Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bookish Year in Review 2014

Well, it has been a great year in books! Having a little one in the house has brought in more children's books to the mix. Somewhere along the way I realized I could rate them and give some reviews. So the ones I remembered to do that with I added in. I surpassed my goal of reading 12 books, as I did last year. Another repeat was not actually reading all the books on my goal list. I am ambivalent toward this minor detail. Ah, well, perhaps for my next year of book goals I will try and tailor it to my reading reality?

2014 Reading List

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ – John Owen
 Green This - Deirdre Imus
The Excellent Wife - Martha Peace
Last Days Madness - Gary Demar
       Leading Little Ones to God – Schoolland
       Always Ready – Greg Bahnsen
       Chosen by God – R.C. Sproul Sr.
     Rushdoony Book
     Nullification – Tom Woods
     End the Fed  or Freedom Under Siege  – Ron Paul

Well, John Owen was begun then forgotten about once again. I am doubting this book will show up on next years list. The Excellent wife also received the same treatment. Poor books! I was going to read through this with 2 friends in an informal bible study, but that fell through and I didn't read it to wait for them, then never picked it up after that. I am currently reading Leading Little Ones to God, it's a nighttime book I read with 2nd Samuel. However, Daddy has been tucking him into bed as of late so the book hasn't been finished. Maybe in a few months. Instead of reading Nullification, I took the either or approach as with the Ron Paul books... just read a Woods book. Done. I read The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History instead. I snatched that up really cheap at the local library book sale. Win! So there you have, my excuses, er, reasons for the partially completed list. Now, perhaps we can show my real accomplishments. I'll divide it into 3 categories rather than date read. Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Children's. Here is my rating guide:

scale of 1-5 (Subject to change upon my own whim and will).

1) being, complete waste. Why did I finish it?
2) being, minimally thought provoking/entertaining. Won’t read it again.
3) being, borderline useful, mild usefulness in instruction about the faults in it/mildly entertaining; Enough good to be challenged, grow a little in thought. Might read it again.
4) being, a really great book, useful to instruct, thought provoking/good entertainment, very challenging, growth as a reader, way more good than bad, would recommend. Worth reading again.
5) being, found enjoyable, challenging, useful in many ways, would highly recommend with no holding back, over all EXCELLENT book. Need to read again!

A 3 1/2 star is not as harsh as a 3, but not quite deserving of a 4 (a really great book), but a good book none the less.


  1. The Fearful Master, G. Edward Griffin  4 Stars
  2. Woman of the House, Andrea Schwartz  5 Stars
  3. Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen  5 Stars
  4. Ever After, Vicki Courtney  2 Stars
  5. Delight-full, Kate Collins  4 Stars
  6. Praise Her in The Gates, Nancy Wilson  4 Stars
  7. Chosen By God, R.C. Sproul 4 Stars
  8. Green This, Imus Dierdre  3 Stars
  9. Freedom Under Siege, Ron Paul  4 Stars
  10. Shepherding a Child's Heart, Ted Tripp  4 Stars
  11. The Pastor's Wife, Sabina Wurmbrand  4 Stars
  12. Thriving the First days Becoming Mommy, Elaine Mingus  2 1/2 Stars
  13. Upgrade: 10 Secrets to The Best Education For Your Child, Kevin Swanson  5 Stars
  14. A House for God: Building A Kingdom Driven Family, Andrea Schwartz  5 Stars
  15. Raising Godly Tomatoes, Elizabeth Krueger  4 Stars
  16. Lessons Learned From Years of Homeschooling, Andrea Schwartz  5 Stars
  17. Sketches From Church History, S.M. Houghton  5 Stars
  18. The Homeschool Life, Andrea Schwartz  5 Stars
  19. Samuel Rutherford: A New Biography of the Man and His Ministry, Kingsley Rendell 4 Stars
  20. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, Tom Woods  4 Stars
  21. The Victims of Dick and Jane, Samuel Blumenfeld  5 Stars
  22. The Biblical Trustee Family, Andrea Schwartz  5 Stars
  23. A Word in Season Vol 1, R.J. Rushdoony  5 Stars
  24. The Greatest Century Of Missions, Peter Hammond  5 Stars
  25. Putting Feet to Your Faith, Peter Hammond  4 Stars
  26. A Word in Season Vol 2, R.J. Rushdoony  5 Stars


  1. Charity Envieth Not, Barbara Cornthwaite  4 Stars
  2. King's Arrow, Douglas Bond  4 Stars
  3. Lend Me Leave, Barbara Conrthwaite  4 Stars
  4. The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau  3 Stars
  5. Divergent, Veronica Roth, 2 1/2 Stars
  6. Insurgent, Veronica Roth 2 Stars
  7. The Four Books Collective, Veronica Roth, 3 Stars
  8. Allegient, Veronica Roth, 1 Star
  9. Partials, Dan Wells 1 1/2 Stars
  10. Fragments, Dan Wells 1 1/2 Stars
  11. Ruins, Dan Wells 1 1/2 Stars
  12. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld 2 Stars
  13. Pretties, Scott Westerfeld 2 Stars
  14. Specials, Scott Westerfeld  2 Stars
  15. Extras, Scott Westerfeld  2 Stars
  16. Unwind, Neal Shusterman  3 Stars
  17. Unwholly, Neal Shusterman  2 Stars
  18. Unsouled, Neal Shusterman 2 Stars
  19. The Fellowship of The Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien  5 Stars
  20. The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien  5 Stars


  1. The Little Airplane, Lois Lenski  4 Stars
  2. Baby's First Bible Stories 0 Stars
  3. My First Book of Tractors, Kath Jewitt  4 Stars
  4. I Love You Daddy, Jilian Harker  4 Stars
  5. I Love My Grandpa,  4 Stars
  6. I Love My Grandma, David Bedford  3 Stars
  7. I Love My Mommy, David Bedford  4 Stars
  8. Puss in Boots and Other Fairytales, Nursery Classics  4 Stars
  9. Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23, Susan Hunt  5 Stars
  10. The Tailor of Gloucester, Beatrix Potter  4 Stars
  11. The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, Beatrix Potter  3 Stars
  12. Classic Animal Tales,  3 Stars
  13. The Legend Of Robin Hood (Barnes and Noble), Dami Editore  3 Stars
  14. The Christian Mother Goose Book of Nursery Rhymes, Marjorie Decker  4 Stars
  15. This is Texas, Miroslav Sasek  4 Stars
  16. Lad: A Dog, Albert Terhune  4 Stars
  17. Going to Sleep on the Farm, Wendy Lewison  4 Stars
  18. Sam the Minuteman, Nathaniel Benchley  4 Stars
  19. The Day the World Went Wacky, Janine Suter  4 Stars
  20. Noah's Floating Animal Park, Janine Suter  5 Stars
  21. The Not So Super Skyscraper, Janine Suter  4 Stars
  22. Sea Story, Jill Barklem  5 Stars
  23. The Reward of Childhood Truth, Dennis Gundersen  5 Stars
  24. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, Julie Steigemeyer  3 Stars
  25. Ox-Cart Man, Donald Hall  4 Stars
  26. Joshua the Brave Leader, Carine MacKenzie  5 Stars
  27. The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper 3 Stars
  28. Animals in Winter, Kids National Geographic  3 Stars
  29. Winne The Pooh Nature's True Colors, Emily Hutta  3 Stars
  30. Teach Me While My Heart Is Tender, Andrea Schwartz 5 Stars
  31. Family Matters, Andrea Schwartz  5 Stars
  32. Lion Cubs, Kids National Geographic3 Stars
Well, I could say a lot about the books I have read, and on my GoodReads Profile I have. I was disappointed by the Dystopian Genre, to say in the least.  But I enjoyed branching out and reading a lot more fiction than last year. I am in the midst of reading a few different books.  I am still reading The Institutes of Biblical Law by Rushdoony with my ladies bible study group.  And I am on the third book, The Return of the King by Tolkien to finish out the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I must say the series is now a favorite!  For morning devotions with the little one we are reading through Trial and Triumph, stories from church history, short and tailored more toward young readers/listeners. Although I am sure it was not intended for such young readers as my 13 month old. As I mentioned earlier, I am also reading Leading Little Ones to God with 2nd Samuel at night.   Maybe tomorrow I'll post my reading list goals for 2015. I thought about doing that today, but time has gotten away from me since I have been a busy little bee all day today.  Not to mention trying to make homemade pizza with a hungry toddler is quite a challenge (and rather time-consuming).

