Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I've been feeling stressed lately. Overwhelmed. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. My problems are big; my God seems small. Clearly, I need an "attitude adjustment" . . . perspective. Or, as my father would say, "A good, swift kick in the *** to set me on Main Street."

So, here's some perspective. My source for this information is last month's Crown Financial online magazine.

In 1990 the World Bank established international standards for classifying poverty. Essentially, this enables us to understand how much money people have for necessities if were were all on equal footing. These standards allowed for the world’s population to be more accurately classified into two groups: the Poor, who live on $2 per day, and the Ultra-Poor, who live on $1 per day. Using these measures, 1.2 Billion people are Ultra-Poor and 2.6 Billion are Poor. That's Billion with a "B" folks. Almost 4 million people living on less than $2 per day. Combined, this group equals 53 percent of the world’s population. Equally as significant, one-half of the world’s population is under the age of 25.
Consider the nation of Zambia where an estimated 86 percent of the populaton is either Poor or Ultra-Poor. The unemployment rate is 50 percent and inflation is more than 18 percent. Most people are employed in subsistence agriculture, and HIV/AIDS is a significant problem.

Hmmmmm, somehow I don't feel quite so unfortunate right now. How about you? There it is . . . perspective.

"Live simply so that others might simply live." Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Checking Out

I'm checking out of the blogosphere for a little while. My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary (July 8th) and his birthday (July 9th) a little early since life is so crazy here around Independence Day. We're going to have a loooooonnnnnnnngggggggg weekend we both so desperately need. I'll see you back here on Monday or Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Green Challenge

As I told you last week, Wednesdays are "Change the World Wednesdays" . . . courtesy of reducefootprints. Here is your green challenge:

For one full day this week, eat only local foods. No tropical fruits from across the world ... no veggies that traveled hundreds of miles to get to your table ... only locally grown foods (this includes meats, dairy products, etc., if you eat them).

OR, if you're already eating only local foods full time ... and may I say congratulations to that ... post one of your favorite "local food" recipes on your blog.

Every year we talk about growing some veggies, but our lifestyle just doesn't allow for it (plus, we hate gardening!) I'm lucky enough to have neighbors who do garden and share their bounty with us: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and herbs galore! We reciprocate by delivering an occasional pan of vegan brownies -- a worthwhile trade!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How Small Do You Feel?

A lot of people I know are struggling with perspective right now. How big our problems are versus how big they seem. How small our God is in relation to how big our problems are.

I frequently struggle with wanting to control the universe, to be the master of my domain . . . and everyone else's within my grasping fingers!

Yesterday I read the transcript of Mark Batterson's sermon from Sunday, July 21st, and I thought I'd share an excerpt with you (fyi, Mark Batterson is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and a favorite author of mine):

I’ve read so many [Teddy] Roosevelt biographies, I love Roosevelt Island, I just like him, a great man, very cool President. He had an interesting habit – every now and then, he would go out and look up into the night sky with his naturalist friend, William Beebe and they would locate a faint spot of light in the lower left-hand corner of Pegasus and recite the following, “That is the spiral galaxy of Andromeda, it is a large as the Milky Way, it is one of a hundred million galaxies, it is 750,000 light years away, it consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our own.” Then the President would pause and grin and say, “Now I think we feel small enough to go to bed.” I love that. I love that because I think there are moments in our lives where we need to come in for a landing. I think there are moments in our lives where we need God to reveal to us our smallness. What will happen in that moment is it won’t devalue your life or your significance or who you are, it will simply remind you of how big God is and it will help you put things in perspective.

How's that for a little perspective? So NOW how big do your problems seem, how small is your God, and how big are you?!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Get a BETTER College Education for LESS!!!!!!!

My friend, Maya Frost, is an amazing woman with an amazing family. She and her husband, Tom, have four daughters who are beautiful, popular, cultured and well educated. In a world where parents are afraid to move to a new neighborhood because their kids may have to change schools, Maya and Tom have moved from Seattle to Mexico and then Argentina, all while their girls were either in high school or college. Their last family vacation while all the girls were in high school was a backpacking trip through India for a couple of months.

