The Happiest Life by Hugh Hewitt (My Review)


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  • the happiest life

I wanted to review this book for one simple reason; I want a happy life.
But first, who is Hugh Hewitt (I wanted to know)?
Turns out he’s an attorney, a Professor of Law at Chapman University, an author and the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Hugh Hewitt Show. Apparently, I have been out of the loop and haven’t heard of him.
I do sit up and listen when successful people have something to say about true happiness. I am assuming that these folks have tried to look beyond outward success (beyond material things) and find satisfaction and joy in intangibles, so I was interested in what Mr. Hewitt had to say.
Hugh Hewitt’s The Happiest Life reminds us what is most important and (surprise), it’s not money or possessions. Hewitt focuses on seven “gifts” and spends a chapter on each one. Most of these, you and I have heard before; encouragement, friendship, kindness etc. Several of them were a bit too generic for me (enthusiasm and graciousness, for example).

Along with the seven gifts are the seven “givers” (spouses, parents, teachers, and others). These relationships are those in which we, also, have the opportunity to become givers.
Again, nothing terribly new here except a reminder that, perhaps, the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is your time. It’s also a great reminder that climbing the ladder of success may result in great disappointment if we don’t cultivate these “gifts.”
Hewitt then moves on to the Greatest Giver–God. He speaks generically of God as a God of peace and goodwill. Hewitt defines himself as a “layer-cake Christian;” an “Evangelical Roman Catholic Presbyterian.” Hmmm.

Perhaps his approach to Christianity is the same approach he takes to writing a book; in an effort to be all-”inclusive” and positive, he writes an easy-to-read book that placates the reader but leaves them wishing for something substantial.
Ultimately, I think this book misses the mark.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.


The Chicken or the Egg? (In Other Words, Don’t Be a Dumb Cluck!)


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chicken counting eggsOur new house is looking a little more homelike; books are on shelves, the kids mattresses are up off the floor and the dining room table is no longer piled high with clutter.

Yesterday, I finally met our neighbors because…uh….our chickens got out. Sigh.
Fixing the backyard fence is next on our list.

I’ve  had  taken some time to read. Life is good.

Believe it or not, it’s not just my imagination that reading calms me down.

Neurodevelopmentalists say that reading really does stimulate the brain in a wonderful way. In contrast, videos and movies activate the sleep center of the brain which is why, even after we watch an action movie, we yawn and feel unmotivated, leading us to look like this cute creature.

images.jpg goat

For more interesting articles about learning and how to stimulate the brain in the right way (especially for parents of struggling learners), visit the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists. Start with the articles. Fascinating stuff.

On another topic, ever been accused of being bitter when you are just plain hurt? As people who have been forgiven much by a gracious God, forgiveness and bitterness are important to contemplate. What does bitterness look like? How do I know I’ve really forgiven someone who has wronged me?

This article gave me some meat to chew on. Little Red Hen

And for you fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books; here’s a mom who has compiled a virtual tour of the actual places where the Ingalls lived! She gives readers the real timeline of the author’s life along with maps and videos of the museums. If you’ve been hit by the January cold and cough that is making the rounds, take a few moments to look back on those days of no running water, carpets, tylenol or kleenex.Abby and Eggs

Read, ponder and pray! Don’t be a dumb cluck!


Aside by Peter Marshall


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Marriage is not a federation of two sovereign states. It is a union–

It is a fusion of two hearts–
     the union of two lives–
          the coming together of two tributaries,
which, after being joined in marriage, will flow in the same channel in the same direction… carrying the same burdens of responsibility and obligation.

Modern girls argue that they have to earn an income, in order to establish a home, which would be impossible on their husband’s income.

That is sometimes the case, but it must always be viewed as a regrettable necessity, never as the normal or natural thing for a wife to have to do.

The average woman, if she gives her full time to her home
     her husband
          her children…

If she tries to understand her husband’s work…
     to curb his egotism while, at the same time, building up his self-esteem
     to kill his masculine conceit while encouraging all his hopes
     to establish around the family a circle of true friends…

If she provides in the home proper atmosphere of culture
     of love of music
          of beautiful furniture
               and of a garden…

If she can do all this, she will be engaged in a life work that will demand every ounce of her strength
     every bit of her patience
          every talent God has given her
               the utmost sacrifice of her love.

It will demand everything she has and more.
And she will find that for which she was created.
She will know that she is carrying out the plan of God.
She will be a partner with the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.

And so, today’s daughters need to think twice before they seek to make a place for themselves
     by themselves
          in our world today…

Dr. Peter Marshall (Chaplain of the U.S. Senate in the 1940′s who was a gifted speaker and passionate Scotsman)

It’s January



Grey, cold January. It knocks me for a loop every year.

I look at people and think silently to myself,

“What is wrong with those people?”

(I even think that about these wonderful people seen below. At this time of year, I borrow that line from Jimmy Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life and say, “Why’d we have all these children anyway?”).

Ask me again in June and I will tell you how wonderful everyone is.

