Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

To those hurt by Katrina...

...may God comfort you and give you peace.

I can only imagine the difficulty some of these people are facing as they try to put their lives back together. They are in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

Favorite Things File: "Pumpkin Spice" candles!

The fact that it's almost September is putting me in mind of Autumn. You see...I believe that seasons should run as follows (forget the arbitrary dates someone came up with!):

Summer: June, July and August
Fall: September, October and November
Winter: December, January and February
Spring: March, April and May

See? Nice and simple...and balanced!

Anyway, I have been thinking of the coming Fall--partly because I am longing for an escape from this heat! Nothing signals Fall to me like the scent of Pumpkin Spice. My mom has burned it every Autumn for years, and now I carry on the tradition. It is one of the yummiest smells in the world!

Yankee Candle Company makes a wonderful Pumpkin Spice candle, but there are also many (cheaper!) off-brands that are lovely too. Go candle-sniffing and pick out a great one to celebrate Fall:o)

Favorite French Bread

I have been wanting to post this recipe for some time. It always turns out wonderfully! Enjoy it hot out of the oven with your favorite soup or pasta dish.

3 c. whole wheat flour
2 T. dry yeast
2 c. comfortably hot water (120-130*)
2 T. oil
1 T. honey
2 t. salt
2-3 c. unbleached white flour
2 T. yellow cornmeal
1 egg white
1 T. water
Sesame seeds

Mix whole wheat flour and dry yeast in mixer bowl. Turn off mixer. Add hot water, oil, honey and salt. Mix 1 min. Quickly add white flour, 1 cup at a time, until mixture cleans the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Knead 3-4 min.

Lightly oil hands. Divide dough into two equal portions. Roll each into a 12x15" rectangle. Beginning at the long side, roll up tightly, pinching edges to seal. Taper ends.

Place each loaf with the seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet which has been sprinkled with cornmeal. French bread pans may also be used. Beat egg white and water with a fork until foamy. Brush tops and sides of loaves with egg-water mixture. Diagonally slash loaf tops every 2 1/2 in", 1/4" deep. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Let rise until double. Bake in a preheated oven at 375* for 25-30 min or until deep golden brown. Yield: 2 large loaves

For an extra special treat, try serving the bread with Dipping Oil:

1/2 t. each: oregano, basil, rosemary, salt (kosher if you have it), pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 t. dried minced garlic
1/2 c. - 2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
Sprig of fresh rosemary

Mix together and enjoy!! Serve with a big loaf of French or Italian Bread for dipping.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


As you can see, dear hubby has helped me to customize my blog template:o) This color green is one of my favorites, and I'm excited about the new look!

I have also added a new link: Mark's Basic Training Journal, under my blog listings. Mark has been a friend of my family's for many years. He and I graduated from (homeschool) high school together, and he is one of my sister's best friends.

Mark is currently going through basic training, and his mother has been posting all of his emails on their blog. What I've read so far has been pretty informative, so I wanted to share it with you. I think it's so important for us as a nation to understand what our soldiers go through for us, and why. Of course, Mark isn't even in combat yet--and, Lord willing, won't have to go. But his attitude is one of willingness. We should all be so grateful for the sacrifices our troops make everyday for our safety. They didn't have to join.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

On my mind...

Hubby went to bed early tonight, and I wasn't ready for sleep yet! So I am spending some quiet time reading and writing.

A lot has been happening with us lately that has not been pleasant! I won't go into everything here, because I am praying (hard!) that God will help me to focus on His provisions, and not on the things I don't like.

One thing for which I'm very thankful for today: Micah was involved in a car accident this morning, but it was not serious. Nobody was hurt. Our poor car now has a busted lip, but it is still drivable! We have insurance to cover the damage done to the other car (God provided the money to allow us to keep the policy active, in spite of our current financial hardships). Micah was driving our old civic, and not our newer car or the car he had been borrowing from one of our family members for several weeks while the civic was suffering with a bad distributor and laid up in the repair shop. As we just got the civic back about two days ago, the wreck could have just as easily happened to the borrowed or new(er) car!

