Monday, October 28, 2013

Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry by Tanya Logan

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA review crew.***

I got a smartphone last year after YEARS of longing for one.  Why did I want one so bad?  Well, I think some of it is just greed.....I like the newest things and fancy things....and who doesn't want to be able to call up the latest weather or news story?  I think another part of me wanted one because I could feel like I belonged.  I don't always do so well in social situations and am frequently uncomfortable.  On facebook (from phone or computer) I could feel like I belonged without ever really interacting with REAL people.  With a smartphone, that ability is so quick and easy.  I had gotten to where I didn't want to miss anything and I would get frustrated if others weren't posting status updates or commenting/liking mine.  Pathetic, huh?

A friend has been bemoaning the evils of modern communication technology for years.  I don't know how many times I've shaken my head as he rattled on again and again about how we were losing touch with reality and real people, how relationships didn't matter anymore (but they do to God!) and how we were wasting time (I'm visiting with friends, checking on loved ones, how dare he???) on our little electronic devices.  Just wait, I'm coming around to his way of thinking.

I've really been convicted lately of how little time I've been spending with God.  The littles and I started going to a new church in September with a wonderful Sunday School program and I got an adult lesson book and found daily Bible readings in the back.  So I began daily doing those readings, then added in an additional chapter of Scripture (in depth) and if I had time, a Bible study.  About an hour, with interruptions, each morning. 

Shortly after that, I was given the opportunity to review Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry  by Tanya Logan.  I was drawn to this choice.  I know God was leading me because I needed it badly. 

There is a lesson a day for 6 weeks with a leaders guide included in case this is wanted for a small group study.  I definitely think that some accountability would be useful, as I am doing this alone, but I've asked God to be my accountability partner this time :)  Each lesson is short and to the point.  Although I quickly figured out where she was heading with the study, she did it nicely and nonjudgementally. 

In the end it comes down to a good-better-best thing.  Is what I am doing (social media, reading, hobbies) the BEST use of my time?  Let's face it, I'm only getting one today.  Once it is gone, it is gone.

I quickly caught myself doing the following:
-open facebook on my phone for "just a minute" and come up for air 45 minutes later
-find myself angry about things that were posted (and that had no bearing on me, my family, or anything really - so why was I mad?)
-found myself checking facebook at the kids sporting events
-found myself checking facebook at the supper table (even though we have a "no phones" rule at the table - my oldest son took it away from me - good for him!)

My facebook problem wasn't the only thing getting in the way of my relationship with God.  I read an enormous amount of fiction books.  They aren't bad, but I do need to curb my reading time to make time for other more important things.  My hobbies, although much lower on my distraction list, also need to be kept in the proper perspective.

How am I working to change my perspective?  I've allotted 1 hour a day (30 minutes morning and evening) to facebook checking.  I've also allotted 30 minutes a day to blogging (going to be using that save feature) and 30 minutes to email.  I've already scheduled time for "me" activities into my day - reading, hobbies, etc so I am going to be trying to make the BEST uses of those times.  Good-better-best, remember? 

This Bible study has opened my eyes to so many things that had become idols in my life.  Do you need to step back and take a look at what is REALLY important in your life?  I think it would do many of us a lot of good, I know it did me!

Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry is available for $9.99 on the kindle or $15.99 as a paperback. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: A Light for my Path

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaic Reviews Team***

I received the most delightful children's book to review a few weeks ago.  A Light for My Path: An ABC Book Based on Psalm 119 is written by Davis Carman, illustrated by Alice Ratterree and published by Apologia (not just science anymore, remember?). 

This book is adorable.  The pencil drawings are a joy to look at.

The above page for the letter T says: God's Word, Law, Statutes, Decrees, Commands, and Precepts are True.

After you finish the alphabet, the text of Psalm 119 is included. 

This would be appropriate as a picture book for younger children or a memory aid for older ones.