In the Pew 3(This is a family photo from about two years ago when we met in a gym at our Canadian church. I was determined to get a picture of us all on a Sunday morning. Turns out it’s tricky).

When I’m tired of being upset with everyone, I go take my vitamins and get out my Happy Lights. Happy Lights are not really very happy-looking. They have a horrible glow but they are supposed to tell your body,

“Hey! Life’s not so bad…look! There’s light!”

My body says, “Yep, but it’s not warm, loving, natural light and you ain’t foolin’ me.”

Actually my body is saying nothing to my Happy Lights because I can’t find them.

I just moved.

I can’t find anything.

DSCF1884(Ah, look at the happy boy on the cold, clammy Washington beach in May. Anything is better than this grey, cold January).

We’re living in my dream home; a beautiful old house built in 1906; full of character and pizazz.

I was going to start the year out with a bang and post beautiful photos of The Grande Old Dame on my first blog post of the year but my photographer (artsy daughter) is busy.

Plus, it’s January.

Photos coming soon.Creativity literally oozes from Hannah's fingertips!Here’s last years post in a similar vein (but with more practical help) Feeling Sad in a World of Happy.

The Wall Around Your Heart by Mary DeMuth (my review)

The Wall around your heart“Satan wants nothing more than for us to run from God’s goodness …blaming God for someone else’s bad behavior and disengaging from Him and from life usher in isolation, anger, distance, and that high wall around our hearts. And, when we live behind that wall, our hearts grow cold, bitter and unwieldy.”

The Wall Around Your Heart; How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You by Mary DeMuth is not your average get-healed-by-Jesus book. Mary addresses pain from experience and her solution takes the reader straight to God, using the Lord’s Prayer as a template.

I found Mary’s book to be very helpful because she doesn’t skirt around the issues that plague those who have been deeply wounded. For example, how do you confront someone who is treating you wrongly when you are used to being the victim? And, how do you deal with the “woe is me” pattern that so many wounded people live in?

The solution is understanding who God says He is and what He says about you. He is truly our father and that fact is glorious even if our view of fatherhood has been warped by a rotten earthly father.

Mary also explains that forgiveness is multi-layered and complex. What does it look like and how does God use it profoundly in our lives? Mary addresses that hard-to-answer question (as well as many others) as one who has lived through an abusive childhood. She speaks from a place of robust tenderness.

“The hallmark of growing, vibrant, infectious Christians isn’t their ability to abstain from sin. It’s their willingness to let the cross highlight their sin so they can repent, ask forgiveness and move on in the light of Jesus’ outrageous grace.”

The book includes discussion questions and an Appendix entitled; Dealing with Wolves (How to evaluate and identify abusive Christian leaders who are wolves in sheep’s clothing) which I think is worth the price of the book.

In short, this book will serve as a real-as-potatoes warning to all of us as we deal with past pain and learn to walk in forgiveness.

I recommend this book and received it from Booksneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.

Creating the Christmas Spirit on a Dime



images.jpg Children reading at Christmas
..well, not really on a dime but inexpensively.

1. Decorate everything with candy canes and big bows. If they are those big, chunky candy canes even better! Tie them on the tree, lay greens (artificial or natural) down the middle of the table and garnish the greens with candy canes, tie them on the porch railing with greens looped in between…you get the idea.

After the holiday, crunch up the uneaten candy canes to use in cookies, on ice cream and elsewhere.

2. Speaking of greens, use them if you have them. Greens tacked along a stairway, wrapped around a porch railing or laid on the top of the piano…they always look like Christmas.021021095545p2262421_bw_web_t.jpg snow

The Chicken or the Egg? Asking Questions and Getting Answers


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chicken counting eggs

Biblical mentoring…does it matter? This video from Revive Our Hearts reminded me of the importance of passing on the faith to other women.

Just because it’s that time of year and you’re going to be eating goodies anyway, whip up these easy, peasy coconut balls. They’re gluten free.coconut snowballs

Are you the mama of a toddler? Christmas can cause an already active little one to go a little beserk! Keep your little one busy with these creative, low-cost ideas.

keeping toddlers busy

Finally (because I don’t want you to be a dumb cluck), consider this; We are the Sorter-Outers of Our Children’s Hearts
heart with yarn

Have a blessed week!

Delicious, Perfect Turkey Every Time!


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Well, that’s quite a proclamation up there, isn’t it? Perfect turkey, every single time?

You bet.

And even a lazy cook like me is able to manage to wow the hungry hoards with this one.

Preheat oven to 425 (yes, that’s right, HOT)

You will need:

A thawed turkey (under 20 pounds does very well with this method but the larger turkeys will work, too).
Oil or butter
Salt, pepper, garlic or whatever herbs you enjoy.

1. Take your little friend (the turkey) and make sure all his parts are out of the cavity. Pat dry outside and in.

2. Rub the entire turkey with melted butter or oil (we like olive oil but I’m tempted to try coconut oil one of these days)
My hubby sometimes lifts the skin carefully and rubs oil under it but this isn’t necessary. The oil all over the turkey will seal the juices in and keep it moist as it cooks.

