Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Jill of Tampa, Florida, our winner of Tricia Goyer's book, Blue Like Play Dough. Thanks to everyone who entered. Please check back on Monday for another book review and giveaway.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Review: Blue Like Play Dough

Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer is a wonderful book for moms (or just about anyone, for that matter).

Tricia Goyer was just a teen when she got pregnant and gave birth to her first child. Although the baby’s father fled from the picture, she married a wonderful man who gave her two more children. One day it occurs to Tricia that she is like play dough in God’s hands – being pushed, pulled, and squished into the shape He wants her to be. Some days, she easily molded. Other days, not so much. I love when she talks about “crumbs” in her play dough . . . who among us hasn’t had a crummy day here or there?

Blue Like Play Dough gave me pause on more than one occasion – I felt convicted at how unbending I am, how unyielding I am to God’s will for my life, even when I know without a doubt how He wants me to change and grow. That’s precisely why you don’t need to be a mom to get something very valuable out of this book.

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy of Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer to give away. To enter the random drawing, please send your name and mailing address to The winner will be selected on Friday, August 31, 2009. Good luck.

Below is the summary from the publisher. You can purchase the book here:

In the everyday stretch and squeeze of motherhood, Tricia Goyer often feels smooshed by the demands of life. In Blue Like Play Dough, she shares her unlikely journey from rebellious, pregnant teen to busy wife and mom with big dreams of her own. As her story unfolds, Tricia realizes that God has more in store for her than she has ever imagined possible.

Sure, life is messy and beset by doubts. But God keeps showing up in the most unlikely places–in a bowl of carrot soup, the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon, a woe-is me teen drama, or play dough in the hands of a child.

In Tricia’s transparent account, you’ll find understanding, laughter, and strength for your own story. And in the daily push and pull, you’ll learn to recognizes the loving hands of God at work in your life… and know He has something beautiful in mind.

Author Bio:
Tricia Goyer is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Generation NeXt Parenting and the Gold Medallion finalist Life Interrupted. Goyer writes for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family, speaks to women’s groups nationwide and has been a presenter at the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) national convention. She and her husband, John, live with their family in Montana.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Linda of Iron Mountain, Michigan, our winner of a copy of A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Please check back on Monday for another book review and giveaway.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Change the World Challenge

Here's the latest challenge from my friend at Reduce Footprints:

We all know that it's better to reuse something we already have rather than buy something new. But what about those items that are sitting in closets, storage sheds and the "back room" ... those things that we don't use and probably haven't used in a long while? I'll bet that there is someone who could use it. So, this week, take a look around your home and put together a box of no-longer-used items and ... "reuse them" by giving them away. Donate them to local charities, shelters, retirement homes or the Humane Society. See if your neighbors might need them or perhaps a family in need would appreciate them. This challenge has a double impact ... we'll be making items available for reuse and we'll be helping others. It's a challenge with heart!

We're changing the world ... one challenge at a time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fish Have Feelings, Too!

I once heard a comedian talk about fishing. He said, “People go fishing and say, ‘I love animals so I practice catch and release fishing.’ I always think to myself, ‘Really? You think that’s humane? So would you volunteer to have me put a hook half the size of your head in your cheek? Then I’ll pull you by a rope connected to the hook for, say, 50 feet, while you pull in the other direction. Then I’ll yank you up here on stage and cut off your ability to breathe for a good 5 minutes while I manhandle you and take my picture with you. Then I’ll rip the hook out of your mouth and throw you, still bleeding, back where I found you. Yeaaaahhhh, that sounds really humane!’”

Well, here’s some scientific evidence for you – fish DO feel pain, and react much the same way you or I do in response. Read here:

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper to give away. To enter the random drawing, please send your name and mailing address to The winner will be selected on Friday, July 24, 2009. Good luck.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Are You "A Perfect Mess"?

Recently, I had the opportunity to read A Perfect Mess, Why You Don’t Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper.

This is one of the few Bible study books I’ve read and wasn’t tempted to “skim” the scripture discussions. Why? Because Lisa Harper is FUNNY. She has an irreverent way of describing things that makes her book entertaining and exciting to read. But just because she talks like an Everyday Jane, don’t underestimate the weight and importance of her words. Lisa Harper is a biblical scholar to the nth degree. She just has the uncanny ability to make her wisdom and knowledge accessible to her readers.

