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Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: The Grace Effect: How The Power of One Life Can Overcome The Power of Unbelief

The Grace Effect:  How The Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief
by: Larry Taunton

Product Details

Not at all what I expected…but I wasn’t disappointed!  I give it a surprising thumb’s up.  When Booksneeze.com sent me The Grace Effect, I was expecting a book that would point out - step by step - how Christians impact their world for good.  Maybe even how I personally could BE the Grace Effect.   This is the author’s definition of the Grace effect, so I was expecting him to beat me over the head with how his theory is correct.  Instead, he told me about his family’s experience adopting their little girl from the Ukraine.  I got so caught up in the story of their lives, I actually forgot what the “point” of the book was supposed to be.  I was sickened and angered by the way people and especially the orphans and poor are treated “over there”.   I was reminded that as an American, I really DO have it good here.  We like to complain about this or that politician and we like to think we could do better than the President at his job.  We forget that just the fact that we even have the freedom to complain about the government is a luxury not afforded to everyone in the world.  We throw up our hands at how people are so rude and lacking in compassion in America, but according to this author, we have not seen rudeness until we visit the former communist bloc.  The author sprinkles many quotes throughout and has a lot of references in the back (that I didn’t research, I just noticed them).  All in all, I did like the book and closed it feeling kind of sad that I wouldn’t be reading about the author and his family any more.  They felt like friends by the end. I recommend reading it if you are in the mood for fiction, but fiction isn’t your thing.  It is not a self-help book as I originally thought.  It is good for a new perspective

Friday, January 6, 2012

50 Weeks of Purging Week 1: Kitchen Cupboards

I shall be RUTHLESS.
I shall take no prisoners.

These are the "rules":

1.  You must LOVE it.
2.  You must USE it.
3. You must RE-PURPOSE it.
Right now.
Do not put it in a box, bag, or pile
to give to goodwill/Salvation Army, etc.
unless you are giving it to your sister, who lives next door 
and you can and WILL walk it right over after your session.

I know I am going to get flack for this, but
I know myself and that well-meaning box, bag, or pile
will remain in my house 
most likely directly in front of the door
so I don't "forget" it...
until it somehow gets unpacked and ends up right back in my kitchen.

(I have a husband, you know!)

If I LOVE it, but don't use it
it stands to reason I
need to find a way to 
reuse it somewhere else.

Why don't I use it?
Is it broke?
Too Expensive?


If there is one thing I can't stand,
it's stuff in my house that 
doesn't do SOMETHING.  

Now, if I don't particularly LOVE
something but use it all the time
(or at least predictably - like
the china I use for special occasions)
It's a keeper.

I need to investigate further.
Should I love it?
Why don't I love it?
Can I replace it with something I DO love?
This could be tricky

I do not love my silverware.
I am thankful that it is there.
I use it multiple times a day.
But silverware isn't my thing.
I am not getting rid of my silverware.
I am highly unlikely to find silverware that I LOVE.
I'm keeping the silverware anyway.

If I don't LOVE it
I don't USE it
still can't bring myself to toss it,
can I at least put it to work somewhere else?
And this means
Not "well, with a coat of paint"
"if we just did X, Y, or Z"
I know myself and it will just clutter up
a completely different area waiting to be 


I have this random canning jar
that floats around from place to place
and is currently not working in the kitchen.
(This is purely fictitious. A situation like this
would NEVER occur in my house.  I LOVE
canning jars!)

I could plop it in the bathroom and use it for:
cotton balls
and the list goes on
(probably because I love canning jars!)

Got it?
Okay, so you have this week to 
go through every nook and cranny
of your kitchen cupboards.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

UGH! I Just Don't Know What I Want To Be...

...when I grow up!

I'm angst-ridden.
Is that even a word?


Nope.  Merriam says I made it up.
I guess I am 
full of angst, then.
(frankly, I think "angst-ridden" is more colorful)


Surely by now you are asking why?
I have no answer for you.

