Saturday, December 29, 2012

Goodbye, Bingo

Just over five months ago I adopted a little guy from a guinea pig rescue.  He was an absolute perfect fit for our family and dearly loved by us and Fuzzy.  (We needed a friend for Fuzzy as he lost a cage mate on June 14th.)  Bingo developed a pocket of infection on his cheek, and even though I took him to the vet and it was lanced and he was on antibiotics he didn't last but a week after I found it.  He had been brought to the rescue by someone who got too many guinea pigs to take care of them.  He was covered in so much tar from cigarette smoke that it took three baths for him to get clean from that.  I may have only had him five months, but it was a happy five months for him.   I will dearly miss the little fellow.

September 24, 2009
December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making Christmas 2013 more affordable

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  If not, you might want to think about it.  This is one way I have saved money in the past on Christmas expenses.

This year, we spent about $400 on Christmas (granted, we had no meal as it was just my mother and me.  I ate fish sticks and she wasn't hungry.)  But for that, we got about $1500 of stuff.  (And $288 of that was for a new kitchen table and chairs I bought online on Black Friday.)

Start shopping NOW for Christmas gift wrap, cards, decorations, and the like.  These go down dramatically after Christmas, and one year I was buying Christmas cards for 10 cents for a box of ten.  I didn't need thousands of Christmas cards, but I could use the envelopes (cheaper than a #10) and made postcards out of the fronts of the cards.

For gifts, I used gift cards I had won entering sweepstakes.  I saved them until I found sales, then combined sales with online coupons.  For instance, I wanted to get my mother a new telephone for the landline.  I waited until it was on sale.  Then there was a $10 off $50 purchase coupon, free shipping if you spent $50, and I had a gift card I won.  Even without the gift card, I would have paid about $40 for an $80 phone.

If an item doesn't have to be new, watching for things at garage sales can be a big money saver.  My aunt has been one to like local history items, and one year I bought her a magazine from the 1960s with a local story in it.  Cost?  Ten cents.  She didn't know I paid ten cents rather than the $10 or more it was going for on eBay.  This works well for things that are no longer made, out of print, antiques, etc.

A friend made my mother a gift.  To buy something similar would have been over $50.  For less than 30 minutes she was able to make something almost identical (but better for my mother) with about a $5 investment.  Not only that, it's more personal because it was handmade.

For some friends of mine, I entered a lot of blog giveaways and won some great stuff for them.  Everything from a handmade scarf to toys for their kids.  Another thing I'm giving those friends is a box of Hostess Zingers.  They live in Russia and were not here when Hostess announced they were closing.  They are in for the holidays, so I have a box of Zingers to give them so they can say farewell to the American icon.  Again, not expensive, but thoughtful.  (Of course, this is the same friend who would become nostalgic over vanilla wafers, a treat he never especially liked, just because they don't sell them in Russia!)

One way to make Christmas a little more affordable is to figure out NOW what you want to (and can afford) to spend next Christmas.  Divide that by 12.  Now set aside that much money each month for Christmas (or if you can find good deals, go ahead and spend.  For instance, buy wrapping paper, cards, etc. NOW.)   Also, buy stamps now.  They will go up next month and since first class stamps are now "Forever" stamps, they will be useable next year with no additional postage. 

Good luck on making 2013 more affordable!  :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book review: The Art of Neighboring

The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your DoorThe Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Art of Neighboring is a Christian book.  That much is clear.  However, I was impressed with its lack of "get to know your neighbors so you can tell them about Jesus" approach in this book.  It's still mentioned, but author Jay Pathak discusses the difference between an ulterior motive and an ultimate motive and says our ultimate motive in all relationships is to share our faith. 

This is a great read for anyone who has neighbors.  (And that is the majority of us.)  Gone are the days of going next door to borrow a couple eggs, we usually just hop in the car and go to the store.  This book gives ideas on how to create community within your community.  He gives examples of how he's done it where he lives, such as an impromptu smores making and going door to door to invite the neighbors. 

