Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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  • BLOG NEWS

    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Archive for the ‘Homemaking’ Category

The Inside Scoop on Foreign Missions

Posted by April W Gardner on July 11, 2012

Ever wonder what a missionary wife goes through on a foreign field? What’s it like to haul your precious little ones into an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment? How do missionary wives cope?

Below, one such wife share a personal account of her first years on the foreign mission field. She wishes to remain anonymous, but God knows who she is. His eye is on her today as much as it was twenty-four years ago…

***

On September 28, 1988, my husband and I, along with our three children, arrived on our mission field. Before arriving, we were instructed to learn the culture and language. We were to be open and receptive to it. I had been taught that if mother adjusts on the field the whole family adjusts. My task was clearly laid before me.

Approximately one month later we had found an apartment on the ninth floor of an 11 story building. From the balcony, all the people below walking down the sidewalk and all the children playing looked so small, but they were our mission field. Those God had sent us to minister to.

We began language study as soon as possible, ourselves as well as our children. My husband and I had a language professor who came to our apartment twice a week for three hours at a time. There was a young American woman in the national church we attended who worked in the country teaching English to business people.  We asked her to give language lessons to our children.

After several weeks in our new apartment I began noticing differences in each of us. It seemed that our weak traits began to cause us more problems. My social, talkative husband become frustrated, angry, demanding, and not happy with anything. My oldest became more nervous and high strung. My second become more and more drawn into herself.  The youngest, 5 years old, no longer laughed. He just “existed”.  It seemed that the family was coming apart at the seams. Instead of coming together, each one dealt with the drastic change in a way that drove and severed him from the unit.

I suffered for each one. I had been taught that if mother adjusts on the field the whole family adjusts. So I felt a huge burden to be the anchor.

But how? I had no idea how to begin to be what was needed for my family! Here I was a wife and mother, more scared of her own shadow than anything else, in a foreign country that really was not inviting in the least. In this culture where revolting trash was thrown out apartment windows. A culture where the street language is two words normal, one profanity. Add to that the general rejection of anything foreign.

Our family was submerged in a turbulent ocean of foreign, unchristian, “savage” culture, each member drowning, and me, with absolutely no idea how to save them.

I turned to the only thing I knew. In utter desperation and panic of heart, I beseeched the Lord to teach me how to pray for my family in this time and place. All that came to my heart was to ask Him for someone to pray for us. I did not know why, but that is what was put on my heart. So I began begging God for someone to pray for us. Every night when I could not sleep due the heavy burden I would get up, read my Bible, spill my heart onto the written page and then get on my face before God begging him to have someone pray for us, because I was totally paralyzed spiritually to help them myself.

I do not know how long I prayed. All I can remember is that as time went on, the Lord brought to mind to look for open doors for activities for my children: craft classes, art classes, and horse riding lessons, taking family outings to see and get to know the country. Little by little things began to settle down and each one of us began to breathe easier.

I remember exactly the day, where we were, the sun that was shining, the sounds of the traffic as I was driving home with my 5 year old when he said to me, “This place doesn’t feel so different now.” Then I heard his big belly laugh for the first time in months. Such a beautiful sound.

It was beautiful hearing my children laughing again and speaking the language so fluently and with no accent. It was beautiful being able to share fellowship with the believers there. It was beautiful to see beyond the style of life of the culture and into their hearts and all the good qualities as well as the need for the eternal.

So our family adjusted, survived, and thrived. Two years later, the time for our first furlough came around. We arrived in the United States and relished American comforts like peanut butter and grape jelly. While shopping, I ran into a dear friend. They were missionaries in another country. In fact they had arrived in their country of service about a month before we arrived in ours. When she saw me, she grabbed me, gave me a huge hug and said, “Girl, what happened to you? About October I got such a burden for you all that I could not get you off my heart for months!” We had not been in contact for at least 3 years.

At that moment, I saw how God had honored my petition laid out to him in such pain and need. I saw how he honored my family and their decision to dedicate themselves to fulfill the last command of Christ.

More than 24 years have passed, and my husband and I are still on the field, in the same country God . Over the years, I have seen repeatedly how God honors prayer even though we do not see how He accomplishes it.  He is a God of detail, using what is unknown to us to meet our needs and the needs of those we love.


April W. Gardneris a multi-published, award-winning author. Her work includesthe historical romance series, Creek Country Saga.

Posted in Encouragment, Happiness, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

End of the Line

Posted by Ben Erlichman on March 1, 2012

As I sit here in the hallway just outside my condo (I locked myself out—my house and car keys are inside so I’m stranded), I can’t help but reflect on how far I’ve come since I first started blogging for Reflections in Hindsight. I began awhile ago upon seeing an admonition from our very own Lisa Lickel via the ACFW Midwest loop for anyone interested in contributing to this blog. I answered her call and offered to contribute, and soon I was posting once every other week.

