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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: "The LORD Is"

In the last couple of months, as we have driven through the countryside here and have seen shepherds with their flocks, and as I read through "Hinds' Feet on High Places", the picture of God as our Shepherd has become particularly meaningful to me.

Even in this last week, I have seen my own foolish faithlessness answered by His clear ability to provide and surpass every need I have, and even meet desires and bless me above and beyond what I would have thought possible.

Early Tuesday morning, as I drove back from dropping a dear friend off at the airport for her return home to the States, this song came on and it so very perfectly expresses what I have found to be true. I pray that God will keep me at a place of remembering His faithfulness to lead and to shepherd me, even when the way seems unclear, or the answers seem hidden.

"The LORD Is" by Sovereign Grace's Psalms Album

The depths of Your grace who can measure
You fully supply all I need
You restore my weary soul again and again

And lead me in Your righteousness and peace

You’re with me through every dark valley
There’s nothing that I have to fear
You are there to comfort me again and again
Protecting me, assuring me You’re near

The Lord is
The Lord is my shepherd
The Lord is
The Lord is my shepherd
I shall not want

You gave Your own life for my ransom
So I could rejoice at Your side
You have shown Your faithfulness again and again
There’s nothing good that You will not provide

I will dwell in Your house
All the days of my life
I will dwell in Your house
All the days of my life

Friday, February 27, 2009

Back on the Bookshelf-- Hinds' Feet in High Places

Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hulnard has come at an incredibly helpful time in my life. In recent months, there have times that I've needed to "accept with joy" what comes my way, trusting in my Shepherd's guiding care to lead me the best way to the heights He means for me.

Facing loneliness. Not having a vision for where God wants to take you. Thinking that He does not see. Wondering if He will come to your aid when you call. Learning to receive the teaching and growth that comes through suffering and sorrow. Resting in the promises that God has given.

All these things and more are directly addressed with great spiritual clarity and discernment in this rich, descriptive picture of the Christian life. As "Much-Afraid" walks through the deep valleys, climbs the cliffs, and walks through the mist, where nothing she has been promised-- and has even seen with her own eyes-- seems to be near, there are many lessons for the reader to glean.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, and am thankful that I read it in this season of life. Here is a helpful study guide for those who want to go deeper in thinking about and applying the lessons from Hinds' Feet on High Places.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

While We Were Sleeping

Do you ever wonder what happens while you're sleeping? I woke up this morning confused because when I looked out our window (above), I saw this! This was a shock because yesterday afternoon, just before the sun set behind the horizon, there was hardly a patch of snow in sight.

Well apparently Winter was hard at work, crafting this winter wonderland that makes grown men exclaim with joy (my husband), "Isn't it beautiful?!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Callinadnra emarginata was Please Help Identify

Calliandra emarginata(Pink Powderpuff)January 10, 2009[edited to include updated information, March 2, 2009]During our vacation in central Florida I spotted this beautiful shrub. Unfortunately there was no one out and about when I took the picture so I could not ask what it was. If anyone can identify this beautiful bush could you please leave a comment? Thanks so much!Thanks to the help of

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Show & Tell: Links A'Plenty!

I've got a lot of interesting links for you this time... and this is the pared-down list. :) I deleted at least 15-20 links that I had stored up to share, just so that it wouldn't be so very overwhelming... still, it's a hefty list. And I'm going to take this opportunity to share some recent pics of my kiddos-- because I can. :)

So let's get started. Click, read, learn, be challenged, laugh, and enjoy!

ABORTION: Inform yourself!
  • Make your own Taco Seasoning. Rave reviews and a recommendation from Terry @ Breathing Grace (I'm pretty sure). Once I run out of my stock, I'm trying this one.
  • Here are some fascinating ways to use old plastic bags: You can fuse them into a durable & sewable material. Here's a link with lots of info and several helpful how-to videos. Use the material to make a cloth shopping bag or purse. Here's a FAQ about safety for these projects. This sounds like an inventive & potentially beautiful way to recycle those gazillion bags that pile up under the kitchen counter, in the pantry, etc.

Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)

Spanish Moss(Tillandsia usneoides)Many of the trees in the resort we stayed at during our winter vacation in Florida had a lot of Spanish Moss aka Florida moss, long moss or graybeard hanging from them. I thought it was rather pretty and would have liked to bring some home. Spanish moss is not a true moss but rather an epiphytic plant which grows on other plants. Unlike parasitic plants,

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back on the Bookshelf-- Abortion: The Silent Holocaust

There is so much I could say about John Powell's book, Abortion: the Silent Holocaust.

Though written in 1981, it is still an extremely relevant book that will motivate readers to act on behalf of the unborn. A Jesuit priest, John Powell shares his insights gleaned from years of experience counseling through and witnessing significant moments of life-- including birth and death.

Honestly, though this won't sound like a resounding endorsement, the book depressed me. I felt it difficult to breathe at times while reading... and many times, had to put down the book in disgust that such a thing as abortion even happens once a year anywhere in the world, much less over 4,000 times a DAY in our own country. That said, it is a righteous depression that he evokes. He takes us through the moral decisions that led to the horrific holocaust of European Jews in WWII, and shows how we as a culture are accepting all of the same premises by accepting abortion. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book... it will stir the heart and inform about this watershed issue of abortion, and the rights of each individual (born or not yet born) to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

I'll share some highlights & quotes...
When people ask me why it bothers me so much that there are more than four thousand abortions each day in this country , I am reminded of a story from the life of Martin Luther King. Once he was jailed for protesting the denial of equality to black Americans. Someone asked him: "Why are you in jail?" His only response was: "Why are you not in jail?"
As he examines the similarites between Nazi Germany and Abortion-era America, he shows how the mind can't really grasp this kind of wholesale discarding of human life. He writes of his thoughts while visiting an extermination camp in Europe:
As our guide escorted us, I began to have an eerie feeling... Could human beings really do this to one another? The evidence was before my eyes, but my mind balked at understanding.

