The Beauty Book by Nancy Rue – A Review

The Beauty Book, by Nancy Rue, is a non-fiction book written for girls ages 7-11.  From a no-nonsense, God-doesn’t-make-junk beginning to a fun quiz-style closing inventory of what the reader has learned, Rue seeks to direct the attention of young ladies to the issues that matter most, while giving practical and honest help on issues that seem huge to most preteens.

I found The Beauty Book engaging and practical.  Topics covered include God-confidence, self-talk, shaving, skincare, nails, hair, clothes, caring for your body as the temple of God, respect for parents.  I like the multiple choice mini-quizzes that help the reader to look at their own thoughts and habits, as well as the “Talking to God About It” sections, which give prompts to encourage prayer about the topics.  There is also a “Lily Pad” page at the end of each chapter with space to write about a related question.  These features make the book very interactive, and would be helpful for parents who would like to use the book as a springboard.

On most questions, Rue effectively shares Biblical principles and refers decision-making back to the parents, sharing information that is widely agreed upon.  One disappointment for me was her “there is no such thing as a safe tan. Period. The end.” stance on sun exposure, and her strong endorsement of sunscreen.  Research has shown that regular moderate sun exposure has health benefits, and as a health-conscious mom, I am uncomfortable with the chemicals in sunscreen, so I wish that she had left more room for parental guidance in this area.

Overall, I think The Beauty Book is a great resource for pre-teens and their parents, and I look forward to sharing it with my girls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a kindle edition of this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

A New Morning Habit

Mornings have long been a frustration to me, in the sense that we’ve struggled to get breakfast done and our day begun.  It’s seemed like we’re very disjointed/disconnected, not very family-ish, and have such a hard time getting to the point where we’re doing anything besides spinning our wheels.

Last month, the Simple Homeschool weekend links included this gem – What’s Working :: 5 Strategies for Right Now, from Amongst Lovely Things, a blog I hadn’t previously read.  Sarah gives some great ideas in a relatively short post, but the one that jumped out at me was #3 – “Start Early. Very Early.”  When I read her description of how her family’s mornings used to be, and I thought she must haved lived at my house!

The whole insistence on being “dressed and ready for the day before starting schoolwork” is really lingering residue from out-of-home education.  But we are not trying to bring into our home what happens in a school building.  No, we are seeking to educate our children at home in the way that best fits them and our family.  And sometimes it is difficult to even spot the things we do as a result of the influence of the school system.

So Sarah describes how they have thrown out the “getting ready” and have begun a habit of just starting the day with reading aloud together.  In her words,

Trust me, getting out of bed is a much more appealing prospect when chores and math aren’t looming directly overhead. My kids wake to the promise of a cozy blanket while mama reads a story. I sip coffee while I read, and before we know it we’ve got 30 minutes of  literature (or history, science, religion, or whatever else we’re reading about that day) under our belts.

Oh, that sounds inviting, doesn’t it?!  It definitely got me thinking.

Then, around New Year’s, I read a terrific article from Thomas Jefferson education about Winter’s Educational Superfood.  More good stuff in there than I can cover in this post, but it was further motivation for me to want to switch things up with our routine!

So last week, as we got back into official school stuff, I started calling the Blessings out to the living room first thing in their morning.  Now, my morning starts long before theirs, as Jonathan leaves for work about 45 minutes before most of them wake.  I use the gap for studying of my own, or a quick nap, or trying to get some of my computer stuff out of the way before they begin their day, or even making breakfast for them!  But when I’m ready for them to begin their day, I call everyone to the living room and we begin.  So for me, starting early is less about time-early and more about first-thing early.

We are reading I John 1 this month, one of them reading it from my Kindle each morning.  By the end of the month, it should be somewhere between very familiar and memorized.  And since there are five chapters in I John, the book will fit in nicely by the end of our “official” school year.

After we read our Bible chapter, we read a chapter from a classic.  Right now we are enjoying Little Women.  Not sure what will come next, but I think all the Blessings and I are enjoying it.

While I read, they usually eat breakfast (if something’s ready), or one of the older Blessings quietly fixes something, then they eat.  It seems so much easier to move on to other studying and work after starting our day together with a cozy read.

And, a treasure for you from this morning’s read.  I found this so resonated with me that it was difficult to make it through the paragraph as I read aloud to the Blessings this morning…

If I don’t seem to need help, it is because I have a better friend, even than father, to comfort and sustain me.  My child, the troubles and tempations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavely Father as you do that of your earthly one.  The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom.  His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength.  Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.” ~~ Marmee to Jo in chapter 8 of Little Women, “Jo Meets Apollyon” ~~ Louisa May Alcott

Maybe you’d like to try it?  Maybe you have found something different that is fabulous for your family?  I’d love to hear about what morning routine works for you!

A Thirty-One Party!

