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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daily Guideposts 2011

Daily Guideposts 2011

Even though we're three-quarters of the way through the year, it's not too late to check out the Daily Guideposts 2011. This collection of one-page, daily devotionals features a story centered around a Bible verse and includes a small, sample prayer at the end.

This book is just right for those who are looking to bring more discipline into their daily devotional lives or who just want to supplement a current Bible study with something perhaps more personal.

This edition is the 35th anniversary edition of Daily Guideposts, and it comes with a place for notes at the end of each month. I would be surprised if there weren't a 2012 version, so if you'd rather wait until the new year to start this up, you should have an option then as well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Christian Encounters: Jane Austen

Christian Encounters: Jane Austen by Peter Leithart

For the Austen devotee, Leithart's biography is a must. He loosely centers the chapters around her faith, but it's not an overriding portion of the book.

Her piety is so drastically understated; it is a reticent eighteenth-century Anglican piety that barely breathes its own name. She refrains from religious passion and speaks of Christian truths in a balanced, matter-of-fact manner that lacks existential power and is completely free of the spiritual terrors of a Luther or Bunyan.

The book begins by poking a little fun at Janeia (Jane mania) and bemoans the whole Pride and Prejudice and Zombies culture. But Leithart seems to be an admirer, too.

Either way, he does a thorough job covering her writing career as well as her home life, dispels some of the romantic myths surrounding her personality and love life, and, overall, gives the Janeites another look at their favorite author.

Surprise, Surprise

We're so grateful to have a house and a baby on the way, but here are a few of the surprises/things no one told us that have thrown us for a bit of a loop...


(I went back and added a few of these that I forgot last night. Re: pregnancy brain.)

House surprises:

The junk mail--Oh my word. We keep a UPS box, but that doesn't stop the flood of junk mail from showing up at our house. My own little fun game is to return it to the sender with little notes inside. I feel like I've gained a tiny victory every time.

The $$--So we had prepared for the mortgage and insurance and all. But we didn't totally prepare for the other stuff that came along with the house. Namely, things like the...warranty, alarm system, garden hose, sealing stuff for the door, curtains, long dusters (for the ceiling fans), door mats, garbage disposal, fence, garage door opener...you get the picture.


The time--Our house isn't that big, but it's three times larger than the apartment we've been in for the past four years. So everything from getting my backpack ready in the morning to putting away laundry literally takes three times as long to finish! We've definitely had to adjust our morning routine.

Baby surprises:

The exhaustion--I'm sort of a "pick yourself up and get over it" type of girl when it comes to physical ailments, but God seems to be teaching me to be a bit more compassionate on that sort of thing. I have never ever felt so tired and so incapable of doing anything about it! It's definitely better in this second trimester, but sheesh!


The lack of sleep--I get really cranky if I don't get my eight hours, but this baby has me up every two or three (preparation, I suppose?). If I'm not going to the bathroom, I'm trying to find a position where my back doesn't hurt. Speaking of positions, it is tough going from being a back/stomach sleeper to being on your side! It's getting better, but it takes practice for sure.

The weird cravings/aversions--OK, so you are sort of prepared for this, but you never know what you're gonna get. Being a vegetarian, I get a lot of my protein from nut and nut butters. And peanut butter has pretty much always been my favorite food. (What else is good on both oreos and spaghetti noodles?!) No longer. Cannot take nuts. The other aversions (to cold vegetables, sweets, and chili cheese chips) seem to have passed in these last few weeks, too, but nuts are still right out.

The pregnancy brain--yeah, it's real. I stare at the phone racking my brain for extensions I have automatically dialed for four years. I forget what I'm going to say (or blog), often interchange Fred and Jason's names, and lose track mid-sentence all the time. If I don't write it down, forget about it!

One more semi-surprise will be Baby McBookworm's gender. We should find out boy or girl this week, and I have a pretty strong boy hunch. So we'll see if Mom's intuition is right or if we're in for yet another surprise!

In the meantime...

16 weeks...

18 weeks...(Fred makes another appearance)




And 20 weeks...

Halfway there!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Power of Half

The Power of Half by Kevin and Hannah Salwen

Doing with a little less ourselves can improve the lives of people surviving on less than a dollar a day.

Sometimes when I like a book this much, it's hard not to just gush in the review. So I'm going to try not to do that, but I make no promises. ;)

This book rocked.my.world. For more of my personal reaction to it, you can read here. Now on with the review.

The Salwen family had always been aware of others' misfortunes and eager to help. However, probably as for many of us, this often came in the form of writing a check...

As necessary as financial gifts may be, they didn't resonate with our kids. We parents might have been feeling good, but our kids weren't feeling much of anything.

Their paradigm shift began when they were sitting at a traffic light, and their daughter noticed a homeless man sitting on the corner and another man driving a black Mercedes convertible. She pointed out that if the driver had a less expensive car, the homeless man could have a meal.