Micah received the news today that he might finally be coming to the end of his training period for his recent job certification. This should hopefully mean an increase in work and pay!

My baby sister will be visiting for the next couple of weeks from her current home in Pennsylvania. It should be good to see after her three months of absence.

We will be having lunch with very good friends this weekend--who live in Dallas about five hours away from us--and whom we have missed very much (We will hear all about their just-returned-from vacation to Hawaii and try not to hate them!;o).

Even in the midst of trials, there is relief. There are little oasis' of blessings in the desert.

I need to stop and reflect: Not everything is perfect, but God is. He knows what we need, and will not allow things to happen to His children that do not ultimately result in our growth and benefit.

Are the masses drugged?

An interesting article by Dennis Prager for those interested in philosophy and worldviews. Is religion, as Marx said, really an opiate for the masses? Are religious conservatives trying to hold back progress at the dictate of our fallacious ideas?

Friday, August 26, 2005


Dianne Feinstein does not do woman a service if she is implying that we are all a pack of sheep who engage in group-think based solely on our gender--especially group-think that harms children and places herself as our collective representative! Ms. Feinstein, what about diversity?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is serving on the Judiciary Committee that will consider Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, said this week, "As the only woman on the committee, I have an additional role to play in representing the views and concerns of 145 million American women during this hearing process." As a public champion of Roe v. Wade though, her opinions are hardly "representative": polls show most women wanting more protection for unborn children than the Supreme Court has allowed for the past 32 years.

Source: Worldmagblog

Good riddance, spam!

Thanks to Jessica for telling me about the setting to avoid spam programs!! I saw that Crystal and others are implementing this as well. I hope that spammers won't get smart enough to figure out how to bypass this excellent technology:op

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time for a Change?

Rene (Missynay's Musings) brought this up a while back on her blog, but I had already been thinking about it as well. She and I have the same blog template. We were both wondering if we should switch to different ones.

I like my template, because it feels like a journal; kind of old fashioned. But I'm wondering if I might not prefer something that is lighter, cheerier and easier to read. I'm afraid my template makes me always come across as serious, even if I want to have a little fun sometimes!

Maybe it's like getting a new haircut. You have to try a few different ones before you know what you like the best.

I don't know. I'm thinking about it. If you visit my site later and it looks a lot different, you'll know what happened!:o)

Spam be gone!

Does anyone know if there's a way to stop spam/ad comments from being posted on your blog? Last night, I had about six or seven of them pop up, one right after the other! I'm wondering if someone is actively posting them, or if it is a "spam virus" or program that can be blocked.

Monday, August 22, 2005

One box I will not be tossing!

Micah and I have a treasure box. In it, we keep special mementos from our relationship, such as the letters we have written each other (including many emails that I took care to print out before they were lost forever!), and many other little somethings that are significant to us.

I purchased this box as a gift for Micah before we were married, right before I left to go to England for several months. It is a large old-fashioned looking wooden box, with a flat lid, that I bought from Hobby Lobby. On the inside of the lid, I wrote a special note to him with a paint pen. I told him that the box was for the letters and other things I would be sending him while I was away. Even though he is a guy (and therefore probably not as sentimental as I!), he was still very touched by the gift.

Since we have been married, I have added my half of the letters and special things to the box, and it has become our little place for our treasures. I love to open it up and be reminded of all that we've shared together.

But what about when you LOVE it??

I have been unpacking boxes in our new rental home. I thought I got rid of all our extra stuff before we moved, but as I unpack I'm finding that we STILL have too much STUFF.

Granted, this house isn't huge! It only has two bedrooms and is slightly less than 1000 sqft. But there are only two of us and we have only been married for two years! If we can't fit our stuff in this home now, what will our lives be like after we have children and all of their STUFF to add to the mix...not to mention the probability that we will accumulate more things as the years pass. Even though I'm sure we will live in a larger house in the future, I still want to start the habit of clutter-control now.

