Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald




Ordering Your Private World is one of those books that would have been awesome to read about twenty years ago. I'm thankful that I read it now with its re-release. MacDonald has been a pastor for over 50 years. In the beginning of the book, he shares a time in which he was constantly moving from one thing to the next within his work. After arriving at a place in which he couldn't continue the pace, he realized that his private world needed some priority in his life.

Ordering Your Private World is basically of how MacDonald went about moving from the world directing his steps to his steps directed by God. Not that he wasn't seeking God's will before but there is a definite difference in the priorities of life when you are centering yourself in God's will on a regular basis and when you just do what others say you should be doing even if those others are fellow Christians.

This book systematically takes the reader through the ability to recognize if your inner life is in need of a tune-up (which we all are if we're honest) and what steps you can take. There is a great mixture of things that you can do alone as well as communal aspects of ordering your private world. One of my favorite chapters was on friends and how we can seek out Godly friendship and cultivate it. Another favorite was on Sabbath, something our family tries to practice.

Overall, it's a great read and a wonderful reminder that we need to take time to be with God if we want to be directed by God.

I received a free copy of this book from Handlebar Marketing for the purpose of the review. I'm never required to post positive reviews but I'm always thankful when I can.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Smorgasbord by Johanna Kindvall




We started studying Swedish this past year. H has been learning the language as well as the culture. One of the first books we looked into in regards to culture was Fika also by Kindvall. It was a great introduction to the afternoon snacktime popular throughout Sweden. Smorgasbord opened up the world of Swedish entertainment even further.

Smorgasbord shares not only the concept of the self-serve dinner party with finger food but has many wonderful recipes to get you started. I tried several of them with great results. Including creating a sourdough starter and making a lovely scalded rye loaf from it.

The starter uses small amounts of flour/rye from the beginning, making it less expensive and less wasteful than other starter recipes I've used in the past. It takes a week to get it to the point of being able to use it, but well worth the effort. And it makes a fun science experiment.



The scalded rye loaf used only the starter for leavening and yielded a dense, moist bread perfect for open face sandwiches. I was surprised by it at first because I'm so accustomed to using commercial yeast in bread. But once I actually had a bite with some toppings, I was sold.  The one pictured below includes the hot smoked salmon from the book.

I also tried my hand at the homemade butter recipe which uses the addition of some plain yogurt and a long rest before churning to add some tang. It was amazing and very simple to make. 


Overall, it's a great book, especially if you love open face sandwiches and are looking for some new to you flavor combinations. It is also a fun read if you are interested in Swedish culture. There are a variety of other recipes including breads, cheeses, toppings, meats, and drinks. Looking forward to sharing a spread with some friends after mastering some more of these recipes. 


I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give positive feedback but I'm always happy when I can.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Unschooling Daughter and the Straight-A Momma



I haven't shared much about our homeschooling lately. To be honest, my daughter is pretty independent most days. I try to help her with things but she's at a point where she's figuring a lot of stuff out on her own. We still converse, I try to get as much information as I can into our conversations and will follow them up with links to articles or youtube videos. So there isn't really much to share in regards to actual school work.

I have been thinking today about that transition that I had to make when we first got started. I was one of those people that loved school. I tried my best to have perfect attendance, straight A's, and turn all my work in on time. I did my homework the night before, unless I completely forgot about it, like that report for Mr. Prospero about Will Rogers which I totally just biffed and wrote it the morning of while I was walking between classes. Let's just say that was the last time I forgot to go to the library for his class. It continued through college. I can count on two fingers the number of times I skipped class, one was to wash horses with Mary Ladd, the other was the watch the infinity dress commercial with Jaime. Both were totally worth it and I'd do it again. Now, graduate school I struggled a bit more. Things weren't as rigorous as I was used to and I met those expectations quite well. It probably wasn't my school's fault, I had just completed a dual major and practically showed up straight from my summer job as a camp director and was taken down by cedar fever, which I have never experienced before or since. All that is to say that I am a lover of rules. I really enjoyed the structure of school and the regiment of classwork, papers, labs, and the academic life in general. I still toy with the idea of going back to school but since I don't have any actual need or reason it's just a happy little daydream. (It normally involves medical school). That's me and my academic hang-ups.
Before Joel and I even got married, we had pretty much settled on the idea that we would homeschool. Between the two of us, we have degrees in chemistry, English, French, and divinity, so we thought we'd be okay. I had plans to do these amazing labs in our high school years and that we would have a sweet little school room set up in our imaginary house in the future with all of our kids gathered around to do school work just like in Little House on the Prairie, the tv show not the books.