Instead of getting into complicated economics or social theory, her parents embraced her concern for others, and the family started researching, discussing, and brainstorming about what they could do to help.

They decided to sell their house and give away half of the money.

Kevin and Hannah take readers through their family's process, including deciding what they did not want to do...

We presumed that involvement would reflect what Westerners traditionally see as their role. We'd be digging wells or laying bricks or painting walls. We'd be working side by side with Africans, spending our money and our time catalyzing brighter futures for them...But then we read and learned....mission and service trips often have a negative long-term impact on the very people they are aiming to serve--not positive, not even neutral, but negative...Unless service trips empower local people in some important way, they do little but help to foster dependence.


And discussing what they learned and how their family changed through the process...

I realized how much tougher that kind of transformation is than digging a well and moving on to the next community. For the villagers, real change requires teamwork, shared sacrifice, and faith in one another. For the nonprofit groups, these efforts take time, consistency, reinforcement, patience. This is not aid; it is metamorphosis.


Kevin writes the main part of the chapters, and Hannah's "take" on things is included at the end. She gives readers--especially younger ones--some practical advice of how to find their own way to help and make a difference in the lives of others.

That's another thing I loved--they stress that they are not suggesting that everyone sell their house and give away half of the money. The book never comes across as preachy, but they do point out two main things. They discuss that most of us can give more than we are giving, and they talk about why we should be doing that.

Again, I loved the book. It's a quick read, a compelling story, and full of practical advice if you want to impact others in a similar way.

For more information, check out their website.

The Power of Half

I usually keep my book reviews on my other blog, but I just had to share this one here as well because it rocked. my. world. I've pasted the official review below, but this one really has some questions stuck in my head.

How can we help? How can we make sure what we're giving is actually helping? What kind of family do we want to be?

We've always been a tithing family (and have the goal of one day reverse tithing--living on 10 percent of our income, giving away 90). But we also know that we could always do more. I don't know about y'all, but, for us, there's a constant tension between materialism and doing more for others--especially now that we have a kid on the way.


"Don't get me wrong: money is not a bad thing...But spend, spend, spend becomes a brutal way to raise kids; they start to believe that everything is replaceable or that everything costs the same amount. An ever-escalating standard of living becomes the New Normal, something they grow accustomed to."

I'm kind of passionate about not sending our kid into a tailspin of wanting (because that happens so easily to me!), and this book is a great resource for a variety of practical ways to help as well as ways to think through how you're giving.

That's where we are right now--in the thinking/researching/brainstorming stage. But I like action, so, even though it's a very small start--I started by giving away half of my hair. :P




The Power of Half by Kevin and Hannah Salwen

Doing with a little less ourselves can improve the lives of people surviving on less than a dollar a day.


Sometimes when I like a book this much, it's hard not to just gush in the review. So I'm going to try not to do that, but I make no promises. ;)

The Salwen family had always been aware of others' misfortunes and eager to help. However, probably as for many of us, this often came in the form of writing a check...

As necessary as financial gifts may be, they didn't resonate with our kids. We parents might have been feeling good, but our kids weren't feeling much of anything.

Their paradigm shift began when they were sitting at a traffic light, and their daughter noticed a homeless man sitting on the corner and another man driving a black Mercedes convertible. She pointed out that if the driver had a less expensive car, the homeless man could have a meal. 

Instead of getting into complicated economics or social theory, her parents embraced her concern for others, and the family started researching, discussing, and brainstorming about what they could do to help.

They decided to sell their house and give away half of the money.

Kevin and Hannah take readers through their family's process, including deciding what they did not want to do...

We presumed that involvement would reflect what Westerners traditionally see as their role. We'd be digging wells or laying bricks or painting walls. We'd be working side by side with Africans, spending our money and our time catalyzing brighter futures for them...But then we read and learned....mission and service trips often have a negative long-term impact on the very people they are aiming to serve--not positive, not even neutral, but negative...Unless service trips empower local people in some important way, they do little but help to foster dependence.

And discussing what they learned and how their family changed through the process...

I realized how much tougher that kind of transformation is than digging a well and moving on to the next community. For the villagers, real change requires teamwork, shared sacrifice, and faith in one another. For the nonprofit groups, these efforts take time, consistency, reinforcement, patience. This is not aid; it is metamorphosis.

Kevin writes the main part of the chapters, and Hannah's "take" on things is included at the end. She gives readers--especially younger ones--some practical advice of how to find their own way to help and make a difference in the lives of others.

That's another thing I loved--they stress that they are not suggesting that everyone sell their house and give away half of the money. The book never comes across as preachy, but they do point out two main things. They discuss that most of us can give more than we are giving, and they talk about why we should be doing that.

Again, I loved the book. It's a quick read, a compelling story, and full of practical advice if you want to impact others in a similar way.

For more information, check out their website.

Read from the beginning...