Here's the thing: This isn't just clutter that I don't care about. A lot of it is my special things. I have my entire childhood packed up in boxes, taking up almost one whole closet out of three in the house. All the dolls and stuffed animals that I loved (three packed tupperware boxes--the big kind!). Most of my school work, essays, even some favorite textbooks from kindergarten through college. My box of ballet and piano recital trophies (Not that I would ever display them now, but I still have trouble pitching them!). EVERY single card or letter anyone has ever sent me saved in a big tupperware container (looking through it a while back, I realized that I had even saved the postcards from my Dr. and dentist. I guess that all mail addressed to a child seems special!).

My husband, also, has special boxes from his childhood--but his stuff probably takes only about a third of the room of mine. Still...what are we really going to do with that shriveled, preserved piranha, honey? (You should see this's scary! :op)

Throwing away these things somehow feels like I'm throwing away a piece of my life. But at the same time, I realize that these things won't do much good just sitting in closets or attics till they finally disintegrate. Sigh.

I suppose I need to pick out the most special things, and the things I definately want to pass on to my children, and get my husband to throw out the rest when I'm not at home. EVERYBODY should keep treasures to remember their lives by, but I suppose there is such a thing as excess. Still...when my dolls and stuffed bears look at me with those mournful eyes...

Friday, August 19, 2005

College for None, Some or All?

I enjoy reading Crystal's Blog. Lately she has been facilitating quite a discussion about the benefits (or lack thereof) of a college education for young women. The topic of education piques my interest exceedingly, so I can't really stop myself from commenting on this debate:o)

I think there is no way that we can claim that college is either good or bad for everybody. I felt called to go to college. I don't think everybody is; nor should everyone feel compelled to go.

I know some women feel very strongly that they shouldn't go to college. Well, then they probably shouldn't. Some went to college and hated it or had terrible experiences. They may regret that they went. But that doesn't mean that every girl will.

I am definitely not of a relativistic mindset when it comes to issues of right and wrong. But right and wrong within the context of education have more to do with content and God's will for a particular individual's life than the method itself. Different womens' personalities, aspirations, interests, strength of character, needs, etc should help to determine their course. There is no one-size fits all.

I loved college almost thoroughly. Not everything about my college career was perfect or easy. But looking back, I see that my experiences during my college years were beneficial for me.

In college, I learned so much, and felt intellectually challenged. I made wonderful friends. I traveled and saw new pieces of the world. I lived in England and studied at Oxford University, and it was one of the best experiences of my life because it broadened my mind and experience and allowed me to get to know people with completely different backgrounds and beliefs than I. I worked in a low-income health clinic, and learned about a completely different segment of the population than I was used to being around. I taught children's sunday school and helped plant a church. I became completely burnt out on church, because my first school required me to go to eight services a week. Yes...I think this was actually beneficial in the long run! It helped me to separate my faith in Christ from church attendance and "Christian culture" if you will. I stopped going to church for a while when I transferred to another school. I gave it a rest and thought a lot about what I truly believe. I focused on God Himself and have since been finding His presence reaffirmed apart from the trappings of "churchiness". He has slowly been refreshing my heart to the place where I am now able to go to a good church and appreciate His presence there, as well. Last but not least, at college I met and married my college sweetheart:o)

Here's the caveat: I knew I had to go. I believed that it was within God's will for me to go. He is Lord of my life. Other women, seeking God's will for their own lives will come to different conclusions. May they be blessed in their own decisions.

P.S. The one thing I regret about college is that I took out a bunch of debt to finance it. This is a whole other topic! I now know better, and wish that my parents and I had worked out a better way. I will never allow my own children to use debt to finance anything. But even in this, I see God's hand in our lives. The debt that my husband and I have is a huge trial to us, but it is also a refining fire. As we live frugally and work hard to become completely debt free, we are learning things we may not have learned otherwise.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Encouragement from Mom and FlyLady

Dear Erin,
I read this and thought....oh boy...this is ME!! But, I am learning, how-be-it ever so slowly, to use the 15 minute concept and that things don't have to be "perfect". I thought you might feel encouraged reading this as well! Hope you are having a great you lots!

FLYLADY: Who Decided I am WRONG????