I am very pleased with far surpassing my reading expectations this year.  As you can tell, I generally have a better opinion on my non fiction spread than others. Part of my consuming so many books is because my thought is that while I have only one child to care for without the structured home educating, I have more free time to read books. I place a high value on reading and I hope that though the years may grow busier, I would never neglect to read good books that challenge me, as well as give me pleasure. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

One Year of Life

And so on this day, November 14, 2014 my precious little bundle of joy turns one year old today. This year has gone by quickly and slowly all at once.  Many nights have seemed long, and many days seemed short. One day it seemed he would always need to be held or propped up, then suddenly, quite wobbly, he sat on his own. Then scooted, then crawled, then cruised, now he walks! We are still waiting to hear him talk intelligible words, though he does love to babble incessantly, I am convinced that he is convinced he truly is talking. Though he does communicate. He says some warbled sounds and points to something, and momma knows he is asking what is that? He nervously laughs and he is needing reassurance. And even in a look, we communicate. Oh yes, even in the arching of his back when momma wants him to sit in her lap, or sit in his high chair, that communicates defiance!

                                 November with Daddy                                December with mommy

I am constantly amazed that I get this beautiful privilege of watching a life develop before my eyes. It is astounding just how much a person changes in this first one short year. God's handiwork is quite wonderful to behold. As my father in law says a lot, they understand far more than most people give babies credit for. When you see them as an eternal soul, a person made in the image of God, it is much easier to look at them and see a little intelligent person, not some tiny little being who can't understand until much older. No, my little man is a covenant child of God and although I still slip into "baby talk" voice to him sometimes, for the most part I strive to talk to him as such. For it is a great joy to be a catalyst in helping him learn about God's world around him. To read to him, to sing to him, to hug him, hold him, to talk to him, to show him things, to include him in my every day activities rather than view him as a hindrance to my daily affairs. He surprises me daily and it is quite a delight to see him discover this world.

                                        January with mommy                                 February

As I ponder the deep love I have for my son, I often recount in my days prior to being a mother how I honestly could not understand just how a mom can love her child so much.  I mean, sometimes it looked like they were inconvenient, disobedient, unpleasant, annoying and a hassle! Well, as the saying goes, "From the outside looking in you can't understand it, and from the inside looking out you can't explain it." I was not prepared for how love for my son would affect me so deeply, truly, honestly, and sweetly. God made me a mother when gifting me with this child. And through this child, I have changed so much. I am not the same person I was a year ago when my son was birthed. Being a mother has sanctified me in precious ways. I am more organized, more disciplined, and altogether less selfish than before he entered into this world.  I truly believe marriage and child(ren) are two of God's biggest sanctifying tools around! I love my son more and more as I get to know him better. For all the labor, birth, and other books I read to prepare for his entrance into this world and after, I was wholly unprepared for the love that filled my heart. Some people describe it as "love at first sight", but for me, it wasn't like that at all. It was pure shock that this tiny little person just came out of me! And I think I was in shock for days, but every time I held him on my chest and in my arms, it melted my heart. Every time I got to hold him to my breast and watch him eat, I was filled with wonder at the beauty of God's design that little old me could feed a a sweet baby and literally nourish him! Every time he cried my heart was seized with concern and trying to figure out his needs. As the days wore on, my love just grew and grew. It was altogether the most humbling realization that this tiny little life depended on me for his every need, how helpless he was apart from me. It made me want to strive even harder to care for him to the best of my ability knowing that he was entrusted to my (and Samuel's) care. He is my precious child.
 March with Daddy

April together

Not only has my love for my son been a cherished gift, but the love that has grown between my beloved and I has grown, deepened, and sweetened through this little life.  Laboring for hours and having my husband supporting me through out the whole ordeal made me love him more. Looking at our child for the first time together made me love him more.  The way he selflessly changed every single diaper the first week made me love him more.  The way he carried me when I was too exhausted, weak, and tired, made me love him more.  The way he tenderly, patiently, and lovingly cared for me and our son in those first precious days made me love him even more. And as this year has passed, seeing him with our son makes me love him more.  Seeing our son cling to his daddy's neck melts my heart into a puddle of pure love. Day in and day out, we are not a perfect family, but through this family God is perfecting us and sanctifying us to be more like His Son. I would not change this year for anything. I have learned more about my Father's love through being a mother. I expect to learn a great deal more.

May, meeting his great grandma and grandpa (and pictured above, Sam Allison, Peter Sam, Allison, Samuel Allison, and 2nd Samuel Allison)

                                    May                                                            July

It has been a blessed year adjusting, learning, growing, changing, and being together. I would not trade being a mother caring for her child at home for anything.

  Meeting PaPa Leonard in June (Great-Grandpa)

So I am wishing a very happy and blessed birthday to my son! May the Lord Jesus bless you this whole year through.

                                          My dashing little fellow in September       October with grandma

Friday, November 7, 2014


Today I read these words,
"The fact is that nothing evades men more, when they search for it, than happiness. Happness cannot be a goal in itself. It is a byproduct of other things. When we do our work well and find it rewarding, we are happy. When we are godly and honorable in our relationships with our loved ones and others, it adds to our happiness. Happiness is not a goal but a payoff for work well done towards a worthy goal." R.J. Rushdoony.
Upon pondering these words and life as of lately, I smiled contentedly at the truth I had just read.  So much happiness has filled my heart as of late, so grateful for the many blessings in my life.  Work being one of them. It is piercing to the heart to read how we are to be self-disciplined and not idle when spending time in the Word of God. Yes, I continue to grow in this area, but sometimes it seems painfully slow. It is constant to be redeeming the time before me. So when I am working in my home and productively having something to show for it, my heart is content and happy. So let me share some of our adventures as of late, with pictures to prove it.

I love applesauce. I have always loved it. I rarely got it as a child, and I never knew why. So as an adult running the grocery and meal affairs in our home I tend to gravitate toward it. But wow, has anyone seen how pricey organic apple sauce is?! And so last year I made a batch and froze it. I intended to do the same again this year and ordered 20 lbs. of apples only for them to not arrive! Horrors. So I ordered a different kind and they arrived. Relief! I paid roughly $25 for 20 lbs. of organic apples, plus some jars to freeze them in. It made 9 jars each holding around 3 1/2 cups of deliciousness. An afternoon well worth it, plus 2nd Samuel was mighty cute throughout the process.