... Back in the mainstream of German life, ... I discovered a question struggling to the surface of my mind. I wanted desperately to ask... "Did you know?"
Also similar to the tragic killings of the Jews in death camps, doctors are complicit in the taking of the lives of the unborn. Those that study to help, protect, and heal end up hurting, killing, and experimenting on those that are deemed unwanted.
Which patients were to be killed was determined by a board of doctors, most of whom were professors of psychiatry in key German universities. ...There was considerable experimentation done on those people docketed for death, such as amputations and gunshots in order to test blood coagulents. There were live dissections...
And lest you think this is not happening with aborted babies in America today, read here, or perhaps here, and also here for some of recent examples.

Another illuminating part, for me, was seeing how many of the things Powell wrote about in '81 that seemed so far away to him are now being practiced. He sites an article in 1979 that said:
Unless we stop abortion we will go further than Hitler... we will call on brilliant scientists who know all about creation... we will ask them to tell us which child is worthy to live and which is not. We will go Hitler one better.
Click on the embedded link above to see how this is already happening.

Powell shows dozens of examples of leading abortionists of that time fully admitting both the humanity and murder of aborted children.

In Sept. 1970, one doctor wrote that because Americans had not yet fully bought into the principles of utilitarianism/convenience, "it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing." An abortionist in Wisconsin wrote, "we know it is killing." A leading pro-abortionist & former medical director of Planned Parenthood stated it quite clearly: "abortion is the taking of a life."

An entire chapter of Powell's book is devoted to the very clear, medically-documented evidence that doctors and abortionists have spoken and written about, showing that from the very moment of conception, a new life has formed. There is only one "neat beginning" to every human being, and that is at the time when an egg is fertilized.

Powell challenges us to talk about abortion in honest terms.
Language is something like the sugar coating of the ideas which we swallow and digest. And ideas have serious consequences. It's a lot easier to swallow dishonesty if you call it "a fast buck" or "easy money." It's a lot easier to commit adultery if you trivialize it as "fooling around." ... It's a lot easier to kill a baby if you call it "terminating a pregnancy." It's a lot easier to discuss abortion if you never mention the tiny human victim or refer to the victim's death.
Powell asks, "How does a minister of the Good News [which is every single Christian person, not just clergy!] come face to face in prayer with the Lord who said, "Whatever you do to the least of my children..."

The [Supreme] Court itself acknowledged in a footnote... that if the personhood of the unborn child were established, abortion could not be allowed, even to save the life of the mother.
He points out how very similar this is to both Nazi Germany and slavery-era America. When we allow ourselves to take those people who are clearly human beings and define them as a sub-category (as 3/5ths of a person, or as a non-person), we should all take note and let history teach us the results. When we devalue one portion of humanity, we devalue it all... which is why there is more and more of a modern push for euthanasia, prenatal diagnosis and elimination of preborn children with genetic abnormalities, selective abortions (when, through IVF or even natural conception, a mother pregnant with multiples is advised to "reduce" the number of children in her womb), and other death-inducing "choices".
I try to imagine a world creatied by the logical extensions of this quality-of-life ethic. It is a world that will answer no challenges, will abide no struggle, and will tolerate no one unless his/her life and contribution to society are considered meaningful and worthwhile.
I highly recommend that you get and read Powell's challenging book.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: It Is Well With My Soul

This is my very favorite hymn... the third verse reminds me of how much God has forgiven in my life, and how very much I have to be grateful to Him for.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(repeat chorus)

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(repeat chorus)

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
(end chorus)

Praise the Lord for His comfort in the midst of trials, the reminders of just how much we have to be grateful for to Christ, and the promise of His return!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Parenting is All About Seasons

Just about a year ago, our sons had just started playing together. Not playing with intermittent fighting, not playing with mom refereeing, but REALLY playing together-- imaginations running wild, rules and games that only the two of them know, building things side by side, wrestling like young lions... what a blast! I remember what a relief this was for me as a mom of three kids five & under-- that they could occupy themselves happily for longer stretches of time. It is still a great joy to me to hear and see our sons enjoying each other's company and learning together through large portions of each day.

A few months ago, I was dealing with a four year old who politely talked back and a seven month old who was eating dirt on a semi-regular basis. :) Now, just a few months later, my four-year-old is learning self-control and is learning to express his desires respectfully, and my eleven-month-old is walking. So he has better things to do than eat dirt now.

This is a very rambly way of saying that this business of parenting changes like seasons. Some seasons last longer than others. Some seasons are easy, some are sweet. Some are rough, and some pass quicker than you'd like. Some are fun, and some you just do what you have to to get through. But it's all about seasons. And just about the time I get "used to" a certain season, it's gone.

For me, flexibility and a willingness to keep on learning are essential. I have to be willing to flex with the times... for example, letting less crucial things go when there's too much to do, or taking on new challenges when they arise.

Six years ago, for me, life was all about Babywise & breastfeeding. Then, I focused in on making baby food from scratch (which, like breastfeeding, seemed so difficult at the time, but is now second nature). Next up was learning & researching biblical discipline. Then managing more than one child. Then within a couple years, I was researching homeschooling in a general way. Then I began looking at specific curricula and methods. Two years ago, I began homeschooling (while disciplining a 2 year old and nursing a new baby) and started hearing about cloth diapering.

Now, I'm reading about educational theories, researching differences between boys & girls, and starting to learn about parenting older children and adolescents, while continuing to do most of those things in the last paragraph. But those things aren't near as taxing and many of them don't require the careful attention that they did when I first started doing each thing.

If we as moms are willing to keep learning, then those things that we learn will benefit not only that first child, but any subsequent children that come along. And we can keep adding to that knowledge and getting better in each area as time passes.

