Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Dog Can't Tell Time

Right now she's sitting here looking at me expectantly. Her tail is wagging, her eyes are imploring. She breaks eye contact only to walk to the front door and gaze out it wistfully. Then she paces back over to me as if to ask, "Are you getting up?"

She wants to take a walk.

Most mornings after the kids get on the bus a group of moms and dogs take a quick walk down the street and around the little fake lake park area. The women chat and once we get to the lake walking path, all but one dog who has a particular weakness for cats, get to run off leash.

Shadow loves it. Loves it. After we started the habit, she would start the squeaky whiny imploring as soon as Amanda came down for breakfast at 6:30.

"It's not time," I'd tell her. "We don't go until Kyle gets on the bus at 8:15."

Of course I don't expect my dog to be able to tell time, but she does know the difference between the big grown-up girl child and the little wild boy-child and that we have never once stepped outside in the dark early morning when Amanda catches her bus. 

But why is she hounding me (pun totally intended) at 6:00 p.m.? Well it's Wednesday. On Mondays and Wednesdays she doesn't get to go on the walk, because I have to leave right after Kyle gets on the bus.

She's usually okay in the backyard once she realizes that she's not going. I just leave her outside. She actually loves it outside, which we weren't sure she would in suburbia as opposed to her semi-rural playground in Connecticut. So whenever she comes in on Wednesday after I'm back home -- sometimes 2:00 p.m., sometimes 4:30 p.m. or later -- she thinks it's time to go for a walk.

Sometimes I listen, but other times I try to reason with her. It's not much different from reason with a child who has his or her mind set on something that they think they are being deprived of.

She did eventually catch on to the fact that there was no need getting all psyched up that early in the morning, so maybe if I give her a calendar, she'll know that Mondays and Wednesdays and the weekends are out for first-thing in the morning strolls?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mailbox Monday: March 28

I was out of town last week celebrating Spring Break with my kids at Walt Disney World, so this week's Mailbox Monday post covers two weeks. Fortunately, I didn't arrive home to stacks and stacks of books from that week (which happened last summer and stressed me out a bit!!). This is what I've received the last two weeks. See more Mailbox Monday posts at this month's host, I'm Booking It.

For review:

Unsolicited, for review:

Bring Back Beatrice! -- This looks like a great book for those considering baby names, or who are interested in name origins and popularity over the years.

A trio of baseball books from Sleeping Bear Press (that Dawn also received and is reviewing with a giveaway on 5 Minutes for Books right now)


  • Notes from the Midnight Driver -- I've heard such great things about Jordan Sonnenblick's YA books. When this backlist title recently was produced into audiobook form by Brilliance Audio, I was happy to be offered it to review.
  • Enclave -- This was a happy surprise from MacMillan Audio. It's a YA novel from a debut author -- post-apocoloyptic, very popular with the tweens and teens. Can't wait to check it out.

From Amazon Vine, for review:
  • Awaken -- A dystopian YA novel about a society in which everything is done on the computer, until Maddie awakens to some feelings about a better way to live (Doesn't this sound relevant and interesting?)
  • Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan -- I had expected a book of middle grade short stories, since it's marked 9 - 12, but it's much more visual than textual. I can't wait to look more closely at this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Do Starfish and Popcorn Have in Common?

Have you heard the story about the little boy who was walking along the beach with his grandfather and noticed all the starfish that had washed up on shore when the tide came in? He knew that they were going to die if they stayed there and dried out, so he began picking them up and flinging them back into the sea as he was walking along.

The grandfather asked him what he was doing, and he told him that he was helping them get back to their homes. He tried to give the youngster a dose of reality saying, "What difference will it make? You can't save them all."

As he threw one back he said, "It makes a difference to this one."

I admit that I get overwhelmed. There are so many causes out there. So many people who need our help. Does helping just one make any difference? Well, to that one it does (This makes me think of the excellent model that Compassion International Child Sponsorship uses to pair a specific child with a specific donor).

Last month, Terry and I heard Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy speak at a benefit dinner for the Star of Hope homeless shelter. They were hilarious. They were opinionated. They poked fun at each other and at themselves.