Beginning the process, Step 1, chop up the apples and put them in the roaster oven.

Step 2, get the toddler (!) who just woke up from his nap to help and taste apples.

(I think he thoroughly enjoyed helping, don't you?)

Step 3, fill the roaster oven with water, turn on to 350/400 degrees and let them cook.
An hour or two later (stirring during this time to prevent burning)  they should be done.
These are fluffy apples ready for saucing.

Step 4, get an applesaucer thing. I borrowed this cool one that attaches to your counter.
It's really easy to set up, use, and even has a sieve that keeps out the junk.

Step 5, feed hungry and curious boy applesauce that has cooled.
Be sure to watch him though, he may get impatient and start
feeding himself when you aren't looking!

Step 6, fill jars and let them cool. If freezing in glass be sure to leave enough head
space or else they will bust and crack open. Just saying. Once cooled off,
put them in freezer.

We also made some Kombucha:

This was the end product. It turns out my boy enjoyed kombucha at his grandparents house. So I figured it was time to get brewing again.

We already have finished one jar of apple sauce, one week later. Which means if we keep up this rate we will be done with apple sauce in two months. Um.. Well that's no good. Looks like I may need to order more apples while I can, if I can.

Next year I would like to experiment making our own apple cider and turning it into hard apple cider. Doesn't that sound fun?!

Another non-photographed task Samuel and I enjoy doing together is baking bread. The last few times I've made it I set him on the counter with me and tried to interest him while I am kneading the dough. Well last time he finally plunged into the fun and slapped it, squeezed it, and tried to eat it. Sorry, I'm one of those mom's who is not giving her kid grains yet (not sorry), so I didn't let him eat it. He is currently napping so I am waiting until he wakes up to begin the process again today (Yay for afternoon naps!).

Yes, it is very satisfying and adds to my happiness to provide healthy food and beverages for my family. (:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Reformation Day

In honor of Reformation Day, I wish to present this quote:

"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave."

The above quote was made by my favorite reformer, Martin Luther.  I believe this is quite true in our household.  Monday's are always a sad farewell to my beloved, of all days.  We have just spent the weekend around one another, typically not having to see him leave for work, but working and doing things side by side.  But then that Monday rolls around (it's so persistent!) and he leaves so early in the morning. But every evening it is a joyful reunion and I am ever so glad to have my man home again. And so Friday's build up anticipation for the weekend of time with my husband.

It's a little funny to write these words tonight because Samuel is camping with his brother; it is opening day of hunting season is tomorrow. Our weekend has been dashed. But when he returns it will be quite sweet.

Back to reformation day, for those who do not know on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the church door. It was this unassuming event that catapulted the world out of the darkness of the superstitions of the Roman Catholic church. God used Martin Luther to bring about reform in Germany, and it spread through out the world through the likes of men such as John Calvin, John Knox, Pierre Viret, William Farel, and many more. Praise God for raising up such godly men for His kingdom's cause and spreading the truth of the Gospel! Due to these men's labors we have a legacy of devotion to God's word, not man's word, and are blessed with the privilege to read the bible in our own common tongue. I love to learn more about the reformation and God's providence in this era of history. It brings me to shame to think of how much I lack and how often I take things for granted. If I only but possessed a fraction of any of these men's self-discipline I would be a much more productive and sanctified person. Alas, God is working within me even now. I see improvements in many areas, though it seems painfully slow. Wretched man that I am! Sin entangles so easily. But even so, I am so grateful for the work God has undergone in me and my life. I am not who I was, but becoming ever more like Christ. How humbling.

So, who needs halloween when we have such a rich heritage of Christian history to remember?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Catching Up On Months of Book Reviews

As per usual, I am reading more books off my reading list than on it.  Part of the reason is that I have chosen books that are more challenging to read, and thus require more discipline to read due to the less intriguing factor.  It's not that they aren't interesting or fascinating, but rather certain books lack the magnetic appeal, the one that pulls me into a book where I don't want to set it down, but am driven to finish it.  It is not just a fiction versus non fiction problem either. For example, I read Shepherding a Child's Heart, and that was one that I wanted to finish and read through it quickly, less than a week.  However, I am stuck on Tom Wood's Nullification and can't seem to find that niche.  This is my third time to try reading it in 3 years.  It is not due to a lack of interest in the topic and content, quite the contrary, it is fascinating because I love history and care about the future.  I don't know why this is, but I am working through it. I do know one thing that frustrates me is having a lot of books I want to read, but getting stuck on one and I drag my feet to finish it.  Meanwhile I'm eyeing bookshelves with lots of other books I would voraciously consume in days, and this other book is taking me months to finish.  It comes down to this: is it merely a matter of self discipline?-needing to discipline myself to finish the book at hand to reward myself with reading whatever I want after that?  Or is it a matter of learning more versus less?  Or maybe a combination of both?  I'll let you know when I know.  One thing I do know, it does not matter how difficult a book is to read, understand, or get through, if I am drawn in, I will finish it, and promptly.  Even with the Rushdoony books I have read, it is only a matter of weeks, not months. I am still working on self discipline in reading, but for now, I am setting aside Nullification and am pursuing other types of books.

Since I have sadly neglected this blog the last few months (and even have few unpublished blog notes, still waiting to be posted), I don't feel I have the time or fortitude to sit down and write an entire review for each book I have read.  More than that, not all of them deserve a full review.  I have been reading quite a bit more fiction lately.  Instead, I am going to list the books and their respective biased Leah ratings and give a few thoughts on each one (as well as linking to my goodreads reviews if I have written them out).

July Books:

Freedom Under Siege - 4 Stars

As per usual, Ron Paul delivers a hard hitting truthful book addressing such topics under girding individual liberty such as, military conscription, foreign policy, and the Federal Reserve, monetary systems, and economics.  This also includes his weak foundation for where liberty is derived, he speaks of some believe rights come from our Creator, but does not go very far to build on that. An excellent book everyone would do well to read.

-Shepherding a Child's Heart - 5 Stars

I whole-heartedly recommend this book as a must read for every parent, expecting their first, or in the midst of a gaggle of children.  Wow, what a great book to read for those of us who have no idea what a Christian parent is supposed to do when disciplining and raising a child! It amazed me just how much my husband has been teaching me, the wisdom his own parents and grandparents have shared as well, that were reflected in this book. It only cemented the things I have been learning from those God has placed in my life. This gives general biblical principles and helps you to understand how to implement them, by the grace of our precious Lord and Saviour.

-The Pastor's Wife - 4 Stars

Such a heart-wrenching, riveting, encouraging, and challenging auto-biography written by Sabina Wurmbrand.  She has such a rich and robust faith, tested by the fires of persecution, but to my utter amazement, she has some weak theology and bad ideas which in turn are a bit pragmatic in the negative sense. Apart from that weakness, this is an incredible true story every Christian would find edifying to read, despite the horrors contained therein.  God is gracious and longsuffering to us, and a beautiful reminder that He uses all of us where we are, no matter how much we do or do not know doctrinally, and doesn't always bring us to the same place in the end.

August Books:

The City of Ember - 3 Stars

Such a fun imaginative young reader book.  Refreshingly clean with an intriguing story that keeps you wanting to know what will happen next. Some try to put this as Christian allegory but I think that is way too much of a stretch, just let it be what it is: a fiction story with no Christian ties. Strong libertarian, individualistic, self-reliant, use your thinking skills in this book, which is a positive thing, but subtly feministic in ways.