Not long after that, I began posting every week when the gentleman I was co-posting with had to step back from the blog, so Thursdays became “my day” at Reflections. It worked well for a long time. I could probably go back and tell you exactly how long it’s been, but I haven’t any desire to try to figure out how to do that on my iPad via the WordPress App and risk losing an entire post (it’s happened before) in the process.

I’ve shared on a great many subjects during my time here, some of which still attract readers even though the posts have been live for months. Some of my top posts include my thoughts on witchcraft in YA books (above and beyond the level of Harry Potter, which I think is mostly harmless), a fun post entitled “WWJBD? What Would James Bond Do?“, and my personal favorite, An Obituary for Harold, a squirrel to whom I paid tribute a few days after I ran him over with my car.

All in all, it’s been a great run, but as I said in a previous post about how much I hate blogging, I just don’t have the time, energy, or the drive to continue to write anymore. Part of it stems from the fact that I don’t enjoy reading blogs very much, and I hate the idea that I have to blog in order to be a “successful” author as far as my books go. If I hate blogging, why am I doing it?

I apologize for my negative outlook on this subject. As this is my last post at Reflections, I want to leave on a positive note, something I have done for basically everything I’ve posted. I’m that type of person: the optimist who sees the glass as half full—usually.

So here’s my positive spin on all of this: in not blogging at Reflections, I will have more time to write books, work on Splickety Magazine (which you can buy here), and be a good father to my son (or possibly daughter), who we’re expecting to be born within the next few weeks. Posting at Reflections has been an obligation that I worried about fulfilling every week, and now I won’t have to worry anymore.

Thank you all for reading my posts throughout the last year or so. You’ve walked along with me on this journey, through the good times and the bad, through the well-planned posts and the not so well-planned posts. I am forever indebted to you for your support.

As I sign off for the last time as a regular contributor (that’s right, you may see me again at some point, it’s just that I won’t be the one driving the carriage) I have to make three final requests of you.

1. Please continue to read Reflections authors’ posts. As you well know, I’m not the only one here at this site. Never was. Please continue to support this site, and tell your friends about it. I owe so much to Lisa and the other contributors for what they’ve taught me, so please check them out often, if not every day.

2. Keep reading on Thursdays. My replacement is the very able, intelligent, creative Luther D. Powell, a young man with a bright future ahead of him. You can check him out on our author page soon. He will continue to bring the heat through his posts, a heat that has cooled in my recent posts. Give him more than a fair shot—I think you’ll be impressed.

3. Finally, keep your eyes open. I’ll be around. I’m at conferences, I’m not leaving Splickety Magazine any time soon (just started it—duh), and I’ll eventually have a book or 19 published that you all can and should read, and then buy more copies for your friends and family. When that day comes, I’ll appear on Reflections again, probably for an interview. Until then, support Splickety, and if you see me wandering the halls at some conference you happen to be attending, come up and say hello. I’m okay with faces but horrible with names, so please pardon me if you have to remind me who you are.

With that, thank-you again, and God bless you all.

-Ben

This is me preparing for my undoubtedly bright future.

Posted in Anxiety, Author Marketing, Author Spotlight, Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Hospitality, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Music, Parenting, Publishing, Till death do we part, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Biblical Feast Cookbook

Posted by Lisa Lickel on February 15, 2012

I love to bake, and I enjoy cooking. I first got turned on to cooking Biblical times recipes when I bought a cook book called The Good Book Cook Book back when I was newly married. We’re not too much into lamb, but found the onions delicious. When My mother-in-law recently visited Morrocco, we were excited about all the different foods she ate, and when Kitty contacted me back before Thanksgiving about promoting her book, I was happy to share….so, here you go, friends: Flavors From Foreign Lands!

A Biblical Feast:

Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table

(Fifteen thousand copies originally published by Ten Speed Press as

A Biblical Feast: Foods from the Holy Land for Today )

www.abiblicalfeast.com

 

6” x 8”. 108 pages. Index. Menus.

ISBN 13: 978-0-615-27635-9. Perfect binding

NEW: 22 full color food photographs plus illustrations. Entirely re-edited.

$15.95 paper with flaps

A land of wheat, and barley, and vines,

and fig trees, and pomegranates;

a land of oil olive and honey.

DEUTERONOMY 8:8

Herb-coated goat cheese, pungent garlic and leeks, succulent lamb, fresh sardines, fresh fava beans, honey sweet dates, crunchy pistachios and almonds … Although we usually think of the ancient Hebrews and early Christians eating only “manna from heaven” and the oft quoted “loaves and fishes,” the Bible tells us that a cornucopia of delicious foods sustained the inhabitants of the Jordan River Valley. Many ingredients like lentils, leeks, garlic, almonds, figs, olives, wine, barley, and honey remain staples of the contemporary Mediterranean kitchen, yet we know little about their rich legacy.