A Light for my Path is available from Apologia for $14.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Faith: Joseph's Story A Novel and Christian Bible Study by Sandra Lea Hardage

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew***

I think that God's been trying to talk to me. 

I received Faith: Joseph's Story by Sandra Lea Hardage a few weeks ago.  The first part of the book is a novel of Joseph's life.  The author takes some liberties in minor details and weaves a very interesting story about the life of Joseph, before his journey to Egypt and after.  It is thoroughly enjoyable!  The book doesn't stop there.

The 2nd half of the book is a Bible study on faith.  Using the lives of those in Joseph's family (starting with Abraham) and then Joseph's life this is a very in-depth study of faith.  I am amazed that I am learning so many things from such a small (often read!) section of scripture.  The 3rd part of the book is the leader's notes making this a wonderful study for small groups.....I will admit that I have had to really examine my life with this study (especially today's readings on jealousy and bitterness...ouch). 

Since beginning this book and study, I have encountered the topic of faith in my regular private readings, Sunday school lessons and Sunday sermons.  I guess God knew I needed to focus on this!

If you want to start digging into Faith: Joseph's Story, you can do so for $14.99 (softcover) or $3.99 (ebook).  If you get the ebook, print that baby out.  Trust me, you are going to be writing and highlighting and circling.....I am anyway.  Good, good stuff!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Woman Who Memorizes God's Word

Last time I posted I commented that I wanted to become more diligent about memorizing the Word of God. 

I'm putting that desire into practice this week (and prayerfully for many, many weeks after!).

This morning I got out my copy of Polished Cornerstones by Doorposts.  Other times I have focused my memory work on what the kids were doing or whatever a Bible study I was working through suggested but this time I wanted verses that applied to my calling as a godly woman.  I knew that Polished Cornerstones would have relevant verses by subject, so that is where I started.  I found a whole section called "A Woman Who Memorizes God's Word" so I decided that is where I would start.

Chuck Swindoll writes in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life:
"I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture...No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!  Your prayer life will be strengthened.  Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective.  Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change.  Your mind will become alert and observant.  Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced.  Your faith will be solidified."

I also believe that God uses the Holy Spirit to recall for us verses that we have memorized when we need them.....if they aren't there how can we recall them???? 

So, I'm choosing to arm myself with the Holy Word of God. 

Here are the verses that are suggested for this section and I am going to try to get them committed to memory this week. 

Psalm 119:105
Psalm 119:30
Psalm 19:8
Deuteronomy 6:6
Psalm 119:9-16

If you are looking to begin some scripture memorization, those verses are a good place to start.

See you soon :)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

My Daily Action Plan

I'm a fan of schedules, routines and a plan for one's long as you don't become a slave to it.  We work better off of a scheduled routine for this phase of life and I thought I  would
share it with you and some thoughts about how I run our household (although some days I think it runs me!)

Wake @ 6 M-F  {This is how the sheet of paper I have my "action plan" on is notated....}

I do get up at 5:20 5 days a week to get Norman up but I lay back down until 6.
At 6 I put water on to boil, make some coffee and do my Bible reading (from Sunday school book), study (I am reading through the New Testament, I'm in 1 Peter right now) and any memory work I'm doing.  Right now I'm not personally working on any.  Suggestions?

On my paper it looks like this:
Wake @6:00 M-F
Bible reading, study, memory

There will be interruptions.  Norman leaves at 5:45.  I wake Lee at 6 before I sit down with my coffee.  I wake Greg at 6:30 and sometime in there Abby will wake up.  I can guarantee it.  I'm trying to train her to snuggle back in either her bed or ours and watch a little cartoons until 7.  This is a reminder to myself to roll with the punches.