They used that story as an illustration, and Leigh Anne shared how she subscribes to the popcorn theory. No, we can't help everyone. We don't even KNOW everyone's needs. But we can help those who pop right up into our face, like a popcorn kernel right out of the pan.

Now that does make sense. Act on what is flying in your face. It might be large, like a sizable cash donation to someone in need, or it could be small, like giving someone a ride who doesn't have a car. We can all do that.

The Tuohy's left everyone with the impression that we can all help others, and that we should all be helping others more than we are.

After hearing them talk, I fell in love with their vision to change people's lives, so I wanted to hear more of their story. Check out my review of the audiobook In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving and also my review of The Blind Side (No, I had never seen it! If you check out my review, you'll see why).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disney World: Never the Same Trip Twice

We've just returned from Disney World.*

I vaguely remember going as a child and then I had a fabulous time on a Disney Mom Blogger Mixer in 2008 where we got a first-hand look at Disney Magic (linked to a couple of my favorite posts). Last year I was so happy to be able to attend the first Disney Social Media Moms conference, and when the opportunity came up again, deciding to register was a no-brainer.

We knew we'd have fun, especially with the VIP treatment we get as conference attendees, but I honestly wondered if we'd all feel a little bit of the "been there/done that" since we vacationed there just over a year ago.

Silly me. What did come through loud and clear is that Disneyworld is never the same trip twice. Kids get older, the weather and crowds create different experiences (this year the weather was PERFECT, but there were more crowds), each resort gives a different feeling to the trip.

Kyle saw the moving talking trash can once last year, and really looked forward to seeing him/it again. He spied it at least twice this year, and that made his day!

I recently reposted a little recap of our last trip: You're Never Too Old for Disney Magic, and looking back at the pictures, it accurately sums up what I remember of that trip. We all just sort of reveled in the fact that we were at Disney World, and being treated to some fabulous events and experiences. I was enamored by the characters and all of it.

This year we just felt more settled and less rushed. We spent time almost every afternoon enjoying the pool at the resort, which the kids loved. The downtime was nice and made it feel a bit more like a restful vacation, and not just a big Disney experience.

Amanda took this picture right out of the safari car at Animal Kingdom.  Very cool.

We also experienced Downtown Disney for the first time, as well as Disney World after dark.  The kids enjoyed different rides and different parks (I think that Epcot was Kyle's favorite).  It was my first time at Animal Kingdom, since the kids went there with Terry while I was in conference sessions last year.

Kyle's not mad. This is his "astronaut pose."

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some wonderful personal memories from our family vacation here as well as some information about products and conference sessions over at 5 Minutes for Books.

I've just posted a review of the fantastic book that my son Kyle could not put down while we were there: Birnbaum's 2011 Walt Disney World For Kids, which is kid-tested and mom approved -- loved it!

*Disclosure: I paid a registration fee for the Disney Social Media Moms conference, but received benefits above and beyond my fee, including lodging at the Grand Floridian hotel.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's on My Nightstand -- March

I just posted an overview of my goals for the Spring Reading Thing earlier this week, which focused on personal reading for the quarter, reinforcing my desire to keep my reading balanced this year, meaning in addition to all the fabulous interesting review titles that I choose to read, I also want to be sure that I'm feeding my soul with informative and instructive books for personal and spiritual development, as well as reading books off my personal pile.

But here's What's on My Nightstand for the next month (be sure to check out the carnival at 5 Minutes for Books to see what others are reading as well).

Continue/Finish Reading:

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds -- I'm reading two chapters a week of this book and discussing it with a friend.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto  --as I mentioned last month, I figured this would be one that I took my time with. It's very LONG and it's also not a "read straight through quickly" sort of book.

And I ended up with three novels in progress that I need to finish, which is odd, but here's why --

I was 2/3 finished with a thick one, The Raising: A Novel, and I didn't want to bring it on vacation in that state.

I was reading In Leah's Wake on my Kindle, but then Amanda ran out of books and used my Kindle on the plane,

so I read Mothers and Daughters, the one "real book" that I brought on the way home.

