Sunday, March 30, 2008

Knowledge or Ignorance?

Knowledge is power.

Ignorance is bliss.


I embrace each of these contrasting proverbs depending on the situation. For example, I like to be blissfully ignorant about the content of books and movies. When we first started watching movies on DVD with all the extras, my husband had this awful habit of watching the theater trailer (which used to be a prime DVD extra, I guess). I strenuously objected to this practice. I considered it a benefit of watching a movie on DVD months after the hype had died down that I didn't remember all the good parts that they gave away in the trailer. I like to go in fairly blind.

One exception is in screening movies for my kids. I do love getting power through knowledge by reading the thorough reviews posted at Plugged In, however even for a movie that is for my kids, I love the thrill of being surprised, so I just sort of skim it for objectionable material that we should avoid and then try to forget what I've read.

When eating high calorie foods, ignorance is most definitely bliss, but I do like the power of knowing which foods give me the best bang for the buck nutrition-wise (you can't go wrong with blueberries).

I love accessing the practical knowledge of others. I can't get enough of the personal hotel reviews on tripadvisor. The reviewers at amazon often convince me to buy a certain product or to avoid it.

When I travel, I gather as much information as I can about the places I might visit. When going to a new restaurant, if there's a menu online, I'll look at it and decide what I might like to eat.

As far as my kids go, I ascribe to only one philosophy--knowledge IS power. I want to know when my kids do something wrong at school so that I can correct it. I want to know their friends. I want to know about the books they read and the shows that they watch. Sometimes I wish that I could live in ignorance (or behave like some parents once they get the information--doggedly determined to discard truth and remove any of the child's personal responsibility), but I'll take the weight of knowledge in this case.

What do you choose for different areas of your life--blissful ignorance or powerful knowledge?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Two Years

Two years ago tomorrow, I wrote my first post. It's pretty corny. I was all full of self-importance. I wanted to write, and write I have.

I've waxed and waned, but I've hung in there. I don't think I've gone more than 5 or 6 days without a post. For the past few months I had been writing only a few posts a week, down from 5 to 10 every single week.

There are some reasons for the variances in posting. Blogging allowed that little writer within me to bloom. I (and friends who know me in real life) were surprised at the introspective thoughts that writing invited me to express. that often came out. In addition to that, I jumped into the blogging community, participating in carnivals, WFMW, and building a nice community of online bloggy friends. I am proud of a lot of what I wrote that first year about my faith, my thoughts on being a mom, growing older, parenting, personalities, family trips, and life in general (If you click the links, you can read a post that I selected from each area that I'd love to share with you).

Opening myself up to writing led to taking some online writing classes, pursuing freelance writing with sporadic determination, and some online writing gigs such as writing for Faithlifts (which I did for about a year), and writing for 5 Minutes for Mom--first my weekly book column 5 Minutes for Books, which led to taking on some product reviews and some behind-the-scenes work.

The last couple of weeks, I feel like I've gotten my blogging groove back. There are some logical reasons for that. I've been writing more, and once I start writing, my creativity is fueled (although I wouldn't say that 3 posts about Easter is exactly creative).

I don't know if I knew how long I'd last when I first started the blog, and I know that I never expected so many people to stop in and read what I have to say, but thank you all. I know from looking at my daily hits, and finding myself on people's sidebars that many of you stop by and don't comment. That's totally fine with me, but I'd love it if you'd take a minute to wish me a happy two-year bloggiversary.

Just as they ask the Superbowl quarterbacks after the big game, this is the voice I've been hearing in my head for a couple of weeks:

Jennifer, Snapshot--you just finished two years of blogging. What are you going to do now?

And I answer resoundingly,

I'm going to Disneyworld!

Yes, I'm actually going to Disneyworld in April. Thanks to my work for 5 Minutes for Mom, I've been asked to be a part of a small group of Mommy bloggers and Mom-geared website owners to the first Disney Mommy Blogger Mixer. I will leave it at that, but I will post more soon. I've been holding my tongue, but have fortunately due to furious Googling I've found some of the other attendees (and some of you will know Mary Beth Whalen, Steph at Adventures in Babywearing, Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife, Amy at Mums the Wurd and more who are new to me (but won't be long), and we've been e-squealing and talking about what we're most looking forward to.




