Monday, May 6, 2013

Dreams and Visions

I recently read Dreams and Visions by a pastor named Tom Doyle. I have a heart for the Muslim world, and a huge God-given love for Muslims. Currently, I am a missionary in Romania, but in the year before we left the States, we hosted several Saudi Arabian students in our home for about nine months, and we worked a lot with the International Students from the local universities in Milwaukee. When I heard about this book, I was very excited to read it.

What most impressed me was that there was  not a lot of "fluff," or preachiness to it, but, instead, the author included many stories of God reaching Muslims through dreams and visions throughout the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, etc. I was struck by just how much God loves these people that He is willing to break through to them and reveal Jesus to them in their dreams and even in visions they have while awake. The author shares these stories, but then he also shares how those visions did not lead directly to a faith in Jesus, but an awakening in their spirits to seek out the truth of who Jesus is. God still uses people to share the gospel, and we must have that same love that He has for those He is calling to Himself in us.

This book increased my desire to some day travel to the Middle East and it increased my desire to pray for those around me. You never know what God is going to do to reveal Himself to people!

*I received this book free to review through of Thomas Nelson publishing company.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

International Children's Bible for Girls

Thomas Nelson released a copy of the International Children's Bible in a very girly edition with pink fabric, sequins, flowers, and hearts. This version is made for girls in mind, I would say ages 4 up to tweener aged. It is a complete Bible with Old and New Testaments, with a few extra things, but mostly it is just a plain Bible without fillers. There are no study notes or pictures, but I think this is fine, because it is a Bible and not a Bible story Book.

I like the ICB version of the Bible for reading to my daughters. They enjoy listening, and it is not difficult for them to understand like my ESV, NKJV, or NASB. The print is a good size, but a bit small for younger readers, but it will work well for parents reading to their daughters. I gave this to my middle daughter, Mae, for her 4th birthday, and she has looked at it a lot since then, and it seems pretty sturdy. Overall, I really liked this and I bought another ICB version for my oldest daughter, since I liked it as a first Bible for them.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tithing: A Book Review

It's been a while since I've posted, but I received a book from Booksneeze to review. The book is part of a series called The Ancient Practices, and it is the only one I have read from the series, so I can't speak for the readability of the other books in the series. Tithing:Test me in This is a collection of stories from people who have chosen to live out the spiritual practice taught in the Old Testament of tithing, giving ten percent of one's income to God.

The interviews and stories are interesting in and of themselves, but the book did not totally inspire me to tithe. My husband have been "tithers" for years, often giving more than ten percent because we give to missionaries, people in need, etc. besides just giving a tithe to our church. My big complaint was that those in the book, seemed to really enjoy and believe in the concept of tithing, but I was not fully convinced of the genuineness of their faith. Some seemed to do it as a "good deed" rather than out of sincere obedience to the voice of God. I wanted more Scriptures on giving; I'm a Bible geek, so I like everything backed up by the Word.

If you want a collection of feel good stories, some very inspiring to live a life of sacrificial giving, then you'll enjoy this book and maybe be inspired to start tithing if you don't already. However, it was just lacking something for me, the radical call of the Jesus to the rich young ruler to lay aside everything he has because all of it belongs to God. Some people give out of their surplus, but others are like the old widow who gave what she herself needed to live on. Our devotion to God and our giving reflects our attitudes towards Him and towards the things He has given us.

The book is not bad, just not what I was hoping for.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Colorful Cloche Hat

For Christmas, my mom got me some really nice, soft bamboo yarn in a couple of different colors. One of the colors was variegated with pastely rainbow colors. I finally decided on what to use it for and created something for myself with it. I found this cloche pattern on Ravelry that I really liked and here's what I created. I made it in one evening, so it works up pretty quickly with bulky weight yarn and size K crochet hook.

An up close shot of the finished product. I love the "ribbon" detail. That's what made the hat for me.

Detail of the "ribbon" and bow. I would have increased the number of chains from 132 to 140 maybe to make this a little longer.

The hat on its owner. Sorry for the bright glare.

The hat is nice and heavy. I've never used bamboo yarn before, but this kind from Think Bamboo is super soft and easy to work with. Of course, my girls really liked the color and now want to wear Mama's hat. I have a little of the yarn left, so I might use some as trim on a scarf or something.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Gospel According to LOST by Chris Seay

Coming into its sixth and final season, LOST has grabbed the attention of millions of viewers who have followed the season from beginning to end, on the edges of their seats the entire time. Some viewers just watch and wait to see how it pans out, but others see many spiritual and psychological undercurrents and try to figure it all out, and one of those followers is Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to LOST. But Seay comes at the series from the angle of an evangelical Christian.