The Other Baby Book - 3 Stars

A wide array of baby and parenting how to's, could do's, and encouragement.  An attachment parenting book to the core, but with well researched and well present information. Worth reading, but with the caveat of the glaringly bad theology of babies being totally innocent.

-The Complete Divergent Series
-Divergent 3 Stars
-Insurgent 2 Stars

-Allegiant 2 Stars
-All "Four" Books 3 Stars

Yes, an entertaining series, but the first and Four books were the only ones worth reading.  The rest were just to satisfy my curiosity of where the world would end up: newsflash, I did not appreciate the ending at all.  Though this author claims to be some sort of Christian (I assume, for she gives credit to God and His Son), this is in no way a Christian book, nor does it even remotely have a Christian theme.  Pretty sensual relationship between the main characters (everything is sparks and electricity).  As I am coming to find with most dystopian novels, strong liberterian/liberty/individualistic themes within it. As one friend's husband commented, it is very juvenile. I would have to agree. I don't recommend anyone reading this, surprisingly. The only redeeming point was the fascinating world building (if only you could cut out the irritating teenage romance).

-Thriving the First Days of Becoming Mommy - 3 Stars

Written to read like a devotional book, a realistic and honest view of the varying aspects of motherhood.  Weak theology, though scripture is prevalent and appreciated. A light, somewhat immature, and humorous book to encourage mom's everywhere. Click above for full thoughts.

Partials Trilogy
-Partials - 2 Stars

-Fragments - 2 Stars
-Ruins - 2 Stars

Interesting world building, but with a severely flawed foundation. Another of the Dystopian Genre.  The "Partials" are considered half human or partially human.  Sentient beings created by humans that are essentially super-beings.  While the series makes it a definite negative to try and play "god" and create new species, it just accepts the partials as humans and fights against discriminating against them as sub-human because they are in every way like humans in their physiology, DNA, emotions, etc., making it a racism issue. What?! A fast-paced, action packed, thought-provoking "What makes a human a human?", incredibly flawed book.  While the story is interesting, and there is ok character development, I can't get past the fact that it makes it ok to try and play God and pretends like one can create soulful beings.

September Books:

-Lend Me Leave - 4 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this Austen "spin off".  Clean, imaginative, with a wonderful introduction of interesting characters and subplots.  The book of Emma through Mr. Knightley's eyes, second book of the two. With religion talked of, but no mention of the gospel. The only caution is that it is still a romance, and thus, infatuation with the beloved, no matter how "clean" it is, it is what it is.  And I must say, I found some parts to be a bit too  dramatic to be the thoughts of a man. But who am I to say? ha!

Uglies Series
-Uglies - 2 Stars
-Pretties - 2 Stars
-Specials - 2 Stars
-Extras - 2 Stars

Well, this was actually my second time to read this series.  The first was around the 16/17 age range.  It is amazing how much you can change in a few short years and enjoy something at one point in your life, then lose that the next point.  I saw things differently than I did initially.  Such as the major environmentalist agenda and demonizing of mankind (actually, as Christians we ought to be a the forefront of taking dominion and caring for the planet God has given us). There are constant put downs about the way we do things now (They read newspapers and threw them away EVERY DAY?!; they actually clearcut forests?! etc).  There is definitely a liberterian flavor as with all the dystopias so far (question the totalitarian government, don't depend on them for everything), as well as this underlying message that you are find the way you are (no need to be pretty according to some arbitrary standard, better to be unique). The main character of the first three books was a bit obnoxious. She is a compulsive liar and everyone believes her, she is selfish, impulsive, and her ultimate driving force is looking out for number one. She does grow a little bit. Fourth book is very unrealistic, the girl is obsessed with becoming famous, gets everything she wants, and saves the world. I don't particularly recommend this for anyone, I just felt the need to satiate my own curiosity for personal reasons to re-read this and finish the books I never finished.

Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23 - 5 Stars

I simply must rave about this book! What a delightful, biblical, beautifully done allegory for young children.  A must have for every Christian parent's bookshelf.  The gospel is clearly presented in simple and clear language woven into the story of a little lamb teaching another lamb about his good Shepherd. The artwork is very touching as well.  There are even discussion questions in the second half of the book to correspond with each chapter, chock full of good biblical theology, lot's of scripture references, and application to a child's life. I am very grateful to the friend who gave me this book at my son's baby shower.

Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education For Your Child - 5 Stars

An excellent primer for the parents who are serious about the education of their child(ren).  In this easy to read book, Kevin Swanson delivers practical principles derived from the Word of God in a hard hitting challenge to parents everywhere.  He does not give specific "how to's" but general principles with a few over-arching suggestions.  This is a book I will be reading again and referencing in my journey of raising my son, and any more children we are blessed with. Though Swanson home educates his own children, he is firm in his conviction to Christian education, not narrowly or pietistically saying his way is the only way. A highly recommend this to all parents everywhere who care about their children and their future, especially Christian parents.

A House For God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family - 5 Stars

This is my second book to read by Andrea Schwartz, and it did not disappoint.  It was extremely practical, encouraging, challenging, convicting, and inspiring.  Each chapter tackles a different topic but each foundation is the same: God's Law Word. Though there is one point of disagreement, the foreword written by Martin Selbrede says it well, who is leading the charge to bring all Christians to apply the word of God to their lives?-do not cut down those willing to stand for truth even on a few disagreements, the important part is that someone is willing to stand.  Andrea is not ashamed of the Gospel, nor the full counsel of God and applying it to all areas of her life and encouraging women everywhere to do the same.  If you want to read more of her work, check out her Website and blog. All wives and mother;s would benefit and be blessed to read this book.

Raising Godly Tomatoes - 4 Stars

This book is a great compliment to Ted Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart, for it goes into specifics, how to's, and plenty of practical ideas of just how to discipline your children.  Though I do not agree with everything she says, it is an excellent resource. She makes great points about consistency (how convicting!!), out lasting your child, biblical restoration (discipline is restorative, not punitive), and covers a myriad of questions from real life parents on real life situations. If you have no idea where to start with your new baby, or have a house full of hooligan's this book addresses different stages, mostly younger years, not teenage. If you were like me and grew up with parents who did not understand biblical discipline, this would be a helpful read.

Lessons Learned From Years of Homeschooling - 5 Stars

Another fantastic book from Andrea Schwartz. Geared toward home educating mother's, it shares Andrea's insights from her successes and failures.  Whether you are new to the idea, submersed, or at the beginning of your journey, this book is for you.  It encourages, it empowers, and it reminds us the reason: for the glory of our risen Lord and Saviour. I found many ideas, good direction, and my heart over flowing with encouragement for the task ahead and at hand.  I loved that she spoke to all women at different stages, she gives practical advice for the mother with infants/toddlers to prepare for what's ahead, as well as the mom in the midst of schooling, or about to begin with "school" age children. It is not only for the home educating mom, it is for the mom who wants to see her child(ren) excel in a Christian education and be an integral part of that.  Mom's who are serious about their children's education would find themselves motivated all over again after reading this book.