Dear Friends: Over the years I have heard so many different versions of "doing things the RIGHT way"

Examples: If you had done it right the first time, you wouldn't have to do it again

If you don't take time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over

These are just two examples but what I want to know is who the heck determined the "RIGHT" way for everyone? Who decided for all of us that here is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way? Why do we feel compelledto follow the RIGHT way and feel like we have failed when we don't? Lastly, who decided for me that I do things WRONG?

FlyLady has shared one of the most valuable thoughts to help combat the "RIGHT" way thinkers:"Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family" What this means is that no matter how you do a task, just doing something instead of nothing, still blesses your family. Instead of using the old stinking thinking of " I don't have time to do it right so I will wait to do anything until I have time to do it the right way", so the piles grow, the dust gets thicker, the floor stays unswept etc. Just doing something, even if it is not the "right" way is better than nothing.

This is where the magic of 15 minutes also comes into play for all of us. The days of our grandmothers spending every Saturday morning scrubbing and polishing are over. We do not have to spend our time slaving. We just need to set our timers for 15 minutes and GO! We do not need to clean our homes, the old fashioned, traditional, RIGHT way. We do it the FLY way! Routines and 15 minutes! When faced with the kitchen floor that needs mopping, instead of putting it off for another time because you don't have time to do it the "right" way, set the timer for 15 minutes and just do the best you can within that time. You might just find that your very own "right" way is how YOU do it, not anyone's else's way, you know someone's version of the "right" way. I always say how surprised you will be at what you can accomplish in 15 minutes.

When faced with the living room carpet that needs to be vacuumed, don't put it off because you don't have time to move all the furniture and kill yourself doing it the "right" way. Set that timer and just vacuum what you can. Again, with both of these examples you have gotten more accomplished by doing something, then putting it off and having to live with the mess because you had the stinking thinking of not having the time to do it "RIGHT". Give yourself permission not to follow someone else's version of RIGHT. Allow yourself to bless you and your family 15 minutes at a time. YOU decide what is RIGHT forYOU! Now grab that timer and go prove that you can do anything for 15 minutes!!!



Beat your chariots into broomsticks

Some Christians are assessing dark elements in the newest Harry Potter book, but others are using the books as the focus of their vacation Bible schools. Children at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Carlisle, Pa. are taking broomstick flying lessons, playing quidditch, and receiving verses in their daily owl mail through a VBS course on “Wizards and Wonders: The Journey with Harry Potter.” Too bad that a church feels it must Potter-pull kids in when the Bible is full of true—and often amazing—stories that point to the power and love of Christ.

From Worldmag

"Our big empty churches"

Here is another great article from World Magazine--this one about the climate of many American churches (Can you tell this is my favorite magazine? I will never be without a subscription...but you can also read many of their articles online).


Mr. Rainey finds the new churches too materialistic and "impersonal in every way." He says that young people today are not impressed with technology, big buildings, and commercialism. He decries the overall emphasis on "stuff" that plagues our culture and now our churches. He says that today's young adults crave real religion.

Mr. Rainey closes his column with these haunting words: "In Europe, mass religious apostasy left its churches people-free, but the American megachurch could bring this irony: We, unlike the Europeans, have people in our big, empty churches."

As my husband and I have been recently church-hunting, I can attest to the truth expressed in this article. We went to one church that was was like a flawless production: Slick, glossy bulletins, impressive graphic-designed overheads, an energetic, hip young pastor, simply packed with people. And yet the place felt rather empty and lonely. It was too polished, for one thing. Too scripted. And too sanitized. Real people have issues, eccentricities, imperfections, spiritual emptiness, genuine joy, and real lives (i.e. DEFINITELY not scripted!) and real ministry should reflect that. Ministry happens in the heart, not before the eyes.

I don't think this is a big church vs. small church issue. My husband and I used to attend a rather large church in the Dallas area that was fantastic. It had a heart: vibrant ministries, sound biblical teaching, and a small-group ministry mentality. I am convinced that churches reach people the best when they center heavily on their small groups, where people can get plugged into others' lives, and enjoy the close fellowship that we all need.

Monday, August 15, 2005

August 16th

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband of two years!