I really needed the message of this book because I’m definitely more Martha than Mary. I feel the need to earn my salvation, and when my efforts fall short, my prayer time is spent disbelieving that God really wants anything to do with a failing worm like me. What I didn’t expect is that a Bible study on certain key Psalms would help me. Why? Because I don’t like the Psalms. I know, I know, everyone likes Psalms . . . except me. But I like them a lot more after Lisa Harper walked me through them!

A Perfect Mess is a wonderful book. Lisa Harper is completely transparent in showing us the messiness in her life and what your own messiness means for your spiritual relationship with God. My favorite chapter was entitled “Frantic Isn’t a Spiritual Fruit”. In fact, I read that chapter first and then went back to the beginning of the book! Since everyone of us is A Perfect Mess, this book is a must read.

GIVEAWAY: I have one copy A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper to give away. To enter the random drawing, please send your name and mailing address to The winner will be selected on Friday, July 24, 2009. Good luck.

Below is the summary from the publisher. You can purchase the book here:

Caught up in the self-imposed pressure to do and be all the things they think a Christian woman ought to do and be, countless women are working desperately to convince everyone, including God, that they have it all together. Few have any idea that the Creator of the universe looks at them with delight even when they yell at the dog, drive a minivan littered with French fries, or think bad words about that rude clerk at the store.

A Perfect Mess offers hope to every woman who yearns for a vibrant relationship with God but worries she isn’t good enough or doesn’t do enough to merit His affection. With characteristic authenticity, speaker and author Lisa Harper shares poignant stories from her own imperfect life to showcase the real-life relevancy of the Bible in the lives of modern women.

As she guides readers on a story-driven journey through selected Psalms, they will be inspired to experience for themselves how God’s incomparable love transforms the messiness of life into a gorgeous work of grace.

Author Bio:
Lisa Harper is a master storyteller whose lively approach connects the dots between the Bible era and modern life. She is a sought-after Bible teacher and speaker whose upcoming appearances include the national Women of Faith Conferences. A veteran of numerous radio and television programs and the author of several books, she also is a regular columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Lisa recently completed a master’s of theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She makes her home outside Nashville.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No Regrets

This past Tuesday, July 14th, marked the 9 year anniversary of my dad's death. I always tell people who have lost a parent, “When both your parents are alive, you think you can imagine how it will feel. When you actually lose one, you feel like you’re part of a secret club and you realize you couldn’t possibly imagine how it would feel.”

I hurt more now than I did when he died. It’s like when you first fall in love with someone and want to spend all your time with that person. When they go away for a day, you miss them. If they were to go away for a week, you’d miss them so much more. If they were gone a month, you’d REALLY miss them. With respect to the death of a parent, you miss them more as time goes on because their presence is missed more and more with each passing day, month and year. Plus, there are more “missed” memories . . . missed holidays, milestones, events you wanted to share, questions you wish you’d asked, etc.

I actually spent the last couple of days writing a "tribute" of sorts about my dad, but now that I'm done with it, I realize it's far to personal to post. So let me give you a piece of advice instead:

If one or both of your parents are alive, cherish your time with them, leave no question unasked, no story unheard, no advice unheeded. Try your hardest not to have any regrets when they're gone.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself!

Studies show that children do better with more UNSTRUCTURED play time. Not so many "play dates" or "activities" or "lessons". More time spent outdoors with a stick and a box and their imaginations. The benefits? Higher intelligence, more creativity, less behavioral problems. They'll be less bored because they'll know how to entertain themselves and actually like spending time with themselves (making them more of a joy to be around as well).

What do bored children grow up to be? Bored, unhappy, unfocused, unfulfilled adults.

Read this article to understand your adult angst.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I read a statistic last week that still has me reeling:

Airlines use about 1 million disposable cups every 6 hours!

Bring your own reusable bottles on your trip and have the flight attendant fill 'er up. If you don't have one, go to World Wildlife Fund's website here, make a donation, and receive two cute water bottles with the panda logo. They're essentially "free" since your donation amount is tax deductible.

You can read the whole article about airline waste here:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Change the World Challenge

My friend at reduce footprints issued the following challenge in her blog:

For one full day this week, don't use (or ride in) a car. That's right ... leave the car at home and either walk, ride a bicycle or take public transportation (or even ... stay home). One full day ... 24 hours ... no car. Think you can do it?

Below is a post I wrote last year about this very topic.

