Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Story of Bingo The Guinea Pig

Four years ago, two kids came to our door one Sunday morning and asked if we wanted two guinea pigs because they didn't have food for them and they were living outside roaming free.  We were informed they were girls, but we felt like we had to take them in even though we had boys.  We determined to find homes for them.  I put an ad on Freecycle, and got some responses.  One person said she had 20 so two more wouldn't be a problem.  I wouldn't let them go to her because unless you are running a rescue, twenty is too many!  Before long, my mother and I fell in love with these two little white balls of fur, and they found a home -- with us!

On June 14, we lost Einstein.  We' done everything we could to save him, but his body was just worn out.   Fuzzy and Einstein were brothers and had never been apart a day in their lives until two weeks ago.  Fuzzy became depressed, extremely lonely, and I knew I had to do something.

I started calling every shelter in the "area" on Petfinder.  I knew I wanted a pig from a shelter.  Not only would I be giving one that might otherwise be unadoptable a good home, but after getting one that was so infested with mites from a petstore AND he had sores all over him from where a rabbit bit him, I wanted to know that a pig was in good overall health.

There are not many animal rescues in my area that take in guinea pigs.  I called and e-mailed a number of shelters within a four hour radius of my home, and many required a home visit, so they wouldn't come this far to check out my Cubes and Coroplast Cage and make sure I would be a good piggy parent.

I received e-mails from different shelters, all with different advice.  I was told since Fuzzy was an older male I needed to get a SPAYED female.  I was told two boys get along better than a boy and a girl.  I didn't know what to do, especially since none wanted to adopt to someone who lived this far away.

I started calling vets in the Pittsburgh area asking if they had any signs up at their offices where people were getting rid of a guinea pig.  One office told me to contact a rescue that I had overlooked because I was scanning for females.  I dropped the lady at the rescue a note, explained the situation with Fuzzy, and she recommended a male.  I looked at her adoptables list, and specifically asked about "Bingo" because the moment I saw him, it was love at first sight!

She replied that he came from a girl who had twenty-two guinea pigs and he was a sweet little guy who really got along with other pigs.  He was in the right age range I was looking for (Fuzzy is four, and I wanted a pig who was a bit older.  Bingo is three!)  My mother and I talked about it, and this weekend we made the four hour trip to the shelter with Fuzzy.

When we got there, Fuzzy and Bingo were placed on the floor in a playpen with some hay in the middle.  They never fought and got along really well.  Because the hotel Mom and I had a free night's stay at doesn't allow pets, she generously offered to keep them overnight so we wouldn't have the expense of a hotel.  On Sunday, July 8th, Bingo became part of the family!

I learned he had been famous from youtube.  His previous owner had made almost 200 videos of her guinea pigs.  The lady at the rescue said when she posted on Facebook he might get adopted she had a number of e-mails asking about him.  I decided to start a Facebook page of Bingo's adventures since he seemed so loved by so many people!

Bingo The Guinea Pig

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We made the four hour trip home, and he and Fuzzy have been settling in nicely.  I'm looking forward to giving him a happy home for the remainder of his days.  He enjoys lap time, blueberries, and exploring all the boxes I keep in their cage.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels

Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False HopeCounterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope by Trevin Wax

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It isn’t often that I don’t fly through a book.  I like to immerse myself in its pages, and leave a day or two later.  There are only two reasons I don’t do that -- one is because I don’t like the book, or secondly, it is so filled with truth I can’t read it quickly or I’ll miss something.  Counterfeit Gospels was the latter.  Each chapter brought eye-opening revelations about how things have always been done and how the Bible presents truth.

Using the analogy of a three-legged stool, Tevin Wax explains major components to the Gospel:  Story, Announcement, Community.  When I saw the subsections of this book, I wondered how someone like me, raised in the church, educated in Christian schools, and VBS teacher could get much out of this book.   I was pleasantly surprised as the author tackles some of the most prevalent themes in American Christianity.

For instance, in discussing sharing the Gospel, he makes the point that it used to be that every person in the United States was aware of the basics of the Bible.  That is not always the case in this post-modern age in which we live.  He explains it is important that we explain the why of needing a Savior.  To someone like me who knew John 3:16 before I could read, it is hard to imagine people who didn’t grow up looking at flannel graph pictures of Adam and Eve covered in fig leaves talking to a snake, but there are people who don’t realize that God created a sinless world and that because we sin we have fallen short of God’s plan.  The author of Counterfeit Gospels states that unless the problem is known (which started in the Garden of Eden) then how does one realize the solution (Jesus.)