As much a cookbook as a reference book, A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table is inspired by the 84 primary foods mentioned in Scripture. The appropriate biblical verse heads each of the almost fifty kitchen-tested recipes, as does the explanation of the ingredients’ culinary, historical and spiritual links. Twenty-two full color photographs and specially commissioned illustrations make it easy to reproduce the dishes.

Mainly, A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table demonstrates that the people of the Holy Land were simple folk who ate uncomplicated yet wholesome food that up to now has never gone out of style. Ideal for schools, libraries, churches and synagogues, and Bible study groups. Menus provide new ways to celebrate every occasion, whether secular or religious.

Sample recipes

Salads and Dips

Cumin-Laced Garbanzo Bean Spread

Sesame-Almond-Nigella Sprinkle

Lentil Salad with Watercress and Goat Cheese

Main meals

Jacob’s Pottage of Lentils

Barley, Mustard Greens, and Mint

Saffroned Millet with Raisins and Walnuts

Breads and Desserts

Ezekiel’s Bread made with AUTHENTIC biblical ingredients such as pulse flour, natural yeast, and “fitches” (small seeds)

Dried Fruit and Red Wine Compote (Harosset)

Abigail’s Fig Cakes

Herb-Coated Yogurt Cheese (make your own cheese!)

Beverages

Wine

Reviews: http://www.kittymorse.com/a-biblical-feast

Catholic Digest

San Diego Jewish Journal Online

Heritage radio March 2011

San Diego TV Channel CW

Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun (May 2011)

ABOUT KITTY MORSE

www.kittymorse.com

Kitty Morse was born in Casablanca of a French mother and British father. She is the author of nine cookbooks, including The California Farm Cookbook (Pelican Publishing), and Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen, a finalist for Michelin Australia’s Best Food Book, and a Chronicle Books best seller now in its ninth printing. Bon Appétit magazine selected one of her menus as Moroccan Cuisine: Cuisine of the Year. She has taught cooking nationwide for close to three decades, including a class hosted by Julia Child to benefit the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Kitty has been a guest on radio and television here and abroad, and has led 23 annual gastronomic tours to her native Morocco. Her books have been translated into German, Polish and Czech. She is an adjunct professor of French at Palomar College, San Marcos (CA). She resides in Vista, CA.

Posted in Author Marketing, Book Reviews, Homemaking, Hospitality, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , | Comments Off

Distraction in Action

Posted by Ben Erlichman on October 27, 2011

You’re sitting in that ideal setting that we mentioned last week. You’ve got your elixir, your nepenthe, your ambrosia in a steaming mug next to you (or in a chilled glass). The sounds of nature, or silence, or rock and roll surround you as your fingers tap the keyboard or write longhand. The computer screen is alive with color, but mostly just white and black text. You type word after glorious word, and the story unfolds before your very eyes like a flower blossoming in the springtime (or, if you write action/adventure, like a swelling explosion from a rocket-propelled grenade).

Everything is perfect, just the way you like it.

Then the phone rings. The dog next door starts barking. Your kids charge into the room and shout at the top of their lungs. The over beeps because your frozen pizza is cooked. Your next-door neighbor shoots his dog because it was barking too much. A meteor strikes the Earth in Africa and knocks your juice/coffee/soda/water all over your keyboard.

All is lost.

What happened? You got distracted.

“But–that’s not what happened! It wasn’t my fault!” you cry, furious that I would hazard to suggest that the African meteor was somehow your fault. “I couldn’t help being distracted.”

Sometimes, that’s exactly how it is. You don’t really have much of a choice–stuff will happen and it will distract you.

Sorry for the pause. I had to go get a frozen pizza out of the oven. Seriously, I actually got up and did that while I was typing this post. But it’s 11:47 at night and I’ve only eaten once today, so I have to take care of that. For me, that was an example of a necessary distraction.

As I was saying, there are some things you just can’t help. The neighbor’s dog barking, for example. Unless that neighbor really does find some way to shut Fido up (or if you’re cavalier enough to do it for him), you’re stuck with it. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you have to let it distract you. Put on some headphones, or put in some earplugs, or both, and get back to writing.

It’s not always so simple. You have kids. They neeeeeeed you every second of every day. Can’t get rid of them, can you? Sure, if they’re older, you can ship them off to school for eight hours, but if they’re babies (like the one I’m expecting in March), what do you do then? Since I don’t have kids that age (yet), I really don’t have a good answer except to say what I would TRY to do.