I have some possibilities.
  1. It could be hormones because, well, I have them and sometimes I think they go out of whack.
  2. It could be because it is January 3rd and I was in bed flat-out sick the 1st and the 2nd.
  3. It could be number two ADDED to the fact that I have all these dreams and goals for 2012 that are now having trouble getting off the ground.
  4. It could be because I cannot decide if I should continue doing some things...like blogging and...well, other things. ;-)
  5. It really could just be that I'm recovering from whatever it was that blindsided me health-wise, and stupidly-decided-to-have-a-Dr.-Pepper-at-Mom's-house-at-1:30-in-the-afternoon-when-I-KNOW-that-if-I-have-that-kind-of-caffeine-after-noon-I-will-not-be-able-to-sleep-and-here-I-sit-with-my-mind-racing-a-million-miles-an-hour-making-myself-crazy...

I think that's it.
All of the above with an emphasis on #5.

But the blogging thing too. 
I read so many blogs out there.
So many blogs that are 
(and who are written by FRIENDS - people I actually KNOW, so I can't tell myself that these aren't real people!)
and beautiful writing.
I have none of those things here.
tickles my fancy that moment.
I should be more organized...
more to-the-point...
(at english, apparently)

To be honest, I do not want to spend the 
necessary time to be those things.
I just want to post words on a blog the way
an artist spatters paint on a canvas.
And people come flocking 
to figure out if she is 
Or is she a genius?

Just Amy

Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Review: Three Cups by Mark St. Germain


I got the e-book version of Three Cups directly from the publisher at Booksneeze.com. I did like the illustrations even on the e-book version, however, I was a little bit disappointed by the simplicity of the book. I'm not sure if it's because I already am aware of the idea of breaking your finances up into three cups, or if I wanted a little more "story" along with the instructions. 

I have actually tried the concept in the past with my children and had little luck. Every single one of them ended up "playing" with the cups -- dumping the money out and stacking it up...and I found it very hard to pay the children with the three cup method. For example, you cannot give a child a $5 bill, or a $1 bill... you have to give him a sum that is able to be broken up according to your spending habits. 

So maybe my experiences colored my view of the book in a negative light. It is beautifully illustrated but overly simplistic. I'd like to see somewhere in the back some information on how to make this work in the real world.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: Healing Is A Choice

Book Review:

Stephen Arterburn

     I found this wonderful website called Booksneeze.com.  In all fairness, my hubby found it and thought of me...and I was hooked.  That man is so smart!  ANY WHO...from what I gather, they send me books to review and I read them and review them and it is a very happy relationship.  This is my first review, so we'll see how it goes.

     To be honest, I initially avoided reading this book.  I received it from Booksneeze.com and was kind of regretting my choice.  Upon reading the introduction I was thinking that maybe I didn’t need to heal and therefore, would get nothing out of this book.  About halfway through the first chapter, I came to understand that although I have not been wounded emotionally and don’t need help healing in that aspect, it WILL come in handy for me to counsel others who DO need to heal.  I like the way the book is set up.  Each chapter starts with a choice that we all have to make, followed by a lie that we all tend to believe that keeps us from making that choice.  Arterburn includes plenty of real-life examples to make his point.  There is also a workbook component added into this particular edition, and both the book and the workbook are formatted to be used personally or as a group study.  In an effort to be completely honest, I skipped over the workbook pages simply so I could review this in a timely manner, but I fully intend to go back again after the new year and work through the workbook page by page.  He has a lot of good questions and scripture verses to study in here.  Bottom line:  I really think Arterburn has excellent information in this book for those who need to heal AND for loved ones who want to help those who need to heal.  It think it is a book that anyone who counsels people should keep as a reference.