What I'm driving at is this:

(1) No one just "zaps" into being capable as a mother all at one time. (And I'm not trying to act like I have it all together, by any means... but even those things that I do have "together" didn't happen all at once!) It comes over time-- God doesn't just *ZAP* you into a woman who knows how to homeschool, breastfeed, handle tantrums, offer hospitality, and make your own babyfood (or whatever kind of women you are or will be)... it happens over time. Like Sarah said SO eloquently expressing this very idea,
Somehow, in our six short years of parenting, we have learned to be productive despite little hands and feet getting in the way. We have grown in patience and ability.
You get better at things the more you do them... and things that were once difficult become second nature and no longer seem as monumental as they did the first or even second go rounds.

And... (2) in parenting seasons, things wax and wane. Some things come and go over and over (like breastfeeding, tantrums, and teaching the alphabet). Some of these are things that you learn once and never have to re-learn (like how to make your own babyfood or use cloth diapers... if you ever want to learn in the first place, LOL), some things have to be adjusted as you go (like teaching different students), and some things may be totally new (particularly tackling new developmental stages with that first guinea pig child). But the pressures and demands wax and wane-- parenting is an adventure!

Truly, children are a blessing-- and God uses the seasons of parenting to refine and discipline us. So take heart! If you are a new mom or in a new season, what you are learning now will benefit you later... and God will use it to sharpen, shape, and sanctify you. He is faithful to gently lead young mothers, and He will be faithful to lead you if you look to Him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watering Plants - Buy a Rain Barrel

Water is getting more and more expensive every year, and if you're like I am, you want you plants to be well taken care of. One way to ensure that your plants are getting the moisture they need without breaking the bank is to install a rain barrel. Rain barrels harvest free water that's relatively pure and great for watering garden plants.If you want to know more about the advantages of rain

Spiritual Wisdom from Lewis's "The Horse & His Boy"

Our oldest son and I have been reading aloud through the Narnia books (in the original order, of course, no matter how they print it these days!), and I've come across a few quotes that are particularly challenging & thought-provoking. So, I thought I'd share them with you.

The first has something to teach us about hard work & perseverance... The two humans and the two horses are riding fast to warn a King of some evil that is about to come his way... galloping fast, but not really fast enough:
"Certainly both horses were doing, if not all they could; all they thought they could, which is not quite the same thing."

It makes me wonder how often *I* think I'm "doing all I can" and if there might be points on which I sell myself short and could be doing more if I was really working all things as unto the Lord (Colossians) and not growing weary in well-doing (Galatians).

And then here's another quote worth hearing- it tells us something maturity and the constant sanctification and growth in the Christian life. After running hard for miles to beat their enemies to a city to warn of attack, nearly watching his companions be killed, and facing a lion, Shasta (one of the human main characters) realizes that he still has not reached their destination, and is faced with yet another job, assigned by an old man he encounters on the way:
"Now, my son waste no time on questions, but obey. This damsel is wounded. Your horses are spent. Rabadash [the enemy he's trying to outrun to the city] is at this moment finding a ford over the [river]. If you run now, without a moment's rest, you will still be in time to warn King Lune."

Shasta's heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another harder and better one. But all he said out loud was, "Where is the King?"
It's true, isn't it? My heart cries out "unfair!" when more work is heaped onto my already full plate. I don't see it as a reward. Bitterness rises.

Or even worse-- when I think I've 'hit' whatever mark/destination I was aiming for, but then I'm asked to go even further. Perhaps there is more learning to do... perhaps the destination changes entirely... perhaps the initial pain/sacrifice was only the down payment on the lessons God has in store to teach you through suffering... regardless, when you think you've spent everything you have, reaching a certain place, and then you're asked to go even farther... goodness, that's tough.

This process of being sanctified to be more like Christ-- I've said it before, and I'll say it again-- it's not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Portuguese Recipes

If you read my post about Portuguese food, you may be interested in creating some simple and flavorful Portuguese dishes. I've been busy publishing a few of my Portuguese recipes around the web. One in particular, Portuguese Cod Cakes, uses an interesting ingredient, dry salted cod. You can find this dried fish in the international isle of your grocery store. You rehydrate the fish by pouring off

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's On The Horizon

So fresh from the HOME SALE on Saturday~which was a success thanks to my fabulous little group of junkers~I wanted to give you a heads up on what we'll be doing at the Pea for the next little while. First off, next Saturday my oldest son is getting married!!!! My first time as a mother~of~the~groom! Very exciting and so much to do! We are hosting the rehearsal dinner on Friday and of course I have been shopping,shopping,shopping for a dress,shoes,etc.

So once the smoke clears on that weekend, I am happy and excited to let you all know that I will begin preparation to move into my new booth at an antique mall called Halley's in Maitland FL! It's a teeny space but I am the queen of stuffing lots into teeny spaces! I have found lately that I really miss having a shop and while that's not likely to happen again anytime soon, a booth will give me the design fix that I need on a regular basis. Please come by after March 1st to check out the booth and the rest of the shop as well! Halley's is located at 473 S. Orlando Ave. Maitland FL 32751.

Once settled in my new digs at Halleys, then the real down and dirty begins. Time to get ready for...TEXAS!!!!!! Woohoo! We'll be pulling out of here before we know it for Marburger and all my bestest friends that I see way too little! There is so much to do and I can hardly believe that it's almost here again! I hope you all can come out and see me and my pals at the show. If you've been, you know how fab it is! If not,you need to come just once and you'll be hooked forever! There's nothing like it I promise! Well, until next time stay safe and keep junkin!

Cajun Spice Blend

Paprika is the base for this smoky Creole spice blend that's hot and very flavorful. Use it to spice up your meats and vegetables. For the best results, use a quality paprika. Many of the imported varieties have either a sweet or pronounced spicy flavor, use a blend of both.

Better yet, this spring try planting a variety of paprika  peppers yourself and dry them for your own ground paprika

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Botched Abortions: Why They Matter & What They Tell Us

Just last week, Americans were horrified to learn that a baby born alive in an abortion clinic was promptly put into a trash bag and left to die in a dumpster. And rightly so. It's a horrible tragedy... but really, it's no more horrific than what is done to the other 3,500+ babies aborted every single day in our nation, or tens of thousands every day around the world. This baby just happened to breathe before being murdered for money.