Also, he discusses sticky situations and how to set boundaries in such instances.  He gives a detailed story of what happened to he and his wife with one neighbor.  After all, many times there will be someone who wants to take advantage of our kindness, and there are times we need to say no to others!

In the end what happens when we take care of those around us?  We can go looking right on our block for help, be it shoveling show, babysitting, or other things. We, in turn, can gift our neighbors with something we can do for them and relationships are strengthened and everyone benefits!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Uncompromising

Uncompromising: A Heart Claimed By a Radical LoveUncompromising: A Heart Claimed By a Radical Love by Hannah Farver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am no stranger to Christian books for teen girls. I’ve occasionally read them since I was that age over twenty years ago. So many times they are encouragement that God still loves you even if you have a bad hair day. I was very pleased and I must admit a bit surprised that Uncompromisng: A Heart Claimed By a Radical Love by Hannah Farver was a deep book for girls. Of course, she discusses beauty and the implications of focusing on the outward appearance, but she puts it into perspective with Scripture.

One thing I really appreciated was her mention of expository Bible Study. If there is one thing I wish she would have elaborated on in this book, it is this topic. Many adults don’t even know there is a way to study the Bible besides letting it fall open to a passage and seeing what is there and calling that their “word for the day”. Hannah encourages in depth Bible study, and that is rare to find in any book, especially one for teens.

She discusses all the hot topics of teen girls. Yes, that includes guys. She doesn’t encourage dating over courtship or vice versa, she allows that decision up to the reader. She talks about the need for community and female friendship -- including Christian woman who are older than you so you can learn from them.

Her book is written in a down to earth way. It is far from preachy. Neither do you feel she puts herself on a pedestal as having all the answers. In fact, as an adult, the biggest flaw I found with this book is it seemed a little too much like a casual conversation. I understand she wanted to make jokes, and that is fine, but the way they were worked into the book disrupted the flow of my reading occasionally, but that could just be a personality quirk of mine.

There are 24 pages of text, 10 pages of composing the checklists “Am I ready for Marriage” and “Modesty Checklist” and 10 pages of a study guide. I believe this book would work well with a teen girls’ discipleship group. With 12 chapters, it could also work well with a Sunday School class.

I highly recommend this book for teen girls, especially those in the younger and middle teen years.

You can purchase the book here:  Uncompromising at Moody Publishers

FTC disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are my own.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Razor Reindeer

I bought a bag of Christmas ornaments at a thrift shop yesterday.  I saw one I wanted, and while I was looking at the rest I pulled this out.

Who would make a Christmas ornament out of a razor?  That seems a little dangerous if you have children around!  Who came up with such an idea anyway?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: More Than a Bucket List

More Than a Bucket List: Making Your Dreams, Passions, and Faith a RealityMore Than a Bucket List: Making Your Dreams, Passions, and Faith a Reality by Thomas Nelson Publishers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being in the hospital for nine days in February, I have read a few books this year on fulfilling dreams and making bucket lists.  I realized that while I have done so many things, there are many adventures I still want to go on and many of them need to be planned.  So when I had the opportunity to review More Than a Bucket List, I was excited because this is exactly the type of book I’ve enjoyed reading this year.

This is a smaller book, it’s a square hardcover and looks like a gift book.  There are 278 pages but pages 272 to 278 are blank lines allowing you to make your own bucket list of  49 items.  Personally, I have more than 49 items on my list, and beyond that, I like my list where I can see it, and I keep it as a file in my computer. 

Unlike other books in this genre I have read, this one is decidedly Christian.  It gives suggestions such as “Go to a big tent revival. Respond.” and “Hold Communion once a month in your home with your family.” 