@7 M-F
start laundry

I try to do 2 loads of laundry every day.  If I have to work I do an extra 2 loads the day before or the day after.  I don't do laundry on Sunday unless it is an emergency.  I put the clothes in the washer and get in the shower.  Unless Abby has slept late she takes a shower with me.  When we get out I make breakfast (cereal, oatmeal, granola, pop tarts) for me and Abby.  By the time I am done with breakfast (and a 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee) the laundry is ready to go on the line.  I prefer to take it outside.  If I am fairly certain it will rain before 1 I dry it in the dryer but I would rather not.  I'm not sure how long I will keep that up when it is freezing though.  I check on the chickens and let them out to free range after I hang up the 1st load of laundry.

@8 M-S (Saturday)
Housework (routine +)

After hanging the laundry out I might take a few seconds to check facebook, then I get started on my cleaning routine.  If there are dishes from last night I do those, think about supper, and sweep the whole downstairs (picking up as I go).  If I haven't made my bed I do that now.  Depending on what my chores are for the day I might get them started now or I will do school prep (especially on Mondays).  I also hang out the 2nd load of laundry.

@9 M-F

We try to start homeschool at 9.  If we are a little late that's ok.  We are using My Father's World K and Alphaphonics at this point and some little odd workbooks with Abby.  School takes about an hour. 

Lunch Prep

When homeschool is done I decide what lunch will be and depending on the time I go ahead and fix it.  The littles and I like to eat lunch early, in between 10-11.  Lunch is usually canned soup, sandwiches or leftovers.  I don't always do the lunch dishes after lunch if there aren't very many but I do try to straighten up the kitchen afterwards with a mind to the rest of the day's plans.  Abby and I usually go check for eggs after lunch.

@12:00 M-S
Housework and laundry

It is doubtful that I finished the day's chores earlier so I do that now.  If I've been diligent with my list this won't take long.  Around 1:00 I bring in the laundry, fold it and put it away (except the boys, they all put their own laundry away - Bear now, Lee and Greg when they get home from school).

@1:00 M-S
Read aloud
Memory work (kids and Me)
school projects

We read all day.  I usually read a book after breakfast, after school, after lunch and any other time the kids can talk me into it.  I would say we average 10-15 books a day.  I will read several after my chores are done.  We are trying to remember to run through memory work again and if we have any outside stuff we want to do (we call it school stuff) we do it now as well. 

My projects: sewing, knitting, reading, blog, baking

This is time I have scheduled for me.  I have a project list I will share that I am trying to work my way through but lately I've been sitting down with a good book.  :)  At this time I will do any baking I wanted to work on, kitchen prep work (making instant oatmeal packets, granola or frozen snacks for example) or errands.  On Mondays and Fridays we will often run errands during this time slot.

Supper prep
supper cleanup

This time slot is very fluid.  Bear has soccer practice on Monday evenings.  Greg has soccer practice on 2 nights a week and basketball conditioning on other nights.  Bear and Abby have awana on Wednesday night.  Sometimes Norman works till 8:30 p.m. Sometimes Norman goes to an auction on Tuesday nights.  Supper might be late (Monday), early (Wednesday) or not at all (some Tuesdays).  It seems we rarely manage to eat together.  This does bother me but it seems to be a season of life with bigs and littles (the littles can't wait until 8 for supper because they will be in bed!).  This is also why there are usually dishes in the morning.  If someone doesn't manage to eat supper until 8, I'm not likely to do those dishes then.  lol  I'm human! Around dark I go out, count chickens and lock them back in the pen for the night.  Norman and the older boys take care of the feeding and watering, although I could easily do the food.  The waterer is very heavy full.  I keep track and ask them to do it when it needs done.  I also take "chicken numnums" out throughout the day (kitchen scraps like stale bread, egg shells, leftover fruit, etc).

my projects (see above)

I rarely sew this late because I need to concentrate, but I will knit while watching TV or blog.  If the kids have the TV I will read a book (and some to Abby)....if I'm really tired I will surf pinterest or facebook. 

I prefer to be in bed by 9 but that rarely seems to happen in this house!