Please don't mistake my bluntness for being glib about it. It absolutely sickens me... it's numbing and I find myself almost unable to process when I really stop to think about how many children have died at the hands of abortionists.

After reading the horrible details (and they were ghastly), I did a simple google search for "botched abortions"... and pulled up a dozen or so stories, with varying results, for you to consider:
These stories stretch across these last three decades, when abortions are supposed to be "safe, legal, and rare". In truth, they are none of those three things. They are obviously unsafe for the baby... but they also pose serious risks to the mother. And in addition to all of these examples, there is the possibility of permanent infertility, along with other very serious complications. And after having an abortion, there is often lifelong guilt, questions to face, and depression.

Every day in our nation, children are being put to death at similar ages to the baby who was murdered in Florida last week. So why would journalists and newspapers be eager to report about this one? What makes it different? And why would it bother someone who is pro-choice? Really. It's a question worth asking. The only difference between the poor baby that died then and any other aborted baby that day was location. He made it outside the womb before being killed at the hands of an adult in an abortion clinic.

But it's the same action.

Both actions end the life of a human being. Botched abortions show us the life that exists in every unique person; they show us the truth. They hold up a mirror to the action of abortion itself and reveal the horror therein. From the stories above, several things are clear:
  • It really is a baby-- a real, unique human being.
  • It really is murder-- intention to kill a living thing.
  • It really is horrific-- it's easier to see when we actually have a visible, breathing baby involved rather than something nebulous that we can write off as "tissue" or "inviable". (As others have noted.)
  • Mothers really do have an instinct to protect their babies. Bird mothers will run down animals 50 times their size for trying to loot their nest... and abortion-minded human mothers (sadly) often only realize how much they want to protect their baby once the abortion has been botched or completed-- many times, even years later.
If you are contemplating abortion or know someone who is, you may find it helpful to browse the following links:
Father, help us to do what is right. To act. To pray. To celebrate life. To give life. God, help us.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs: As Long As You Are Glorified

This song has spoken greatly to my heart in these last few months, and I hope it will speak to yours.

In times of economic crisis, job loss, food shortages, and struggles, particularly for a country that has (all too often) put its trust in the wallet and in the filling of the belly, a song like this is all the more necessary and well-suited. You may want to scroll down to my music box at the bottom of this screen and listen to the song as you read through the lyrics.

~by Sovereign Grace

Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine
Yet grumble in days of rain
Shall I love You in times of plenty
Then leave You in days of drought
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest
But when winter winds blow, then doubt

Oh let Your will be done in me
In Your love I will abide
Oh I long for nothing else as long

As You are glorified

Are You good only when I prosper
And true only when I’m filled
Are You King only when I’m carefree
And God only when I’m well
You are good when I’m poor and needy
You are true when I’m parched and dry

You still reign in the deepest valley
You’re still God in the darkest night

"You know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." ~James 1:3-4

The History of Portuguese Food - Oh, the Flavor

Portuguese cuisine is simple and wholesome, often using the familiar and delicious trinity of garlic, onion, and olive oil in savory dishes, and the decadence of egg yolks in desserts. I grew up in a Portuguese household, and my love of food and herbs is due, in part, to those early years when there was always soup simmering on the back burner of the gas stove, and bread rising in a big covered

Growing Fenugreek


Fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-Graecum) is an annual indigenous to the Mediterranean and grown widely in Europe and Asia. It has a long medicinal history, and is recommended for cleansing the chest and lungs in Culpepper's Herbal of 1649.

Planting Fenugreek

Fenugreek grows to about two feet (60cm), with yellow/white flowers and long yellow seedpods. It likes full sun and well-drained,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Rare Sighting, Almost Extinct: The Large Family

Just came across this article about large families today... and wanted to share a portion of it with you.

In 1976, census data show, 59 percent of women ages 40 to 44 had three or more children, 20 percent had five or more and 6 percent had seven or more.

By 2006, four decades after the Supreme Court declared a constitutional right to use birth control (and the last year available from census studies), 28 percent of women ages 40 to 44 had three or more children, 4 percent had five or more and just 0.5 percent had seven or more.

Quite a massive decline. I don't think I've ever seen these statistics.

“Three is still O.K.,” said Michelle Lehmann, the founder of and a mother of eight children who lives outside Chicago. “When you have four, people start raising eyebrows. When you go to five, people are like, ‘No way.’ ”

Beyond 10? “They think you are lying,” said Mrs. Gunnip, who also writes two blogs for so-called mega-families, those with eight or more children.

It's sad to me that what has been normal for centuries is now seen as freakish... regardless, the numbers are interesting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Make a Soothing Fenugreek Tea

My favorite cure for occasional tinnitus is fenugreek in a warming tea. It tastes a little like a cross between molasses and maple syrup. To make fenugreek seed tea:Make Fenugreek TeaPour boiling water over one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds.Let steep for five minutes.Discard seedsFenugreek as an Herbal RemedyA native of the Mediterranean, fenugreek's curative properties have been associated with

Herbal Remedies for Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears that occurs when there is a malfunction in the way inner ear talks to the brain, causing the equivalent of white noise. It can be temporary, intermittent or constant, and can be caused by a buildup of earwax, prolonged exposure to loud noise, cold, flu, tumors, high blood pressure, and overuse of aspirin (or white willow bark). It can be exacerbated by diet too,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 Books Finished List

I'm planning to, Lord willing, continually update this list as I go through the year and finish books... not with a huge summary of each book I've read, but with a nugget of what I learned, what I thought of it, or some aspect of the book that was helpful/meaningful, whatever. (This listing will not include the dozens of books read aloud to our children for pleasure or as part of our homeschool this year.)