Kid Lit:

Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan -- This is a short story collection, so perhaps I'll read it aloud to Amanda, because we still haven't picked that habit back up and we both miss it.

Plain Kate is the book I thought I'd read aloud with Amanda, but she ended up "needing" a book, so she already read it (and gave it a hearty thumbs up), so now I need to read it myself.

Nonfiction and Memoir:

This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie  

Clutter Rehab: 101 Tips and Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It! -- by Laura Wittman (yes THE Org Junkie)


Zero-Sum Game: The Rise of the World's Largest Derivatives Exchange

The Book Thief (moved up from "maybe" to reading it now after all the comments on my SRT challenge post), either this month or next month, depending on how all the review novels go.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter or at 5 Minutes for Books on Facebook

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Reading Thing 2011

It's that time again!  Katrina at Callapidder Days Spring Reading Thing.  Because about 90% of my books are review books for 5 Minutes for Books, it's always hard for me to predict what I'll be reading in 3 months.  This year I'm striving to clear off some books that I've really really wanted to read.  So this is not a complete goal list for the 3 month time period, but it's a targeted goal list.

Zero-Sum Game: The Rise of the World's Largest Derivatives Exchange -- This doesn't really sound like me, does it? Well, it's by an online friend of mine Erika Olson, and I'm picking up the gauntlet that my financier husband threw down, saying that he didn't think I could "get" it. Erika bills this as very non-techy, so I'm excited to read and share my thoughts with my husband on this one.

The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri -- I've wanted to read this for a long long time. It was probably on my fall challenge list.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) -- Seriously, I have not read it yet!  I've owned it, but I never have.  I KNOW this has been on other challenge lists, but I've still never gotten around to it.  I'm trying to decide if I need to read Year 6 again.  I think I might.  Amanda, my 12-year-old daughter just completed her nth read-through of all of them.  She always starts with
Year 3, finding Years 1 and 2 a little dull as compared to the others -- I agree!  So I know she's read 3 and 4 at least 4 or 5 times, and this is at least her 3rd go at years 5 and 6. What do you think? Should I do any re-reading, or just jump in?? Or maybe do a refresher with the movies??

At least 2 books stored on my Kindle (I snatch up books when they are offered free, for "someday."  Well, someday is here!!)

Out of the Shadows -- Joanne Rendell -- this was a review book, requested from the author because I really enjoyed her first two books, but for some reason it kept getting pushed aside by other books, so I really want to get to it.

Maybe (but probably not) -- another that I've really REALLY wanted to read:   The Book Thief (If not, I'll shoot for summer with this one).


I am close to finishing Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds (which I've loved), and I'd like to read at least one more of the Christian Living books that are on my shelf.

Some review books that I got early, but am really looking forward to and want to make sure I get to:

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie  

Joy For Beginners

I usually read 5 - 10 books a month (on the higher end when some of them are kidlit).  That's 7 books listed, which means I'll have to reduce some of my review reading, so I'm going to be mindful of that over the next couple of months when I'm considering review titles I'm offered (or I could just add a few more hours of reading into my week.  Hmmm -- I'm liking that idea).

In fact, I wrote over at 5 Minutes for Books today about how much I love reading as an antidote to Chasing the Wind.  Check it out please.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter or on Facebook.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Are Vacations Better Than Bling?

"A getaway cruise comes and goes in a few days, but a diamond is forever." --a local jeweler's commercial on the radio
I had to disagree. I was almost shouting at my radio, "That's not true! Memories from that cruise will last forever!" My husband and I have reaped so much from the splurge of a great getaway:
  • Restoration of togetherness in marriage changed by children
  • Rejuvenation of spirit and personal resolve (in each of our jobs--his stress in going to work and my relentless responsibility of caring for the children)
  • Memories that do last forever
    • of a new culture
    • the beauty of a new place (like Disneyworld)
    • a new experience or skill
    • new foods
    • a new language
  • Rest, a priceless commodity
Family vacations offer similar benefits, at least in the memory department and restoration of togetherness in a family stretched by jobs, clubs, meetings, and the everyday busyness of life. I would not advocate taking a family vacation, certainly with very young children, for the purpose of rest. However, while rest is elusive for parents taking charge of a crew, there is still rest from certain responsibilities--phones don't ring (although with cell phones are we ever blessedly unplugged?), laundry doesn't have to be done (at that moment, although it piles up as a future workload), meals don't have to be prepared, although meat might still have to be cut up.

