. What has challenged me?

Honestly, being pregnant has challenged me. A lot. I do NOT take well to being sick. I do NOT take well to not being able to work out (makes me queasy). I do NOT like change. Seriously, who talked me into having another child? Just kidding. But it's been really hard for me to step back and not feel guilty or angry at all the things I cannot do right now. I don't like having my husband do all the dishes (not because I love doing dishes - ha - but because that's part of my responsibility). I've worked really hard to become the wife, mom, and homemaker I am and to have that all ruined (even for a short time) is incredibly hard.
It's not like I haven't been pregnant before but I was at different places in my life. And where life has been really good, it's just hard for me to step back and be ok with that. But I know suffering (even this small kind) produces perseverance and that's what I'm holding on to.

4. What has troubled me?

My inability to look beyond what I want. My selfishness continues to wreck havoc on areas of my life because I am short sighted. I really need to work with the Lord to open my eyes to His eyes.

5. When did I have time for renewal and pause?

Ha! I feel like this has been the busiest year. Even with my kids in school full-time and a very part-time job, I have felt overwhelmed more than ever before. My renewal and pause comes mostly when I run and that's not always renewing, of course.

6. Have I noticed God in any of this?

I, more often than not, fear that I ignore God more than I rest in Him and His presence. I can go about my day so easily without Him in my first world comfortable life. And that's why I am so thankful for this new challenge of new life. Never in my past have I relied more heavily on the Lord than when I've been pregnant and with a newborn. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and makes me over and over realize my need for God and my dependence on Him. I am so thankful for that. I hate that I can so easily overlook Him in the good times (even though I know I'm not alone in this). Normally, I would hate for hard time to come, but this time, I am looking forward to that (and really relying on that now). I need God and I need the reminders that I need Him.

7. In light of all this...what is my response moving forward?

I haven't been grateful for the Bible and the ability to read His word without fear of retribution like so many Christians in dangerous countries. And so I've set the goal, lofty even for me, to read the Bible before this baby comes. That's about 6 months and that will be a challenge. I don't want to read it for the sake of reading it but really enjoy that I have the Bible to read. To challenge myself more I'm also reading it in the KJV translation which is more difficult for me to follow sometimes.

I also have realized I've been slacking in the teaching of my children about the Lord. We do talk about Him, but it's not been consistent. My boys and I were talking about prayer and I thought it so sweet that Squirt asked me to write a little prayer for them to go in their lunchbox (along with the joke I normally put in there) to encourage them to pray at lunch time. He balks most of the time when we read the Bible or Bible stories so this is encouraging to me. I want to read the Bible with them and talk about it with them. We read Genesis 1 yesterday and it wasn't a deep theological discussion but it was fun and nice and good.

Happy New Year all!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan (book review)

I LOVED Jim Gaffigan's first book, Dad is Fat, so I thought it would be great to read Food: A Love Story. I wasn't completely wrong but it definitely didn't live up to the expectations I had to laugh the entire time.

There were funny pieces; in fact, most of it was funny, just not laugh out loud funny. I laughed out loud from the foreword to the end in Dad is Fat. I chuckled often with Food: A Love Story.

Some of my favorite chapters were At Least I Don't Eat Blubber about whales and Hot Pockets: A Blessing and a Curse. For Gaffigan fans, you know that some of his biggest hits have been about Hot Pockets.

I don't think there was a lot of new material in this book, which was what other commenters said about Dad is Fat. I don't listen to a lot of Gaffigan's routines so it was new to me both in that book and this. I guess his thing is, if it's not broke, don't fix it. If this material works, why write new stuff? That's all just me guessing because I really don't know much of his material.

I think Food: A Love Story is a pretty good read. It's fairly quick with short chapters. If you like to watch shows like L.A. Beast (like my husband) or Man vs. Food (like me and my husband), then you'll quickly take a liking to this newest Gaffigan book.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and you don't need to share them.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

we have an announcement to make

That's right folks who still read this book, we will be a family of five come the end of July!
I hope this baby is as good-looking as these two boys with as sick as I've been. 

I apologize for the lack of posts lately but I've been doing the best I can minus energy. 
Happy New Year!

in case you missed something