So if you're one of those people who at the beginning of the year asked me to write about each book I read, you can bookmark this post, and come back and check out the list at your convenience throughout the year. I will write about some, but not all, of the books I read on my main blog-- but here, I will list every single book with at least a small summary and my opinion of the book.
  1. Ephesians- (The Apostle Paul) - after visiting Ephesus in December, it was particularly interesting for me to consider what it would have been like for a believer then, walking around in that city, mulling this new letter that had arrived from Paul, and trying to apply it to life. I particularly love how this text gives us specifics about how to live as the Body of Christ... it's challenging and convicting and instructive.

  2. Abortion: The Silent Holocaust- (John J. Powell) - excellent book that uses the eugenics/evaluation of "who's worthy of life?" mentality that existed during the reign of Nazi Germany to understand and analyze the current acceptance and support of abortion. A Jesuit priest who worked as a hospital chaplain and other interesting posts, Powell shares his personal experiences of life and death and intertwines them with his analysis of abortion and where it will lead for the culture that sits idly by while innocent people die in their midst. EXCELLENT book-- very sobering and in some ways, depressing-- but it is a righteous depression, I think, that he brings about in his penetrating discussion of this tragic topic. Click here to read my extended review of this book.

  3. Lamentations - (Jeremiah?*) - This is not just a book that gives words to very deep grief, sorrow, and shame (as you would expect from the title), although it does accomplish this with mournful specificity. My favorite part of this book is how God is shown as sovereign and wholly wise in His dealings with men... even in the hard times. And how, even in the midst of depression and sorrow, God is the rightful resting place for our hope and faith. (*-authorship not expressly stated in the book, but authorship is traditionally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah)

  4. Women Who Make the World Worse- (Kate O'Beirne) - Good book; easy, fun read. I found her analysis of feminism to be quite helpful in exposing the basic lies, hypocrisy, and ironies of the doctrines of feminism. My favorite thing about the book is that O'Beirne is extremely well researched. She brings out skads of sources and studies and lays the truth bare, showing how so many of the claims of feminism have been completely dumped on their heads. If you're interested in debunking the basic tenets of feminism, or just want to see what wrong ideas feminism has injected into the minds of this last generation of Americans, get this book.

  5. Hinds Feet on High Places - (Hannah Hurnard) - Excellent allegory of the deeper Christian life. This book came at a pivotal time for me and has challenged me and given me imagery to describe many of the things I've faced recently. It is very visual and descriptive, which normally is off-putting to me, but was very helpful for instructing about and fleshing out certain aspects of the Christian walk. Why do Christians face so much sorrow and suffering? Why does God ask us to sacrifice things that are precious to us? Why is the way so clouded and unclear at certain times? This book delves into these things in a very understandable and challenging way. I highly recommend it.

  6. Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God - (Noel Piper) - This is a very encouraging, challenging, and easy-to-read book. Piper examines the lives of five Christian women (Sarah Edwards, Lilias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim, and Helen Rosaveare) over the last few centuries and encourages us with their faithfulness, their foibles, and the way God showed Himself faithful to them. This relatively small book can be quickly read and I believe it will be an encouragement and challenge to all who open its pages.

  7. Mark - (John Mark) - What a delight it is to read about Jesus. After a month of studying Lamentations, I needed it. :) Mark focuses in on Jesus' miracles, and shows the way that the people around Him just didn't get it. I was encouraged as I read through to note how often even the disciples did not understand what was being said, as Jesus' responses show me that He'll be patient with me too, knowing that I am but a weak vessel made of dust. I love the way that Mark just tells the stories of Jesus. My desire to know Christ more has both been met and been increased throughout this month of reading through the book of Mark.

  8. A Celebration of Sex - (Douglas Rosenau) - I decided to read this book because it was highly recommended by Mark Driscoll. While I have some misgivings (one in particular: he talks about birth control very flippantly and brushes off what are clearly significant ethical problems with hormonal birth control methods), I found this book to be very thorough, and even despite my concerns, recommend it for virtually any Christian couple. He deals very carefully with specifics and offers very basic and very advanced detailed information for couples who need guidance in the beginning of a marriage, advice about specific problem areas (he addresses a wide range of potential problems), and encouragement in the area of intimacy. I have not seen such a helpful book that so very pointedly celebrates marital sex, written from both a Christian and a clinical perspective. This book is for both the newlyweds and the long-married among us; I believe it would encourage, inform, and/or assist any and all Christian couples in this area of intimacy.

  9. A Biblical Home Education - (Ruth Beechick) - This book outlined some new-to-me ideas, and expanded on Dr. Beechick's ideas on homeschooling, which I'd already read in many other places. Much of the book was re-hashing (for me), so I can't say it was anything incredibly insightful for me as a mom already a few years into homeschooling. BUT! If I was a new homeschool mom, trying to really get a feel for what is *necessary*, what some of my basic goals ought to be and what school should "look like", I think this book would be quite helpful. She does outline how to base your curriculum on the foundation of God's Word and offers some helpful critiques of each homeschooling "philosophy" out there. I enjoyed the book, and have dogeared a few pages for follow-up from me. I would be hesitant to recommend this book to a seasoned homeschooler, but for the mom with preschoolers or in her first few years of homeschooling, this can be an excellent vision-shaping book.

  10. The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World - (Nawal El Saadawi) - This book, written by an Arab feminist (which is an interesting designation, to be sure), is insightful to the worldview of conservative Muslims in the Middle East. She shares from personal experience and offers anecdotal evidence as she paints a very eye-opening picture that highlights severe differences between Western and Arab worldviews. Much of her book is based on and even devotes pages to outlining basic feminist theology. Feminism is the same the world over-- belittling a woman's role in the home, equating marriage to slavery, and blaming all the world's problems (and certainly all of women's problems) on men. Nonetheless, this is an interesting book because of its unique perspective and the subject matter which is difficult to hear about firsthand. I found myself often having to try to cut through the hype of individual stories (that seemed designed an chosen in order to shock and incite anger, rather than to inform) to get the basic themes of the Arab mindset. Nonetheless, I found this to be a helpful book for understanding the general roles and acceptable activities and characteristics of the average Arab woman, particularly those that are in Muslim-ruled nations. (*NOTE: This book was not on my 40-book list. I'm a rebel like that.)

