Friday, September 28, 2012

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer {Review}

Short-Straw Bride
by Karen Witemeyer

Living in Texas, Meredith moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin when her father died. She has a very close relationship with her cousin, but her aunt isn't as friendly. And she wants her to marry a man that Meredith isn't sure she likes. When Meredith decides to warn someone from her past of trouble coming, she ends up in a questionable situation and is forced to become a short-straw bride. Or is she?

This was a wonderful read, hard to put down. The story line is a feel-good novel about love on the frontier, but it also teaches unconditional love without hope of love in return. Throughout the novel you can see the author weave the thread showing God's provision and a reminder that He wants what is best for us. When our goal is to seek God's will, our heart's desires will be fulfilled.

Bethany House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice {Review}

She's Got Issues: Seriously Good News for Stressed-Out, Secretly Scared Control Freaks Like Us
By Nicole Unice

Are the little (or not-so-little) things of life stressing you out? Feeling out of control? Insecure? Not as good as your neighbor? Afraid, Angry? All of us as women find ourselves in at least one of these places. Nicole Unice walks us through these issues and shows us not only are we all in the same place, but that God has given us promises we can lean on and learn from.

Along with a great book, there is a study DVD and workbook that work with the book. While you can use these for a women's small group discussion, I liked having the DVD to supplement the book. Nicole writes the book in an easy-to-read   style with humor. When you read the book, you feel like you are sitting down talking with her. Through the DVD you join Nicole in her living room with a group of women and listen to Nicole talk about the issue for that session. Each topic also has a one-on-one conversation between Nicole and another woman who identifies with each issue discussed.

Nicole weaves personal experiences with Bible examples and good wisdom to help us see and understand each of the issues presented: Control, Insecurity, Comparison, Fear, Anger, and Unforgiveness. The book has 2 chapters focusing on each of these issues. One chapter explains the issue, and the second chapter discusses how to deal with it. There are journaling prompts, discussion points, and also quizzes to see if you are struggling with this issue even though you may not know it. :)

I have enjoyed this book and DVD and I look forward to going through both in more depth, and maybe in a small group. :)

Information about the author, Nicole Unice

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book and DVD for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma {Review}

Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement
By Kay Wills Wyma

I don't know about you, but at least 1 of my kids expects help that borders on "do-it-for-me." And I know there are many others out there in the same boat. Kay Wills Wyma was facing the same thing, so she set out on a year-long experiment to challenge her kids and see just what they could accomplish when it was expected of them.

She started out small -- making your bed and cleaning your clutter. But oh! what a wave that created. I love her idea of starting out the month with 31 (30, 28) dollars in a jar for each child. If a task is not completed one day, a dollar is removed. She said she tried both adding a dollar when the task was completed and removing a dollar when it wasn't completed, and she found that removing a dollar is much more effective. In our family, we currently reward on Saturday for the previous week, but that is a lot of remembering. I think we are going to switch to the jar/taking away method, but since we currently "pay out" weekly, we will probably keep it to weekly.

Her tasks continued with a new task each month. Tasks such as each child having a night to meal plan, shop for ingredients, cook dinner, and wash dishes. Planting and weeding. Employment. Cleaning the bathroom (including the toilet!). And these tasks didn't end at the end of the month. They revised some to be able to keep up the tasks after that month was over, but those tasks continued even when a new one was the focus that month.

What she found, was that her kids were capable of completing these tasks that they previously hadn't even thought to ask them to do. And along with helping the family run smoothly (and giving Mama a break from doing everything), they learned perseverance, teamwork, and many other things. Each chapter is about the task of the month and how things went that month. At the end of every chapter, she recounts things her kids learned and things she learned.

I really enjoyed reading about her experiences and see her children become more self-sufficient and capable. In fact, it has already helped me look at tasks differently with my kids, and there will probably be some "tasks of the month" coming in our household, too. ;)

Other resources:

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I remember

Do you?

I was at home; it was exactly 1 week before the birth our 3rd child. I  was sneaking peeks at the news as my 2 boys, 15 mos and 3 yrs, walked in and out of the room. Trying to understand the madness... Praying hard... Waiting to see the miracles God would work...

Where were you?

"The view from my apartement was the World Trade Center... now [it] is the Statue of Liberty." ~Jon Stewart

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shout with joy

Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong and Mark Tabb {Review & Giveaway}

Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games
by Lopez Lomong and Mark Tabb

You would think that this book is about running. Or about the Olympics. But it is really about God's love, provision, and grace. Lopez was born in South Sudan, kidnapped during war, imprisoned, and went to the Olympics as a US athlete. The story in between weaves a tale of events that leads Lopez to continue running for children from his homeland.

