Wednesday, August 15, 2018

School Lunch Ideas

This summer, we had a fun program at church and the kids all brought their lunch. Do you know what they brought? Lunchables, every single one of them. If you aren't familiar with what that is, they are prepared lunches that are mainly variations on cheese and crackers. In honor of all those Lunchables, I'm sharing 20 school lunch ideas that don't include a sandwich nor any nuts.



Homemade Lunchables:


English Muffin Pizza, toast the muffin before hand send with cheese, pepperoni, and sauce
Cheese and crackers with pepperoni or meat of choice
Nachos, chips and queso dip, side of salsa

Sandwich alternatives:


Stuffed pita, especially good with tuna or egg salad
Lettuce wraps, great with chicken salad or any luncheon meat
Tortilla salad wrap, place salad and meat in tortilla and roll with it
Meat roll ups. Roll luncheon meat around cream cheese and pickle or a cheese stick

Finger Food:


Hummus and veggies
Chips and dip
Pickle platter, send olives, pickles, various pickled veg with a side of cheese

Breakfast for Lunch:


Boiled eggs and yogurt parfait
Oatmeal with berries
Quiche

Heat it Up:


Beanie weanies
Soup
Hot dogs and chips. Put dogs in hot water and send with bun and toppings

Out of the Ordinary:


Salad in a jar
Beef jerky, dried fruit, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Kabobs with lunch meat and cheese. The deli counter can do thick cuts, serve with fruit kabobs
Sushi


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthur


This year in our homeschooling, we are reading A Wrinkle in Time. Before we picked the book, I had no idea that Madeleine L'Engle wrote from the Christian perspective. When the opportunity to read A Light So Lovely, about her spiritual legacy, came along I gladly said yes. 

The book starts off with a brief over view of the L'Engle's life, which was very helpful for someone like me who was starting at point zero. Though at times it felt more like a biography than the spiritual memoir the author was aiming for. In that regard, in some ways, this is a book about L'Engles affect on Sarah Arthur and how her legacy lives out in her personal life. 

The chapters include topics such as Truth and Story, Faith and Science, Religion and Art. My favorite was probably the Fact and Fiction chapter. Sometimes when you live in the realm of your own creation the lines between what has happened to you and what has happened to them can be confused. The warning was to not let that line become so blurred that you no longer participate with those that are present in your life. It does not do your relationships any good to fictionalize them or turn your family into caricature. In fact, it can damage the relationship and ultimately your own well being. 

There were lots of great touchstones in the book, quotes from L'Engle as well as stories about how her work changed lives. One of my favorites is about why we go to church. In short she said that it was an outward sign of an promise, much like we wear wedding bands to represent our promise to our spouse. There are things in life that are beyond our understanding and that doesn't make them false just because they are a mystery. In fact, that mystery is a great invitation to seek God and see the goodness that is prevalent in all of creation. 

If you are interested in learning more about L'Engle the person with all her blessings and curses, this is a concise collection of not only her life, but her impact on society and the culture of writing as well. 



I received a copy of this book for review purposes from Handlebar Publishing on behalf of Zondervan. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.  


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar




Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar is a historical fiction set in ancient Greece during the time of the apostle Paul. The story is about a young woman, Ariadne, who flees Athens and an arranged marriage to an abusive young man chosen for her by her oppressive grandfather. She and her foster brother escape to the home of their father in Corinth.
As Ariadne settles in to life in Corinth, she also finds that learning where she belongs in this society is not as easy as it appears. It becomes compounded when she discovers that her father is a thief with a reputation of stealing from the corrupt and calling them out for their misdeeds. In the midst of trying to protect her father, stay connected with her brother, and temper her feelings for the love of her life, she encounters Paul the apostle.
These stories that he shares with their family intrigue her and ultimately, Christ enters her story and helps Ariadne to find peace in the midst of her troubles.

Afshar does an excellent job of placing the reader in the midst of the bustling culture of ancient Corinth. From the sporting events to dinner parties to home life. She also does a great job of weaving in the story of Paul and some of his cohorts to the story. My only complaint was that the first two parts of the book appeared labored and unneeded. The real adventure and connection to the characters for me occurred in Part Three. Overall, it's a wonderful historical fiction. A fun read for anyone that would like to take a trip through time.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of review. I'm never required to share a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Rice Cubes


This past winter, I binge watched Poh & Co. And I tried a few recipes, one was a winner for our family and it was Pressed Rice Cubes. Now, I will say that the rest of the food she made in that episode we did not enjoy. But I've made the rice cubes several times since. You can find the original recipe on her website but because there's just three of us, I make half the recipe so here it is for you.