I have been surprised with some nice jewels, and I do treasure them, but if I had to take one over the other, I'd take the getaway experience every time. It's been three years since I was given jewelry, but last year we went to Paris, and this year we hope to return to our favorite Caribbean getaway.

What about you? If you were going to splurge, would you prefer the bling of a diamond, or a fantastic vacation? What are some of your indelible memories or lasting results of a getaway trip or a family vacation?

I've pulled this from the archives -- first published in November 2006.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You're Never Too Old for Disney Magic

Pulled from the archives -- our first trip to Disney last year, February 2010:

This was my kids' first trip to Walt Disney World. I've been keenly aware of the time ticking by, and I didn't want them to miss out on the magic of the Magic Kingdom.

My husband We did firmly believe that they should be old enough to really remember it, since we knew that a trip to Disney was not going to be a yearly vacation for us.

Amanda's 11, but she still wasn't too old to enjoy hugging a few characters . . . .

Or to delight in a Mickey-shaped treat. . . .

And believe it or not, SHE is the one who begged us to wait thirty minutes to ride Dumbo:

She loved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, which were not too heart-pounding for her (Do you like my attempt to get one of those cool roller coaster reaction photos from the car in front of them?).

And of course, there are plenty of tween and teen oriented activities, including the American Idol experience, which was a lot of fun.

More than once she told us, "I want to come to Disney every year for our vacation." I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen unless I get invited to attend another Disney Social Media Moms event* to which families are invited (in which case we'd go again next month).

In spite of thinking that it might be a "once in a lifetime experience," I'm pretty sure that we'll be back sometime. I don't think that the magic is going to fade anytime soon.

Don't we look like we enjoyed every minute of it?

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter.

*Disclosure: I attended the Disney Social Media Moms conference, for which I paid I fee, but received a great family trip to Walt Disney World that far exceeded what I paid out. Disney did not tell me what to say, nor require anything from me in exchange for the benefit I received.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do I Know You?

When I went to college a new place with tens of thousands of new people barraged my senses. I remember seeing a familiar figure ahead of me and thinking, "There's Eliza!"

But wait, wasn't Eliza in college somewhere across the country? Yep, my mind had tricked me.

It's been happening now. I'll see someone's curly head leaving a store. "Isn't that girl in my Sunday School class?"

Doubtful, unless she drives/flies from Connecticut all the way to Houston Texas to go to Target.

This happens to me all the time. I can't help but wonder if my mind longs to connect, so it makes these associations. I didn't love the book You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know, Heather Sellers memoir about being "face blind," but the concept intrigued me. Something in her brain didn't put facial features together in a way that allowed her to connect their faces to her association with them.

I wonder if I have the opposite of that? Perhaps my brain that is overwhelmed with "new" is trying desperately to find the familiar?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mailbox Monday: March 14

It's time for me to share what lovely books have come in my mailbox this week, and also what reviews I've posted over the last week. 

For the month of March, Mailbox Monday is hosted by I'm Booking It, and I'm happy to join in with other booklovers.

Books for Review:

I forgot this one last week:  The Raising by Laura Kaisischke, which is the kind of genre-busting book that intrigues me, billed as part gothic romance and part coming-of-age, with a suspenseful thrilling pace.  I actually started it on Saturday, and it's got me, I think.

This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone a memoir about going "off the grid" by Melissa Coleman that has been getting GREAT reviews.

A BIG box of books from Kids Can Press.  Here are a few of the highlights:

The Hot Mom to Be Handbook: Look and Feel Great from Bump to Baby -- This was an unsolicited book, and I'm neither hot nor a mom-to-be (ever again), so I won't be reviewing it, but it actually looks like a great modern take on the "What to expect" type of book.