James Scott Bell has a dandy book called The Art of War for Writers (which I highly recommend). In it, he explains that he often “snatches time” when he writes. He explains that he makes sure he is still productive in spite of distractions by snatching time to write whenever he can. He mentions that he writes in some weird places at some weird times, primarily on a portable typing thingy–not hi-tech like an iPad, but something simpler called an AlphaSmart Neo, which he says runs on two AA batteries. He stresses that no matter how you do it, make sure that you ARE doing it.

So, when the kids are screaming, attend to them, and then sneak back to snatch a few words here and there until you find time to dedicate to writing. That’s my theory, anyway.

It will also help if you rid yourself of the distractions you can control. How much time, would you say, you spend online? On Facebook? Checking emails? Playing games? Playing video games? Watching TV? The list could go on forever, I’m sure, but my point is simple: make writing a priority, and you’ll find that many of those other things won’t matter quite as much in relation to your writing. Find a way to box them out, to isolate your writing time as your writing time.

This is all easier said than done, but you can do it. It takes time, practice, and discipline, all dirty words in our modern age of instantaneous gratification.

I’m going to leave you with a few different action steps today. Use the ones you can, ignore the others.

1. Identify things that distract you on a regular basis. This could be anything from jumping on Facebook every seven seconds, reading articles online, that incessant beeping from your cell phone because you haven’t opened your last text message yet–anything that you know will distract you.

2. Rid yourself of these things if you can. Turn off/unplug your internet connection, and switch off your cell phone’s sound. Put those earplugs in and block out Fido’s incessant barking, etc.

3. Create a plan of action for dealing with unforeseen distraction (like public rhyming). This should include dealing with said distraction, but more importantly carving a path to getting back into your writing groove.

4. Snatch that time. Get an AlphaSmart Neo, or a notebook and paper, and write. Or, get an iPad, and write on that thing. How you do it isn’t so important–actually doing it is what’s important.

5. Celebrate your victories. Before you know it, you’ll have a thousand more words on the page than you had ever dared hope for. That calls for a bit of celebration, right? Treat yourself to a movie, a TV show, or a snack/beverage that you wouldn’t normally enjoy, and enjoy a period of rest.

I hope this helps.

-Ben

Posted in Anxiety, Authors, Encouragment, Friendship, Happiness, Homemaking, Hospitality, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Music, Parenting, Till death do we part, Uncategorized, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Big News in My Life

Posted by Ben Erlichman on October 6, 2011

Well, everything about my life as I know it is about to change. I will soon have less freedom, less time, less money. I’ll get less sleep, have less energy, and I will have to scale back to fewer projects.

Why?

My wife is pregnant with our first child.

We found out a couple of months ago and recently heard our baby’s heartbeat. We’ll be heading to our next doctor’s appointment soon, and my understanding is that shortly after we will get to see our baby on an ultrasound.

Yes, we want to determine the baby’s gender in advance. That way we can tell our family and friends how to shop. We have a few names selected for both genders, but I’m not going to tell them to you because I don’t want you to steal them. ;)

Our plan is (as of now) that my wife Ashley will take her maternity leave from her teaching job at the end of the school year (she’s due March 22nd, and we’re hoping the baby will be fashionably late), and I’ll take some time off from my ogre slavedriver of a boss (my dad) as well. Then, once we’re a bit more settled in, I’ll get back to work while Ashley stays home with the kid.

We also are blessed to have my parents living in close proximity, which will help to enable us to go back to work after next summer. My mom has already said she’d take care of our baby every Wednesday. That’s awesome. My dad, who runs his own business, said he would take one day (Friday or Monday) with the kid, and I’m planning to take at least one day as well. That leaves only two days we have to account for each week, and truthfully, I could probably work at home for some of that time while the baby sleeps–IF the baby sleeps.

Hopefully that way Ashley can go back to work next fall so we have a steady income. Or, even better, hopefully I sell a book or seven and make tons of money off the royalties from their sales. This is all hypothetical, of course, but my point is that I’m trying to think about this ahead of time.

So, all you seasoned, professional parents out there, here’s your chance. In the comments section, tell me one or two things (as concisely as possible) that you wish you would have known about parenting, or raising a baby, or anything related to that.

I’m looking forward to what you have to say.

-Ben

Posted in Anxiety, Authors, Encouragment, Happiness, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Hospitality, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Parenting, Till death do we part, Working from home | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

“The Garden Groom” — A Product Review

Posted by Ben Erlichman on August 4, 2011

This is something I usually don’t do, but since I had an opportunity to use a new product (The Garden Groom) yesterday, I decided I should review it. Here it goes.

The Garden Groom

This thing is touted as “The world’s only collecting hedge trimmer,” and then gives the following description:

“See the Garden Groomer in action!

The GardenGroom provides ultra fine cutting with its concealed blade, helping make it safer than conventional hedge trimmers. Plus, with it’s self-contained collection system, you get less waste and no mess to clean up. The GardenGroom saves you both time and effort.