I did like the emphasis on volunteering and community.  I haven’t seen that in many other books like this I have read.  The one thing that disappointed me with this book was there were some suggestions repeated.  I read it in two sittings so it was more noticeable than if I used this book like I expect some people would -- picking it up and flipping through it and setting it on the shelf for a while.  I believe living debt free and writing a love letter to God were both repeated.  Both admirable, both good, but to me the point of this book was to get ideas of things to do and accomplish, and I didn’t see the need for anything to be repeated.  Also a few things depend on others.  Growing old with the one you love is an example.  Sometimes you can’t depend on others.  What if you never find a person to grow old with?  When writing my bucket list I try to avoid adding items that depend on another person.  People change, circumstances change, and if you wrote in pen in this book, you could have a sad reminder of what could have been.

I did enjoy this book, especially the author’s commentary about the things she has done from creating a family cookbook to her life in Germany.  The author’s comments were rare, but they were my favorite part.  I also very much enjoyed her suggestion to create a “reverse bucket list” about things you have already accomplished.  I want to do this myself!  I’ve done some amazing things and it would be very fun to see them all in one place.

If you are creating a bucket list, this is one book you’re sure to want to check out if you are a Christian!

FTC disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This in no way influenced my opinion.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sister of Silence Book Review

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

When Sister of Silence first came out, I immediately bought a copy.  The author, Daleen Berry,  used to work at our local newspaper in Preston County West Virginia, and I’m always interested in any non-fiction book with regional ties.  I very much enjoyed reading about people I knew and even knowing as I read the book that my father was one of the people the author interviewed at the sheriff's office for her job. 

Sister of Silence is much more than just a book for those who live in our area.  The story is riveting. It is a hard memoir to read. When she was only thirteen and Eddie is twenty when he begins having sex with her.  She doesn’t realize this is rape so she tells no one.  This continues off and on for years until she gets pregnant.  She believes she will no longer be desired by anyone because she is “used” and so she and Eddie marry.  By the time she is twenty-two she has four small children.

Eddie becomes physically abusive, at one point dragging her down stairs and causing a huge gash in her leg.  She tells no one -- thus the title “Sister of Silence”.  Once he loses his job, she has to find a job and is hired by the local paper.  As she starts reporting domestic violence stories she realizes that is exactly what is happening to her. 

This is not light reading.  It is about childhood and marital sexual abuse, domestic violence, postpartum depression, and thoughts of suicide.  It’s a riveting book, but can also help others know they are not alone in their situation and give them hope for escape.

The one thing I would have changed about the book is the ending.  She goes into great detail about the things she survived, but I wanted to also hear about what happened after.  (This has since been published as Shattering the Silence!)  But I couldn't put this book down.  I give it a five star rating and I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about domestic violence.  It would also make a great gift to someone you think is going through a similar situation and don't know how to approach her and ask her if you can do anything to help.

Watch the book trailer here:


Read a preview:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review: Rebounders

Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to SuccessRebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success by Rick Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was both disappointing and a great read. The disappointment came because I expected it to be comprised of what was in the last chapter -- characteristics of "Rebounders". I expected a book filled with ideas of how to overcome setbacks and to be giving advice on how to make the best from a bad situation. So I was more than a little surprised that only a few pages were dedicated to this, almost as an after thought.

However, the book was a great read. Instead of learning how to turn your failures into successes, it was filled with examples of those who did just that. Before reading this book, I had only ever heard of Thomas Edison. However, I would love to read more about Tammy Duckworth. The chapter on her felt too short, and unlike some of the others profiled, I was left wanting to read more about her. In fact, I likely would have only given this book a three star rating if it wasn't for the chapter about her.