Two years ago, we dismayed our yankee relatives by getting married in Texas in the heat of August! I hope they have since forgiven us:o)

If I do say so myself, it was a beautiful wedding. But the marriage that has resulted has been even more beautiful, despite the tryingness of real life. I want to continue going through everything--whether joy or difficulty--with my best friend. I love you, Hon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Chicken Salad Salad

Salads are a staple meal for us. But they can get pretty boring if you don't get creative with them! Also, in order to be a fulfilling meal, I find that it's necessary to include some form of protein. Here's a great salad variation that we both love! (This is a great summer meal)

Chicken Salad:

  • Shredded, cooked chicken (either make yourself, or you can buy canned to make quickly)
  • Equal parts sour cream and mayo (I use "light" for both. I have tried substituting plain yogurt for the sour cream, but it didn't taste near as good)
  • Salt, pepper and dill to taste
  • Capers, optional. Micah doesn't like these added, so we don't.

Mix well. Use your own judgement about how creamy your family will like the chicken salad. I usually just add little spoonfuls of the sour cream and mayo until it sticks together and is slightly creamy.

This chicken salad is great on lettuce or in a sandwich. For the whole salad shebang, make a pasta salad using penne noodles and your favorite Italian dressing. I sometimes add parmesan cheese and olives. Tip: This works best if the pasta is prepared a few hours early and put in the fridge to cool. But if I wait till the last minute, I mix the just-cooked warm noodles with ice cubes until they're chilly, then pick out the cubes and drain before I add the dressing.

Layer lettuce, pasta, and then a scoop of chicken salad on each plate. Fresh sliced tomatoes make a great finishing touch.


Too Little Time!

My journey to prioritize in such a way that everything I want and need to do gets done is a little slow in getting off the ground! Of course, I have to be patient and give it a little time. We are in kind of a big transition time right now...moving this weekend; both of us training for our jobs. Sadly, patience is not something I'm always good at having;op

I am sure this is something that everybody--moms, wives, working women--deals with. I am always looking for ideas and advice on this topic!

Here's what I'm currently focusing on:

  • Trying to do what I can--even if it's just a little--and being OK with that. My homemaking responsibilities are important to me, but if it's between cleaning or spending time with my husband, hubby wins out:o) I will try to do my big cleaning as quickly as possible every weekend.
  • Patience
  • Collecting quick and easy recipes that are also cheap and healthy. I wrote about my efforts at meal planning in an earlier post.
  • Patience
  • Having contentment and thankfulness. I need to stop complaining about things I don't like (like my horrendous commute!) and try to be thankful for God's provision and what He's trying to teach me. Driving in the car can actually be a nice quiet time, if I have the right attitude about it.
  • Patience
  • Being a help and an encouragement to my husband
  • Patience

(Did I mention that I need to work at cultivating some patience right now?:op)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Soft Heart; Strong Mind

An addendum to my previous post:o)...

The Bible passage below is long, but it is such a helpful example of how Paul approached non-believers with the things of God. A few things I notice right off the bat:

  • Paul shares his message using cultural reference points
  • He uses reason (v.17)
  • He makes a clear distinction between men (including himself) and God; he makes clear that he is proclaiming God's message, not his own opinions
  • He is sharing this message not because it benefits him, but because he wants to help others to know the grace that he knows.
  • Paul is kind and helpful in his approach. He doesn't attack the Athenians, but engages them.
  • Even with all that, there were still those who "sneered" (v.32). Paul did not let the sneers of man keep him from sharing. The Bible states that there will always be those who think that followers of Christ are foolish. Paul was less concerned about what people would think of him, than he was about trying to give the message of hope to those listeners with hearts soft to God's touch.

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject."

Views: Seasoned with Grace?

Recently, I have been thinking about the relationship between my Christian/Conservative views and a compassionate, understanding approach to presenting and applying them. I want to firmly state what I believe to be true, whether or not others agree. But I want to state it in a way that is respectful, helpful, and thought-provoking, rather than intended to offend.

The article which I quoted below has some good points about this, though it is too short to fully explore all the implications. I appreciated Marvin Olasky's reference to how Paul approached the people and issues of his day. I am reminded of how he addressed the people in Athens, using reference points from their own culture to present Christ in a spirit of humility and concern for their salvation.