Amazing Cows: Udder Absurdity for Children by Sandra Boynton -- I was offered this book on twitter, and I am SO happy. Boynton board books were my favorites when my kids were little and continue to be preferred baby and toddler birthday gifts. This is a Boynton book for older kids! Yay! It's sort of like a big sturdy comic book. My 6-year-old son is going to LOVE this book, and I'm tucking it away as a special surprise for our upcoming airplane trip. I'll post a full review after that.

Books I purchased:

Yes, I actually bought a couple of books (for the aforementioned trip):
  • For Amanda, my 12 year old Fang: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson -- She was thrilled to see this at Wal-Mart in paperback, because she could never find it in the library, and I didn't want to buy it in hardcover.
  • Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #6: The African Safari Discovery -- My 6-year-old is a very strong reader, but that doesn't mean that he loves to sit quietly and read :-<. He got one of the Flat Stanley adventures books at the book fair last year and enjoyed it, so I'm hoping that this will buy some "sit quietly and read" time on our trip.
Reviews posted this week:
A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood by Lisa Catherine Harper (a great book WITH giveaway!)
The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin
Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (a Five Star Read)

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter or on Facebook

Mom, I was just reading the Awakening while you were gone

I have a 12-year-old daughter, and a 6-year-old son.  This is not the kind of conversation starter I expect to have on a Sunday morning (not yet, anyway, although I covet any conversation where we can connect about books).

I was formatting the guest post for 5 Minutes for Books by Lisa Catherine Harper.  Last week I posted her review (and giveaway, still live) of A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood.  This post On Reading is about what she could read and couldn't read while pregnant and since becoming a mother.  She also provides an extensive (and quite compelling) list of books that she enjoyed about pregnancy, motherhood, and child development.

Kyle had woken up on this cursed daylight savings lose-an-hour morning and was eating his Pop Tart (oh he still loves Pop Tarts with a passion), and so I went up to run his bath, so he could get in when he was finished.  When I came back downstairs, he had scooted around from his chair to the chair on the end of the table in front of my laptop, which I using to add amazon links to the books on the booklist.

"Mom, I was just reading the Awakening while you were gone" he told me.

I ousted him from my seat and sat back down as his little neck craned around to watch me.  "Right there -- click on 'look inside' then 'first pages.'"

"You read this?"

"Yeah.  The first three chapters.  If I didn't like the chapters, I skipped to the next one.  That's what you should do when you read it."

"What was it about?" I asked, testing him.

"Mostly a parrot.  He spoke Spanish and another language."

I don't think that I've read Kate Chopin's book (which Harper puts in the category "A 19th Century Novel about Motherhood that Might Give You Nightmares But is Still Pretty Important," although I know what it's about (I think -- now that I'm thinking about it, I think I'm mixing it up with Madame Bovary, but perhaps because the result is the same??).

The first page was indeed about a parrot speaking another language.  I skimmed through the first 3 short chapters that were shown (which I'm quite sure he didn't read.  There was probably more skipping than reading after the subject moved on from the parrot) and didn't find anything else worthy of discussion.

Maybe he'll become a true lover of literature, after all.  And when he does, his mama will be right here to take his advice on the best way to read it.


If you would like a seasoned mother's advice on reading, be sure to check out Lisa Catherine Harper's great post On Reading.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Last week was a busy week for us.  We were very productive -- replumbing a sink, mowing the lawn and doing spring yard cleanup and remulching, completely cleaning the house, cleaning the pool.

I suppose if you are paying someone to do it, that counts as doing it, right?

Yes, Terry and I are finally among the outsourcers of the world.  For someone in his income category, I would say that we are in the minority here.  In fact, most people I know who make less than he does employs at least one of the above workers, but it's taken us some gradual turns to get here.