If you're wanting a how-to book, this isn't it. If you are looking for a book to sit down and read about those who have overcome adversity, this is your book.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blizzard from Hurricane Sandy

Where I live, we were hit by a blizzard from Hurricane Sandy.  We lost power on Monday and regained it on Wednesday.  For some it will be ten days until their power is restored.  Here's some photos I took:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: The Radical Question and Idea

The Radical Question and A Radical IdeaThe Radical Question and A Radical Idea by David Platt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Radical Question and A Radical Idea is two books in one. That is if you consider a sermon a book, it qualifies as two books in one. However, don't let the size fool you. It has more depth and substance of books ten times its size! The first part, The Radical Question is a sermon. To those who have read anything he has written before, he seems like Super-Christian, but in this section he tells of a sermon he preached which fell short of what he hoped and he was never invited to speak at that church again. But he was focusing on himself and not on God. He challenges the reader to live a Radical life, sold out for the Lord. Not the American dream that is Christian-ized to make us feel better about ourselves. He makes us ask the question what would things look like if we took Jesus' words seriously and followed Him to the point of having our values upside down to the world's values.

In the second part of the book, he talks about the necessity of church as a place where people can be Radical with one another. One person can only do so much, but when people band together to work with each other, even bigger things can be accomplished. He talks about how his church focuses their services around the believers and not those who aren't Christians. The goal of his church is to equip the believers to go out and make disciples not to bring sinners to church and let the pastor see to it they are saved. As his church became more motivated to find ministry around them where they live, such as holding Bible times in their homes for children, he wondered why the church tries to organize how and where Christians serve. Platt also discusses how the modern church has become an entertainment center where the best speakers, best musicians and best performances are given each Sunday. While good speakers are okay, a church full of attractions is not exactly what Jesus had in mind.

I highly recommend this book. At only 112 pages it is a quick read, and I think it could revolutionize many people and churches.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. It in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

Please rank my review here:

You can read an excerpt right here:

The Radical Question and A Radical Idea by David Platt (Chapter One Excerpt)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 12 October 2012 This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact Jennifer Short jenndiggy at gmail dot com. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest. To get your own policy, go to

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Funny photo -- Photobombing

Seems like everyone is getting into the photobombing craze, including guinea pigs.  Here's proof that it's happening in my household:

Monday, October 1, 2012

How do sexual innuendos equate breast cancer awareness?

This being breast cancer awareness month, I thought it would be a good time to re-run this blog post that originally was published October 10, 2010.  It has been modified slightly from the original.

Let me begin by saying I have nothing against breast cancer awareness.  In fact, I believe it's a good thing.  However, I was dismayed last year when women started posting their bra color on Facebook.  The idea was to keep the men from knowing what was going on.  Okay, first off,  men get breast cancer as well.  And second, how many of you who posted your bra color would be opposed to -- say announcing your bra color at church in the Sunday morning bulletin?  A friend of mine who's a pastor's wife commented last year that we had lost respect for our 'brothers' (meaning brothers in Christ) when we post the color of our intimates on Facebook.  I had friends post they weren't wearing any bra, etc.  I was amazed at the people who did and didn't post. (I did not.)  It's one thing to giggle about our underthings in a room full of women, but I don't feel comfortable telling the world what color my bra is.  (Although one of my friends who is a pastor posted that his bra color was orange.  I had to laugh as I knew it was a joke)

In 2010 it was sexual innuendos that were all over Facebook to supposedly raise breast cancer awareness.  The "game" to to say "I like it" and then say where you keep your purse.  I saw a friend's status earlier asking the question of this blog post.  I'm not sure myself.  Someone commented on her status a pervert came up with the idea, but he enjoyed it.

Maybe it's me.  Maybe I feel like I should have a little more decorum online.  Maybe it's the fact I think we shouldn't say anything online we wouldn't say in front of others in person.  Maybe it's the fact I realize I have friends on Facebook who are male.  (I think everyone has both male and female friends).  Maybe it's the fact I dislike posts that are a bit intimate or I feel shouldn't be things that should be posted on Facebook.  Maybe it's the fact I grew up in church and went to Christian schools and we were always taught to avoid all appearance of evil, and I don't think sexual innuendos, no matter how good the cause are something I feel comfortable in which posting on my status.

