Wednesday, March 31, 2010

90 Day Challenge

Are you ready for the challenge?

Can you read through the Bible in 90 Days?
YES you can!!!

Over the next few weeks the IDD blog will be posting a Bible Reading schedule that will get you through the entire Bible Genesis to Revelation in 90 Days.  I can't encourage you enough to take up this challenge.  I did it a few years ago, and I've never regretted it.  Never.  Probably the best 3 months of my life.

And it's totally do-able!  It takes about 45 minutes of reading time a day, depending of course, on how fast you read.  Some days I had my reading done in 30 minutes, some days it took a little longer, but it was never more than 45 minutes.  It worked best for me to just read whenever I had a chance during the day.  5-10 minutes in the morning as I ate my breakfast, a few minutes again at lunch, and whenever I got a chance during the day or at night right before bed.  If I had extra time, I would read ahead because of course, there will be days that are crazy start to finish and you won't have as much time.  And surprisingly enough I still had plenty of time to do my other recreational reading as well!

We'll be posting the weekly reading schedules every Sunday, starting this Sunday, April 4th, 2010.
Will you join me?

Grow in the Word!  Take the Challenge!

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Look for Spring!

   Well, we've been working hard on the new spring look!  (Not that hard actually, we had a photo shoot, which was very fun :)
   Anyway, here it is!

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Reveiw: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me is the  2010 Newberry Award Winner.  

It is really hard to review this book without giving away plot points.  Because, really, the best way to read it is to have absolutely no idea what you're getting into.  Half the brilliance of this plot is the reader trying to figure out (right along with Miranda, the 12 year old main character) what in the world she's supposed to be figuring out.  

Set in the 1970s it's something of a mystery, with coming of age elements, and a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure.  And really, I don't know what else I can say without ruining it.  I'll just move on to the other things I wanted to say. 

I have mixed feelings about Newberry books.  One the one hand, I expect great things from a Newberry Award Winner.  They're supposed to be awarded to the "Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children."  So, I have high expectations.  Which is maybe not the best frame of mind to be in when you open a book.  It just makes disappointment all the more likely.  

To be clear, I have not read all the Newberry books.  I haven't even read most of them.  Which is why I'm making "Read As Many Newberry's As Possible" one of my goals this year.  

To date I've been much more familiar with the Newberry Award books of an older era.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Johnny Tremain, The Whipping Boy...  Books that make you understand the meaning of the phrase "Most Distinguished Contribution."  Books that really DESERVE that kind of medal by teaching valuable lessons.  Books that have made an impact on society.  I can't say I see those sorts of qualities in the more recent Newberry winners.  But, it's too early to really make that judgment yet.  

On the other hand, well, I believe there's been a sort of "dumbing down" of American Culture.  So, when I pick up a book with a shiny gold sticker on the front of it, I'm simultaneously preparing myself for something above average, and at the same time something significantly less of a product then say, for example, The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (1962 Newberry). 

So, with all that in mind, here's my thoughts (and remember it's all just my opinion).

First off, I hate it when there's language in kids books. HATE being a strong word, but yes, I really mean it.  It aggravates me immensely that a book with language can be considered "Most Distinguished Contribution."  I will readily admit that nothing in this book is not something any child could hear by turning on the TV or walking out their front door.  Swearing has become a part of our culture and I myself hear it often enough that I'm beginning to become immune to being bothered by it.  Which, in itself should bother me more.  The most aggravating part?  That this sort of thing has become so common that we are now handing out prestigious awards to children s books with language in them when 30 years ago, that very element would likely have excluded a book from even being considered for such an award.  

I also grimaced a bit over the romance elements.  We're reading about 12 year olds.  Come on.  Do they really need boyfriends and girlfriends?   I won't go into that now.

But, on to the good things.  I have good things to say, I promise.  :)  I am a huge fan of  minimalism in words.  It's all so... natural.  Like seeing everything for yourself instead of through someone else's eyes.  So, I like Stead's writing style.  A lot.  I liked the whole format of the book.  Short chapters, just enough information to make everything necessary crystal clear.  Not a lot of word-y stuff clogging up the pages.  As the Newberry judges said: 'Every scene and word is "vital to the plot."'  Um, YES.  :)  I love that.

I'm kind of in awe of this book.  I'm surprised that I was surprised at the surprise ending.  :)  I'm loving the little glow in my chest that means I just read something special.  

But, if we're being totally honest, than yes, I enjoyed the book.  Yes, I'd probably recommend it if it weren't for the language.  But, would I have given it a Newberry?  No.  Probably not.  I think Newberry's should teach something; make a difference, or at least an impact.  

When You Reach Me has it's profound moments.  Like when Miranda observes that  "Trying to forget really doesn't work.  In fact, it's pretty much the same as remembering." Or when Belle says "It's simple to love someone.  But, it's hard to know when you should say it out loud."  (But, in all fairness, Stead is really just stealing that from the climax of another Newberry Book A Wrinkle in Time.  She even says so.)  And there's the whole self-sacrificing element.  And the taking responsibilities for your actions element.  All very good stuff.  