Sometimes I get tired of being "the crazy one". The one whom everyone thinks is a little extreme, too outspoken, the granola-sucking, tree-hugging nut. Sometimes I wish I weren't so burdened for the environment and the plight of all the world's animals. Sometimes I wish I could take the easy way out. Then I learn about someone who inspires me, who makes me look moderate, who makes me look sane!

I recently received the latest issue of On Wisconsin magazine, the magazine put out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its alumni. In it was an article entitled, "Walking the Walk" by Dashka Slater. The article tells the story of John Francis, a handsome black man in his 60s who, after witnessing the damage caused when two oil tankers collided beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971, spilling 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the San Francisco Bay, decided to "walk the walk". He started out by "end[ing] his participation in the oil economy" by refusing to ride in a vehicle for 22 years. He walked across the United States and South America, earning his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees along the way. One day he became tired of arguing and defending his viewpoints, so he stopped talking for a day, then a second day . . . his vow of silence lasted 17 years. He communicated via banjo, charades-style acting, whistling, and occasionally writing something down. Incidentally, he earned his Ph.D. at the UW-Madison DURING his vow of silence, proving the University of Wisconsin is a place for creative education solutions!

John Francis wrote a book, Planetwalker: How to Change Your World One Step at a Time, which has been optioned to be made into a movie. I'm planning to read the book and eagerly await the movie.

Interestingly, John Francis does talk now, and he also drives a Prius which was a gift. In 1990, the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C., was developing regulations that would implement the 1990 Oil Pollution Act which was passed shortly after the Exxon Valdez disaster. They invited John Francis, who is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, among other things, to work with them. Because he didn't ride in cars or planes, the Coast Guard waited two months for him to travel from New York to D.C. via bicycle. In 1994, Francis realized that he was a "prisoner" of his decision not to use vehicles. If the Coast Guard had not been willing to accommodate him, he would have missed a great opportunity to make a real change in the world. He questioned whether it would "have been worth passing up the opportunity to resolve the very problem that had inspired him to stop driving in the first place? 'The lesson for me was that I have to reassess wherever I am to get to the next place. . . . I have to let go of the old self, which is very scary sometimes.'" John Francis worried who he would be when he became a man who rode in cars.

This is reminiscent of a post I did some time ago wherein I reminded you to reassess your priorities from time to time to make sure they still fit. Sometimes we start to do something because it's meaningful and fulfilling, but we keep doing it out of habit, long after we've outgrown it.

In any case, John Francis' story inspired me, challenged me and made me realize how very far from extreme I am.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dirty Feet

Yesterday I talked to you about not letting things that steal your energy and joy “rent space in your brain” to use my husband’s analogy. Although my husband is not a philosopher by any means, his comment reminds me of a favorite quote by Gandhi, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

Yesterday I asked how many things you’re renting space to -- things you should be evicting. Ideas, thoughts, obsessions, feelings, grudges that suck the joy and energy from your life.

Today I’m asking how many people with dirty feet are walking through your brain? How many family members are draining your energy with constantly negative comments and complaints? How many so-called friends don’t feed your friendship, but simply are sucking balls of need? How many acquaintances fill your inbox with e-mail forwards that slap your beliefs in the face? How many people “force” you to listen to racist, sexist, homophobic, crude or otherwise offensive jokes, comments, and diatribes just because you’re too “polite” to say “thanks, but no thanks”?

Do you have the courage to show these people the “welcome mat to your mind” and ask them to “please wipe their feet” before walking through your mind? If they refuse, do you have the further courage to kick them to the curb?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

For Rent

English is not my husband's first language. But you'd barely notice if you spoke to him. In fact, one day we were watching a movie and he used the word, necrophelia, which caused me to think, "How long would I have to live in a foreign country before I knew how to say, 'sex with dead people' in that language?!"

Anyway, because English is my husband's second language, he has a great way of wording things. He uses his vocabulary to paint incredible word pictures.

Last night, we were discussing something upsetting. As I was just winding up into full "rant" mode, my husband stopped me cold by saying, "That takes too much energy. I just won't let it rent space in my brain."

How many things to we let rent space in our brains, sucking the energy and joy right out of us? How many of those things need to be evicted?!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Way to Recycle

Recycle Your Old Tennis Shoes with Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. Athletic shoes (any brand) are ground up for reuse in playgrounds, running tracks, basketball courts, etc. Mail your shoes in or check for drop-off locations. You can read the details at