If you are a diehard LOST fan, you may be drawn into Seay’s exegesis of the spirituality in the show. I was entertained enough while reading—it is a very quick read—and I enjoyed how well-written the book is, but the content is just not my thing. I love movies and music and occasional TV, but I don’t always pick it apart to discover cool connections between pop culture and God or the Word. If it happens, I think it’s awesome, and it happened for Chris Seay with LOST.

If you haven’t watched LOST, this book may pique your interest. Seay explores the lives of the main characters showing the connection they have to people from the Bible. Some of the time, it seemed like a major stretch for me, as if he were reading too much into things. But if you think that way, this book will probably grab you more than it did me.

To purchase this book from simply click here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

50th Post

Wow, It's been a long stretch since I posted anything on here. First, there was Christmas up in Green Bay, and then we were in Kansas City for a week at the IHOP onething conference, which was so much fun! After that, life just kind of went on autopilot for a while. Lately, we've been considering moving to Milwaukee much more seriously, so I spent much of my online time searching Craigslist for homes to rent and reading up on the various neighborhoods there (because Milwaukee is known for being a pretty violent city with a lot of crime).

It's amazing how segregated the city is. The far northeast area is very well to do; the east side is hip, trendy, and composed mostly of college students or mid- to upper-income folks. Then there's downtown which, well, I think just has more bars and colleges. The N, NW part is the "worst part of Milwaukee." I don't know if it has that stigma because it actually is or because it's the African American section. Then you go south of 94 and it's like a whole other world: it's the Hispanic part. There's few areas where the three groups meet. I've heard there are large portions of Russians, Middle Eastern people, etc, but I'm not really sure where they are. We looked in two neighborhoods: East side was pretty much out because of the sky-high rates. Just over the river from the East Side is Riverwest, a very hippy, eclectic neighborhood that's got it's crime, but is also waaay cheaper and very convenient to everything. It borders "the hood" so there is spillover crime from that, plus, college kids come over the river to look for all their drug needs. We checked out some places there, and block by block was so different. One block we looked at a duplex on felt sort of sketchy. One block over and a few blocks down was a whole different feel. So strange. Most people say stay inside after dark unless you're in a group. Well, I feel that advice would apply no matter where I lived in Milwaukee, so whatever. I liked it there. I like living in a not all-white world. I don't want my girls growing up around only white people, because in the world, we're the minority, if not in this nation. Also, I want them to be safe.

The other neighborhood we're checking out next week is Bayview. It's mostly working class, and is a pretty cool area. I read somewhere that it's where all the "punks" are. Fewer students and more Hispanic. We drove through it yesterday, and I just really liked it a lot. But, then we thought. We have to come into O-town 5 days a week anyway, since my husband works for the church here and has a lot of meetings and stuff throughout the week; plus our daughter just started ballet here, AND we have this incredibly amazingly awesome deal on renting this house that is like 3 times the size of anything we could get in Milwaukee. But, it's still suburbia. Pros and cons to sort out. Maybe we'll move, maybe we'll wait, maybe we'll just commute. Only God knows. I just wish He'd let us in on what's up His sleeve for us sometime soon.

Ok, I'll have another post soon about a book I just read for Thomas Nelson. I got it for free for joining their blogging book review club, and I need to post my review before getting another book from them. Look for it soon. And please pray that we'd have insight and wisdom to know what to do about moving. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Know You're a Mama of All Girls When...

I've got three little girls. No, not little in the sense that they're all under 10, but little in the sense that they're all under 5. Three little girl preschoolers in my home. As totally awesome as they are (They are the honey in my tea...or rather the sugar in my coffee. C'mon I'm a mama to three little girls; I need the ultra stuff.), they can be a complete riot at times. But I'm so crazy in love with each of them, as particular and unique as each one is, that I'd trade all the coffee beans in the world for them!

First, there's Naomi Simone, or as she used to refer to herself for the longest time: Naomi Simoni. Though I don't like using the phrase, for lack of a better word, she is a drama queen. Every emotion is fully felt and fully expressed, from "This is the worst day EVER and I'm just gonna die" to "OH MY GOSH this day is TOTALLY AWESOOOOOME!!!" She brings joy and life and excitement to every part of our home, since everything is a big deal. She forces me to see things as a child does, with excitement. (Well, unless she's in the pits of despair because she spilled her juice.) Once crazy about the color pink, she now says that red is her favorite color. I secretly think it's because her younger sister Mae is all about pink now and Naomi must distinguish herself. Naomi also thinks pink and red go perfectly together (and any form of stripes together, including pink and red).