3. Sprinkle salt and herbs over the turkey or (as we do) rub kosher salt and garlic inside.

4. Place the turkey in a pan (that will catch the drippings) in the middle of the oven (make sure that the oven is preheated to 425).

5. Set the timer and let that little friend bake for 20 minutes at the high heat. This is crucial because you are going to reduce the heat to a very low heat and that high heat makes that turkey safe to eat!

6. After 20 minutes reduce the heat to 250.

7. Cook the turkey at 250°F for 20 additional minutes for each pound. That means if you have a 14 pound turkey, you’d cook it for a total of 4 hours and 40 minutes.

That’s it! Easy and delicious.

No basting is necessary. You start counting the 20 minutes per pound immediately when you turn the oven down to 250°. You don’t wait until the oven has cooled down to start the timing for the second phase.

You can either let the turkey cook uncovered or covered for the second slow cooking phase. The skin will get crispier if you uncover it. Yum!

This method produces a tender, juicy turkey full of flavor. It’s our method of choice.

The only drawback to this method is the slow cooking time so be sure to add up the number of pounds and multiply them by 20 minutes to get started on time.

Enjoy!Roast turkey being carved

Helpful Hints for A Day of Worship!


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Genesis 2:3, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.’

Hebrews 4:10, “…for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.”

Celebrating or reverencing the Lord’s Day has fallen out of favor among professing believers. In a misguided effort to avoid legalism, many Christians don’t think that keeping Sunday as a special day is an important issue. Is it? Yes it is!

As our family has made a weekly day of worship a priority, we have discovered rich blessing. “Losing” a day of work for a day of rest and worship has not hurt us at all. Instead, we find that the God has redeemed the remaining six days of the week and stretched our time so that we get more accomplished!

So how do we “hallow”(or “set apart”) Sunday. Yes, we believe that Sunday is the day that was ordained for worship and should be set apart for that use if possible but I won’t be arguing that here._mall_Crosses_celtic-cross-westend

Here’s what has worked for our family (and, more specifically, for me since I manage the practical details of running our home). I want to give a round of hearty applause to Karen Burton Mains and her book Making Sunday Special which helped transform the way I approached Sunday many years ago.

1. We recognize that it is a day set apart for worshiping together with God’s people. Christianity is not just “me and my Jesus.” We cannot read the whole counsel of the Holy Scriptures without understanding that it is a message to the church! It goes without saying that to commit to a church you must be willing to be under the leadership of other Christian men.
So plan ahead to meet with other believers, take communion, worship and be taught by the word of God.

2. We prepare ahead of time. For a large family this may mean starting early in the week. For our family with the never-shrinking laundry pile, I try to have Sunday clothes washed, ironed and ready to wear by Wednesday. Yes, that’s early, but time flies after the middle of the week and I often forget. I really hate that frantic late night Saturday night feeling as I paw wildly through the laundry pile trying to find some clean clothes!
Having the Sunday clothes clean and ironed early works for us. Preparing ahead also means making sure to get to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night. Everyone wants to have fun on Saturday night but staying awake and alert during Sunday worship is high on our priority list so…we get to bed!

3. Plan to break bread together as a family (and, if possible, with other believers). The meal doesn’t have to be fancy but it should be satisfying and (if possible) something a little special.

a.For a family with small children or one who travels a distance to church, a hearty stew put in the crockpot to cook during church makes a nice meal to come home to. It is wonderful to walk into the house and smell the aroma of something yummy. Make (or buy) special muffins or dessert to accompany the meal.images 3 crosses

b. For a family who is heavily involved in the church (and exhausted after a day at church), a Saturday night meal may be the kick-off to your day of rest on Sunday. You can enjoy a special meal, clean it all up on Saturday night and arrive home to a clean house and a simple meal of cheese and fruit after church on Sunday.

c. For an morning celebratory meal, enjoy a “Sabbath breakfast” before church.

d. For a family with young children, make Sunday special by serving simple finger foods on paper plates and letting your family eat on a blanket on the floor. Keep it simple but make it special!

Whatever you choose to do don’t do what I have done; skip planning any meal at all! When my family comes in the door after church everyone is hungry (and on their way to cranky!). It’s a big let-down to have to scrounge through the fridge to find something to eat!

I must add that for Sunday to be a day of rest for me, I really love to come home from church to a decently clean house. So, for our family, that means grabbing as many children as I can on a Friday or Saturday and cleaning hard for several hours. If we happen to get the van cleaned and vacuumed as well, I feel that I have reached the pinnacle of preparation! Boy Howdy!

4. Keep treats and surprises to a minimum during the week so that they can be enjoyed on Sunday. Some folks eat chocolate only on Sunday or keep a “Sabbath box” of special toys just for Sunday. This creates a sense of anticipation and joy for the day of worship.

We want our children to grow up with sweet memories of Sundays. All the preparation in the world is for nought if your family’s day of worship is permeated with the smelly aroma of an angry and impatient mother. Of course, those days happen but don’t let them happen on a regular basis!

Oh, that we may make the Lord’s Day a day of joy and thanksgiving and sweet fellowship with other believers.