While he tackles six false gospels that permeate our society (therapeutic, judgmentless, moralistic, quietist, activist, churchless).  He explains why each one of these cannot be the true Gospel by bringing story, announcement and community into each one of these ideologies. 

The one I really appreciated was the chapter on the activist gospel.  He told the story, which to me was chilling, of a church that fought against the sale of alcohol in their community.  When the ballot was brought before voters, and the county remained “dry”, a deacon said it was the best victory their church ever had.  Really?   While I won’t get into the debate of alcohol, if your church sees politics and activism as more important than people being saved, baptism, or discipleship, are you a church or a political party?  I’ve seen so much activism in churches in the last few years, I sometimes wonder why those churches don’t remove the cross and replace it with a ballot box behind the altar. 

This is a great book, and I recommend it to everyone, both new Christian, and those who have been in the church most of our lives.  I promise you, though, if you take this book seriously, and you should, you will find yourself challenged as to  if what you are believing is the Gospel God intended, or if it has been slightly distorted by what people have decided the Bible should say.

You can purchase a copy here:  Counterfeit Gospels

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book free from Moody Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The free book in no way influenced my opinion.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where I've been

Wow!  What a week!

I feel like I've totally disappeared, but that hasn't really happened!  My infection is back.  You may recall back in February I made a post about my hospital stay.  But the infection returned, and I'm on medicine that needs to be taken every six hours for a minimum of six months, but could be as long as a year.  So I haven't been feeling well.

Then Friday night, our power went out.  It didn't come back on until last evening, and of course, we lost everything in the fridge.  A friend who lives across town had electric and had some room in her deep freeze, so she took the more expensive items to her freezer.  I still estimate we lost over $100 of food from the freezer and fridge.  It could have been a lot more, though since we had a lot of meat I sent with my friend.

Then our cable (Internet) was out until today. 

I spent the weekend doing snail mail sweepstakes, did some cleaning, gave the guinea pig a bath, and also read quite a bit!

So I have been around, but not online very much lately!  I'm hoping to get back in the swing of blogging this week!

Monday, June 25, 2012

You can rent textbooks?

When I went to school, it was back in the Dark Ages.  One friend -- and only one friend -- had a laptop.  Not only that, there was a way he could call in to some place and find out different information.  I thought he was a show off when he lugged his laptop to class to take notes.  In the computer lab, we had big computers that took 5 1/4" floppy disks, and connected not to the Internet, but to a printer.

So when I was in undergrad, the only way we could save on textbooks was to put the word out about what classes we were taking and hope someone had a book they would sell you cheaply.  The only place we could buy our texts was the campus bookstore, and of course with a monopoly on them, they raised prices astronomically.  I remember the fury of a friend when she went to sell back a textbook she paid $75 for, and they told her they would pay her $4 for it.  It was going to be used the next semester, and of course, they planned on selling it for $75 to the next student.

Times have changed.  First there was the Internet and you could go online to find textbooks you could buy.  Now, you can even rent textbooks!  Campus Book Rentals is a place you can go to type in what books you need for your classes.  It doesn't matter if your school runs on a quarter, semester, or if you are doing the dreaded summer school, you can rent for the time frame you need, and pay accordingly.

Before I was in the hospital in February, I was accepted for a distance learning program, so I decided to check out what I could have saved on the books I needed.  The list price of A Survey of the Old Testament is $50, but if you click this link, you can see I could have rented it for a semester for $23.68.  That is a 43% savings!  I checked another book they offer.  I remember when I was in school my Abnormal Psychology textbook was expensive.  The list price on this book is now $135, but they rent it for $26.81 for the semester.  Think of all the pizza you could buy saving over $100 on one textbook! 

 But, because I was doing distance learning, I had six months to complete the course.  Because of their flexible dates, I could have rented that book for $29.02!   Not only that, they offer free shipping both ways on rentals, so you don't have to worry about how much extra it might cost in shipping!  If you decide to keep your book once you're finished with it, you pay the difference between the book's value and what you have already paid.  If you happen to drop a class, there is a 30 day guarantee and you can receive your money back!

I know when I was in school I always loved highlighting in my books, and when I bought a book, I prefered a highlighted one.  Well, with Campus Book Rentals highlighting in your books is not a problem!  You are welcome to do so!

And what if you bought your books last semester and couldn't stand to sell them back to the bookstore?  They will also buy your used textbooks!

You can also feel good about renting from them because they give back with each rental!  They partner with Operation Smile to help provide cleft palate surgeries to children in developing countries.  Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft lip, and in many countries their only hope for a normal life is through donation of funds for surgery. 