But enough about that--remember, today is all about me (and you).

Happy two year bloggiversary to me.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kids' Cuisine

As a mom of two continually sugar-hyped kids, from the breakfast of Poptarts or the slightly more desirable frozen waffle or whole-grain (yet sugary cereal), to snacks of other starchy foods such as Goldfish, Ritz, Graham crackers, to lunches of PB&J to more snacks which ruin their dinner, I feel like I am losing the nutrition battle.

Yes, I offer fruits and veggies at snacktime and dinner. Often if they are hungry, I tell them to choose a healthy snack or they get nothing. But it's still hard.

Ever since Amanda was eating solids, I've been buying unsweetened applesauce, to avoid the high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars. The snack-packs even come in unsweetened, so that's never been a problem. But just today I noticed that I can get the cool new flavors that I've been avoiding because they had sugar. Mott's Healthy Harvest is now "No Sugar Added." So today Kyle and I picked out the Blueberry Applesauce and for lunch he literally licked the bowl clean. No sugar. Antioxidants. You can't go wrong with blueberries.

Speaking of kid-friendly cuisine, I bought the Perdue Fresh chicken nuggets for the first time (from the refrigerator section with the meat, not the freezer). Tonight is a drop Amanda off at church-Dad picks her up later on his way home-kind of night which doesn't lend itself to gourmet fare. They were really great (yes, I ate some too). I noticed a big difference from the frozen nuggets (which I also eat).

Also, lest you think that all we eat are Poptarts and nuggets (even if it's true, I don't want you to think it), Saturday morning we all went to breakfast. I'm a veggie loving girl, so I ordered scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese. I convinced Kyle to eat some because of Popeye, which he watches with his sister on Boomerang. He probably got in a good preschooler sized serving. Hooray for TV!

Oh wait--TV is what convinces my children that they should buy fruit gushers and chocolate Poptarts, and the cereal of the week. But Saturday morning, the influence of the TV was a good one. Just like with food choices, I guess we have to praise the good when we see it.

This is not a paid post. I am receiving no compensation for my opinion, nor have I received any free applesauce or coupons to that effect, nor an email from a PR rep telling me how great Mott's, Perdue or Boomerang is (not that I'm opposed to posting my honest opinion as a result of any of the above). I am simply giving credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This and That--By the Numbers

First may I say that this is the seventh post in seven days? I had become more of a thrice a week blogger for a great while, but like it or lump it--maybe I'm back!

Second, I'd love to point you to two of my posts (both with giveaways) at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Love, Mommy: Writing Love Letters to Your Baby
has been sitting on my shelf for longer than I care to admit. It's a great book for every parent and was especially appealing to the writerly side of me. You can read my personal thoughts and review of it and enter to win your own copy HERE.

In 5 Minutes for Books, I feature a review of a great memoir that's not quite as heavy as some in the genre--more of a journey to adulthood as opposed to a hard crawl out of the pit of despair that many books of that type feature (and yes, I like reading those stories of hope as well). It's called the Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, and we are giving away four copies HERE.

I dare you to watch the 2 minute video she made for amazon and NOT rush out to buy this book (and/or pick up the phone to call your parents).

Love you, Mom. Love you, Dad. Love you, Seester.

And finally--I drew some winners:

WindyCindy (comment 4) won the Storm Hawks DVDs and anonymous comment number 2, my stealth roommate Martha won the Andrew Peterson book! I actually think that she and her whole family (especially her hubby) will enjoy that book, so I'm happy to send it out to her. And lest you accuse me of favoritism, both numbers were drawn from random.org.

Editing on Wednesday to add the winner of my Experiencing the Resurrection book. Since there were only two entries, I did an old-fashioned coin toss. Heads=1, Tails=2. It was heads. Congrats Carrie!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Even More Celebrating

So for whatever reason I've managed to get three posts out of Easter. So be it.

I thought I would share what happens when the Easter Bunny runs out into the sub-freezing temps to hide the colored eggs so that the egg hunt can happen after church--



I think that the black fuzzy family member was responsible. She was eying me the Easter Bunny when the eggs were being hidden. Another interesting fact--the white of the broken egg was frozen after being outside for a couple of hours.