Next is my sweet little MaeBalloon, AKA, Mae Juliette. At nearly three years old, she is the epitome of sweetness, cuddly cuteness and daintiness. But don't let those blonde curlies fool you, she is smart, with a vocabulary similar to her older sister's. Mae can entertain herself anywhere, anytime, and is perfectly content to sit quietly on my lap through a whole church service and possibly sleep. If there are no toys or crayons around, she can use her fingers to be little people and have whole conversations among them. With the sweet, there is hard-headedness as well, and hard to break stubbornness. It catches me off guard sometimes, but I know it's a fleeting thing that comes with the age of 2.

Lastly is my Illiana Sunshine, AKA Illy, AKA Baby Sunshine, AKA Illy Badilly, AKA Chilliana, AKA BillyPana (the girls give her lots of do my husband and I). Illy's not so girly girly yet; she's still all baby all over the place. At 10 1/2 months old, she is fast as lightening and adventurous. Today, I came downstairs and found her up on the couch, yet hanging halfway off the couch holding onto a giant potted plant with one hand and digging in the dirt with the other (somehow some of it made it into the mouth...blah). And yesterday, she came crawling at lightening speed towards me when I noticed something black on her chin. Thinking she'd gotten some dirt on her, I wiped it off and then looked at what it was: an even bigger BLAH, a chewed up boxelder bug. Her sisters found that amusingly disgusting. Illy is known to glean cheerios and other assorted dropped food from the kitchen floor, and she recently escaped into the bathroom and overturned Mae's little potty (that Mama forgot to empty). Despite all that, she is my piece of sunshine. One of my favorite parts of the day is when I go in to get her up before the other girls are awake, and she's sitting in her crib all smiley with her fuzzy blanket in hand and thumb in mouth. Then she smiles the biggest smile ever at me while reaching up for me! know you're a mama of all girls when...

1. You sort your laundry into darks, whites, and pink!
2. Your girls fight over who gets to be the "pink one"
3. You have naked Barbie dolls lying around everywhere; for us they're by the bathroom sink drying off after the girls' baths
4. Your children take forever in the bathroom because they have to make silly faces in the mirror for 5 minutes before actually "going" to the bathroom.
5. Or they take forever because they go to the bathroom together, with the door closed, chatting away for 10 minutes about princesses, stickers, pink, and dressing up
6. You get told, "That's so gross, mama; you should say excuse me" when you burp, but then you overhear them talking about poop, and pee, and eyeballs when you're not around.
7. The favorite cup is the strawberry cup with glitter inside of it.
8. You get asked to play Barbie's "The Princess and the Pauper" for the 10 zillionth time.
9. Your girls disappear when the babysitter shows up, only to come downstairs 5 minutes later decked out in a crown, high heels, scarves, and gaudy dresses to show the sitter how pretty they are.
10. You go shopping and pass the girls' clothing section and you child goes, "Oh this is cute. Oh, and I love this dress. Oh, and this is beautiful, mama."

I love my girls. They rock my world with pink and glitter. AND, they like to go hiking and camping, and climb things, and watch Dinosaur Train.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Easy Early Reading Game

My oldest daughter, Naomi, is 4 1/2, and I've been teaching her how to read this year as part of her homeschooling. Since she's only at the 4K grade level (or, in Ambleside Online terms, Year 0), I'm not doing too much with her for school. Mostly Bible verses, Bible stories, cooking, lots of art, writing letters, and easy math. But the most intensive thing I do with her is reading. She's so good with letters, and her vocabulary is awesome, so I figured I'd go ahead and start early with her. I'm amazed that after just a few weeks, she was reading 2-letter words and now 3-letter words.

I've been using the book, The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise (Classical Homeschooling method guru). It's great, because everything is scripted out for the parent who has never taught a child how to read before. I don't do as many repetitions as Wise recommends because my daughter just gets bored with it. We recite the "poems" like rap songs sometimes to make it more fun! My favorite part is that there are no goofy games added in as filler and fluff. I just don't like that kind of stuff. Yes, learning should be fun and engaging, but not just busywork. My daughter needs to know that what she's learning has a point and a value to it. She spends plenty of other time playing.