Well, when I look at my reading list goals from January, I am in the midst of reading two on there, "Leading Little Ones to God" and "The Excellent Wife".  Each night I read one of the short chapters with 2nd Samuel from the first book, and I believe I can finish it before the end of the year.  I bought at PHF last year at the recommendation of a lady I met, but I actually did not peruse the inside and see the way it was geared.  I thought it was a parent's handbook of how to, but it is actually geared to little ears, in simple straightforward language. So far the theology is biblical and I have no issues on that front. But I thought it would be more beneficial to read it with my child than read it to myself.  The latter book is one some friends of mine and I are supposed to be reading as a book/bible study together, but have yet to begin!-so I am only a few pages in.  The other two books from my list are John Owen's (I started it, but found it was too much to take on), and Nullification, which I started and am finding it hard to get absorbed into. I still have three months to finish those two... we shall see. I at the bare minimum want to finish Tom Wood's book (Nullification) by the end of the year.  But poor Mr. Owen is a bit over my head and may have to wait for another year.  

A sub goal of mine is to read one of Andrea Schwartz books a week until I have read them all.  I heard a hard hitting and great challenge from Bojidar Marinov at a recent conference I attended where he said his talk would not change your life, but reading 50 pages a day from good books (referenced Chalcedon's works) would change and shape your life. You can find his Two Kingdom's talk on my church's website.  I am learning to set attainable goals as to not overwhelm myself with failure. I know I can read one of Andrea's books a week. I am also reading Rushdoony's Institutes in my bible study with Andrea, and on top of reading God's word, I believe this is a good place to start. I will higher my personal expectations of my reading as my self discipline becomes more ingrained.

As you can tell, I have also been giving myself the liberty to read more fiction the last couple months.  I have been very interested in the Dystopian genre and decided maybe one day I could write my own, so I wanted to read what other's were like. So far I am not overly impressed.

Here's to reading, and the weather that is ushering in more hot tea to cozy up with!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In Review: Last Days Madness

I am finding pretty much all the books I am reading as of late could be thrown in the "controversial" category.  I am fine with that because it is stretching me and challenging me.  This particular book challenged me to better grasp what I have been learning these past few years, to better articulate the why.

As to the the why: why I am no longer a "dispensationalist" or "pre-millennialist" and etc.  More than slapping a new label on me (because I am still learning about new labels, ok?) I have come to understand this underlying principle: a realized millennium verses an unrealized millennium.  Why do I believe in a "realized" millennium?  One major reason is because I am better understanding biblical prophecy and how it works.  I am learning about different hermenuetics and the implications thereof (mind boggling).  One thing I should note is that I am epistimologically aware of my eschatology and hermenutical procedures whereas in the past I was pretty clueless and didn't even know I fell under any sort of label (i.e. dispensational).

As to Gary Demar's Last Day's Madness, I found it to be an incredible wealth of knowledge.  I was a bit shocked at the extremes within some of the modern day "prophecy experts".  I will admit, I read both the adult and kid "Left Behind" series voraciously and could not get enough of them.  But I was also a bit petrified and mystified by it all.  I was standoff ish yet wanted to know more.  It's funny, I never read any other end times books except those fictional books yet I could tell you all about the rapture, anti-christ, 1,000 year reign, 7 year tribulation, treaty with Israel, abomination in the temple, the mark of the beast etc.  And I had absolutely no idea where in scripture it taught these things (I thought it was just me).  I just thought the book of Revelation was this monstrous, confusing, terrifying book that I could not possibly understand... so I pretty much skipped it.  I knew it had the answer, but I could not make sense of the strange language.  So I just trusted what I heard in church and those Left Behind books as gospel truth.  That being said, I did not even begin to scratch the surface of understanding the prophecy pundits and what they teach!  And I will also admit, I had no idea that there were Christians who did NOT believe in the rapture! Shocking, right?

Gary Demar does a fantastic job at unpacking all of the confusing end times talk of our day.  The first time I picked up this book it didn't draw me in so well, but when I started it again last month, I was hooked.  This is a fascinating book full of so much information about prophecy, biblical interpretation, modern day Christian thinking, doctrine, ethics, morals, coherency, exposing inconsistency, history and so much more.  He tackles such topics as the newly created state of Israel, signs in the heavens, temple of doom, abomination of desolation, what the sun, moon, and stars (especially that blood red moon) means, the return of Christ, rapture, who/what is meant by the anti-christ, the mark of the beast, to name a few things.  With each of these things he addresses his main argument is that we read what scripture says of these things, interpret scripture with scripture, and see if these things have been fulfilled.

For example, when dissecting Daniel's 70 weeks, Matthew 24, and Revelation, he explains how to see if the prophecies have been fulfilled.  The biggest spearhead into a future unfulfilled prophecy is the fact that Jesus said "This generation will not pass away" and Demar stresses this to the point that you can't get away from it throughout the entire 400+ pages.

I feel I cannot even begin to explain what this book contains.  So let me cut to some the main points in no particular order: 1) Dispensationalists claim to interpret the bible literally, yet Demar shows over and over again how far they stray from this principle and actually do not abide by their own hermenuetic; 2) The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 fulfills so much prophecy you cannot ignore it; 3)  When Jesus says "this generation will not pass away" He actually means it literally, yet the literalists do not literally believe that; 4)  There is no clear scripture to prove a rapture theology 5) So much modern prophecy keeps changing due to things not coming to pass what was said: reprints of books, changing dates but not theology, etc; 5)  Just how far you have to stretch and do violence to scripture to fit within certain frameworks of end times theology (so it wasn't just me not understanding after all); 6) That the New Testament prophecy sounds like Old Testament prophecy using similar and in some cases identical language. (This one really got to me, and as I have been reading through the scriptures I see this so clearly it's almost ridiculous I never saw it before, remind me why I was scared of Revelation again?!... might have something to do with the thinking that the O.T. no longer applies and I never read much of it before... but that's another blog post for another day.)

This is an excellent resource, to say in the least.  This is a book you will want on your bookshelf to reference time and again.  However, as strong as this book is, I found one glaring weakness interwoven through out its entirety.  Gary Demar is a bit demeaning towards those and that system of eschatology he is refuting. While it makes for a few chuckles for someone like me who is no longer a dispensationalist and wanting to learn more, I found myself thinking this might be a little offensive and rub people the wrong way who are very much in the middle of rapture thinking.  I would hesitate to recommend it to someone for this purpose.  If I knew of person seriously studying and totally willing and ready to scrutinize their own thinking and eschatology/theology biblically, I would feel safe.  But there are many in my acquaintance who I would love to hear and read this information, but would be concerned they would dismiss the message due to the delivery of it.  Maybe that was just my impression of Demar's writing and it is not as strong as I felt it to be.  The only way to know for sure would be to hand this into someone's hands who believes in the rapture as gospel truth (like I once did) and see what happens. Any body volunteering? Anyone? Bueller?  Bueller?

This book receives 4 stars from me.  I would be more inclined to give it a 5 star but for the reason just given.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"What Nobody Tells You About the First 3 Months of Motherhood"

A friend recently posted this on social media, and I was intrigued by her tag line "At the same time you'll fantasize about getting in your car going for a drive and never coming back." then subsequently linked to this article. Hmm.

Let begin by stating what should be obvious, but may not be obvious: I disagree with a lot of the conclusions this non-christian blogger had.  In fact, it made my skin crawl a little bit.  I was a little shocked.  I was a little mortified.  But I did sympathize with her a bit.  Am I perfect?  Am I the model of motherhood?  Am I dancing on daisies and dandelions with my child each and every moment of the day?  No, of course not.  But I still disagree with the article none the less.  Some of the things she said were ok, but where she arrives at afterward not so much.