Just look at these Garden Groom benefits:
Shreds so fine it reduces waste volume 10:1
Thorny clipping disposal is quick, easy and painless
Clippings are ideal for composting
Concealed blade makes the GardenGroom ultra-safe
Lightweight desigm makes it easy for almost anyone to use.”

Well, some of that is true. They do not, as with most product marketing, list the product’s cons. Here are a few of them:

Difficult to use with overgrown shrubs, thereby negating the easy-to-use feature
Heavier than advertised (and heavier than competitive products like the Black and Decker Hedgehog)
Cumbersome design make it difficult to use (more on this later)
Finely shredded clippings are harder to clean up by a ratio of 10:1
The attachment bag is awkward and poorly designed for actual use, despite being easy to store.
The plastic container attachment is minuscule; you have to empty it every two minutes because it fills up so fast.

The product worked very, very well on evergreen-type shrubs and was useful for some short prickly bushes at my parents’ house. It saved me from having to get poked in my fingers while attempting to clean up the scraps because there weren’t any scraps to clean up. The evergreen shrubs didn’t need much trimming as it was, but I could tell by the little trimming I did that the Garden Groom would work very, very well on those types of shrubs.

Not so with leafy shrubs, though. I tried the Garden Groom on both very overgrown leafy shrubs and only somewhat overgrown leafy shrubs and the results were the same: whenever I wanted to tackle shoots of any length longer than 2-3 inches, the Garden Groom failed miserably. If you look at its design, you’ll see that it is rounded off in the front (and all around the blade). There is no way to effectively cut long shoots except to lift the entire thing up to the top of the shoot(s) and bring the rotating blade straight down on the shoot.

On the contrary, the Black and Decker Hedgehog (my old standby for trimming hedges at my parents’ house) has no trouble with handling those long shoots. The relationship between the two products could be compared to that of a beard trimmer (the Hedgehog) and an electric razor (the Garden Groom). They both have different purposes (with some overlap). As an electric razor is good for shaving dense, short hair, the Garden Groom works well to trim dense evergreen shrubs–as long as they’re not too overgrown. The Hedgehog, like a beard

The Black and Decker Hedgehog

trimmer knifes through thick hair, works much better at hacking off long shoots and shaping shrubs.

The Garden Groom and the Hedgehog do share the same con, though. Both of them are frustrating because they’re electric (and yes, I know they make gas-powered hedge trimmers. I’ve used them and very much prefer them instead). The long extension cords I have to haul around frequently get in the way or come unplugged from the actual trimming unit. If you have a short fuse like me, that will really set you off in no time. (There’s a battery-powered version out now too, but I don’t have that one).

Let’s talk about the attachment bag. It’s like a normal push mower bag, except that it has a long nylon sleeve that you attach to the Garden Groom. By long, I mean at least 10 feet, if not 15. That’s bad. It kept getting tangled up in the cord, or twisted on its own so the trimmings trying to snake down to the bag would get stuck in the sleeve. They should have made it with a thick plastic ribbed air hose like you would find on a central vacuum system, only much wider in diameter. Sure, the things stores well as it is now (the sleeve is flexible, of course, so it fits inside the bag itself) but it doesn’t function very well.

Overall, I’d say go with a Hedgehog and some tarp. Lay the tarp around the bushes you’re trimming to catch the clippings, and trim with the Hedgehog. I did in 5 minutes more with that Hedgehog than I accomplished in 15 with the Garden Groom. The only thing I really enjoyed about the Garden groom was its ability to protect me from bees–I saw one hovering on one of the bushes I was trimming, so I sucked it up into the blades, sending it to Hades where it belonged. (Insert sinister laughter)

Unless you want to augment your bee-murdering hobby, don’t buy this thing.

-Ben

Posted in Homemaking, Life Experiences, Uncategorized, Working from home | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sunday Book Review: Microbusiness Tips for Teens

Posted by Lisa Lickel on April 17, 2011

Starting a Micro Business for Teens

By Carol Topp

c. 2010

Ambassador Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-09829245-0-1
Retail price: $9.95
 

 This nifty little book sets out to make a big difference in encouraging families with teens who are interested in more than setting up a lemonade stand or playing around with real dollars. Topp’s reason for adding this book to her collection of teen helps is that she wanted to create a useful and practical guide for teens, written by a mom who had teens, and include the inspiration reasons behind stewardship. 

 Each chapter, from the introduction of “What is a Micro Business” through the practical steps of figuring out suitable ideas to making them work and how to establish realistic goals, is filled with brief paragraphs of advice in easy-to-understand and follow tips, and ends with bullet-pointed Important Points. I loved her sample Business Plan, her encouragement, even the word-for-word advice for shy teens when they are encouraged to seek advice over the phone or in person from help desks or professionals.