As I often do when we are all dressed up, I made Terry take our picture (and I made the kids take off their coats).


Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hallelujah

Over twenty years ago when I was in high school, I was singing in the thirty-member adult choir at my church. We were not a musically talented group as a whole. We enjoyed singing together, and we enjoyed supporting our small church in this way. I don't even remember who the choir director was at that point, but he got it in his mind that we would perform Handel's Messiah one Christmas.

I remember purchasing the orange and white bound copy of the musical work for practice. I remember a few extra practices, I remember all of our "bo-o-o-o-o-o-rn" strings of eighth notes in "For Unto Us a Child is Born" running together. I know we hired soloists, and I'm pretty sure that we hired an orchestra. I remember feeling victorious after that concert.

"We did it! We sounded great! That was awesome!" all of us amateur musicians cried out. There were only a small handful in the choir who had ever performed it before.

About seven or eight years later my husband and I were singing in our church choir. It was a nice way for us to get to know some of the others in the church who were not in our immediate age group. Once again, the choir director decided to tackle this oratorio one Christmas. This choir was a little bigger and more experienced. In addition to my own meager experience, quite a few of the members had performed the piece, including a few who had been college music majors. Again we had extra practices, and this choir director did not let us be lazy with the long strings of "bo-o-o-o-o-o-rn" in that particular song. I enjoyed the experience yet again--of participating in a group, mastering difficult music, and even learning a few new songs from the oratorio.

Our Easter service this morning at church was lovely. It was jam-packed, as most churches are on this Sunday each year, which somehow makes the celebration of this impossible event seem even more buzzworthy and exciting. We sang a lot, the message reminded me of the importance of the resurrection, and elicited excitement that I am a Believer in it. But for me, I think the highlight was being able to join the choir for the Hallelujah chorus (by previous invitation for those of us who knew the piece). It was exhilarating, awesome, and amazing.

And he shall reign forever and ever.

Forever.

And ever.

Forever, and ever.

King of kings (forever, and ever)

And Lord of Lords (hallelujah, hallejujah)

King of kings (forever, and ever)

And Lord of Lords (hallelujah, hallejujah).

King of kings and lord of lords

And He shall reign forever and ever.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Celebrating

I truly believe that celebrating holidays gives us a great chance to create family memories and traditions and identity. I don't always do it as much as I want to, but I do believe that it matters.

We've given Easter a run for its money this year. Kyle had a party at his preschool on Thursday. He was distracted from singing the Spring songs that they've been learning, because the Easter bunny was right behind him!


Unlike some of his other three-year-old classmates, he didn't have any problem at all sitting and posting with the EB for their individual shots. Unfortunately, he does have trouble sitting in general, so my first picture was blurry, and in this second picture he was already hopping on down the bunny trail. They did take a Polaroid which came out great--cheesy grin looking right at the camera.


He asked me earlier this week if I remembered coloring eggs. Kyle's always asking us if we remember something. Apparently he remembers everything. I actually didn't remember that I had done the Good Mommy thing and colored eggs last year, and I was glad that he reminded me. With all of the construction/remodeling/painting going on, it might have slipped my mind (notice the paint can on the kitchen counter in the background). We had fun. Kyle wanted all his eggs to be blue, his "favorite color." I experimented with a few brown eggs that I boiled up just for fun. They actually colored nicely. Amanda patiently held the eggs half in the dye and made some multi-colored ones.



So tomorrow we'll don our Easter parkas and enjoy this holiday synonymous with the onset of Spring as the temperatures skyrocket to 43 degrees. I'll try to squeeze in an egg hunt after church, and then we'll join some friends for dinner.

Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Experience the Resurrection

I have to admit that I have not yet read this book. However, that is not going to stop me from giving a copy away to one of you (read on). Since I had such a good experience with the book Unlimiting God, a recent release by Henry Blackaby and one of his other sons, I have confidence that I will enjoy this too.

I often find myself wanting to immerse in the subject matter after, rather than leading up to the event in question, so I think that actually celebrating Easter this weekend will be just the incentive I need to dig into this book highlighting the true power of the resurrection that we can all experience in our lives.

If you want more information than my non-review has supplied, here is the publisher's blurb:

What does the resurrection of Christ really mean for us? What does it reveal about the heart and mind of God? And what real differences can the miracle of the resurrection make in your life today?