We've never had any problem with the "one-off" contracting.  Terry is a little bit cheap frugal, but he also knows that he can often pay someone a little bit of money to do something a lot quicker and better than he could.  For example, when we bought blinds after moving into new bare-windowed homes, he cheerfully plunked down the extra $15 per set and was happy to know that in an hour or so, the umpteen windows had blinds that were straight and secure and would keep out the sun and the eyes of our neighbors.

Yard care was the first place we caved.  Back in 1995 when we bought our first house, we did everything ourselves, because we had more time on our hands than money.  In fact, the backyard in our new-construction home wasn't landscaped or even carpeted with grass, so my dear old dad helped Terry and me sod the backyard.  I still remember hauling those heavy squares of St. Augustine's grass squares in the wheelbarrow.

In Connecticut we helped the local economy by paying the high school boy next door to mow, and Terry really learned to appreciate that.  In fact, when he went away to college, we wondered what we'd do.  Fortunately, in Connecticut you really only mow from May - September, and the neighbor came home from college ready and willing to make some pocket cash.

But living here in Houston (Bizarro** paycheck world as Terry is calling it), it just seems to make sense to us.  We never felt like we got pool maintenance down when we had a pool here before, so Terry was definitely interested in that.  He called around and found one guy whose price was right, so that was the first.  The yard contract was the second (and again, the price is right. We are paying the skilled professional lawn service company the same price that we paid the high schooler).

I had housecleaners come the last two times we sold our house to do that deep down cleaning before we put it on the market, and boy did it sparkle!  When I was working a bit more last year (thus earning more "fun money"), I considered using some of it to pay for a housecleaner, but I could just never do it.  While I will readily admit that I don't love cleaning house, I don't mind the time it takes to vacuum and dust and even to clean the bathrooms (which Terry cheerfully helps with on the weekends), but in the end, I realize that they do it better than I do -- much, much better.

The housekeepers were supposed to come last Friday, and of course I straightened up for them.  When they had to postpone due to the flu (it's everywhere!), I decided to just put it off a week, and then Spring Break wouldn't hinder the every-other-week schedule.

I had begun to second guess my decision.  The house looked pretty darn good with my little efforts to clean up.  I did a quick vacuum and sweep, cleaned the powder room, and I was all set. 

But they did come today, and my gut was correct.  It's SO clean when it's tackled by the professionals.  Spotless, even.  Sparkling.  And it smells so good.


** Seinfeld Superman reference anyone?  It's Bizarro world because everything costs much much less, and with Terry's new job he's actually gotten a raise, not to mention reduced taxes coming out and a much lower transportation commuting cost.  So the combination of a bigger net has finally pushed us over the brink, although as you can see by this long explanation, I am still a little conflicted about it.

Terry is too.  He said, "We could either spend this extra money on things like this that would make our lives easier, or find something else more useful to do with it.  I honestly think that it's okay.

So what about you?  Are there items that you cheerfully outsource?  If so, why?  Is it a skill issue, or time, or a loathing of a specific task?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beautiful Girls

Not long ago a friend shared a motherhood moment with me saying, "I was looking at my daughter the other day. Do you ever just look at them and see this beautiful person and wonder how they came from us?"

I understood the sentiment, but I didn't really get it at the time.

Her daughter is 8 months older than mine, and maybe that hint of womanhood that suddenly causes our girls to become beautiful creatures hadn't yet alighted upon Amanda, because now I totally get it. 

There are still plenty of traces of the awkwardness of adolescence, but sometimes when I'm waiting to pick her up at school or church, this beautiful woman appears when I was expecting to see my 12-year-old little girl.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Regardless of whether you believe it or not, would you say that the central doctrine or belief of Christianity is that Jesus is God's son, and he died for our sins so that our sins could be forgiven by God?

That seems simple enough.

God is love.  I believe that.  I believe that God's love and Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf are not only scriptural, but that they go hand in hand.  Case in point, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.

If a non-Christian says they don't believe that, we have no problem saying that we disagree with their position.  But when someone who calls himself a Christian says that, and he's called out on it, people kill the messenger.

I wonder why the Christians confronting the heresy are getting the bad rap, not the heretic.  It makes my blood boil, and it makes me wonder if we've lost the meaning of truth.