  11. Esther - (Unknown authorship) - It was interesting to re-read this book at roughly the same time as the previous book... it gave me new insights to consider in greater depth the cultures (Persian/Babylonian) that contributed to the worldview of the modern Arab. I love the way God's fingerprints in moving people, shaping events, and causing His ultimate will to occur are so very obvious in this book. This book gives us the final historical picture of the world prior to Christ's return that we'll find in the Bible. God is still active and moving among His people, and yet they are in captivity, not able to identify openly with their God, and inwardly crying out for their Messiah. It's incredible to consider how God continually, throughout history-- and still today-- uses the lowly and the humble to bring about His purposes in the world. Esther offers us a picture of a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, while strong and resilient, affects the world around her by submitting to the authorities God brought into her life, staying steadfastly devoted to her Lord through prayer and fasting, and by listening more to even the quiet voices of the faithful people God has placed in her life rather than the noisy and imposing culture around her.

  12. The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect & The Christian Woman - (Nancy Wilson) - This small booklet (at less than 100 pages of actual text, it's an easy read) is packed with challenging words and food for thought for Christian women, married & single alike. She accurately pinpoints what the perspective of the "modern" American women is on topics such as femininity, submission to one's own husband, motherhood, and marriage. Wilson honestly and poignantly shows the wisdom of Scripture that tells older woman to be in a position of mentoring towards younger women. She lays out why women should be students of the Word and understand theology. Naturally, she discusses the importance of respect (as the title suggests) in the marriage relationship, but a convicting area for me was her treatment of the topic of discretion and courtesy when discussing personal things. [Sidethought: I do wonder how this topic might be balanced a bit if we could peek in on the relationships of women in extended generational families, with their midwifery skills, menstruation tents, and communal interdependency, as was more common in biblical times. It seems a stretch to me that biblical texts saying that we should not run from house to house (which imply gossip and futile busy-ness to me) can then be taken to mean that we should not discuss intimate or private things among close women friends. But this is a side issue for me, just one I'm thinking through.] Her treatment of sexual intimacy in marriage was refreshing; it is rare (for me) to find a woman who is both biblical in her treatment of the marriage relationship and biblical in her treatment of sex; Wilson does this well. In whole, I found the book challenging... again and again, the theme of this little work is "Know Scripture", and "Respect your husband". Good words for any wife to hear reiterated, methinks.

  13. Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message - (Ravi Zacharias) - This book was a difficult read for me; I had to keep myself motivated to continue plodding through. It was helpful in a few areas, but it was not what I thought it was... namely, a primer on comparative religious philosophies. It is a methodical explanation of some of the philosophical disagreements between other faiths and Christianity, but it is not a comprehensive approach to understanding differences, nor does it offer an apologetic approach for dialoguing with or about other faiths. The most moving and inspiring portion, as well as the most convincing, was his chapter about the origins of moral behavior and why only a theistic view fully explains our innate sense of right and wrong. This seemingly-chaotic book has some helpful nuggets of truth and insight, but one must be prepared to look for the beautiful arguments and points amongst an abundance of words and lengthy treatments.

  14. 1/2 of "Trauma Room One" - (Charles Crenshaw) - I read the half that was available for free on google reader. :) This doctor claims that the wounds he saw 45 years ago in the 1st-response treatment room of President Kennedy at Parkland Hospital after the assassination do not match what was reported/released about the wounds that killed the President. This is a very entertaining book; he highlights interesting points in the middle of what is already a very engaging and emotional story. Still, by the end of the book (at least, the portion I read) I can't tell how pivotal of a role Dr. Crenshaw actually had inside the trauma room with JFK. If you're interested in the JFK assassination, this book provides a unique perspective that is worth the reading.

  15. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town - (John Grisham) - This, like every other Grisham book I've ever read (which is nearly all of them), is highly engaging and thought-provoking. When we meet Ron Williamson, the central figure of the book, he's a young man with a promising baseball career in his future. As his hopes for a baseball career spiral out of his grasp, his mental health deteriorates to the point that he ends up living with his mom, sleeping half the day, and sitting on the couch for the rest of it. When a woman that lives in his same section of town turns up murdered, Ron Williamson, though he has no real connection to the case, becomes the prime suspect. Wrongful accusation, dirty cops, mental illness, small town life, life on death row, the death penalty, and more are all topics that Grisham tackles in this first non-fiction novel. I highly enjoyed it.

  16. What to Do on Thursday: A Layman's Guide to the Practical Use of the Scriptures - (Jay Adams) - The title may be unclear, but Adams aim is to help Christians to know how to wield Scripture in every day circumstances. Inside, he lays out a very practical, systematic way to really get to know the Word. This is a good, simple, easy-to-read book that will challenge and assist any believer in the everyday use of applying Scripture to real life situations.

  17. The JFK Assassination Debates: Lone Gunman versus Conspiracy - (Michael L. Kurtz) - This excellently researched and well-written book gives a broad and historic overview of the two major theories of what happened on November 22, 1963. Kurtz is a genuine expert, having researched and interviewed almost every angle and personality of this story of presidential assassination for over 40 years. He is also an academic, which lends credibility and fairness to the research he presents. While he is personally a proponent of the conspiracy angle, Kurtz's chapter on the lone gunman theory is a convincing and thorough case in its own right. Common questions associated with the Kennedy assassination, such as the role of the intelligence community, and connections with Cuba, are addressed in an engaging and clear manner. This is an excellent and readable book for anyone wanting to better understand the influences and major players that may have contributed to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; I highly recommend it.