These days, being a South Park conservative is in, and the working definition seems to be: Hit hard and don't worry about hitting below the belt, because there is no belt. If you counter the left's sputum with your own, talk-show appearances and book contracts will follow...

Conservative, maybe (although if South Park is our future, there won't be much to conserve). Clearly not Christian, though. Those who follow the Bible are to be firm but courteous—as the saying goes, hating the sin but loving the sinner. Christians should not adopt the bipolar belief that either you're (Michael) savage or you're a wimp.

The Christian way is to practice what New Jersey pastor Matt Ristuccia calls "earnest grace, the reassociation of sensibilities that we moderns have judged to be beyond association: specifically, passionate conviction and profound compassion. . . . [The apostle Paul was] so wonderstruck by the way God brought justice and judgment for human sin together with forgiveness and hope in the death of this Jesus, that Paul's earnestness could not help but be seasoned with grace."

Read the full article here.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Has anyone else seen the movie "Avalon?" I watched it last night. It's a very sad, though poignant and thought-provoking movie.

One of it's major themes is portraying how TV has effected the American family. The movie begins with a jovial Grandpa telling his life stories to all of his young relatives, as they listen with complete absorption. As the movie progresses, we see how the television has taken everyone's attention from each other. There is no story-telling...or if there is, no one is listening. Instead of listening to Grandpa, the children's eyes are glued to the TV. Seriously, this movie almost made me cry. But it has made me more firm in my convictions to impose strict limits on TV watching with my own kids some day! (Actually, they probably won't be allowed to watch any TV...just videos).

I grew up without a television (by my parents' choice) and am so thankful for this today. I don't think I missed anything. In fact, I think I gained a lot, because I had to learn how to entertain myself. I learned to love reading. My sisters and I used to spend hours playing with blocks, dolls, Little People (I don't think they make these anymore!), making "forts" in the backyard, riding bikes, drawing pictures, making crafts, "helping" mom bake...

I like to tease my parents about what a "primitive" childhood they gave me! No TV and no computer. It could not have been any better.

My own children will probably not be restricted from the computer and TV entirely (because Micah and I have both). But there must be a way to effectively limit them, and find an appropriate balance. Those of you with children do you handle this with your families?

Friday, August 05, 2005

For the Love of Reading

Great post on World Magazine blog, along the same theme as my very last post! I love seeing what others have to say this topic, so the comments are interesting. It begins:

USA Today has an article by English teacher Patrick Welsh, who argues that schools are destroying the joy of reading. The culprit? Literature textbooks that avoid controversial content (so as to placate conservatives) and that are so multiculturally-inclusive--valuing group representation rather than quality--(so as to placate liberals) that they contain little worth reading. The textbooks are light-weight even though they are required to include so much that they weigh up to six pounds, a back-breaking format that does not lend itself to enjoyable reading . Another fault: Just including snippets of classic works so as to cover standardize test questions, rather than reading the whole masterpiece.
For those of you who love to read, what sparked your interest? Did your school help or get in the way? Do you have any suggestions for schools and homeschools on how to instill a love of reading?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Favorite Girlhood Books

Recently, I was remembering the books I used to read and love as a young girl. I read a lot on my own, but we also read plenty as a family. On rainy days--it was kind of a tradition--we (my mom and sisters and I) would curl up with blankets and pillows on the couch, and my mom would read to us for hours. (Now, on rainy days I always think of that and feel like I should be allowed to take the day off and just read! I guess I got kind of spoiled:o)

I've always been kind of a bookworm...but even my less-inclined-to-read sister liked our reading times. (BTW, my mom had some great ideas about keeping us interested--or at least quiet and still--during reading. She let us draw pictures while she read, and suggested that we draw the people and scenes in the book. When little hands can stay busy it helps with the fidgeting!) Since then, the sisters and I have had a few passionate "discussions" about who will be allowed to keep each of our shared-favorite books to read to our own kids some day!