Two thousand years ago, God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. But that isn’t a mere historical event. It isn’t simply a theological doctrine. It is rather a “huge moment” that reverberates powerfully and meaningfully throughout history. Even today. Even in your life.

When God raised Jesus, He also made it possible for Christ’s life to reign eternally in His followers. The resurrection is the foundation of your total freedom and complete victory in Christ. And so it is an event–an experience–that’s worthy of your daily celebration.

Experiencing the Resurrection is the second in a groundbreaking trilogy by the world-renowned spiritual leader Dr. Henry Blackaby and his son, Dr. Melvin Blackaby, that guides you into experiencing the gospel of Christ in its fullness. In this book they offer you a deeper understanding of the glorious, joyous dimensions of the resurrection, with the goal of revealing the living Lord at work in your daily life.

This is the first step to fully knowing and experiencing the peace, joy, power, purpose, and confidence that God promises you through the resurrection of His Son.

If you'd like to win a copy, leave a comment here, and be sure that your email is either in your profile, in the comment, or there's a blog where I can leave a comment. I'll post a winner on Wednesday, March 26.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Spring Reading Thing List



Since I totally botched my Fall 2007 challenge, I've been trying to figure out how to best make a list for this one. It's not that I didn't read. I read a LOT of books. It's just that it was hard to plan, especially since I never know what I might be asked to read for my review column at 5 Minutes for Mom.

I will also be taking an incredible week-long beach trip in May with my husband (which means lots of reading while sitting on the beach), and two airplane trips (totally alone) in April, which also means much time for reading, so that will enable me to get in more than a standard amount of reading.

These are some of the fiction titles sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I predict that I will read 6 to 10 novels with many of them from this list hopefully:

Payback
by Melody Carlson
Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck
Girls in Trucks
Carpool Diem
The Host by Stephanie Meyer (I haven't read the Twilight books, but have heard she's great)
Mrs. Perfect
Pilgrims by Elizabeth Gilbert
Harry Potter number 5 (and maybe 6 and 7)

Biography/Memoir/Humor/Travel--I predict that I will read 7 or more from this genre. Okay, it's not really "a" genre, but many times it crosses over (like the travel memoir I just read and loved, Almost French), and this is what I've been reaching for first when I have a moment to read. If the library at the beach resort has books in this category, I will probably choose them over a novel, so I may add some interesting titles to the list that are just waiting for me to read them.

The Middle Place
(I'm halfway through this one now)
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (I just finished listening to his first book, The Know-It-All, which was hysterical, and a great choice as an audiobook--very well done).
Three Cups of Tea
Three Weeks with my Brother by Nicholas Sparks
The Film Club
Beautiful Boy
The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach
Honeymoon with my Brother
Road Map to Holland


Other Non-Fiction--I predict 4 to 8 of these will get read:

Sacred Marriage
The DNA of Relationships
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
Experiencing the Resurrection (you can enter to win your own copy HERE this week)
Mom, You Make it All Better
Date Night in a Minivan
Gorgeously Green
The Busy Mom's Devotional
The Next Level
Generation NeXt Marriage

With Amanda--I debated about whether to make a goal here, because I've been awful about reading aloud to her (we are both reading--a LOT--just not together). However, when I saw Katrina's list, I decided to add this in. Amanda's been reading fantasy (you can read her reviews and enter to win two of these books HERE and HERE).

A Wrinkle in Time (the new cover is awesome--much better than the old one I picked up at a used bookstore anticipating the time when Amanda would read it). We'll either read it aloud or separately, but together.

Have you read--and loved--any on this list? Which of these books sound compelling to you?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Do As I Say. . . .

One of the Snapshot family's Friday night routines is to meet Daddy Snapshot for dinner on his way home at one of two nearby restaurants -- Panera or Five Guys. The cholesterol-fearing parts of these over-35 parents feel like we should select the soup, salad and sandwich fare of Panera over the burgers and fries served at Five Guys, but the mouth-watering that the fried foods produce often trump that and cause us to want to throw caution to the wind. However, the kids almost always vote for Panera, so when we give them a choice, that's where we end up.