My mother is on Facebook and she thought all the "I like it" posts were saying where people liked to have sex.  My mother.  Female.  Knew this was nothing about breast cancer awareness. 

I do support breast cancer awareness, and to that fact I will say, "I do support breast cancer awareness, but not sexual innuendos, so I keep my purse on the floor."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bingo Turned 3 and first Drive Through Experience

Unlike most of my guinea pigs, I know the birthdate of Bingo, the guinea pig I adopted from a rescue this summer.

He turned three on Monday, and so we had a small party for him.  He doesn't eat cake, so after this photo was taken, I gave him a paper cupcake liner filled with veggies.

Unfortunately, Bingo had to go to the vet today.  He's got an upper respiratory infection, and he's on antibiotics.   Thankfully I caught it quickly and I'm hoping for a full recovery, but it always worries me when one of my guinea pigs is sick.  In fact, as soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to go hand feed him to make sure he has been eating!  It always makes me feel so helpless when one of my little guys isn't feeling well.

I do think, though, that I made the drive through worker's day when I ordered at McDonalds and she looked in the car and saw that little guy in a cage in the passenger's seat.  She got the biggest grin on her face.  So even if he isn't feeling well, he can brighten someone's day just by looking cute! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: The Moneysmart Family System by Steve and Annette Economides

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free book for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

In The MoneySmart Family System, Steve and Annette Economides set forth a plan on how to no only curb the "wants" of children but teach them about finances, budgeting, and saving from an early age. They discuss through this book how the system works. Everyone is expected to do chores, and points can be earned for various activities in the day. The number of points earned each day translates into allowance that will be given and then the children are expected to give some, save some, and are allowed to spend some.

One of the biggest problems I have with this book is starting at age nine children are expected to be buying their own clothing. Based on the numbers set forth in the points system, it feels to me the points need to be valued at a bit more. Unlike some people who have read this book I don't find the problem in making the children buy their own clothes, but I do think they should be given a bit more funds to do so.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

U.S. Cellular: Hello Better

FTC Disclosure:  I participated in this sponsored post campaign through One2One network.  All opinions and experiences I shared are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

When I first got my cell phone in 2007, I didn't have much of a choice of carriers.  I live in a rural area, and if I wanted service, I needed to go with the carrier who had a tower in my town, so I chose U.S. Cellular.   Two phone upgrades and five years later I am still with them.  I've traveled from Los Angeles to Miami and points in between and I've had coverage everywhere I've been except for some of the hollers in West Virginia who get almost no coverage.  (I even got an e-mail this week that said "If you get lost, you can call us if you have U.S. Cellular.  Otherwise, you won't be able to reach us.") 

One of the things I like about U.S. Cellular is their free battery exchange.  If you are out and your battery is almost to die, you can go into a U.S. Cellular store and they will swap your dead battery for one fully charged.  Not only does this come in handy but one time I thought my phone had died, but turned out that my battery wouldn't charge, so a battery swap saved me from getting a new phone, which I fully expected to have to do!

No one in perfect, and I had an issue with billing at one point, but I called customer service, and it was straightened out quickly.  I also love how I get a discount by having my bill set up to pay automatically!  Because it's paperless it saves trees, and saves money!

U.S. Cellular is now introducing their Hello Better Campaign.

What exactly is the Hello Better Campaign?  It's saying Goodbye to your current carrier and saying Hello to U.S. Cellular.  Thus, Hello, Better!

Did you know that many people are frustrated with their wireless carrier, but don't want to switch?  U.S. Cellular thinks you deserve better!

As I mentioned above I get a discount for having automatic payments set up.  I also have overage protection, all incoming calls AND texts are free, no contract once the first contract has expired, free battery swap.  U.S. Cellular boasts the only points program of any wireless carrier.  Each month I earn points (and I even received bonus points on my birthday!) and I'm able to exchange them for a discount on an upgraded phone, ringtones, and more.