Let's begin with her opening statement, the "It will be hard but sooooo worth it." Yes, it is true I've heard that a million times myself.  And let's be honest, it's absolutely true.  Her point is no one tells you what "hard" means.  Fair enough. I can understand that.  But life is about living, and if there is one thing I have learned in this life is that you will never be "ready" for the next thing.  God prepares us as He sees fit then throws us another thing to juggle and learn to be the new "normal".  He makes us ready by being in the midst of it, learning as we go. I didn't feel "ready" to be courted, or engaged, or married, or to become a mother.  But every single new scary and exciting thing has been just what I needed at just the right time in my life. It is all about being sanctified. God uses these things in our life to mold us more into the image of our dear beautiful Saviour!

And here is the crux of the issue: she is apparently not a Christian.  So Christians should not heed her advice.  I am going to endeavor to respond to her more in depth.  A biblical response to her points.

Point Number 1: Sometimes it Doesn't Feel Worth it.

Should we really question the sovereign plan of God "wondering why we ever became moms at all"? We are human, and we may have doubts.  But she is justifying wrong feelings and emotions. You may not feel like feeding a baby at 1 am then 3 am then 4:30 am, etc. It's a huge adjustment at first.  But it is a labor love.  I think scripture proves to be extremely wise and practical when it teaches:

"that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children" Titus 2:4

Young women need to be taught to love their children, yes we have maternal instincts, but we are still sinners being sanctified and need to be instructed.  We may not all be blessed with godly older women in our lives, but if you are in a bible believing church, chances are there is at least one godly older woman.  That's one of the many reasons it is so important to be a part of a local church. (My church is pretty small, but I feel confident that I could seek advice from any of the ladies older than me).  So if you are struggling to love that precious child when he is screaming in the middle of the night, you need to seek the friendship and mentorship of a seasoned older woman.  You need prayer.  You need encouragement.  You need to be taught what it means to be a godly young mother. Sometimes life is the best teacher, but in this sinful chaotic humanistic world, we need wisdom and prudence guiding us in the form of a dear sister in Christ.  This is what God has set down in scripture.

This blogger says it's ok to want the past back, to let your mind wander to life before motherhood.  False.

"casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," 1 Corinthians 10:5

This means we cannot let our thoughts wander.  This means we need to be engaging every single day the battle for our minds and hearts to be thinking what Christ's word teaches and commands.  Does this mean we will succeed every single day?  Probably not, but the Word of God says He is faithful even when we are faithless.  However, this does not give us a free pass to just feel sorry for ourselves, how beyond exhausted we feel, or how we miss the simpler days.  And I will be honest, the first 2 weeks after 2nd Samuel was born we both were beyond exhausted, but we learned to function as a team, esteeming each other better than ourselves.  We could tell when one needed to just rest so the other would change the diaper or rock the crying baby. We were learning more and more what it meant to "die unto self" to put to death our sinful nature and live unto righteousness.  Even if it meant Samuel walked to the other side of the house with a crying newborn just so I could sleep one hour since the baby just ate 30 minutes before and I was up almost every other hour. all. night. long.  Was it easy?  No.  Did I wish to not be a mother anymore? NO!!!! I knew God graciously gave me this gift of a child and I need to treasure every moment. Even the hard ones.  And when things were hard, to take those wandering thoughts captive and not throw a pity party. But pity parties are hard when you just want to sleep. (;  Some might villainize me because our baby slept almost through the night at 1 month.  And full at 1 1/2 months.  But at the time of this writing, he is now 7 1/2 months and waking up in the night again. (Some mornings I have felt like zombie mom).

Point Number 2: No One Will Be Affected By Their Cries Like You.

It's not so much that I have a problem with this assessment, for is is accurate, but rather her assumption that you think there is something wrong with you!  I appreciate her saying "take it as a badge of honor", for truly, it is.  This may be one of the most precious things about being a mommy, in my mind.  That this tiny little person needs me more than any other person in the entire universe.  No one can comfort him the way my arms and snuggles can.  And as a breastfeeding mom, nothing is quite as amazing as feeding my little one and seeing him thrive on God's beautiful design.  Plus he is pretty cute when he realize it's time to eat and he starts to make his happy baby noises. 

Point Number 3: You're Going To Have Bad Dreams.

It seems what she wants to get across is two things: you have your mommy senses heightened and you are constantly worried.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;" Philippians 4:6

We are not to worry.  The cultural norm that mom's are innately supposed to worry, and everyone thinks this is normal just goes to show how unbiblical the understanding of motherhood is.  Do we throw caution to the wind and think everything will turn out alright with butterflies and rainbows? No.  The Lord works through means, but we do not worry rather we pray.  I will wrap my child up in a blanket to keep him warm, and not just assume because I prayed and asked God to keep him warm that he will stay warm. (Make sense?).  Here is a real life example from the first week of 2nd Samuel's life of the Lord teaching me not to worry but to prayer and depend upon Him and cling to His right hand:

For any parent, you already know about meconium.  For those who don't know, it's the first poop of a baby's life that is black, tarry, sticky, and super scary.  The baby needs to pee and poop a certain amount in the first few days to make sure they are eating enough/gaining enough.  Well, the first couple days no poop was coming, and he wasn't peeing much. We were both very worried at first.  But in those moments of holding my little boy and looking down at his tiny little face, the Spirit of God moved me to cry out and pray to God that He would make this baby poop! Yes. I literally prayed that.  I told God of my worries and uncertainties, asking Him to enable me to trust Him and His design, to calm my heart, etc. But in everything. And I did pray in everything, even about my child's lack of bowel movement.  And you know what? The next day was a major blow out (like out the diaper up the back kinda blow out). And we thanked God for it. And I thanked God that my sweet husband selflessly cleaned that baby up without missing a beat (I must admit it was kind of funny to watch, holding a naked newborn trying to get that black sticky mess off).

Yes, we have some amazing mom intuition that connects our hearts to be in tune with our babies needs.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  But that gives us no license to go into worry mode.  It should drive us to our knees and humble us even more that life is not in our control, but rather in God's loving, faithful, sovereign hands.

Point Number 4: You Will Feel Like an Ungrateful Jerk.

Maybe you do feel like an ungrateful jerk even though you know many women wish to have a baby.  I know of friends who desperately want one baby, or maybe just a second one. But this blogger says, yes it's totally ok for you to feel ungrateful!! She says your feelings are totally justified and warranted.  *Cue Buzzer Sound*. Wrong again.  Not only that, but she says no need to enjoy every moment of motherhood.

*Deep breath*  First off, scripture says we are to rejoice and give thanks in everything, being content in whatever situation we are in.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, Because of Your righteous judgments." Psalm 119:62 (quite applicable to new moms)

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Philippians 4:11-12

We have no right to be ungrateful for the things God has given us, for the plan He has sovereignly ordained for your life, nor to ask the potter, why have you made me like this?  We are extremely selfish and ungrateful people by nature, but praise be to God that He has given His children a new nature!  So we no longer can be selfish and ungrateful, but rather need to be selfless, patient, and self-controlled (just a few of the fruits of the Spirit).  Maybe we are not grateful every moment of every day to be a mother, but that doesn't mean we wallow in self pity and think about how hard it is, no we give thanks, we pray and cry out to the Lord to make us contented like Paul says.  It is just another thing in life to teach us to depend more upon the Spirit of God, for Him to sanctify us to look more like Christ, and to trust in God's unfailing mercy upon us, wretched sinners.