On a recent Friday night, I had reserved a movie at redbox.com for Terry and me to watch later, so the kids and I went to pick it up at the grocery store right beside Panera before heading to dinner. While we were eating Terry asked if I had gotten a movie.

I had, and apparently little eyes had been watching me.

"It's rated R," Amanda told him.

Standing at the vending machine, Kyle was pointing at all the movies that he wanted to get, but I told him that I was getting one for Daddy and me to watch. Amanda asked which one I was getting and I told her, "Michael Clayton." She apparently noticed the rating.

It seems that she's become a tween overnight. Just this week she's begun watching shows on Disney that she was never interested in--The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Hannah Montana, etc. I have no objections to her watching these shows, but I also didn't mind that until recently she was more interested in the Smurfs than the tweens and teens portrayed, however innocently, on those shows (although I admit that the Smurfs are pretty annoying).

I know that because of this heightened media awareness, I'm going to have to be on guard--both about what I'm seeing and listening to (as she's watching me), but also the way in which the media might be affecting her.

How do you monitor the influence of the media on your children (or yourself)?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Andrew Peterson , Author

I'm a big fan of the singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson. A friend of mine and I saw him open for Nicole Nordeman in a concert that took place in the gym of Houston Baptist University just about five years ago. We both loved his folksy mellow music, his humor and his lyrics.

This past Christmas, Amanda, Terry and I, along with some friends and their three children, saw his Behold the Lamb concert here in Connecticut. It was quite a showcase of talent as well.

When I was searching for the lyrics to his song "Land of the Free" for THIS post that I wrote last week, I came across an announcement for a blog tour promoting his new book. I was curious to meet Andrew Peterson, author, so I signed up.

Since I've had such a busy week and the blog tour was only a week away, and his new book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is billed as a book that the whole family would enjoy, I passed it along to my 9 1/2 year old daughter, Amanda, who is never too busy to devour a book. She loved this book. Here is her review:

The title sounds a little bit like a little kids' book, but believe me, it's not for babies! It has 279 savory pages, and you're on the edge of your seat for every one of them.

Here's the cast:
Leeli Igiby is the youngest and has had a crippled leg for as long as she can remember. She finds her comfort in her dog Nugget.

Tink Igiby is the second youngest and really trusts his stomach. When he wants to do something, nobody can stop him.

Janner Igiby is the oldest and is pulled down by the weight of taking care of the younger Igibys.

Nia Igiby is the loving mother of the 3 kids. Her husband was lost and she doesn't like talking about him.

Podo is Nia's father, an ex-pirate and an old man who lost his leg. He enjoys gardening and is a horrible cook.

Peet the Sock Man is a crazy old man who doesn't get much notice from the Igiby children until the adventure begins.

and. . . .

The Fangs of Dang: Feared by many, these green creatures have venom in their teeth and are after the Igiby children!

Sound interesting enough? I recommend this book for people who enjoy ghosts, on-the-edge-of-the-seat-gotta-keep-reading feeling, scary monsters, and great stories.

I just love this book, and I know you will too!


I read the first chapter or so, and it seems like a fun, imaginative read. I think it's evident from Amanda's review that it's the kind of book that gets creativity flowing featuring these wild characters that really make an impression.

If you order from THIS site, you can get an autographed copy at a great price, or check out three of his CDs for only $7.77 each (I'd recommend starting with Clear to Venus). The book is also available on amazon.com, of course.

You can also enter to win a copy by leaving a comment here (Please be sure that you leave a way to reach you--via blog or an email address). I will draw a winner on March 24.

Amanda also reviewed another fantasy book for me this week over at 5 Minutes for Mom. Check it out as well.

Friday, March 14, 2008

In Lieu of Original Content

Here's a video from the cool new mom site, Capessa, How I Got Over my DIY Fears:



What about you? Are you a Handy Mandy (incorrect usage of Disney show name intended)? I can paint (not fast or super-neatly, but adequately. I think that's about it. I did recently tell a friend that I'd like to try my hand at putting in that snap and click Pergo laminate type flooring, but I think I'm fooling myself and it would never happen (other than the fact that my hubby nixed the idea of the flooring).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Can't Even Conjure Up a Title

Why haven't I posted since Friday, and not much at all in a whole week?