I am very happy with U.S. Cellular.  Can you say the same for your wireless provider?  If you aren't happy, what is preventing you from switching?  The most likely reasons are it's too expensive to get out of a contract, it's too much trouble, people don't want to get a new contract, the belief that all carriers are the same, or the new carrier doesn't have the phone they want.

In a recent U.S. Cellular Survey, 56% of people said they were unhappy with their current provider, but only 35 percent have switched carriers.

U.S. Cellular thinks you deserve better!  They believe you are a person and not a number!  They believe in treating the customer with respect, and every time I've ever called customer service or stopped in at a retail store I have been treated with respect. 

In addition, the survey that U.S. Cellular did showed that the majority of customers are in the "Seven year Itch" stage with their current carrier.  What they mean by this is that people are comfortable with their carrier but think they might be missing out on something better! 

Thus, comes Hello, Better from U.S. Cellular.

I'm very happy with U.S. Cellular.

There are a number of different U.S. Cellular phone plans -- there's one to meet your needs.  What I need is different than what my mother needs, but we both have a plan that is just right for us.  If you aren't sure what plan best suits your needs even after looking at the website, just stop in to a U.S. Cellular location, and they will be happy to tell you what your options are.

On my plan, I get the Belief Points.  You can read about the U.S. Cellular Rewards Program for full details.  You can earn a phone upgrade in as little as fifteen months!   My plan takes the longest of any to earn an upgrade because I got one based on my needs, yet I only have to wait nineteen months for a new phone!  (This program has been discontinued.)

So are you happy with your phone company?  If not, you might want to say Hello Better!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Why You're Not Married Yet

Why You're Not Married . . . Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You DeserveWhy You're Not Married . . . Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve by Tracy McMillan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit I've read more books on relationships than I want to count. So I'm not sure why I picked up Why You're Not Married Yet by Tracy McMillian. I suppose I was hoping for something new in the age old question of why it seems the women who want relationships can't get them and those wanting to be left alone are fighting off dates. When I told a friend I was reading this book, we had a few laughs about it, and she was checking in to ask if I had found the reason there is no ring on my finger.

This book was different than the many other volumes I have found. It is broken up into ten chapters and each one talk about a different "personality trait" or as I think of them -- character flaws -- which could be sabotaging your relationships. Unlike other books I have read in this genre this is NOT about manipulating a man. It is NOT about how to go forth with a set of rules and accomplish your goal. This book is NOT about a timeline, nor is it how to find a man.

What this book DOES do is teaches you how to improve in areas you may have missed. For instance, one area she points out is that if you have a "power job" you may be more masculine than many men are looking for in their life partner, so the author talks about how to allow your feminine side to shine. Another chapter is the fact that some women still don't have it together. Whatever "it" is, "it" can very from finances in a mess to living in a place that looks like a college boy's dorm room.

Each chapter gives suggestions and even includes a section about what others know but aren't telling you. This is also a very fun read. While it didn't make me laugh, it was quite enjoyable. It reminded me of talks us girls had in college, only we didn't know half this stuff back then.

Overall I very much enjoyed this book. I don't know if it will help or not, but it was a fun read, and for that I give it four stars!

You can purchase this book from Amazon:  
Why You're Not Married . . . Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve

You can take the quiz from the front of the book here:

WHY YOU'RE NOT MARRIED ... YET - Take the Quiz!