The girls thrived in language classes as well as taking all their other classes in a foreign language. They earned their high school diplomas and college degrees several years early and matured, intellectually and socially, far better than their peers. These ladies, while smart, are not geniuses in the IQ department. They are regular, normal (amazing) young women. All of them have snatched up the jobs of their dreams, being chosen over many, many other applicants because of their "global education."

In a world that is getting flatter all the time (to borrow Thomas Friedman's term of how globalization is changing how business works), global education is increasingly important to young people entering the work force. Unfortunately, most universities' answer is to provide a semester or year abroad that (1) cost a fortune; and (2) are so sheltered that the students rarely interact with the culture they are visiting, thus defeating the purpose.

Maya has written an amazing book, The New Global Student: Skip the SAT,
Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education.
This book is a must read for all parents! Maya shows you how to get a truly superior education for pennies on the dollar -- all the while causing your kids to "soar" academically, socially, emotionally and professionally.

You can read more at Maya's webiste (and have access to a lot of freebie resources): http://www.mayafrost.com. Buy the book; you won't be sorry!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Green Challenge

One of the blogs I read regularly is Reduce Footprints (check it out here). Recently, the author came up with a great idea -- Change the World Wednesdays. Every Wednesday she will issue a challenge for her readers to be more environmentally conscious for the week. Actually, each challenge has two parts -- the first step is an easier, more basic challenge. If you've already mastered step one, step two takes it to the next level. She has asked all her readers with blogs (me) to pass the challenge onto their readers (you) in an attempt to "go viral" with green living. Last week's challenge was to commit to taking showers no longer than 10 minutes. (Woefully I didn't have time to pass that challenge on to you, but feel free to do so!)

This week's challenge is:

For the entire week (yep, the whole week), refuse plastic bags at the store or anywhere else where they are offered. One whole week ... 7 days ... no plastic bags.

OR ... If you're already "plastic bag free" ... then, within the next 7 days write a detailed post (or email, letter, etc.) on why plastic bags are bad for the environment.

I've been plastic (and paper) bag free for a couple of years. My Whole Foods and WWF bags actually work better -- much better. How about you? Are you up to the challenge?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two New Book Reviews

This week I have two books to review, but none to give away. However, I've included links below for you to buy them.

Do you have trouble believing that God loves you? Of course, you know He loves everyone else, but do you really FEEL His love for YOU?! I think everyone has trouble accepting this truth in their hearts. That's why Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite is a great book. In reading this book, you start to see yourself through God's eyes, not your own. Best of all, after showing you how God sees you, Wilhite shows you how to live out God's vision and purpose for your life, how to make a difference within your sphere of influence. Eyes Wide Open is a wonderful book for every believer who is too hard on himself or herself (most of us), for everyone who has trouble forgiving their own sins and getting out from under a guilty past, and who is unsure how to proceed to serve God's purposes.

Below is the summary from the publisher:

I had it all backwards. The main thing was not my love for God, but his love for me. And from that love I respond to God as one deeply flawed, yet loved. I’m not looking to prove my worth. I’m not searching for acceptance. I’m living out of the worth God already declares I have. I’m embracing his view of me and in the process discovering the person he created me to be.

In Eyes Wide Open, Jud Wilhite invites you to discover the real you. Not the you who pretends to be perfect to satisfy everyone’s expectations. Not the you who always feels guilty before God. Not the you who secretly feels God forgives everyone else but only tolerates you. Not the you who looks in the mirror and sees a failure. The real you, loved and forgiven by God, living out of your identity in Christ.

A travel guide through real spirituality from one incomplete person to another, Eyes Wide Open is a book of stories about following God in the messes of life, about broken pasts and our lifelong need for grace. It is a book about seeing ourselves and God with new eyes–eyes wide open to a God of love.