Lest you feel my terminology is too strong or intolerant, I go to for a definition of heresy:

opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or belief system.

I know that everyone doesn't believe as I do.  I believe that each person has the right to choose what you believe.

I know that within the Christian churches there are a lot of differences, and I believe that there's room for a lot of differences.  I'm glad that we have different styles of worship, and churches with different doctrinal emphasis.  Because of that, the Christian church can meet the needs of many different people.

I also believe that some foundational truths are core to Christian beliefs.  There are some things that you must embrace if you are calling yourself a Christian.  One of those is the need for a savior, a redeemer, a lamb without blemish -- Christ.

Christ/Christian?  Seems simple to me.


But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.

The gospel is the "good news" of Jesus.  That is doctrine.  Thus going against it is heresy.

Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

You can disagree with any or all of the above.  Many people do.  But please don't disagree about it and call yourself a Christian. It undermines the faith.

(Edited:  I was being vague on person, not wanting to appear to be "bullying" any one particular person.  I'm not exactly targeting him, although this person is who has rankled me of late.  I don't want there to be any confusion or misunderstanding, because apparently there are many issues stirring up controversy out there.

My post is in response to this).

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mailbox Monday: March 7

It's time for me to share what lovely books have come in my mailbox this week, and also what reviews I've posted over the last week.  For the month of March, Mailbox Monday is hosted by I'm Booking It.

For Review:
The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain -- I've already started this novelization of Ernest Hemingway's early years and his time in Paris, and I love the pacing and the style.

Mothers and Daughters: A Novel by Rae Meadows

Tugg and Teeny (linked to my review and giveaway) -- I had received a PDF so that I could get the giveaway posted, but I received the book last week. My 6-year-old and I both love this "ready to read" book.

Unsolicited Review Copies:

Hope for Your Heart: Finding Strength in Life's Storms a Crossway book by June Hunt

The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery by Doreen Cronin -- Back in the fall, I received an ARC of this delightful chapter book by picture-book great Doreen Cronin. Last week it released and I received a finished hardcover book. My son and I read this book together -- very clever (linked to my review).

Rain Brings Frogs: A Little Book of Hope -- This is such a cute little picture book. Look at those frogs!

Invincible: The Chronicles of Nick -- This is the 2nd in a paranormal YA series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Has anyone read the first, Infinity? I am not really "into" paranormal books, but if it's a great story with a compelling cast that just so happen to be dealing with zombies (as it looks like Nick is), then I don't mind.

I received that book along with book two in a series that I have been interested in: Shimmer: A Riley Bloom Book. Riley is the younger sister of Ever, featured in the YA series, The Immortals (linked to my reviews). What I loved about Radiance (linked to my review) is that it's a great book for younger tween readers who want to get into the craze.  The heroine, Riley, is 12, so she's not involved in any mature teen themes.

Reviews I posted this week:

A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood -- a really beautifully-written memoir (with giveaway!)

Prince of Tides book and movie reviews -- a revisit of both the book and the movie.  Love Pat Conroy!

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter or on Facebook

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Betcha Can't Guess the Fifth

Earlier this week, when talking about returning to my hometown, I mentioned that Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S., ranked by population.  That always surprises people. 

One and two, NYC and LA, people get, but the good ol' boys in Houston being number four -- that's unexpected.  If you really want me to blow your socks off, I'll tell you that Texas has two others rounding out the top 10 -- Dallas and San Antonio.  I remember when San Antonio made the list in the 1990's or even earlier. It surprised me.  I knew San Antonio.  I had been there.  My parents lived there for a time. I could probably surprise most of you yet again by telling you that now San Antonio is now larger than Dallas (and Austin is climbing the ranks at 15 this year).  Texas might be going for world domination -- or we might already have it.

So--back to the title tease -- number 5.

What cities are coming to your mind?  Chicago is 3rd, so what would be 5th -- with a big rise from #10 in 1990, it's Phoenix.  Never would have guessed that.

I'll bet you never knew a simple chart could be so much fun.  Perhaps you still don't know that, but did any of the other the top 10 cities surprise you?