Connect with them:

Website:  http://www.campusbookrentals.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/textbookrentals
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/CampusBookRentals

FTC disclosure:  This is a paid post by Campus Book Rentals.  I was allowed to choose what features of the website to discuss and I only promote companies where I believe in their products.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Table Grace Dice

I recently received a very unique item to review from Catholic Family Gifts.  This is a die (singular of dice, but I'll refer to it as dice since I like the word better!).  It is large for a dice -- about 2 1/4 inches.  It is wooden and weighs over four ounces.  On each of the six sides is a prayer you can use for saying grace before meals.

The prayers include:

Bless our food, dear God we pray, and bless us, too throughout this day. Keep us safe and close to you. Keep us just in all we do. Amen.

We thank you, Lord, for generous hearts, for sun and rainy weather. We thank you, Lord, for drink and food, and that we are together. Amen. 

For life and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy Goodness sends, Almighty God, we thank Thee. Amen. 

Thank you for the earth so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything! Amen. 

God, bless this food we are about to receive. Give bread to those who hunger, and hunger for charity and justice to us who have bread. Amen. 

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty! Amen

What a neat idea to involve children in saying grace before you eat!   Those too little to read could roll it and allow an older brother or sister to read the prayer that comes face up, or allow mom or dad to read it.  Those who can read, this is a fun way to encourage prayer before meals.

My biggest concern about it is that it is wooden.  For an item like this it would likely be kept on the kitchen table, and I wonder about how it would hold up to spilled milk and juice.

It has rounded corners for safety.  Also, I do like the size.  It's too big for the youngest set to choke on.

This would be ideal if you are wanting to introduce saying grace before your family meals so that children will find it fun.  Or if you are looking for a way to have your children be more involved in praying.   I know I would have thought this was really neat when I was little! 

You can purchase this for $11.95 plus shipping here:  Table Grace Dice from Catholic Family Gifts. They also sell a number of other items such as baptism gifts, cross necklaces, nativity scenes, VeggieTales DVDs, and many other items.

Catholic Family Gifts is going to give one of these away to one of my readers.  The giveaway is open to those 18 and older who live in the United States.  It ends at  11:59 pm on July 2st.

FTC disclosure:  I received a free Table Grace Dice from Catholic Family Gifts in exchange for this blog post.  All opinions are my own.

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Weekly Mail Wrap-Up June 23

It was a very slow mail week around here.

I received a $5.99 refund check.

I also received a Kringle I had one.  It was delicious and my only complaint about it is I planned on having a birthday Kringle instead of a birthday cake.  The company got mixed up on which month to send it and sent it in June instead of July.  Oh well, I celebrated West Virginia's birthday with a Maple Walnut Kringle.  I had been entering their giveaway for about four years so was excited when I finally won!  It tasted even better than I expected it to, and after four years of entering, my hopes were REALLY high!

I also received a Chiquita Banana Mom kit.  There was a magnetic notepad, reusable grocery bag, magnet, car sticker, and family stickers in the shapes of bananas to put on the back of your car.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: The Search Committee

The Search CommitteeThe Search Committee by Tim Owens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In The Search Committee, Tim Owens introduces us to seven people, all members of a shepherd-less Presbyterian flock.  Their duty is to find a man (and some insist it must be a man) to pastor their congregation.

They are as unique as any seven random people in a congregation, and each week they travel in an old church van to hopefully complete their task of finding just the right minister.  In an attempt to keep it secret from the churches they visit, they split up during the service and try to keep a low profile.  That isn't always easy because of the adventures they find themselves in -- from being covered in dust by taking a back road to a couple of them getting stuck in an elevator in a sombrero. 

While that might be the plot, we get a glimpse of each of the seven members and the struggles they face.  We all have skeletons in our closets, and The Search Committee shows a cross section of good church people and their problems from the death of a spouse, someone who is a afraid to have children, someone who witnessed the death of her mother and brother on the same day, and a man whose girlfriend gets pregnant and the baby isn't his.

Life isn't easy.  In fact, it's hard.  But somehow if we can continue on through the pain, we find that God is still Good.  Somehow, we find it.  Just as they did.

I loved this book.  It was a bit confusing at first because there were so many members of The Search Committee, but once I got used to the writing style, I enjoyed the look into each one.  Usually I hate when fiction books include sermons.  I think there has to be a better way to get a point across than a sermon thrown in.  However, in this book, it worked quite well.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a female minister thrown in the mix and how that issue was handled. 

This book hits the target for everything I expect in a Christian fiction book.  It's fun, and since fiction should be entertaining, it is a must.  There is plenty to point to God, which is something I feel is a requirement of Christian fiction.  Finally, it's a book that leaves you pondering your life, and what would be written about you if you were part of The Search Committee, and if you have brought resolution to the hard parts of life and have found in the end that God is still Good, and quite possibly the answers (and God) are closer than we think. 