It's not like this applies solely to new moms/dads.  But to everyone in whatever season and trial they are going through.  I am continually learning what an incredibly uncomfortable sanctifying tool marriage is, and now, motherhood is.  Nothing like living with other people to show you how selfish you really are.  I am learning every day what it means to sacrifice for those that I love.  When I am dead tired in the middle of the night and hear the baby stir, I don't want to get up immediately, but I do.  I want to pick him up before he cried and wakes (1st) Samuel up.  Then I enjoy the sleepy cuddles. Every day I see him gaining new skills, growing, and changing.  This season is passing so quickly and I want to enjoy it as much as I can!

And if being a new mom feels like a trial there is scripture to talk to that as well:

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

This baby is teaching more about the state of your own heart than it is about anything else.  And trust me, there are so many things to learn at the beginning. But those are very minor compared to the eternal lessons we are learning.

Point Number 5: You Won't Want This Phase to End, And Yet You Can't Wait For it to End.

Is this not true of all of life?  Ok, I agree with her here to an extent.  It's exciting and so bittersweet.  But as much as I love every moment, you cannot stay in the past, nor do we live for the future.  We live exactly where the Lord Jesus has placed: in the moment we are in now.  Why?  As Ecclesiastes says,

"To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:"

and so we are to enjoy the moments we are in, not worried about the changes, but living in the midst of them one day at a time.  There is a balance to be had.  And if you believe what scripture teaches about children, that they are a blessing from the Lord, then chances are, Lord willing, you will have more babies and get to enjoy the baby season all over again.

Upon her closing statements she says new mommy's are going to have more feelings and emotions than you ever knew was possible.  Yes, with those hormones going haywire, it's definitely going to be a fun ride. But this does not mean that it's ok to justify sinful responses.  It does not mean, we as Christian mommy's, have any reason to disregard the teachings of scripture.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2 Timothy 3:16

So what do people not tell you about the first 3 months of motherhood? That like anything new in life, it will be hard.  But when we are trusting in our amazing, wonderful, loving, merciful, and good God, it is absolutely worth it.  For we may feel overwhelmed, but He is holding us in His right hand.  He does not give us more than He knows is for our good.  Maybe we don't feel like we can handle it, but God handles all things within His sovereign hands.

And as I think about my precious son and the past 7 1/2 months I am so humbled and grateful for the good gift God has given me: a family.  I am acutely aware of one thing from my experience, and it is this: that those who undergo severe trials tend to know intimately the goodness of God as they have been broken and only He has held you together.  Since I have no relationship with my own family, I have known the sweetness of this truth,

"God sets the solitary in families;" Psalm 68:6

When I was but one, He brought me a husband.  And now we are three.  He truly sets the solitary in families!  Just as I think of one precious sister who knows Him as "Papa", a father to the fatherless daughter.  And so we who hurt cling to those good gifts.  But even those who do not hurt, we must all thank the Lord in whatever situation we are in.  Mommy or not.

This life is so worth it when we live for the glory of our precious Lord, to know His love, to make Him known!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

In Review: The Foundations of Social Order & Green This!

I'm very glad to have read R.J. Rushdoony's "The Foundations of Social Order Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church" so soon after the recommendations made by Peter Hammond (of Frontline Fellowship) and Bojidar Marinov at the Providential History Festival in September of 2013.  It took less than one year to complete the first go round of reading it. (;  The other book, Dierdre Imus' Green This! I cannot say the same for, ha.  It was given to me over a year ago and I just now picked it up after constantly seeing it next to my cook books every day.  Don't ask me why I put it there, I just did.  I find it a little amusing that I read these books back to back.  In the ideal world for Imus she builds her foundations upon a totally wrong premise and worldview, which Rushdoony conveniently just explained the importance of the foundation of your social order.  For Imus, she wants the world to be greener, a better place where all of man works together to make it better, considering other's/the environment better than your own convenience... while looking to the government to save us from ourselves/the horrible toxins/the manufacturers of said toxins.  Her worldview is entirely humanistic looking to the state to save man.  Rushdoony's book delves into the history of the early church to show how fundamental God's word and His law order are to a free social order.  State is not the ultimate and neither is the church.  Both have their functions, but God is the ultimate sovereign!  For man to have a well ordered society he must submit to God's word, and in that there is freedom for man.  More on that to come.  The point is, I really enjoyed employing the practical thought process and analyzing from one book to the next.

As I read through Rushdoony's The Foundations of Social Order I realized more how things just "clicked" and that some of the abstract ideas and doctrines I have been learning about suddenly were making sense and were less abstract in my mind.  It's hard to explain, because I was confused myself!  Here is the passage that just really connected things for me:

"On the foundation of Chalcedon, the formulation of Biblical Christology, Western liberty has been built.  Ignorance and neglect of Chalcedon has been basic to the decline of the church.  Strange voices in Christendom assert the necessity for Christian relevance, but the relevance they have in mind is not to Christ and His kingdom but to the reviving pagan statist theology and the attempts by pagan humanistic state to lead man into a paradise without God.  But the reduction of man to the dimensions of the state, to the dimensions of time and history, is the enslavement of man, not his liberation.  Christendom needs to echo the decision of the fathers at Chalcedon, who, after declaring the Definition, stated, 'this is the faith of the Apostles: by this we all stand: thus we all believe.'  The alternative is Christ or Caeser, liberty of slavery,  God or man.  Is salvation man's upward reach, or God's downward reach?  Is it man's word or God's grace?  Is God or the state man's savior? The answer of Chalcedon is emphatically for God and liberty.

Western liberty began when the claim of the state to be man's savior was denied.  The state then, according to Scripture, was made the ministry of justice.  But, wherever Christ ceases to be man's savior, there liberty perishes as the state again asserts its messianic claims.  Man is in trouble, and history is the record of his attempt to find salvation. Man needs a savior, and the question is simply one of choice: Christ or the state?  No man can choose the one without denying the other, and all attempts at compromise are a delusion." Pgs. 66-67

Why yes, yes of course.  Because God's order restrains the state's power and jurisdiction, there is much freedom in biblical social order.  It helped connect the idea of the foundation to Western liberty more in my mind.  As to the book as a whole, what an excellent, edifying, challenging, (sometimes over my head), throught-provoking publication.  This has helped me understand the importance of the creeds and councils in a deeper way.  The more I read, the more grateful I am for the early church father's who saw the need to defend the doctrines of the church.  As Rushdoony points out, some may think at times they are splitting theological hairs, but his book does them justice high-lighting just how crucial each defense and clarification was.  Our modern ears want to shut out such strong language and anathema's, but God's word is not to be trifled with.  There cannot be compromise and truth, otherwise there is no truth at all.

Rushdoony shows his readers how the early creeds/councils helped establish the godly foundations for social order.  This book is full of history and interesting details.  He also clearly communicates the importance of simple doctrine, and yet how the bible is not simple, and that not all of the bible is simple to understand.  It is both simple enough for anyone to understand the basics, yet the framework of the bible is a complex and beautiful thing.  This is a must read and I will definitely be using this in my older home education "curriculum". I may even try to read it again in a few years (because let's be honest, I have too many books I want to read before re-reading anything soon!).