  18. Keys to the Deeper Life - (A.W. Tozer) - This challenging book, more than 50 years old, could have been written to the church today. Tozer's description of modern evangelicalism as operating almost entirely on a mental level, without continual reliance on the Spirit, is right-on, except perhaps that he gives too much credit to the church for pursuing truth. Sadly, it seems that even that mental pursuit has been abandoned in the 55 or so years since he wrote this book. Though small in number of pages, this book is rich with encouragement! I'm confident that his challenges to be filled with the Spirit, to separate from the world, and to live an integrated (heart, soul, mind, and spirit) Christian life will stir the heart of any child of God blessed enough to read the book.

  19. I read the first 10 chapters (which is all I intend to read) of Russ Baker's massive book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces that Put it in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America - (Russ Baker) - This is a very interesting book, but I certainly would not take it all as fact. While his notes section at the back is long, there are many things he asserts without documentation that are not "common knowledge" and, therefore, should be supported with references, articles... anything. Because he doesn't, I don't know how many things are mental leaps of a conspiracy theorist and how much is fact. My husband bought it for his own interest but suggested I read the first portion to get more information about Bush's role in the CIA/Cuban goings-on of the early 60's. As an addition to my Kennedy assassination research, all the info about Bush the elder as a CIA agent in the 1950's-1960's was quite fascinating. Summing up, it's not an amazing book, but it's certainly interesting, and if you don't know much and want to get a history of the Bush family, it really is an eye-opening read.

  20. The Well-Trained Mind - (Wise & Bauer) - Undoubtedly, every homeschooler will encounter references to and followers of this book and the method presented inside. Because I have had it on my shelf for a few years, and it looks like quiet a lengthy tome, I was not prepared for how easy of a read it is. This book is more like a short philosophy of education, with a survey of the material and books to be covered in each grade, according to Wise & Bauer. Except for roughly the first quarter of the book (the philosophy part), it is almost entirely composed of lists and suggestions, organized by subject matter and grade. I am thankful that we'd already homeschooled for a number of years by the time I read this book, so that I don't feel it necessary to follow it in order to raise thinking children. To be honest, thanks to the incredible Sonlight forums and the awesome homeschooling moms I've "met" there, I didn't encounter anything wholly new or unique in TWTM, but I'm glad to have read it, and may occasionally refer to it as we progress in our children's educations. I can see how this would be a real gem for some moms who are looking for structure and affirmation about what will be "enough" for and help their children thrive in their home school.

  21. Mommy, Teach Me To Read - (Barbara Curtis) - Barbara was kind enough to send this book for my growing library of homeschool/teaching-themed books after we met through the blogosphere last year. It is certainly not a book of some educational "expert" peering down with studies and graphs and theories... this is the book of a mom who has taught many children (including her 12!) to read, and wants to help you do it easily and naturally. If you are looking for a simple book with an easy-to-follow method, this could be a good fit for you. One interesting inclusion is a small appendix with ideas for teaching lefties how to write, listing out specific hand placement and approaches for using with that unique slice of the population that is left-handed. Barbara also has much experience with special needs children, and brings that to bear in the book as well.

  22. Sacred Marriage - (Gary Thomas) - This is, bar-none, the best book on marriage I've ever read. Mr. Thomas clearly lays out God's plan of sanctification, maturity, blessing, and growth through a Christian marriage. I highly recommend it to any man, woman, married or hoping to be married. Happily married couples will find further encouragement; struggling couples will find challenge and hope; future married people will be informed about God's higher purpose. It really is the most solidly biblical portrayal of marriage and intimacy and God's plans that I've yet encountered. Read it.

  23. Beautiful Girlhood (Ed. by Karen Andreola) - Wow. I wish I had had this book when I was growing up (I could have, just didn't know it). I can't wait to review this book as our daughter grows, and one day (maybe around age 10-13, depending on the girl), place it in her hands and read it together as she prepares for womanhood. What a beautifully written book about what girlhood and womanhood truly ought to be.

  24. Genesis - I read through the book of Genesis in August preparation for our family vacation to Egypt. Some things I noticed in this read-through(focused more closely on Egypt this time) was that in the very first mention of Egypt (with Abraham-- chap 12), there is already a Pharoah and Egypt is a thriving nation. Sarah becomes a part of his harem for a while because of Abraham's half-truth (12:19). Hagar was given as a slave from Pharoah (12:16) to Abram... and when her son is born and grows into manhood, she procures an Egyptian wife for him (21:21). When Joseph is promoted as 2nd only to the Pharoah (41:38-21), he's given a wife that's the daughter of a high priest from Heliopolis (still a suburb of Cairo--41:45). Joseph settled his family in some of the best parts (45:18-20, 47:11) of Egypt (which was quite a gift, since Gen 13:10 calls Egypt a very beautiful land). Still, Israelites were already hated by Egyptians (despite Joseph's high rank)-- Joseph's Egyptian servants refused to sit with Joseph or his brothers (43:32). Joseph was given unusual latitude in the gifts/privileges given by Pharoah in exchange for his wise plan that ended with all Egyptians being owned, in body, land, and material goods by the Pharoah (47:20-21). Both Jacob (49:33-50:3) and Joseph (50:26) benefitted from Egyptian techniques of mummification. Interestingly, in the translation I brought with me (NLT), Egypt is literally the last word in Genesis.

  25. Home Making (now printed with a new title: "The Family") - (J.R. Miller) - I really enjoyed how Miller went through the various relationships that exist in a home (Husband-Wife, Father-children, Mother, children, Brothers-Sisters, Brothers-Brothers, etc.) and sketched a biblical picture for the potential for growth, encouragement, and love in each relationship in the Christian home. This was a beautiful book, and I highly enjoyed it and recommend it.

  26. What Our Mothers Never Told Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman - (Danielle Crittenden) -VERY VERY interesting read. Nearly everything I've stumbled across as I've tried to purge my brain of feminist theology was presented and tackled in this book. Crittenden offers up clear, research-based criticisms of each leg of the proposed feminist journey through life and why it does women wrong. At the book's end, she provides an interesting proposal for how to navigate life as an informed, modern women. This should be required reading for the young women in our society.