Pressed Rice Cubes

1 cup jasmine or long grain white rice
2 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt

Combine rice, salt and 2 cups of water in a pot, bring to boil over medium heat. Simmer 10 minutes, cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep the cover on, and let stand for 15 minutes. Line a sandwich size plastic container with foil (see photos below). Spread the rice evenly in the container, cover with foil and then press with an oven mitt to compress the rice. Don't worry about overdoing it, you want it nice and tight. Allow rice to cool to room temperature on the counter. Once cool, cut into bite-size cubes.





Monday, July 2, 2018

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker



When Through Deep Waters is Rachelle Dekker's fourth book, the first three a dystopian trilogy. I was excited to see what other stories she had for us. Fortunately, this one does not disappoint.

Alicen has suffered a tragic loss and is trying to find her way through the grief. She lands in the family vacation home of her childhood friend. The idyllic location reminds her of all the hope she had for her life as a child and forces her to deal with many different disappointments in her life including the life and death of her beloved grandmother.

Here's what I love about the book, one, it's an old-school Frank Peretti style spiritual warfare book in that Alicen is an ordinary person that is struggling with spiritual forces. Two, it's a fiction book that made me want to get out my journal and explore some thoughts that bubbled up about myself! Third, God wins in the end and it doesn't look like the normal everyone desires. Fourth, straight up scripture usage that doesn't come from a character reading the Bible aloud.

I would highly recommend this if you're interested in spiritual warfare or even looking to explore your own inner conversation.

A copy of this book was given to me by Tyndale House Publisher for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give a good review, but always thankful when I can.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Good News for a Change by Matt Mikalatos




Let's go ahead and start off with the fact that I'm biased. There has yet to be a Matt Mikalatos book that I've read that I've not enjoyed. I'm thankful to say that this one did not make me cry. You can reference previous reviews if you don't know what I'm talking about.



Good News for a Change is a pretty quick read if you don't do the homework. My suggestion would be a quick and then a slow read because there's a ton of information and how to apply it in these pages. Mikalatos systematically goes through most objections on the part of not only the evangelist by also the evangelized. Throughout though, it's made clear that God can and has used a wide variety of ways to reach people, including those ways that may seem outdated or harsh.

The main emphasis in the book about sharing the good news is making it heard in the language of the hearer. By the end of the book, you should not only be aware of how to share the good news in someone's native tongue or dialect, but comfortable in doing so. When I say native tongue, I'm not referring to completely foreign languages, though the same can be applied. I'm referring to using the words and lingo that others are most comfortable with.

So much of language is built upon a common word base, but I can testify to the fact that even between regions in the United States, there can be a huge language barrier. Since Joel is from the Pacific Northwest, I'm from the South and we live in the Midwest, we notice it quite a bit. To give you an example, what do you get when you order tea in a restaurant? Is it hot, cold, sweet? How to learn those nuances can be part of sharing the good news with people.

Mikalatos does a great job of showing how simple it can be to share the gospel with others, using examples such as Bronies, Aethist, and door to door salesmen. After reading the book, I feel more confident and encouraged to share the good news with others. I'm on the lookout for those in the darkness. I'm also looking forward to going back and re-reading this one and taking the time to work through the reflection questions and exercises at the end of the chapter.


I'm never required to give a good review but I'm always thankful when I can. NavPress has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli




The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli is two stories wrapped into one. There is the historic tale of Mercy Howard during the Revolutionary War and the modern story of Natalie Abbott and her family. Both are set in New York 240 years apart.

Mercy's story, which is in a library book that Natalie's son has checked out for a project, becomes a common bond for Natalie and her daughter. All three women are struggling with pain and heartache that ultimately draws them closer to God.

I don't want to give away the "unspeakable act" that's referred to on the back cover of the story. But I will say that the situation and darkness that surrounds it is not glossed over by Chiavaroli. It was difficult to process all the emotions that the characters went through, though it did not make the book any less enjoyable.

Overall, the book asked the question of where is God when we can't feel or see God's presence in our lives. How long can we continue on our own strength to make it through each day? The answer discovered here is that we have to let go of ourselves and who we believe ourselves to be in order to accept how God sees us. We have to be in community and to rely on God and those he places in our lives. God is watching over us even in our darkest moments.

I would recommend this book, though if you struggle with depression, as I sometimes do, take it in small doses on sunny days and not some dark lonely night, though in the darkness you might just find the true light.

A copy of this book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishing for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can!