You can purchase the book here:


The Disappearance of God by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is a studious look at God in modern day culture. Mohler attempts to answer why our morals have loosened as a whole, why the Christian movement has become more "accepting" and "tolerant", and whether those changes are a good thing (he concludes not). To be honest, I didn't care for this book much; I found it dry and sometime esoteric. Plus, I think believers need to accept and love non-believers, practicing more tolerance and less condemnation, if they want to reach people. I do, however, agree that the church falls short on sanctification once someone is a believer, preferring to focus solely on "feel good" messages that fill the pews and coffers rathar than messages that will grow baby believers into spiritually mature warriors. I think the modern church feeds too much spiritual milk and not enough meat (said the vegan, wryly). Maybe it's not the book; maybe it's my mood right now. Read the publisher's summary below and judge for yourself.


More faulty information about God swirls around us today than ever before. No wonder so many followers of Christ are unsure of what they really believe in the face of the new spiritual openness attempting to alter unchanging truth.

For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for “feel-good” theology.

We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.

As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues:

Is God changing His mind about sin?
Why is hell off limits for many pastors?
What’s good or bad about the “dangerous” emergent movement?
Have Christians stopped seeing God as God?
Is the social justice movement misguided?
Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
Is liberal faith any less destructive than atheism?
Are churches pandering to their members to survive?

In the age-old battle to preserve the foundations of faith, it's up to a new generation to confront and disarm the contemporary shams and fight for the truth. Dr. Mohler provides the scriptural answers to show you how.

You can purchase this book here:


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Cindy of Asheville, North Carolina, our winner of Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! by Robin Jones Gunn. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Get It Done!

Years ago I had a friend who was chronically behind on everything he needed to do. One of the biggest contributing factors to this problem was that he would spend HOURS completing a simple task until it was "perfect". In fact, most of the time, the task was completed when the deadline for getting it done had expired -- without a deadline it would have never been done because it would have never been perfect. It didn't matter if it was an important project or a meaningless task, he agonized over meaningless minutiae to the point where he was woefully behind at work, home, everywhere.

While I understand and subscribe to the wisdom that "anything worth doing is worth doing well", I also understand that a lot of times you need to just get it done.

What is important is to set priorities -- knowing when something needs to be excellent and when it just needs doing -- and achieve balance.

Recently, I read a blog post on the topic of taking Imperfect Action rather than succumbing the paralysis that often accompanies trying to be perfect. You can read it here: http://christinekane.com/blog/why-taking-imperfect-action-is-the-perfect-action-to-take/

Now, are you ready to "git 'er done!"?

REMINDER: I have one copy of Robin Jones Gunn's book, Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! to give away. To enter the drawing, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to me at seewhykinsman@gmail.com. The winner will be announced on Thursday afternoon, June 11th.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another Book Review and Give away

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! by Robin Jones Gunn is a sweet story of friendship and spiritual introspection.

The main character, Summer, finds out her mammogram was “abnormal” and she needs a biopsy. She decides to enter a “week of denial” and put off the biopsy in favor of a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Netherlands to meet her best friend and pen pal since elementary school, Noelle.

Summer and Noelle have a wonderful time building their friendship face to face for the first time as they explore the Netherlands. In the process, they both find themselves exploring their hearts regarding unresolved spiritual issues as Noelle sees things in Summer that Summer has not recognized in herself, and vice versa. Every woman needs a friend with whom she can bear her soul – and who can speak the truth to her in return; such a friendship is a restorative gift of God.

The women’s friendship is beautiful, as is the countryside of the Netherlands. Robin Jones Gunn does an amazing job of describing sights, sounds, culture and food of the Netherlands – you’ll feel as if you’ve gone there yourself!

Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! is a fabulous read for women everywhere! And I have one copy to give away. To enter the drawing, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to me at seewhykinsman@gmail.com. The winner will be announced on Thursday afternoon, June 11th.

You can purchase this book here:

Below is the summary from the publisher:

When a mammogram result comes back abnormal, midlife mama Summer Finley makes a snap decision to relegate fear to the back burner and fulfill a lifelong dream. Summer heads for Holland where she meets up with tulips, wooden shoes, and her best friend, Noelle.

Pen pals since fourth grade, Summer and Noelle have never met face-to-face. Through decades of heart-level correspondence, they have sustained a deep friendship. A week of adventure helps both women trade anxiety for a renewed and deeper trust in God. When Summer confides in Noelle about the abnormal medical report, Noelle finds the freedom to share a long-held heartache, and both women discover they needed each other more than they realized.