You can purchase it here:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goodbye, Einstein.

Einstein May 2009 - June 14, 2012
He was a brave guinea pig.

In May 2009, two kids rang our doorbell.  They had two girl guinea pigs and no food for them. Would we want them?  We had two boy guinea pigs and we knew the combination would mean a lot of babies, but we decided since the two guinea pigs had been living outside, not even in a cage, we could keep them in another room until we found homes for them.

However, the guinea pigs weren't girls, they were actually boys, and to make a long story short, we kept them.  These guinea pigs were apparently brothers, and as far as we know never had been apart.  Oh the joy when Einstein found one of our other guinea pigs.  (I wonder if they thought there were no other guinea pigs on earth except for themselves?)

Einstein seemed to be the smarter of the two, and always was protective of his little brother.  He would call Fuzzy to come and eat or if he heard a noise he didn't know what it was, he'd rush to make sure he was okay.

When they arrived on our doorstep, we had two pigs already, they took us to four.  Yesterday we lost Einstein.  I'm not sure exactly what happened.  He had some tooth problems, but we had those taken care of.  It was just his time.  Now we are down to one pig, Fuzzy.  It's really quiet around here today.  It's amazing how much noise one little fellow can make by running through hey, eating veggies, and playing with his brother.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After

In the book "Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After", Craig Groeschel presents ideas for singles to help them achieve the marriage they have always dreamed of -- before it starts.  For instance, he points out if you are constantly attracting the wrong kind of person, it could be you are putting out the wrong kind of signals.  He mentions you should make a list of what qualities you want in a future spouse, once you are done with the list, work on those areas in your own life.  After all, should you expect traits in someone else you are not willing to give yourself?

He explains that you are not to be looking for "The One" as God should be your number one.  Instead you should be finding "Your Two".  He talks about seeking advice from mentors or people you trust, admire and respect as well waiting for "Your Two".

Of course he discusses hot button issues such as sex before marriage.  (In a nutshell, don't do it.)  Also living together before marriage.  (Don't do it, be committed to the relationship more than just moving in together.)  He also discusses how to break up with the person you are dating without hurting them.

There is a chapter each for men and women on how to be a good husband or wife.  He discusses leadership and how that looks lived out in a practical manner (leadership in spiritual issues, financial, etc.)  He also explains that this is not something you can beat your wife over the head with and make her do whatever because you are the leader, but there should be mutual submission in place.  For the women, he discusses rebelling against the lies that our culture tells us.  These are things like we have to have a man to be complete or we can change a man.

There is a study guide included in this book, which would make it ideal to be used in a small group setting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I thought some of his attempts at humor were a bit lame, but he got his message across even if I didn't always think some of the jokes were funny.  This book was previously published as "Going All the Way" and I read it when it was published under another name, not realizing this was the same book when I requested it from the publisher for review.  I rarely re-read books and wouldn't have read it again had I realized this.  As someone in my thirties who is single and has never been married, I didn't find a lot of new information in this book, but it's still a good read to remind myself of certain ideals.

Please rank my review here:

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The opinions are my own.

Read the first chapter:
Love Sex and Happily Ever After by Craig Groeschel Sneak Peek

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend Mail Wrap-Up 6/9/12

I had a full mailbox this week.

Not pictured, I received a box of five bags of "Food Should Taste Good" chips for being their weekly winner on Facebook.  Also, I received a $100 prepaid Visa I won when voting for a friend in a voting contest.  It really does pay to help others out!

I won a Lace Trim Baptism Bonnet with White Shamrocks from Mandi over at Catholic Newlywed.

From Kate at Parchment Girl I won a copy of Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt.  After reading the review Kate had posted on this book, I was really hoping to win one in her giveaway.  It sounds like a great book and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Aprile over at The Steady Hand Blog had chosen me as a winner for her giveaway of  Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms: Simple Ways to Stress Less and Enjoy Your Family More.

Grace at Blessed Elements chose me as a winner in the giveaway she was running for   Biblical Beauty: Ancient Secrets and Modern Solutions.   This is another book that looks absolutely great and I can't wait to read it.

The New Living Translation Blog ran a giveaway a while back where 300 people would win a  Bible that was numbered in a limited edition of 3000 in the Celebration edition of New Living Translation Bible.  I love this translation of the Bible, and was very happy to win one of the very first Bibles ever printed in this translation.

Finally, (not pictured) I won a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate from Henrietta over at A Hen's Nest to celebrate her birthday!  Happy birthday Henrietta!  :)  I am not sure what I'll get with my gift certificate, but I know it will be fun!

It was a fun mail week!  :)