On the whole, a very nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning.  In your pajamas, of course, because as Stead also says "Pajamas are good for the soul."  I'm totally with her on that one. 

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Monday, March 22, 2010

It's been WAAAYYY too long

  Way, WAY too long since I posted anything on this blog. 

If I'm being totally honest, I don't really have an excuse.

But, let's see if I can find something interesting to say.

I've been busy working on a website for my flower shop.  :)  It's coming along bee-yoo-ti-fully! :) 

My book buying obsession has gotten out of hand.  Well, not really, but it has gotten to the point where I've had to buy another bookcase.  And re-arrange my entire room to make room for it.  So, that was fun.  Or not.  I now own a grand total of 370 books.  Enough?  Of course not!

My parents are having their kitchen remodeled so we packed up a lot of boxes yesterday.  That was fun.  :)

And...  I've been mildly obsessed with cleaning my house.

That's it.

Hope you're all having a wonderful day! 

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Monday, March 15, 2010

It's a BEAUTIFUL day

   In my neighborhood.  :)

60 degrees in March?  This canNOT be Wisconsin.  :)  Usually it's snowing this time of year.

Anyway, it's such a lovely thing to be able to open the windows.  And air out the house a little.  And such a strange feeling to get into my car to go to lunch and find that it's actually WARM in the car.  To need sunglasses when I'm driving home from work. 

Beautiful, beautiful. 

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Proverbs 31:23

Her husband is 
known in the gates, 
when he sitteth among the
elders of the land.
-Proverbs 31:23

If you're anything like me you read this verse and skip right over it.  You think " 'husband' ok, don't have one of those, this verse doesn't apply to me."  But, since my study right now is causing me to look at the Proverbs 31 Virtuous Woman through different eyes  I'm starting to see things a little clearer.  I might not have a husband NOW, but I certainly would like to have one sometime in the future.  So, how can I prepare for this now? 

The first thing I noticed here was that this entire passage of scripture is about the virtuous woman.  Not her husband.  There are only a few places where her husband is even mentioned.  But, even then, those verses aren't talking about HIM.  They're talking about what her relationship is with him.  So, I think we can assume that even though this verse is talking about a husband, there's something for us to learn from it.  You've heard the saying "Behind every good man is a good woman?"  I'm not saying that's completely true.  And I'm not trying to peddle a feminist agenda.  :)  But, the basis of that idea is that if a man is good, chances are pretty high that his wife is supportive and kind. Encouraging and a good influence.  She probably isn't like the woman mentioned in Proverbs 21:9 and 21:19.  "It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman."  Ouch. 

The Husband mentioned in this verse is a respected and well-known man.  He has a good reputation.  Do you think he built that reputation all on his own?  He could certainly do that and if he were single he would have only himself to concern with the upkeep of that reputation.  But, we know for a fact that he's married because this verse calls him a husband.  So, that got me to thinking about what kind of wife a respected man like that would have.  I have an excellent example right in front of my nose.  My own father is an elder in our church.  He's also a business man of good reputation in our community.  His wife (my mom) is supportive, encouraging and does an excellent job maintaining her own good reputation which in turn reflects well on my dad.  It always helps me to look at things in the converse.  So, I tried to imagine what my Dad's business and church responsibilities would look like if my mom nagged at him all the time.  To be honest, I had a hard time imagining my dad even wanting to be a well known person if he constantly had to be dealing with a contentious and angry wife.  I've been at many community events and watched my dad proudly introduce his wife to everyone he meets.  What if he didn't want to introduce her because she was such a negative person?  What if he introduced her to people and rather than smiling and being friendly she was rude?  My dad's reputation would suffer for it. 

In a conversation with our own Valerie the other day she mentioned that she felt that a lot of guys might be intimidated by the kind of man that most of us girls are looking for.  This led to a discussion of what kinds of qualities we should expect to find in a good husband candidate, which of those we should reasonably expect to be matured qualities (like a heart for the Lord) and which character qualities we should only reasonably expect him to be in the process of developing.  After all, it takes many years to iron out and develop a Godly character.  I'm certainly not perfect and I would hate to feel that I'm being passed over as a good marriage candidate because I'm not perfect.  During the conversation I mentioned that I wasn't looking for someone who was perfect.  Just so he had a willing heart and a goal about what kind of man he wants to become.  I'm totally willing to provide encouragement to help him get there!  I'm a good encourager!  And that kind of encouragement is exactly what I need in my own life!  I know who it is I want to be and I'm working on reaching  my goals.  A little encouragement along the way would be just splendid.  :)  But, I digress...  The point is that if we have expectations of what kind of man we're looking for as a husband, we should expect that the guys also have expectations about what kind of women they are looking for in a wife.  And, if we expect to marry a certain quality of man, we need to be worthy of him. 