FTC disclosure:  I received a copy of this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to review it, nor was I required to provide a positive review.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mural made from Street Signs

I recently was in Meadville, Pennsylvania and I saw the most amazing mural / art display I've ever seen.  It was all made out of street signs!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My 20 cent Paper Bag Pinata

Each year I have a party where I invite everyone I know.  I always have a pinata for the kids filled with candy and small toys.  While the kids are getting older, they still really enjoy it.  I didn't want to spend $10 or more for something that would last a few minutes, so I decided to try to make a paper bag pinata like I had seen online.  Only it was so heavy I couldn't decorate it in the way I had planned.  I had to tape around it a couple times to keep the clothes hangers (where the 20 cents was spent) attached to the pinata.   It was just difficult enough to bust open, but not too hard, like one year we had to have an adult take a swing at it for the kids.  This year the kids (one as old as in 8th grade) were able to do it themselves.  The kids loved it, even if it wasn't a cute character, and the moms at the party said they were going to try that themselves at the next party they hosted.

Next year, I think I'll use a large solid color gift bag from the dollar store.  A little more expensive, but will also be a lot prettier!

And the candy comes pouring out! It was also neat that the kids could run around and get this batch of candy and then take more swings at it!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: Named By God

I was so excited when I saw this book as a reward in the Tyndale Summer Reading Club.  I'd read five books to qualify for a free one, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one.  From the back cover, I knew I was going to just love this book.  As soon as it arrived in the mail, I started reading, but unfortunately this book didn't live up to what I had hoped.

As I was reading, I kept thinking, "This book would have been so much stronger if she had told her life story instead of weaving in a Bible study at the same time."  I thought it would be a perfect book to have an accompanying Bible study book for it, and later learned that even though I thought they were combined, there *is* another a book.   I think the book would have flowed a bit better to have separated all the Bible study into the other book.

Additionally, I was disappointed in three other things with this book.

The first is on page 50 where describing what happened in the book of Job.  She refers to God as playing "The role of The BOSS MAN".   I am reminded of the many times that Scripture tells us that God is Holy, and to me this doesn't reverence God in the way I feel He should be honored.   I realize that she is trying to get a point across, but I would have appriciated it done in a way that I felt respected God more than I felt this did.

Secondly, on page 91 she states, "If you cannot remember your most recent attack from Satan, then you might not be doing enough to catch his attention."  This doesn't set well with me.  If we believe the Scripture that tells us it is by grace we have been saved, and not works (Ephesians 2:10), wouldn't the opposite be true and that it is not works that make Satan take notice of us?

Lastly, on page 173 she talks about how she is sometimes approached by people who question if their salvation was genuine or struggling with spiritual complacency.  She proceeds to suggest they make a list of what their life was like before Christ and after Christ.  In the next paragraph she mentions how someone dresses, the venues in which they spend time, and their free-time activities.  She explains if there is little or no difference, then there may be a lack of spiritual maturity.  While I agree this is true in most cases, it is not always.  To me, adding in the "genuineness of their salvation" before discussing this exercise is not only making us look at works instead of God's grace, but also forgetting the Scripture that says our righteousness is as filthy rags.  (Isaiah 64:6)  There are plenty of people in church who can talk the talk, have Christian t-shirts, bumper stickers, boycott things when upset, but do any of these things show the condition of the heart?  I can remember saying to a friend in high school that I saw a girl smoking who said to have made a decision for Christ the night before.  He reminded me that it can take time to see change and I needed to not judge -- and doesn't not judging also include ourselves as long as we daily keep our eyes on Jesus?  I've seen people in very legalistic churches leave and get saved and no longer wear long skirts.  Can we say they have a lack of spiritual maturity because their dress is no longer as modest?  While what she said may be the case for spiritual maturity in many cases, I feel very unsettled about her mentioning salvation at the beginning of these paragraphs as salvation is a gift.  Finally, on this issue, I am reminded of the Scripture that tells us that man (people) look on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).  I saw nothing mentioned about the heart in this exercise! 

Overall I give this book two stars as I completed it.  That's usually the lowest I will rate a book I completed. I was disappointed in the three theological issues above as well as I think this book would have been much stronger taking the Scriptures and Bible study out of this book and having them in a companion book.

FTC disclaimer:  I received this book as part of the Tyndale Summer reading program.  In no way did receiving the book free effect the outcome of this review.