Let me just give you my week in a nutshell.

I'm trying to take away a couple of Kyle's naps each week. He's almost four and still loves the nap, even if he protests briefly. However, 6am has now become his normal wake-up time, which is a tad early. I do not want to sacrifice my afternoon quiet time, and honestly, he still needs it, but maybe it's time for 4 to 5 naps a week, instead of 6 or 7. So, Friday afternoon in lieu of naptime, we visited the library. This library has a train table in the children's area, and going at 1pm, there are noticeably fewer kids out, so all was going well, until he had to go potty. He ran to the potty, did his business, and was running back to the train table when mom cautioned him not to. A similarly charged little girl was running around the sofa on which her mom was sitting, and BOOM!



He's fine. This was the most colorful, taken Sunday. It's a nice red and yellow now, almost a week later.

Saturday night at midnight our power went out. High winds had knocked one of the connectors loose. What that meant is that every time the winds blew, it would connect, make a spark, and surge power through our house. This caused the fire alarms wired into our home to go off, for about 20 minutes straight. We weren't sure if we should vacate or what, and I ended up calling 911. Since there wasn't an actual line down or a fire on the pole, they couldn't call the power company, and would have sent a fire truck to check our house, but I declined. We awakened early (losing an hour of sleep in addition to the one spent running around our house in the dark wondering what we should, after Springing Forward). The house was cold, and we didn't even have water (since the well runs on electricity, and we don't have "city water," a phrase which I never thought I would apply to my own dwelling). We went to church (where it was warm), and people were nice to us--wanting to know how they could help us. Despite an early dire estimate of return of power by Wednesday, it came on Sunday at 2pm (I think because a passer by again reported the sparking pole).

Last week we had workers doing a little remodeling job--hoping to open things up a bit. Monday after spending the day at IKEA with a friend, it was determined that the guy that was going to refinish our wood floors could either come this Wednesday at 8am, or in two and a half weeks. We already had moved books and some of the furniture for the remodeling job, so we decided to just go for it. Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon were spent boxing up the house and moving furniture. I also needed to find a place for us to stay, since having the main level refinished offers us no access to the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. We decided on a Residence Inn, which will offer us a bit more space (which equals sanity and a modicum of normalcy) and free breakfast and snacks, and they will allow us to bring our dog. Today they sanded the floors, so we stayed here last night, but after I leave here to take Kyle to preschool, we won't return until Sunday afternoon.

Before

After (after remodel AND after all my hard work)
I will do the painting next week.

Did I mention that I also happen to be preparing to teach my BSF class on Monday night? That entails preparing a 45 minute "sermon." I had planned to finish that up on Tuesday and Thursday while Kyle was at school, even before all the chaos, so I'm actually on track there, but I'd appreciate any prayers that are offered up that I am able to deliver God's word in an organized, cohesive, and life-changing way.

For someone who is busy and frazzled, that was a long post, but editing takes time and rambling is lazy. Hopefully I'll put together some articulate thoughts soon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008



Katrina is very low-key and tolerant of any type of participation in Spring Reading Thing, but ever since I've been writing my book column at 5 Minutes for Mom (almost a year now!), it's much harder to predict what I might be reading three months in advance, so my Fall into Reading participation was sort of "off." So, now I'm thinking about a good way to come up with a list before it starts March 21.

It was her Fall into Reading Challenge two years ago that got me convinced that I had time--and wanted to make the time--to read. You can read my wrap-up post that contains some of my gleeful thougts at my "success."

I know that so many of you often feel like you don't have time to read. I honestly don't care if you read or not, but if you miss your days of devouring books, set a goal. You might try to read a book a month, or just one book over the three months. You might reawaken that love and be surprised at the time that you suddenly find. And don't blame me if you also find more dust in your house. . . .

Find out how you can get involved HERE.

Are You Looking for the Ultimate Blog Party?

It's coming.

The server crashed and Janice and Susan have been working all night to try to get it fixed. It should be back up later this morning.

When it is up and running, they will post a new start time so that everyone has equal opportunity to get linked up at the top.

They are very sorry for the inconvenience, but still plan to host the best party in the blogosphere!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Praying for Water

Last week, Sophie was moved to tears by the simple act of getting clean water out of her faucet (well, that and perhaps a bit of jet lag and reentry issues after spending over a week in Uganda with Compassion International).