The husband in this verse is a leader among men.  Before he was married, what kind of woman do you suppose he was looking for in a wife?  What kind of character traits do you suppose appealed to him?  Should we assume that he married a run-of-the-mill girl?  Or, that he married a girl who had the makings of being a strong, responsible, well respected women?  We have a joke in our house and it takes a little bit of explaining.  My dad is in a group of men at our church that we often refer to as "The Elders" :)  The elder's wives are usually referred to as (creatively enough) the "Elders Wives."  My mom has always encouraged her daughters to be strong women of God, leaders of our peers, encouragers and wise counselors.  She set for us the goal of being the kind of women that would be good wives of good men.  The kind of men that hold positions of leadership in their communities and churches.  She called us "Elders Wives in Training."  Or, as we quickly nick-named it "E-WITS."  It's funny, and we laugh when we talk about being "E-WITS" but the principle is a good one.  We should be preparing now to be the kind of woman that are well-equipped to encourage a man who is "known in the gates."  Be worthy of what you desire. 

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Luke Swims

The Luke-man's final swimming lesson was on Saturday.  He invited/begged the "WHOLE FAMILY" to come and watch. 

This is him doing the butterfly stroke, I think.  It's really hard to tell, the camera on my phone isn't spectacular and it has a delayed reaction.  I snapped the shutter when his head was in the air and he had the cutest little concentrating look on his face. But, obviously, by the time the picture was actually taken he was back in the water.

SO cute.  :) 

It's quite impressive really.  I suppose maybe a lot of kids grow up learning how to swim but I never learned.  I do a version of doggy-paddle and can do a backstroke (I think) but I can't tread water, float, or do a cannonball off a diving board into the deep section of the pool.  And I certainly can't dive for rings.  (How do you go DOWN into the water anyway?  I could never do it.) 

Luke did all of those things on Saturday.  And he was even relaxed enough to stop and wave at his adoring fans every 2 minutes.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Pizza Crust for one pizza 
Feel free to use your favorite pizza crust recipe, or frozen bread dough or Boboli... or whatever.  I'm still searching for the perfect pizza crust, but I have to say, this one was REALLY good for a non-yeast crust. 
Here's the recipe I used:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
Mix the dry ingredients first (I also added a pinch of brown sugar here because I was in the mood for a sweeter crust.  It doesn't take much, a tsp. is fine.  And the tiny bit of sweet really contrasts nicely with the saltiness...)  Then combine the water and oil and mix it all together.  I used my hands to knead it into a ball and then rolled it out right onto the baking stone.  You might need a tad bit more water.  But don't overdo it.  Just a sprinkle at a time until it's the right consistency and it sticks together. 

  • 1 Chicken Breast, cubed and cooked
  • 3/4 Cup Pesto (I grew a huge basil plant last summer and Mom made a bunch of pesto from it.  I still have some in my freezer. :) )
  • 1/2 Onion, sliced
  • 5 Mushrooms, sliced 
  • 3/4 Cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced.

Spread pizza crust with pesto sauce.  Then layer the ingredients in whatever order you like.  I suggest finishing up with cheese and then tomato.  Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.

SO yummy.  :)

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Book Review: Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley

I give this book 5 stars and 2 thumbs up.  That's how much I loved it.

Carolyn writes from her own experience and her honesty is touching, humorous and in some instances even heartbreaking.  But mostly her honesty is inspiring, level headed and REAL.

Who would've thought reading a book on a subject I personally struggle with written by another woman struggling with the same thing could be so encouraging and uplifting?

I was especially pleasantly surprised to find the author addressing the topic of the Proverbs 31 woman especially relating to single women.  This is a topic the IDD Blog has recently been studying.  I found her insights to be invaluable.

I recommend this book to EVERY woman aged 15-95, married or single.  Even though it's primary focus is single woman, Carolyn points out that single woman are just woman, who happen to currently be single.  Her encouraging words apply to women in every walk of life.

You can find more of Miss McCulley's work at Boundless

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Monday, March 01, 2010

February Book List

15.  Crooked House by Agatha Christie - (****)  Kind of creepy, I gotta admit...

16.  Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, These Three Remain by Pamela Aiden -
(****) It kind of surprises me how much I like this book.  Some parts of it I like very very much.  Other parts, not as much.  I admit I skipped some.  I got a little bored reading so much about Darcy's feelings... ho hum.  Great ending though.  Of course. 

17.  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Machlachlan -(*****)  Proof that a story doesn't have to be word-y to be poignant. 

18.  The Cat-Nappers by P.G. Wodehouse -
(****) Like all Wodehouse's works, hilarious. 

19.  The Way Home by Mary Pride -(*****)  Excellent.  I've been reading a lot on the feminist movement lately and the role of women in the home, church and society.  I'm not done researching (maybe never will be?) Mary Pride has some excellent things to say.  A lot of my opinions have been refined by her insight. 

19.  River Secrets by Shannon Hale -(***) Not my favorite Bayern book... but, still really good!

20.  Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley -(*****) Review coming soon!!!  For now, I'll just say LOVED it. :)

21.  The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie -(****)  Pretty good.  :)

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