  27. Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex - (Dillow & Pintus) - I'd read this before, but it's always good to be reminded of the freedom and delights that are ours by God's design in the realm of marital intimacy.

  28. The Christian Home School - (Gregg Harris) -This book was written more than a decade ago, when homeschooling was still largely a statistically insignificant thing, when Joshua Harris was still unmarried and living at home, and when the Harris twins were kidlets. It was insightful and helpful for me to read what Mr. Harris & his wife were doing even then that has helped to sharpen and shape some of the most challenging and determined Christian young people of our generation. Harris' ideas about homeschooling, parenting, and life will be encouraging for Christian parents who seek to be intentional and interactive.

  29. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society - (Eugene Peterson) -Loved, loved, loved this. Gracious and truthful. Full of challenging, biblical perspective, Peterson has a way of digging deeper into Scripture and mining out precious thoughts for further meditation and conviction. I enjoyed mulling over this book over the course of the summer.

  30. A Voice in the Wind - (Francine Rivers) - "Mark of the Lion" series, book 1
  31. An Echo in the Darkness - (Francine Rivers) - "Mark of the Lion" series, book 2
  32. As Sure as the Dawn (Francine Rivers) - "Mark of the Lion" series, book 3

  33. A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family - (Mary Ostyn) - Oh, I loved, loved, loved this book. Though we'd never previously interacted, Mary wrote me privately a few months ago and offered me a copy of her book. I was so excited to read it, and (living overseas) just received it last week, and devoured it in just a few days' time. It was such a great book, and I am so happy to be able to highly recommend it, without reservation. Mrs. Ostyn has such a beautiful way of presenting truth in a gracious and helpful way. There were many practical tips I underlined and dog-eared so that I can return to the book and put some things to use in our home, and there were so many times when I wrote in the margin (or said), "Yes!" This book will make the mother of a larger-than-average brood feel right at home, but there are so many great ideas and mothering "tools" that a one-child mom could find plenty to challenge and encourage her in this delightful book.

  34. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University - (Kevin Roose) - This book presents American evangelical Christians with a rare opportunity -- to see ourselves through fresh eyes. Now, not everything that happens at Liberty University reflects norms of American Christianity, and not everything that Roose notes is necessarily accurate or fully informed, but I believe he did a good job of trying to fairly evaluate a controversial place (Liberty U), started by a controversial man (Jerry Falwell), and populated by young people who are part of a controversial group in America (conservative evangelical Christians). His fresh straight-from-the-secular-cesspool perspectives on worship, doctrine, cultural practices, dating, spiritual transformations, and more are insightful and worth reading for anyone who seeks to understand the cultural divides and contrasts that exist in American politics, religion, and society. I'm glad to have read it.

  35. America's Cheapest Family: Gets You Right on the Money - (Steve & Annette Economides) - This is a great book for getting tips/ideas/inspiration for spending less money, saving money, and being creative with what you have. The Economides family has raised four kiddos to adulthood, making an average of $30,000 per year. They take vacations, enjoy hobbies/sports, and dress well while saving money and living on what most people would consider a near-poverty-level income. I'm sure you could find more "technical" money advice in a Dave Ramsey/financial-focused sort of workshop/book. BUT- the Economides' book is focused on doing well as a family. They give practical tips and ideas I'd never thought of before. I got the book for fairly cheap, and certainly got my money's worth. I'm happy to recommend the book to anyone who wants to raise a family in a frugal and money-wise way.

  36. Cranford - (Elizabeth Gaskell) - This was such an enjoyable read. Set in 19th century England, this book is remniscent of Jane Austen, but I personally found Gaskell's story to be more witty and less predictable. It includes deeper and more insightful character studies, and more subtly instructive moral lessons. There were so many times when I laughed out loud-- the book really is full of parts that are just that funny. I'm typically a quick fiction reader, but Gaskell forces you (in a wonderful way) to slow down and really savor each insightful sentence or vignette. I really, really enjoyed the book.

  37. No Graven Image - (Elisabeth Elliot) - Wow. What a powerful book this is. Elliot pulls no punches in this, her only novel, as she presents life for a young woman trying to serve God in Ecuador. The picture painted is not black and white, not easily digestible... but very thought-provoking. The sovereignty of God, the "why"s of life, pain, suffering, guidance, confidence in His will... it's all questioned here in novel form. I greatly enjoyed and am glad to recommend this book. It's not an easy read, but it is a valuable read, and the questions it raises are certainly ones we should all ponder to be sure we're not creating a god of our own image-making but actually seeing and knowing and serving the God who is.

  38. The Complete Father Brown Stories - (G.K. Chesterton) - What fun these mysteries are! Written by one of the premier Christian thinkers of the last century, these short story mysteries are witty, extremely well-written, cleverly planned, and each story is short enough to read in a 15-minute reading session before bed (perhaps my favorite part). The central character is a humble but sharp-as-a-tack priest who employs humor and keen insights to solve some of the most baffling mysteries. His method of solving crimes doesn't always lead to arrest... as he is a priest, he concerns himself more with the state of the souls of criminals he encounters, and his actions reflect his aims. I'm still working through them... it's one fat book, but I've read nearly a dozen so far and if you are a connoisseur of good quality fiction or mysteries in general, it is quite likely that you will immensely enjoy this collection.

Monday, February 9, 2009


BrugmansiaJanuary 14, 2009Overlooking one of the grottoes in Hollis Garden (Lakeland, Florida) was an amazingly beautiful flowering shrub with huge, drooping trumpet shaped flowers. Unfortunately I could not get close enough to see if they smelled as heavenly as they looked. When we arrived home I did a little research to identify this flowering shrub. I would love to grow this pretty shrub if

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Collected Thoughts for the New Mom

Occasionally, young moms e-mail me or leave comments asking for more information about what we do with newborns and little ones. So here it is, all in one post-- all the things I've written (so far) about what we do to love and live life with the little people that enter our family:

Hopefully some part of this will help you new (and/or young) moms!

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