Mary DeMuth's newsletter asks us to pray for a well that is being dug in Ghana (you can read about her son's role in it and find out more information, including how you can give HERE).

A group at my church just returned from Sudan where one of their major goals was to build two latrines so that their drinking water isn't corrupted.

There's obviously a difference between our standard of living here in North America and that of much of the rest of the world.

What's the right response to all of this? Sell everything and give it to the poor? Well, maybe--if God asks you to.

But I'm fairly sure that's not what He's asking.

But I can pray. And I will pray.

I think that we all feel a little guilty about what we have here, but this song always makes me wonder who should be pitying whom.

This is a hidden track on the end of Andrew Peterson's CD, Clear to Venus (good stuff):


The Land of the Free

Little Elba how’s the sun in South America?
does it shine upon the faces of the poor?
do they see in it the brilliance of the place that’s been prepared
and dwell upon the hope of what’s in store?

or are they just like me? do they only see
an opportunity to complain about the heat?

Little Elba, how’s the rain in South America?
does it fall upon the rooftops of the sick?
do they thank the Lord for coming up with such a great idea
and dream about a place beyond all this?

or are they just like us? do they gripe and fuss
about the rain and mud when they’ve had too much?

(Chorus):

‘cause I’m just a little jealous of the nothing that you have
unfettered by the wealth of a world that we pretend is gonna last
they say God blessed us with plenty, I say you’re blessed with poverty
‘cause you never stop to wonder whether earth is just a little better than
the Land of the Free

well, I’m weary of the spoils of my ambition
and I’m shackled by the comfort of my couch
I wish I had the courage to deny these of myself
and start to store my treasure in the clouds

‘cause this is not my home, I do not belong
where the antelope and the buffalo roam

(Chorus):

and I’m just a little jealous of the freedom that you have
unfettered by the wealth of a world that we pretend is gonna last
they say God blessed us with plenty, I say you’re blessed with poverty
‘cause you never stop to wonder whether earth is just a little better than
the Land of the Free

so I hope you’re safe and dry in South America
‘cause I’m feeling pretty good in Tennessee
may you never be so happy you forget about your home...
your home in the Land of the Free



I can't add anything to that.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Too Much Stuff!

When I returned from our vacation last month, I had a renewed resolve to clear out some of the clutter in my house. I enjoyed our stay in our vacation rental home so much. I was so relaxed, at ease, happy. Yes, I was on vacation which accounted for some of it, but I figured out another reason why this rental home made me feel peaceful and seemed so spacious, in spite of the fact that it was at least 30% smaller than my own home.

There was no clutter.

Amanda's favorite spot, at the breakfast bar

The kitchen cabinets were stocked with the essentials, but not overloaded with the accumulation of fifteen years of "extras."

There were towels, blankets, and pillows aplenty, but they did not overflow their assigned space.

Oh yes, they even had books, but they were contained to the bookcase, not stacked up on both sides of the bed (and piled under the bed), hidden in end-table drawers, and misplaced in every room of the house.


I always find that when I'm in that motivated frame of mind, an additional encouraging influence is always helpful. I was browsing amazon, and decided to buy It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh (for the bargain price of $6.99!). It's definitely helping. So far none of the information is ground-breakingly original, but I need the reminder. I am mostly focusing on what I really need, as opposed to just trying to find a place for what I have.

I posted Tackle It Tuesday today at 5 Minutes for Mom, sharing about how I got rid of all the extra towels and linens and hauled them away. Read more HERE. I'm not finished. Amanda's stuff is in need of some serious downsizing, and the basement is storing things that I probably don't even need.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Welcoming Newcomers

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my efforts at Fitting In.

Now I'm working on an article featuring advice to people in groups who want to be more welcoming. Would you think about a time when you were a newcomer--into a new church, club, or small group?

What were big or small efforts that people made that helped you feel welcome and comfortable?

What about things that were done that you wouldn't recommend--what made you feel unwelcome or uncomfortable?

You can share in the comments--either as yourself or anonymously--or you can email me using the link on my sidebar. I won't be using your name or quoting sources directly. I'm just looking for ideas.

Thanks.