 Topp doesn’t stop when the micro business is set up; she makes sure all accountable areas are covered, particularly with licensing and the all-important responsible government cut. Kudos to Topp for this wonderful and practical guide.

 Carol Topp is a CPA who advises teenage business owners. Visit her web site: microbusinessforteens.com/

Enter the drawing for a free package of Carol’s other books by leaving a comment here and other places on the tour.   GRAND PRIZE!

The Complete Set of Carol Topp’s Micro Business for Teens Series

(Winner will receive the four books shown below)

Starting a Micro Business

ISBN: 978-0-09829245-0-1
Retail price: $9.95

Running a Micro Business

ISBN: 978-0-09829245-1-8
Retail price: $9.95

Money and Taxes in a Micro Business

ISBN: 978-0-09829245-3-2
Retail price: $9.95

The Micro Business for Teens Workbook

ISBN: 978-0-09829245-2-5
Retail price: $14.95

Posted in Book Giveaway, Book Reviews, Encouragment, Homemaking, Parenting | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

As Far As it Depends on You by Donna Pyle

Posted by Jennifer Slattery on April 8, 2011

Today’s post first appeared on my blog as part of a series on forgiveness. I am a champion of marriage. ninty-nine times out of a hundred, the marriage can be saved if the couple follow God’s plan and leading. But sometimes, no matter how hard we fight for healing and reconciliation,  the marriage crumbles. Today’s post is for those women who’ve felt the sting of divorce and for those struggling in a dark marriage. Know you are called to do one thing–obey God, with full surrender. The rest is up to Him. 

Donna Pyle, founder of Artisan Ministries, shares her testimony of forgiveness, and the healing that came from it. The Bible tells us we are to seek peace as far as it depends on us. Sometimes, we can do everything we know to do, with little results, but when we follow God’s ways, He promises that we will never go through the painful experiences of irreconciliation alone. And I believe He will bless our obedience in His time and His way.

I also posted Donna’s testimony to remind us all to be quick to love and slow to judge. When you see a single mother, pause before jumping to conclusions and remember, she could be a widow, a recovering victim who fled an abusive husband, or, like in Donna’s case, a woman who desperately wanted to make her marriage work, only to be abandoned by her husband.

TAKING A STAND TO FORGIVE

by Donna Pyle

How could I have possibly missed the signs? Is this actually happening? Those questions flooded my mind as I watched an unannounced nuclear bomb decimate my marriage. The man I had shared 19 years of my life with had treaded a dark path and chosen to walk away to save face instead of save our marriage.

Feelings of betrayal hit me like a two-by-four. I could hardly breathe from the sheer weight of sorrow. Overwhelmed at the loss, my soul cried. My trusting heart lay shattered around me. Difficult days followed. Bone-numbing weariness blanketed my mind and sadness threatened to drown me in darkness. I had been discarded. I was alone. Have you been there?

That heartbreaking morning a year and a half ago began what proved to be the most difficult yet amazing journey of my life. How in the world would I ever be able to forgive such betrayal? It seemed insurmountable. Betrayal is worse than death. It is the willful slaughter of hope.

That horrible day of discovery was cataclysmic to our marriage. I’ll never forget the sound of that door closing behind him. I crumpled under sobs that came from my soul. I had been robbed. Robbed of my husband, my marriage, trust, and love. The loss was devastating.

Thankfully, God put an amazing couple in my life who scooped me up for the night to stay with them. They provided me with love, hugs, and a safe place. They didn’t utter anything profound, they just let me be. Be sad. Be heartbroken. Be quiet. Be a mess. Just be.

When I awoke the next morning after falling asleep out of sheer emotional exhaustion, I got dressed and headed to work in order to let them know I’d be taking off the rest of the week . I needed to start collecting the pieces of my broken life. Before I left my friends’ home, I gave them my wedding ring as a reminder for them to pray for us. Somewhere deep inside, I knew I would never wear that ring on my wedding finger again.

In the weeks that followed, it was very clear that my ex-husband was not going to put in the work required to save our marriage. Divorce proceedings ensued. There are almost no words to describe the sadness of the “this is mine; that is yours” process. But I resolved not to fight over “stuff.” He moved the balance of his things out of our home on our wedding anniversary.

It was surreal to drive downtown to the courthouse to sign the final divorce papers. My attorney and I approached the bench, the judge signed the papers, handed them back, and said, “I wish you good luck.” Luck was the last thing I wanted. God was everything I needed.

How do I even begin forgiving all that happened? How does anyone? I didn’t want to forgive at first. I wanted to seek, kill, and destroy him for all the hurt and pain. But I didn’t want to be an angry, bitter person. We’ve all met people like that. The ones that leave us wondering what in the world happened to them that caused them to be like that. So I began my journey toward forgiveness.