And then reality happened. We didn't have lots of kids we had a kid. And as much as I wanted her to be able to sit and hear all the amazing lectures and watch me be the teacher at the front of the room, she was not thriving. It was a struggle. The worst part was that she was learning more about what I wanted her to learn through her own play and personal entertainment choices. I mean seriously, here was the kid that wouldn't sit through a lesson but could sight identify over a hundred different species of dinosaurs and interject into conversation animal facts that were not only correct but relevant.

I had to come to terms with the fact that even at that early stage of her life, her need for me to educate her was very low. She did not need lectures and workbooks and any number of other things I had tried. Fortunately, I wised up and started checking to see if things were in the library before investing. Unschooling was a natural choice for H. She was doing it already. She was feeding herself information and learning how to gather more of it all by herself. And there I was trying to ask her to do the equivalent of using a fork and knife on a chicken tender and ear of corn when she was perfectly content eating with her own two hands. I had to let go of the how she got the knowledge and accept the fact that she was getting it. Even today I struggle with this. I wonder if she's getting well-rounded meals and if I should be inserting my etiquette into that ordeal.

I have discovered that it's best to help her decide what's on the menu, give some helpful suggestions on how to serve it and then let her have at it. It never ends well when I try to force feed her or make changes. That's not to say that I don't have access to the menu. I do. The two of us sit down on a regular basis and decide how she's going to get different aspects of her education into her day. I'm there for questions and for challenging. At the moment, I'm also the record keeper, though I imagine that once she gets serious about what's the first step in her completely independent life that she will move into that role and some other advisor will help with her educational menu making.

I read other homeschool families doing, getting new curriculum, buying school supplies, a start and stop to the school year and there's a temptation to feel like we've missed out on something. And in truth, we have, but what we've gained has been far greater than any loss perceived or real. I wouldn't say that unschooling is for everyone, just like I wouldn't say that homeschooling is for everyone. What I have come to accept is that unschooling is perfect for us today. There may come a time when our daughter has a change in her learning style and she will thrive in a traditional educational setting until then we're going to keep on. And I'm going to do my best to not worry about the lack of grades and attendance.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Wellness Revelation by Alisa Keeton




The Wellness Revelation is an 8-week workbook. Each week takes a different focus of spiritual and physical wellness. Keeton does an excellent job of showing how the two are related and gently leads the reader through helpful revelations to open doors to better health and encouragement.
The main downfall of the book is that it references several workout routines, assessments, and plans that are not included in the book nor on the website. I'm assuming that they are available for a monthly fee through her organization. Without those, the book isn't as helpful as it could be. I felt a little like I was reading the class notes for a class I wasn't a part of. So I got the idea but felt that there was more out there.
As it is, it has several aha moments that it can help those that are looking to connect their spiritual and physical lives. I tried working through the book myself but because of the lack of assessments and personal accountability group, I was not encouraged to move very far through the program. On the website, there is a free seven-day detox. I am intrigued to figure out how much personal growth could occur by actually enrolling in a class, but my true hope was that the book would be a stand alone 8-week journey that I could do on my own or with friends. I wonder if an appendix or two was left out accidentally.

***UPDATE*** I was contacted by the publisher. The pdf file that is linked to from the Wellness Revelation Website actually has hyperlinks embedded into the file. Which means that yes, there is an appendix or two that are available on the web. The pdf links to various videos and podcasts. This addition does make the book a complete resource. Just need to add a willing spirit and maybe a buddy or two.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing House. I'm never required to give a positive review, but always thankful when I can.

Monday, July 31, 2017

James Week 10 James 5: 13-20









We finish up our study on James with some encouraging words about prayer and standing in the gap.