James Bloom, a lifelong friend of ours, is headed to Haiti next month to finish a church building project that he helped start last summer. His lovely wife, Eryn, whom I have also known most of her life, is a Sr. Consultant with Thirty-One, a 10 year old Christian company founded with the goal of helping women start their own businesses. They have a great selection of totes, bags, organizational items, and fun gifts, most of which can be personalized.

I’ve seen Eryn use Thirty-One parties before as fundraisers to bless others. A few weeks ago, a mutual friend of ours decided to have one as a fundraiser for James’s trip, and I thought it was such a great idea that I decided to play copy-cat. With many non-mutual friends, I’m hopeful that we’ll both be able to have good success in raising money toward James’s trip. If you’re interested in helping, please let me know and I’ll make sure you have an invite to the FB event (with all the needed info).

I’d like to highlight some of the products that look enticing to me in the catalog, and thought I’d start with one that I own and love.

My Mama brought me a thermal tote (p.2 & p.43 in the spring catalog) when she visited this summer, and it has been such a lovely and practical gift! Mine is purple (big points to begin, for this purple-girl), and I’ve used it for a variety of things. Even though it’s thermal and works great as a cute and classy cooler, the thermal lining is so thin that it’s very usable for other things. It’s 9.5″H x 14″W x 4.5″D, so I’ve toted a change of summer clothes in it, used it for a purse, carried toys in it for Andrew, used it for a mini-diaper bag, and more. The tote also has an exterior pocket, which is nice for tucking in last minute extras.

When Eryn had the thermal totes on special after Thanksgiving, I bought three for three dear ladies in my life, and had them personalized. I loved all the options – for patterns, thread color, and stitching fonts. And their bags look terrific!

So, whatever other goodies you might pick up before this party ends next Sunday (Jan. 20), consider adding a thermal tote to your order. I’m sure you’ll enjoy and appreciate it!
Happy shopping!

Brief Thoughts on the New Year

As I lay in bed early this morning thinking about another year and pondering my “big picture” goals for the year, the words to this dear hymn came to mind –

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.  

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

As I thought of words that might be key for me in 2013, the one that stuck with me was OPEN. The Lord has been teaching me much about being open, and my guess is that these lessons have just begun and will be key in this new year. Open to Him (to Who He is); Open to His leading; Open to His grace and forgiveness; Open to His plans instead of my own; Open to His gifts; Open to my husband; Open to my children; Open to broken people hiding behind polite smiles; Open to how He wants to use me; Open home; Open arms….

Rejoicing in God’s Ruling Hand

I recently re-found this wonderful quote a friend posted from an out-of-print book, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart. Says one who was Stuart’s assistant for some years,

“She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will, and working out His own designs. Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, to the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings, or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it.”

Oh, yes, Lord, may this be true of me!

Advent is Coming! (A Gift For You)

From Dictionary.com
ad·vent [ad-vent] noun
1. a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
2. ( usually initial capital letter ) the coming of Christ into the world.
3. ( initial capital letter ) the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
4. ( usually initial capital letter ) Second Coming.
Word Origin & History –
“important arrival,” 1742, an extended sense of Advent “season before Christmas” (O.E.), from L. adventus “arrival,” from pp. stem of advenire “arrive, come to,” from ad- “to” + venire “to come” (see venue). Applied in Church L. to the coming of the Savior, either the first or the anticipated second…
(Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper)

Advent, the time when we ponder with wonder the coming of our Savior, and look forward with anticipation to His coming again, begins next Sunday, December 2. What an opportunity for family worship and memory-building around the true reason for the Christmas season!

I’d like to share with you again this year my book Anticipating the Savior – The Advent Wreath as a Tool for Worship.  As I have said in the past, our family has been deeply blessed by the use of the Advent Wreath, and I pray that this offering of a free e-book will bless and aid your worship as well, whether you are worshipping alone or with a house full of family.

Just right click on the following link and choose “Save Target As” to save the .pdf file to your computer.

Anticipating the Savior – The Advent Wreath as a Tool for Worship

I would be delighted for you to share this book with your friends and family. Would give me the grace of directing them here to share, please?

AtS_ButtonPic

Quick shopping list for your Advent Wreath:
Four candles for the outer ring of candles. They can be tapers, votive, pillars… or whatever works for you. Depending on preference and availability, you need three purple or blue, and one pink or red. You might consider purchasing an extra set in case the first burns too low.
One white candle for the center Christ candle. I like to use a pillar, but find what suits you.
Candle holders for safety. I use simple individual candle holders for my tapers, and a small glass plate for my pillar.
Greenery of some sort for your wreath. An actual wreath, a length of garland, live evergreen branches… the form is much less important than the heart!

 

Resolved

We have been looking at a family business possibility over the past couple of months that would require a major time-investment from me.  As we pondered and prayed, I realized that to be gone from home more than fourty hours a week, doing school and business elsewhere, would require a whole new level of discipline and intentionality from me.  I started formulating practical plans for different areas of our life that would allow for maintaining a calm family atmosphere and spiritual focus, a tidy and welcoming home, an effective educational experience for our children, and warm, home-cooked meals on a consistent basis.