I kept a journal from that horrible first day until a month after the divorce. When I got up the nerve to go back and re-read it, I found a startling entry on Day 1: “God, I’m so hurt and angry over what he’s done, but help me to forgive.” I don’t even remember writing that prayer. But throughout some incredible Christian counseling, I learned that was truly my desire.

I learned that compassion characterizes forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness extends from a love that comes from sorrow. I was grieving over what he had become rather than what he had done. Embracing that truth freed my heart, mind, and soul.

When I finally realized that God had worked in me true forgiveness, I texted my ex-husband to see if we could meet. That’s the last step in forgiveness. We have to let that person know they’ve been forgiven. Although he couldn’t bring himself to meet, I texted him his forgiveness anyway. There. I did it!

Even though he didn’t respond at the time, I made peace with the fact that I wasn’t responsible for how he accepted it. I was responsible for extending it. That day began my new life free of heart clutter. I have been able to embrace the life that God has now given me.

Surprisingly, some people may be angry about the forgiveness we extend. There are a few close friends of ours who have asked me how I could have possibly forgiven what happened. Much like the older brother in Luke 15’s story of the prodigal son, some don’t understand extending forgiveness for hurts caused and wrongs carried out. But again, that’s an issue they have to work out for themselves.

My wedding ring has been transformed into a cross-shaped ring of forgiveness, worn on my right hand, inscribed with the words, “FORGIVEN” and “Col. 3:13.” It serves as a reminder of what God has forgiven me and how I am to keep extending it to others.

Unforgiveness keeps pain alive and traps us in the past. Assigning blame or re-living the betrayal proves toxic. Forgiveness allows us to joyfully live in the present and permits us to open our hearts and hands to receive the hope and future that God has planned for us.

If you struggle with unforgiveness, pray for a changed heart—for you. Forgiveness has everything to do with our actions, not theirs. As long as we hang on to unforgiveness, we remain trapped. Seek counseling to work through deep-seated resentment. I did. It works. Then take that step toward forgiveness that frees our heart to live again. God loves you dearly and promises to guide your every step.

*      *      *

Donna Pyle was born in the one-horse town of Kountze, Texas. The daughter of a real estate agent and a homemaker, Donna was raised in south Texas with her three sisters. Donna’s parents instilled in her a passion for reading and new school supplies, which sparked her love for writing. Her father’s frequent job moves made attending church a low priority. At 23, a friend invited Donna to a church service. Six months later, she was baptized and confirmed into God’s family and began her greatest adventure of all with God at the helm of her life.

After 17 years of digging into God Word and learning from incredibly, godly mentors, Donna founded Artesian Ministries in 2007 to teach women how to love and live on God’s Word. As an avid student of Scripture, Donna has written over 17 Bible studies and is currently working on her first book.

As a frequent public speaker, she teaches with humor, grace, and exuberance. With incredible warmth, she draws women in so that they feel as if they’re sitting down together over a cup of coffee and God’s Word. You’ll be laughing one minute and crying the next as Donna passionately conveys just how much Jesus loves each and every precious soul.

Donna has a passion for interdenominational ministry since it so wonderfully and accurately represents the body of Christ. She attends Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball, TX where she serves on the worship team. Donna enjoys traveling, reading, singing, and driving her cats crazy with feather toys.

For more information, please visit: www.artesianministries.org and her personal blog at www.donnapyle.blogspot.com

Posted in Encouragment, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

The Hardest Ones to Forgive by Ane Mulligan

Posted by Jennifer Slattery on March 25, 2011

I’m honored to have Ane Mulligan with us today. She’s one of those ladies always ready to lend a hand or a kind word of encouragement. She plays a vital role in the rapidly-growing ACFW critique group and has an eye for that timid newbie, ready to take them under her wing. We’ve been discussing forgiveness on my personal blog, and because lack of forgiveness destroys countless marriages each year, I decided to bring the topic here. Each day, we offer grace to the slightly rude man in the grocery line, the distracted clerk at the library, and the inconsiderate driver on the freeway, because we’re Christians and that’s what we do, right? Forgive as we’ve been forgiven? Demonstrate the grace of God by dishing out a bit of our own? But then we come home to our not-so-perfect spouses, who are supposed to be our knights in shining armor. Suddenly, forgiveness isn’t so easy.

Here’s Ane’s story:

The Hardest Ones to Forgive

Sometimes, the hardest person to forgive is the one we love the most. We expect better from them. I can’t even remember what the argument was about, now, or what he said that hurt my feelings.

But I definitely remember the feelings. You know the “poor me” ones. Why is it wallowing in self-pity feels so good? I stood at the kitchen sink, long after he’d gone to work, washing the same cup over and over again and crying.