Study Questions Week 10


  1. When you don't feel like yourself, what is generally your first response? Do you start with prayer, rest, food, lashing out at others? 
    1. When you encounter others that are not acting like themselves what is your initial thought? How do you think your relationships would be different if you began those interactions with prayers? Prayers for understanding for yourself and peace for the other person?
  2. When you are happy, do you ever try to keep it to yourself because you don't want to celebrate while others around you are struggling? Can focusing our happiness towards God with praise and worship change how we view sharing those moments? 
    1. God is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). How can this verse help shape your worship and praise? 
    2. Take some time this week to praise God for some good gifts, which are present even if you are in the midst of a struggle.
  3. Do you have a sticky sin, one that you've confessed but you're still seeking forgiveness? Beth Moore said that when we are reminded of sins that we've already confessed, that's an opportunity to instead of asking for something we've already been given, forgiveness, to instead praise God with a simple "Thank you, Lord, for forgiving that sin." We can turn our negative self talk into worship with that simple statement.
    1. If you have a sin that is exceptionally sticky, find someone in the faith that you trust that you can confess to. Let them know that you would like to get together to discuss your faith and that you have something that needs to be confessed. Make sure that where you meet provides you with enough security and anonymity that you are not concerned about others overhearing.
  4. Elijah was a great man of prayer. What area of your life would you like to see God take over and show His power? Take some time to discuss it with God and see what happens.
  5. Weekly Challenge: Our challenge this week is to pray. Pray for ourselves, others, those that are in trouble, those that are happy, those that are sick and those that are in need of confession.


Leave your comments below or join the discussion on Facebook and Instagram #BibleStudywithTina


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Monday, July 24, 2017

James Week 9 James 5: 1-12



In the first part of chapter 5 James talks about money and some relationship pitfalls we have with it. We’ll also be talking about patience in suffering.





Study Questions Week 9


  1. Do you ever consider yourself wealthy? Even poverty in the United States is a higher quality of life that many other areas of the world (You can check out this article from Forbes for some information on that.) Are you using your wealth to please yourself or to please God? 
  2. What is one change in your buying habits that you can make to ensure that those that helped create it are getting a fair wage? There are buzz words for products such as "Fair Trade" but ones that I've found even more useful are "Locally grown" or "I know a guy who does that." 
  3. Patience is not an easy gift to receive. Do you practice active waiting? Active waiting is when you ask God for an answer to a solution and you continue to praise Him and serve where and how you are. Try active waiting this week and see if it helps you build up your patience. 
  4. Let your yes and no stand alone. James says that we will be condemned. The word used for condemned is also translated "hypocrisy" in other passages. How can you remove yourself from hypocrisy? Are you tempted to give answers beyond yes and no? What can you do to prevent yourself from saying one thing but doing another?
  5. Weekly Challenge: Read the story of the two sons in Matthew 21:28-32 and to discern which son you are and which son God desires you to be.



Leave your comments below or join the discussion on Facebook and Instagram #BibleStudywithTina


Having trouble getting the podcast to play? You can access it directly through this link. Or send me an email to get a copy of the manuscript.
https://archive.org/details/JamesWeek9



Want to subscribe so you don't miss a single episode? Use this feed in your podcast app of choice
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Monday, July 17, 2017

James Week 8 James 4: 11-17



We look at judgement and boasting this week.






Study Questions for Week 8:


  1. In verse 11, James tells us not to slander one another. Do you struggle with gossip? What is one change you can make to your day that help reduce your access to gossip?
  2. When you are tempted to judge is it to tear the person down or to help lift them up? What does judgment to lift someone up look like? Take some time and think about how you can use your knowledge of someone to help them.
  3. Do you like making plans? Are you one of those people that enjoy organizing and getting things ready for tomorrow? How can you invite God into those plans?
    1. Are you a worrier? Do you worry about what tomorrow will hold? What steps can you take to give that worry back to God?
  4. Verse 17 says if we know what to do and don't do it, then it's sin. What's something that you've been putting off doing for awhile? What can you do today to stop procrastinating?
  5. Weekly Challenge: Take some time and write down your desires for your future. As many of them as you can think of. Then take that piece of paper and burn it. As your plans turn to ash dedicate your future to God, ask him to bring his desires into those ashes and make them whole. 



Leave your comments below or join the discussion on Facebook and Instagram #BibleStudywithTina


Having trouble getting the podcast to play? You can access it directly through this link. Or send me an email to get a copy of the manuscript.
https://archive.org/details/JamesWeek8



Want to subscribe so you don't miss a single episode? Use this feed in your podcast app of choice
http://feeds.feedburner.com/tinathestoryteller/iAIl