Here were a few of my best-loved books--most read multiple times; many admittedly girly:
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Series
  • All-of-A-Kind Family Series
  • Grandma's Attic Series
  • Elsie Dinsmore Series
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Box-Car Children

I also remember loving a story-book called "The Princess and the Goblins," And a "Pilgrim's Progress" book adapted for children. There were many others. I loved stories about people who immigrated to America during the Irish Potato famine for some reason. We also read A LOT of biographies, and American history books.

Did anyone else read these? (I'm sure just about everybody must have read Laura Ingalls Wilder, and most children raised in Christian families probably become introduced to the Chronicles of Narnia!) I hope they're all still around in stores, because I will have to buy the ones I don't win through my ongoing negotiations with my sisters;o)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I hope this is really true...

...and that the trend will continue!

From a post on World Magazine Blog site:

Poll: More women are pro-life
A new poll shows that more women between the ages of 18-29 are
pro-life. In 1993, 49% of 18-29 year-old women believed that abortion should be "available to anyone who wants it," but in 2005, only 28% of young women agreed with that statement. In 1993, 30% of women polled believed that abortion should be "available, but with stricter limits." By 2005, the number supporting stricter limits grew to 40%. This year, 30% believe that abortion should be "not permitted," up from 19% in 1993.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Meal Planning

I'm trying to establish a weekly meal plan that will save money and time, but will be decently healthy. Here's what I have this far:

  • M: Fish (or some other type of meat, if on sale)
  • T: Veggie Stir-fry with a little chicken
  • W: Soup
  • T: Pasta (spaghetti, fettucine dish, homemade mac and cheese, noodle casserole, etc.)
  • Weekends: Leftovers, as well as one or two different dishes inspired by the weekly sale items and our cravings:o)
I will try to have a fresh veggie with every meal, and will try to bake fresh bread every weekend to compliment the meals throughout the week (and freeze part of it for the latter part of the week)

I want to alternate dishes within these broad categories. For example, Stir-fry can use whatever vegetables are most in season, or on sale, etc. Our favorite kind of fish is salmon, but I've been wanting to experiment with some different kinds. If there is no fish on sale, I may need to go for some type of meat that is.

Lunches will be mostly salads and sandwiches, and maybe some leftovers. In my efforts not to overwhelm Hubby with all health foods all the time, I will probably include a few of his favorite snacky items with his lunches from time to time:o)

Breakfasts will alternate between fruit smoothies with protein powder, and fiber-packed foods, like oatmeal or whole-grain toast.

I will plan on one dessert a week, probably on the weekend. Since it is just two people right now, I usually half the recipe of whatever I make, unless we are having company.

"Skirt Girls"

When I was in high school, my sisters and I used to have a special name for the girls we knew who came from more conservative families. We did not mean it in a bad way, or in a demeaning way. We just latched onto the most obvious descriptive characteristic--that they always wore skirts.

These girls always seemed "perfect" to me. They were homeschooled (as was I), but they were set apart from your typical teenie-bopper in other ways, as well. Many of them were not allowed to go to college, but they didn't seem to care. They were too busy serving others or helping with the family business. They were always sweet and unselfish and obedient (probably not always, but that's what I thought). They were also extremely friendly. There were never any exclusive cliques among the skirt girls (BTW...If you wanted to include both men and women in this group, then you called them the "Skirt People." I doesn't really make a lot of sense:)

I never felt like a Skirt Girl myself, although I was certainly not part of main-stream culture either, as a Christian and a homeschooler. I often wore pants or shorts. I listened to secular music. I never thought I was a sweet enough person--or a good enough person--to be a Skirt Girl. Plus, I really wanted to go to college. So there I was: suspended somewhere in la-la land between the Skirt People and all my mainstream-minded peers. I didn't know where I fit in!

It's a funny thing, thinking back. It took me several years to figure this out: (Actually, I'm probably still figuring it out, but at least I'm more secure in my identity now than I was back then!) Nobody can truly be classified as narrowly as my sisters and I used to imagine. Skirt Girls have their own issues, just like everybody else. We're not meant to be cookie cutters of each other. But we are meant to learn from others as we seek to grow closer to God. That's what it's all about: our relationship with Him. If that's cared for, then the little imperfections will be subect to His chisel; We will grow in character, and our purposes will be made more pure.