Of course, y’all know that’s exactly when the Holy Spirit decided this was an excellent time for an attitude adjustment. Well, I couldn’t agree more. The hubs certainly needed one!

Oh … You meant me? ME?

I argued with the Lord for a while. I mean really. After what I’d been subjected to, I needed some more wallow time. Finally I said, “Okay, Lord. Take these feelings from me. I forgive him.”

I dunked the cup back in the water, splashing soap bubbles up in my face. As quickly as I’d handed over my feelings to God, I snatched them back. “But he was so mean.”

Disclaimer here: the hubs was not mean. It was a clear case of I was right and he was wrong and refused to admit it—wink.

This tug-of-war with my self-pity went on for another 20 minutes. Finally, I gave up and gave into God. I let Him take my feelings and work on me. He could work on the hubs later.

I dried the cup and put it away. Then I tried to tap into my feelings again, but the Lord had done what He promised. They were gone. There wasn’t one iota of self-pity left. I’d truly forgiven.

What a freeing feeling. I had to laugh. I could hear the Lord chuckling at me and laughter is so contagious.

Hmm … I may try that next time.

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, she’s worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), business manager, drama director and writer—her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for fiction (try saying that three times fast). She’s editor of the popular literary blog Novel Journey—one of Writers Digest’s 101 Top Websites for Writers, a humor columnist for ACFW’s e-zine Afictionado, and a past Board member of ACFW. She’s published dozens of plays and numerous articles and won several awards in contests for unpublished novels. A mom and grandmother, she resides in Suwanee, GA, with her husband and one very large dog.

You can find her at:
Her personal website Southern-fried Fiction

Posted in Heart and Home, Homemaking, Till death do we part | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Modeled Conversations

Posted by Jennifer Slattery on February 25, 2011

A few years back, our daughter was having trouble with one of her friends. This other girl was extremely cliquey and manipulative and had soured the entire social circle at the small, close-knit school our daughter used to go to. There were actually three girls (counting my daughter) involved, and I was friends with both moms, so…I called them up. The way I saw it, either we helped them work through the situation or my daughter found new friends.

One mom was very engaging, and concerned. She had a sense things weren’t right, but didn’t know the extent. We spoke about possible solutions and I told her I’d call the other mom to schedule a time when we and the girls could meet. Sounded good.

So, I called the other mom. She had two responses: 1) I know my daughter’s not the issue, and 2) I stay out of Tanya’s* conversations.

Yeah…it showed. Suddenly I knew why this other little girl acted like such a toad. She’d never been trained! My daughter and I talked about this a bit, comparing and contrasting the behaviors of other children at her school. We noticed a pattern…those with involved parents had much better behaviors. Those who “trained themselves” shared many similar behavior patterns: they were manipulative, aggressive, hurtful, often sarcastic. More like a Sponge Bob cartoon gone wrong.

Of course, as a mom, I used this to my advantage. Yep, it was a perfect teaching moment! We talked about how few people really had strong problem solving and communication skills. Those kids who put others down, manipulated and connived in sixth grade became adults who did the same. You know what I’m talking about.

If you happened to read, Somewhere Between a Freak-out and a Pajama Party, you’re probably saying, “Now wait a minute…I thought you took a watchful, step back a bit, approach, allowing your daughter to make her own decisions.”

That is true for the most part…now, but that is largely because I’ve already laid the foundation during her early years. I can’t tell you how many “modeled conversations” we had, starting when she was barely old enough to talk. I’d see her fighting with her friends, and would call them in for a little gab session, led by me. The goal wasn’t the solution as much as it was the resolution. This provided a guide when our daughter faced tense situations.

Here’s how it’d go. (In case you’d like to try it.)

I’d call all the children involved in and would have them all sit. We’d always begin with prayer, asking God to protect the relationship. This communicated two things: God is a God of reconciliation and friendships are worth holding on to.

Then each child would be given a chance to talk, explaining the situation from their perspective. Without jabs.

One day, I noticed our daughter and her friends sitting, somewhat squirmishly, in our backyard. So…I meandered out, and what I heard threatened to throw me in a fit of giggles.

My daughter: “How did that you make you feel?”

She was now guiding the conversation! I’ve seen this skill grow and progress over the years and somehow she’s become the one everyone comes to when they’ve got a problem.

Early in my marriage, many of our problems were caused by negative communication patterns. How many fights could we have avoided if we’d learned, through practice, effective communication! And why don’t we teach our kids? Because we don’t want to be “controlling” or “over-bearing”? Yet, we demonstrate how to tie shoes, brush teeth, do math problems…

If we don’t teach them how to communicate, guess who will–the other kids on the playground or in the locker room.

*name has been changed for privacy purposes

Posted in Heart and Home, Homemaking, Life Experiences, Parenting | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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