I loved this book. Honestly. I started reading it in the afternoon and couldn't put it down, so I stayed up late to finish it. Starting in a poor South Sudan community, to an orphan, to a loving family in the US with all the opportunities he could imagine, God wove a beautiful story. Listening to his story encourages you to look back at your life to see how God is weaving your story together.

Lopez Lomong's website
Book page at Thomas Nelson (publisher)

BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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The next Adventure...

My name is Mindy, and I am a credit addict. Unfortunately, my husband is, too. (We will call him “DH” for Dearest/Darling/Devoted Hubby.) We had been praying and learning some of God’s thoughts about money for many, many years. God has been changing our hearts and attitudes toward debt, but we were struggling to get to our goal of being debt free. Little did we know, we still had a ways to go on this part of our faith journey. (There are some areas where we are slow learners.) :)

Two years ago we knew God was calling me to not work but stay home with our kids. We moved forward, and I put in my resignation. A week before my last day, God slammed the door shut and said “not now.” It felt like our dreams were being ripped away. But even in the midst of this, God provided and allowed me to keep my job and current salary, while reducing my hours from 40/week to 30/week. Amazing God!

That was a big wake-up call. After much praying, we realized we were paying the price of years of relying on credit. We felt we would never make it to our reward where I could stay home. I really struggled with God’s call and my heart’s desire to make my focus be my husband, kids, and home. I longed to have the time to be able to help friends and family more. I had to post God’s promises over my work area to remind me that He does keep His promises. A year ago, as I was arguing and crying and pleading with God about our reality vs. His call, He gave me the verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

At that time, though, our time was devoted to work first and foremost. Between the 2 of us, DH and I were working over 100 hours a week, and we were barely making ends meet. We hadn’t used a credit card to pay for anything in over 2 years, we paid cash for our cars, and yet debt was still suffocating us. We have 3 kids and working to pay the debts was putting stress on our whole family; including extended family who graciously took care of our kids while we worked. Proverbs 22:7 says “The borrower is slave to the lender.” We realized that what we were feeling was that of being slaves to our debt. We were working with the sole goal of earning money, and we didn’t know how to get out from underneath.

Looking back, we had to really, truly, fully learn to trust God with our finances. If you asked us if we trusted God, we would have emphatically said yes. However, God started showing us his view of money, and our idea wasn’t meshing with His. During church one Sunday, the song we sang rang true. God told me right then that we were telling God we can’t follow His plan because we might not be able to pay for the house. He told me that we needed to surrender the house. To be ok even if we lost the house. Because He had asked us to follow Him and walk in His plan, it didn’t matter if we lived in this house or a rental or a motel. It is His plan, and “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

When we really started trusting God in our finances, when we created and followed a plan for our money, when we started letting go of control of our things, we started seeing God’s provision. In fact, we decided to trust God in a big way, and I resigned from my job. This last Friday was my last day of full time work, and this week, I begin homeschooling our oldest 2 kids. Since turning in my resignation, we have seen our share of Satan’s fiery darts, but why shouldn’t we? By not living as a slave to our money and instead living as God wants us to, we are working for the eternal. We have also seen God step in and provide new opportunities for income that line up with our priorities of God first, then family; ways we never expected. We are still paying for 2 of our credit debts, and we may be paying for them for a long time. However, God is still faithful and showing us that He will provide.

We have closed almost all of our credit cards. We don’t use them, so why keep them? However, I like to have back up plans. I have not been able to bring myself to cut up our last open credit card. (DH was ready months ago.) What if there is an emergency and I need that $500 credit line? But, I’ve come to realize that for me, that really isn’t trusting God. God needs to be my first plan and my back up plan. He takes care of the flowers in the fields and cares about the little birds that are a dime a dozen. Romans 8:32 says “Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?” So, as the next mile marker of our faith journey, I cut up that last credit card yesterday.

This faith journey/learning process that we are on is not over yet. I am sure that there will be days (or weeks) that I wonder why I ever wanted to stay home and teach the kids. I am sure that there will be times when we don’t see how the money will be there for the house, food, or other needs. But, I am also sure that God keeps His promises. God will provide.

And who knows what this is preparing us for in the future as we learn to fully trust? :)

This story will be added to our Memorial Album. What picture should go with it? If you have an idea, could you please leave me a note in the Comments below? Thank you!

Read more of my stories of God's faithfulness here, and jump over to A Place Called Simplicity by clicking the picture below to read other Memorial Box Monday stories...

"For what You have done I will always praise you in the presence of Your faithful people. And I will hope in Your name, for Your name is good."
Psalm 52:9

Read my friend, Linny's, explanation of the Memorial Box


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