Last Tuesday, we got a “sorry, but we are not able to give you a business loan at this time” call.  A couple hours after the initial tears and prayers of frustration, I was blindsided by this thought (and it was a good thing I was already prone for a nap)…

What if I lived as intentionally day-by-day **without** this new business as I was planning to be in order to make it work?  What changes would we see in our family relationships, our schooling, our ability to reach out to others?

Woah.

Ouch.

And yes.

Yes to learning to be more disciplined and intentional with my time, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen with this business possibility.  Yes to implementing plans that will allow us to use our time more efficiently and work together as a family.  Yes to truly seeking to receive and give grace in the daily moments.

We don’t know for sure that the business opportunity is a solid “no.”  We continue to pray, as do others, that if this is what the Lord has for us, that He will make the path clear.  We are talking with another bank, and we are working toward improving some of the factors that prompted the “no” from the initial bank.  We are trusting the Lord to move us forward in the direction He would have us go.

And in the meantime, I am working on implementing some of my grand ideas for intentional living.

One of my first big projects has been adapting my friend Winter’s 5 Week Menu idea.  I will share more on this later, but I am truly excited about it.  I have a 5 week menu for cool weather planned out, and am working on getting detailed grocery lists made up for each week, all the recipes gathered together and in page protectors, and other tricks to make meals streamlined and simple.

I am hoping to share some of this journey of intentionality with you, so stay tuned!

Election Perturbation

I rarely post political stuff, but I’m going to briefly now, because it’s just too important to be quiet.  Following are some of my internal strivings about the upcoming Presidental election:

1) Those of you who know me at all know that I have a high view of womanhood, and I have worked for years in my “pet” area of women’s rights.

2) I also have a high view of human life.  Biologically, human life begins at conception (see http://www.abort73.com/abortion/medical_testimony/ for a myriad of quotes from abortion activists agreeing with this as an objective reality).

3) I am a strong believer in the Constitution our founding fathers established for our country, and I am distressed by how far we have travelled from its intent in many areas.  I long to see huge change in our country moving toward Constitutional principles.

4) One area that particularly distresses me is the two-party system, especially the decline and corruption of the Republican party.  I am disgusted by some of the shenanigans pulled this year by party leaders, and the thought of voting Republican on Tuesday makes me more than a little nauseous.

5) I am sick of going to the ballot box and voting for the cliche’ “lesser evil.”  That’s not a comment about individuals as much as it is about a party system that is sick and broken.  And so this year, I was ready to finally do it… vote my beliefs without regard to whether I would cast a “winning” vote.  So I picked up my research once more.

6) I agree with many planks in the Libertarian platform, though I agree more thoroughly with the Constitution party, for which I don’t have the option of voting this election.  In lieu of being able to vote for a Constitutional party candidate, how I would love to vote Libertarian this year, to be part of a 5% vote that would force some changes in the two-party system (or display how corrupt it is when they again change the rules mid-stream).

7) But, ah, for the deal-breaker of a rub. See number 2. The official Libertarian platform says that abortion should not be regulated by the government, and yet, if one accepts the biological beginning of human life at conception, to not criminalize the taking of a human life by the force of abortion directly violates stated Libertarian principles (See Section 1 of the Libertarian platform). Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s website states that “Life is precious and must be protected. A woman should be allowed to make her own decisions during pregnancy until the point of viability of a fetus.”  Again, if one accepts that human life begins at conception, as so many biologists and abortion advocates do (see above link for a refresher or if you are doubting), this is saying that the taking of a human life is fine until said human reaches the nebulous point of “viability.”

8) The other platforms planks with which I disagree could be set aside for the goal of shaking up our current system and creating some Constitutional change.  But not this one.  I just Can Not, with a clear conscience, cast a vote that does not stand for the sanctity of human life from conception.  And honestly, it galls me.  Not to stand for life, but to not have a better choice.

9) And so, with the Republican party having what is described as its strongest stand for life ever, and without a Constitutional party option, I go to the polls and will cast a vote for life in the Presidential race.  And I research local polititians, knowing that to move toward a more Constitutional government, we must start at a local level.  And I ponder what I’m called to do to help create better choices in the future.

10)  If you are one of my beloved friends who are to the left of me politically and you have gotten this far in my tome, thank you.  I must reiterate that since I embrace life as beginning at conception, I do not have the option of looking at abortion as a women’s rights issue.  Just as a woman who shoots her partner in intentional, deliberate fashion is guilty of murder, even with a history of abuse, to kill an unborn person, despite extenuating circumstances or inconvenience, is still murder.  Compassion, understanding, forgiveness… these should be extended to a woman in such traumatic situations.  But they do not negate the facts of the case.  If I believe that an conceived life is a human being, I must take a stand for that life.  Would you ask any less of me?