However, there are a few education games in the book as optional activities that are pretty fun! One is "Mix and Match Words." Here's how you can do it yourself:

Take 12 notecards and cut them in half width-wise (so you have 24 cards 3" by 2 1/2"
With one colored marker, write the following combinations on 8 of the cards (one combination per card):

  • ip, in, ib, it, im, id, ig, ix
  • These are word ending cards
On the rest of the cards, use a different colored marker and write one of each of the following letters on a card:

  • b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w, y, z
  • These are beginning letter cards

Now, take the word ending card with it written on it and put it in front of your child. Then gather these beginning letters: s, h, f, b, k, l, p. Turn them over so that you can't see what's written on it. Have your child pick one and put it in front of the word ending card and read the word she made. If she reads it correctly, she gets the card; if not, it goes back in the "upside down" pile of beginning letters. Keep playing until your child has "won" all the beginning letters.

Here are other combinations to use:

  • it with s, h, f, b, k, l, p
  • ig with b, d, f, j, p, w
  • id with k, l, d, h, r
  • im with d, h, r
  • ib with b, r, f
  • in with p, f, b, s, w, k, t, d
  • ip  with l, r, s, t, h, d, n, z, y
  • ix with  s, f, m
This is a fun game to play, and you can add to it with 3 letter words made with the other four short vowel sounds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Softie Plushie Dolly

Lately, I've become way intrigued by the Japanese kawaii stuff. It's all over the place in the crafting, blogging, sewing world. And I've been checking out "softies" lately. The girls and I looked at tons of pictures online of softies people have made and posted. Of course, they wanted all of them, so I saved a few images to my computer and decided to design and make softies for them for Christmas. So far, I've just created Mae's. It's cute, but I would have made it slightly smaller if I were to redo it.

The finished softie doll

Here's what I did:

1. I drew a sketch of a softie that I wanted to create based on Mae's likes

2. I drew all the "pattern" parts I'd need to cut out

3. I cut out the "pattern" pieces and then cut out the corresponding fabric pieces

(2 of the skirt pieces, 2 of the top pieces, 2 of the face pieces, 1 hair piece, 4 leg pieces, 4 arm pieces,4 ear pieces, 2 ear pieces from batting)

4. I sewed two arms and two legs and turned the pieces inside out and stuffed them.

5. I sewed the ears together with batting and turned those inside out.

6. I sewed the face together and turned it inside out and then top stitched around the edge. I added buttons for eyes and sewed a tiny smile with red thread in a backstitch.

7. I laid the hair over the face where I wanted it and folded it slightly over the back and stitched it into place all around.
8. I sewed the face to one of the top pink pieces using a hidden stitch like I use for hemming.

9. I sewed one top piece to a bottom piece and laid it flat right side up.

10. I laid the arms and legs and ears pointing inwards where I wanted them on top of the piece I just laid flat.

11. Then I sewed the other top piece to the other bottom piece and laid it right side down on top of the arms, legs, ears, and other side of body and pinned into place.

12. I stitched all the way around, leaving one corner open for stuffing. Then I stuffed it and sewed it shut.

13. I added trimmings (you could do this prior to sewing up the doll): a button that I sewed into place going all the way through the doll (so stuffing wouldn't slide around) and an apron that I cut out of an piece of curtain trim.

This is not meant to be a perfect tutorial. I mostly made it up as I went along (which meant mistakes). I've never made a stuffed doll before, so this is my first attempt and Mae is my guinea pig. Now, I'm sure I'll have to make one for Naomi, too, for Christmas!

I'm a novice sewer, so if I can make something up like this, you can too! Try it out and link back here with pictures!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Merry SITSmas!

What is SITS for all those who don't know...Curious? Check it out here.

This is me. Jessie.

Anyway, 2009 is almost calling it closing time, and I decided to make end of year resolutions this year instead of New Years' resolutions. That way I only have a few weeks to start doing the things I need to do instead of 52 weeks to procrastinate doing those things and then forgetting all about them.

Here's what's on my short list. I make short lists so I don't feel like a failure when they don't get completed.

1. Practice banjo daily. Even 15 minutes is awesome!
2. Pray more. ("praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" Eph. 6:18)
3. Make time for the creative juices to actually flow out: poetry, art, music, sewing, etc.
4. Not be drunk on wine but be filled with the Spirit. (just FYI, I don't get drunk on wine ever...this is also from Ephesians)
5. Don't start any new books until I've finished the ones I'm currently reading. (so hard, so hard to do)

That's it. My end of year resolutions.