Whether a woman grew up as a Skirt Girl, or was a promiscuous high school drop-out--if she is God's child and she seeks His face in her everyday life--He will refine her into just the person He wants her to be. He will fit her into His body. She has a story to share and things to teach others.

I have learned so much from my friends with difficult pasts. For one thing, they are often SO passionate about the things of God, because they understand more what life is like without Him. I have also learned many lessons from the Skirt Girls in my life--namely, how to have a servant's heart and seek to be an encouragement to others. And as for myself, I trust God that He hasn't truly stuck me out in la-la land: He has a plan for me, as well, if I stay close and allow Him to do His work in my life.

P.S. As the years go on, perhaps I have actually begun to adopt at least one element of my former Skirt Girl stereotype: I now want to wear skirts a lot more, and have rarely worn pants in the last few months. Not because I believe it's wrong, but because I feel so much prettier in skirts. I feel feminine. And I don't feel entirely out of fashion either. I think it's wonderful that skirt designs have become more common, and more stylish these days, because I refuse to ever wear the "Homeschool mom skirt/jumper" we're just getting into more stereotypes from my past...and I won't go there! ;o)

Monday, August 01, 2005

"Misery comes when we are the focus of our lives"

I'm not sure where this quote came from, but it encouraged me:

Everything you are going through, all that you are dealing with, has one ultimate purpose: that you may know the love of God and live in the light of His extravagant and more-than-adequate grace, which has been poured out on you. That is what you were born for: an intimate relationship with God. That is the purpose of your existence. That is what you are worth to Him.

My Soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2

Advertisement Rant:op

Can we please just ban billboards on the side of the road? Nothing makes a town or city look junkier than those nasty things! And if I have to hear one more commercial on the radio...

Not much annoys me more than the overwhelming bombardment of advertising everywhere you go, and I'm afraid it's going to only get worse. I read an article in Inc. magazine the other day called "The Future of Advertising is Here." Apparently, this is what we can all look forward to:

Imagine a day when you can text-message a discount coupon to a cell phone user just as she walks past your shop. That day is here.

"We look for subsegments of Internet users who care about certain things," explains Breen Vogel. "We find them when they're online, we intercept their activities, and we start a relationship with them."

As more networked display screens permeate our homes--on appliances, walls, even furniture--each one will become a potential medium for tuned-to-your-lifestyle ad services of the sort that Accenture's Fano and others are dreaming up.

Computer screens are popping up everywhere, and more and more advertisers are thinking up ways to make sure those screens don't go to waste. Take elevators, which now often sport displays above the floor buttons. These screens are becoming prime advertising real estate as maketers grab the chance to catch businesspeople or affluent tourists on their way to the street.

Of course, the ultimate smart-ad would enable a marketer to hit any individual with a low-cost, interactive message any time of day, any place--a platform for a campaign that could identify and follow prospects throught the world as if they were continuously online. Forward-thinking marketers even have name for this dream medium. They call it...the mobile phone.

A motion-sensitive projector turns any surface into a crowd-drawing, brandable interactive display.

[Enpocket technology] sends ad messages, coupons, and branded video files to mobile phones--in some cases tracking the phone's location.

Until marketers can read consumers' minds, there will always be uncertainty about the most effective ways to deliver messages. And mind reading, at least, is a technology that's still a long, long way off. Oh, wait--scratch that. Neuroscientists at the California Institue of Technology and Baylor College of Medicine are already using high-tech brain scans to measure people's responses to marketing messages.

Well, here's my response to marketing messages! Just leave me alone!

P.S. I'm completely for entrepreneurialism and ingenuity, and understand that letting people know about your product is necessary if you want to sell any. But why do we need to be a culture where "on average, Americans are subject to some 3,000 essentially random pitches per day"? If I really want or need something, I will seek it out. How much do we really need to buy...and how much of what we buy on a regular basis is going to change dramatically because we saw 3000 advertisements? Are we that fickle? Why does EVERY object have to be a form of advertising. Can't we just live normally? You know...almost makes me want to move out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and make all my own stuff. Almost:op