And not so surprising, this book receives 5 Stars from me.

Diedre Imus' Green This! was both a headache and an invaluable resource for cleaning.  I'm surprised I didn't just skip many of the pages, because many times I wanted to.  The problem is, her liberal environmental statist agenda is interwoven between the helpful facts about the dangers of toxins.  Yes, this is exactly the type of annoying "greenie" book you would expect by the title.  That is the biggest problem with the movement, most of these people concerned with the toxic exposure to our health and environment are normally the ones that care more about the government saving everyone; there are very few Joel Salatin's (aka green liberterians, yes they do exist!) in this movement, which is a huge shame.  Christians truly ought to be ashamed of themselves for not being the leaders on this front!  We who are called to take dominion and be good stewards should be the ones advocating wiser, cleaner, greener ways to live and clean, not God-hating unbelievers.

That being said *jumps off Christian Libertarian soapbox*, once you read past the first few chapters, both helpful and irritating, she gets to the practical hands on way to green your cleaning.  This is not just a book of lofty ideas, but Mrs. Imus truly wants to help the average person green their cleaning and prove it is affordable.  Which it is.  Common cleaning solutions she advises are: vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, lemon juice, and essential oils.  Of course, there are many grades of essential oils, she recommends Young Living.  She goes through each room of the house and what common cleaning solutions you can use.  She gives helpful time tables on disinfecting your tools (i.e. soaking your toilet brush in vinegar), how often to vacuum those pesky drapes, etc.  She also gives warnings on things to avoid mixing, or which surfaces need special attention. Some of the things she advised, I already do, but this book was quite inspirational to go the next step in greening our home and keeping the toxins out.  One thing that really struck a chord with me for my home was ditching the bleach.  Yes!  And it is mind boggling how many things use bleach!  I have ordered bleach free toilet paper, and when our current paper towels run out, will be ordering bleach free as well. Buying in bulk helps the budget.  But because of that, I am trying to switch over to using some reusable cleaning cloths (microfiber, for example) to save on cost.

She does not advocate throwing everything away in your cleaning closet and starting over, but a gradual change so it is not overwhelming.  The important thing is sticking to it, not overwhelming yourself.  She also highlights the importance of reading labels.  I already do this with my food, why not for my cleaning products?  It's scary all the things she presented about the weird chemicals used for cleaning, which is a relatively new way of cleaning.  Most cleaning companies will not disclose their ingredients, or only partial lists or secretive names.  This is where she calls on the government to force companies to disclose all the information.  No, people need to become responsible for their own health and care enough without the government strong arming everyone into doing what they say... baby sitting the sheeple.  Aka a nanny state.

Overall this book was very helpful and I appreciated the information. She does come across as a bit pretentious at times, and her nanny state dependence on the government is irritating, but once you get past those things, you will be very glad you read this book.  I will definitely be referencing this a LOT from now on, until my green cleaning regimen is an established routine.

This books gets 3 stars from me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beautiful Little Moments

I love my son.  I really love my tiny little person!  I am overwhelmed by the joy that he brings to my life. I was not prepared for the love I would have for him, how sanctifying he would be, and how I am so glad and humbled that he brings out such patience, care, tenderness, and love in me.  I see him and I want to snuggle him, kiss him, hold him close, rock him, tickle him, and hear his sweet baby coos, giggles, and laughter.  I am always surprised at how genuinely happy this child is!  He is still human, and yes, he does cry.  But usually when it's time to eat or sleep. (Oh, and those moments when his sinful little self shows, yes I have a depraved little baby who needs grace just like everyone else!)

Just earlier I held him as he cried, overly exhausted (we went out canvassing for some local candidates and he missed his longer nap and had a short one instead).  After a couple minutes he calmed down and I just sang to him.  I always sing to him before I lay him down to sleep for a nap or bedtime.  As I held him in my arms and swayed, singing psalms and hymns, I looked down at a peaceful baby, so content, secure, and trusting in my arms.  He was no longer crying, just snuggled against me listening. He even started to sleepily "talk" to me.  I didn't want to set him down, he was so sweet and precious... so I didn't.  I sang a little longer, held him a little tighter, and thanked the Lord for such a blessing!  The laundry could wait a few more minutes to be put away.

It struck me, these moments are so beautiful.  These moments are so new, and yet so changing.  He will continue to grow and change, and one day he will not be my sweet little son, but my grown up son.  I may have more babies, Lord willing, but they will all have such different personalities, I can't expect it to be identical.  So this beautiful moment I soaked it all in, immensely grateful to have this child in my arms. 

Each day I am blessed by such moments through out the ordinary course of events. I have found that to find hidden joy, I must seek it out and incorporate the mundane with the precious.  When I go out and water the garden and dump my compost, I put 2nd Samuel in a carrier to be close to me.  Or when I fold clothes I lay him next to me/or set him in my lap and we can interact as I fold.  Even when I am in the laundry room I take him there.  When I vacuum I put him in the carrier again, and he just hangs out (pun intended) with me so contentedly.  And my favorite thing has been to establish enjoyable routines, such as always singing to him before he lays down.  I enjoy singing, and he loves to listen!  Changing diapers is delightfully fun. Yes, fun!  He just loves it, seriously.  Each morning after he eats, we change his diaper, and get him dressed... and I have my morning song (This is the day the Lord has made). He always grins and enjoys it.  Then he coos and giggles and we "talk". Through out the day during each time I'll sing a catechism question/answer to him and he squirm/giggles/coos with delight.  The day is filled with fun little moments, and I get every day chores done while he is awake.  Even while I nurse him, I like to read adult books. Sometimes I even read aloud to him.  But lately, he gets distracted when I read aloud and wants to grab the book from my hands instead of eating! Haha!  Maybe one of the cutest things he does (there are SO many, I can't really choose), is when we lay him down for bed and he pops his head up, gives us a sheepish grin, then starts cooing away, giggling, and looking over at us. (He is in a co-sleeper).  Then when we turn the light out he gets quit and falls asleep. He just knows lights out means serious bedtime, LOL!

Again, I love my son!  God has been so good to us, and each day we are reminded that children really are a blessing from the Lord.  I know days will get harder and more complicated as he grows and matures, but life is to be lived one day at a time, one season at a time.  I am not going to get ahead of myself worrying about the future, but prayerfully considering the days at hand.  I know I have weaknesses and need growth as a godly mom.  But I suppose that is one of the beautiful designs of the Lord's, to allow mom and dad to grow with the baby. (:

I am so blessed and love motherhood!  I really am delighted by just how joyful and fulfilling it is.  One of the huge reasons is because I am able to be a keeper of the home and have my little one with me all day.  I could not imagine leaving him with others every day to care for him.  I thank God that He has given me a godly husband, one who takes seriously the duty to provide for his own (1 Timothy 5:8), as well as see the biblical design of womanhood.  Because he so faithfully and tirelessly works to provide a stable income for our family economy, I get to spend my days contributing in others ways, such as meal planning, gardening, being a good steward of our money, research/study many topics, caring for our child, keeping/caring for our home, and so many things that fall under "home management"!  What beauty there is in being a wife and mother.  Oh, I love caring for my little arrow! (: 

P.s. For some reason the blog won't let me upload any pictures or videos.  So to see this really cute video of him enjoying the johnny jumper for the first time, click the youtube link:

2nd Samuel in the Johnny Jumper