Women ages 35 and up, readers of Christian Boomer Lit, and fans of books such as The Yada Yada Prayer Group will enjoy Robin Jones Gunn’s humorous and uplifting style. True-to-life characters and moments of poignancy bring a deeper understanding of the value of life and the gift of true friends. Readers guide and bonus material included.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Patty in Tacoma, Washington, our winner of a copy of Saints in Limbo by River Jordan. Check back on Monday for another review and giveaway contest.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's a Boy

I told you awhile back that I lost my beloved Persian, Sonja, who was less than 5 years old. For any number of reasons, that loss has been particularly hard on me. She was such a character, so full of personality. She was always near us, with the personality more of a friendly lab or golden retriever than a cat. She was so young. I have her littermate with similar genetic problems and I'm fearful of complications with her in the future. I feel like the color has gone out of my life, leaving me with black, white and shades of gray.

Sonja's sister, Anna, has seemed to thrive as an only cat, coming out of her shell and being more "needy" and less reclusive. Then the thought occurred to me: maybe she's not happy being an only cat; maybe she's lonely! I think she's always wanted to "mother" something.

So I went looking to fill the void -- hers and mine. This is a picture of Sveeka who will be joining our family on June 20th.

I'm scared (I can't open myself up to another love if I'm going to have to say goodbye in the near future), sad and lonely (because I still miss Sonja so terribly). But I'm hoping a bundle of fur will soothe the jagged edges of my emotions when he gets here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Book Reviews and Giveaway

Stealing Home by Allison Pittman is a fabulous book about love, equal rights and baseball. It’s not nearly as strange as it sounds! When a famous baseball player come to a “dry town” for a month after completing a detox program for alcoholics, he turns the town on its ear. He moves in with the eccentric town spinster and her father and befriends a “Negro” boy with an amazing pitching arm. What happens next is nothing short of heart warming (and, at times, heart wrenching). Stealing Home is a look into the past – pre-Civil Rights era – when life was simple and oh-so-complicated at the same time. This book will keep you thinking long after you read the last page.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of this book to give away, but you can order it from Random House here:
Below is the summary from the publisher:


It’s 1905 and the Chicago Cubs are banking on superstar Donald “Duke” Dennison’s golden arm to help them win the pennant. Only one thing stands between Duke and an unprecedented ten thousand dollar contract: alcohol.

That’s when sportswriter David Voyant whisks Duke to the one-horse town of Picksville, Missouri, so he can sober up in anonymity. He bides his time flirting with Ellie Jane Voyant, his unofficial chaperone, who would rather hide herself in the railway station ticket booth than face the echoes of childhood taunts.

Ned Clovis, the feed store clerk, has secretly loved Ellie Jane since childhood, but he loves baseball and the Duke almost as much–until he notices Ellie Jane may be succumbing to the star’s charm.

Then there’s Morris, a twelve-year-old Negro boy, whose only dream is to break away from Picksville. When Duke discovers his innate talent for throwing a baseball, Morris might just have found his way out.

Four individuals, each living in haunted isolation, each harboring a secret passion. Providence brings them together. Tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Will love be enough to bring them home?

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan is a book I almost didn’t read. I managed the first 50 pages and then gave up. It was only after I read other reviews that I was willing to try again. I’m glad I did. Saints in Limbo is a “Southern style” novel – I’m not sure what that means, except that all the characters seem a little crazy! Seriously, this book features Velma, a widow who suffers from agoraphobia, her son, Rudy, who is a womanizer and a drunk, her friend, Sara, who feels she’s losing her life’s purpose, and a young waif of a girl who hitchhikes into town looking to solve a mystery of her own. Velma receives a strange gift on her birthday – a gift that allows her to revisit, but not control or change, her past. Each of the people in her life become entwined in her journeys to the past and, when Velma’s path crosses with the young hitchhiker’s, their futures change as well!

Saints in Limbo is an odd, but wonderful book and I have one copy to give away. To enter the drawing, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to me at seewhykinsman@gmail.com. The winner will be announced on Friday, June 5th.

You can purchase this book from Random House here:
Below is the summary from the publisher:


Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.

When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.