     Frankly, I can't wait until I have the time to go through the workbook question by question.  There are a ton of scripture verses I really want to dig into, but I just am being stretched too thinly right now to give it my full attention.  I laugh at myself each time I finish a chapter because I initially avoided reading it for a FULL WEEK after I got it.  Then I read the intro...and felt even LESS willing to read it.  I mean, I have had my share of very minor emotional burns.  You can't get through this life without them.  But the book seems to be more for people who have been abused or suffered MAJOR emotional upheaval.  But as I said, I think the book will come in handy at some point in my life.  I mean, my parents and close friends and family are all still alive.  Eventually, I am going to have to deal with the inevitable...and I feel this book will definitely help with that.  The only thing that maybe creeps me out about this book is this:  in my own personal experience, God tends to provide for my needs...ahead of time.  For example, three years ago, I got an envelope in the mail with $300.00 in it around this time of year.  It was a gift from dear friends...and it was something I totally didn't need at the time!  I was literally wracking my brain trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with this money.  lol. (such problems, I know)  Well, approximately one week later my Grandfather died unexpectedly.  He lived in WI.  We lived in PA.  That unexpected $300.00 got us to the funeral and [mostly] back (it's a long story!).
     I know I could think of at least two other examples in my life like this...later.
     But you see my point....what is He preparing me for?  Whatever it is, I plan to read this book asking God the entire time what He needs me to learn because he is good to prepare me in this way!
     So if you would like to have this book as a reference, I completely recommend it.  Everyone should have a copy on the shelf.  Obviously, if you need to figure out what steps you need to take to recover and heal from major emotional trauma, this book is also for you.  You can find it right here.

Just Amy


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Virtue Of The Month: Gratitude

     The Virtue for this month is:

Gratitude: Letting others know
you see how they've
helped you
So far, to kick things off, we have made a "Gratitude Box".  I basically covered a shoe box in pretty paper.  It's really Christmas paper, but I think we can use our imagination from LAST month and pretend that it's just random green trees...right?  RIGHT!

In "real life", it is hard to see the words because the Sharpie I used is apparently running out.  But as you can see in the picture, it comes out looking a little like grati"fude".  Weird.

The plan is to use the slit in the top of the box for slips of paper containing things we are grateful for.  So far we are grateful for the following things:

DS #2: (Dear Son #2) is grateful for...his fork.  I am serious.  He said without it, his hands would get all dirty eating his pot pie for dinner.  Not as profound as I was looking for, but I will refrain from judging.  He does have a point.  No one wants gooey beef gravy between his fingers.

DH (Dear Husband) is grateful for being able to spend a few moments alone with individual members of the family in the past few days.  This is a rare occurrence in our household.  We tend to always be together...and if we are NOT all together, then the person or people who are not with us are out in the world somewhere.  

DD (Dear Daughter) is grateful for her family.  (awww....) I don't think she knows yet that I will not be allowing repeats.  ;-)

DS #1 is grateful that he gets to breathe another day...he probably knows that he will not be able to repeat, so he is getting the really profound ones out of the way at the beginning - while they are fresh in his mind.  Then when he can't think of anything "good" he'll resort to thanking God for his fork.  

And I am grateful that I did not have to make OR buy lunch for the family...nor did I have to serve it.  I got to have a piece of pizza with peppers and onions and sausage...and I don't even know what else, but it was SO TASTY. I washed it down with a Dr. Pepper, which is my FAVORITE poison, er, I mean...soda.  Afterward, I was told that I am a rock star just because I get to do stuff I LOVE - like pretending to be a super-cool human being on a stage twice a month...and smooching babies once a month...and now I even get to support the small group leaders every week!  

These are all volunteer opportunities in the Family Ministries department at my church.  It started out as a favor for a friend, and now I can't imagine NOT doing it.  How dull my life must have been before...  I may need to revise this statement in a few years, but at this current time in my life, my theory is this:  If you have found your spiritual gift, and you are able to take advantage of using that gift to serve others, I don't think you will get burned out.  Because you are in God's will and everything is in balance...and He will just work miracles through you.  I can't wait until a year from now so I can look back and think "Wow.  It's been a year already?  That time FLEW".  Of course, I could be completely wrong and be burned out in 6 months.  Or maybe I got my gift wrong?  But I really don't think so.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Conversations With a Five Year Old

DD:  Mom, does God ever make mistakes?
ME: Nope.  God never makes mistakes.  That's what makes him God.
DD: Does Jesus ever make mistakes?
ME: No. And you want to know what's extra-cool about that? He was HUMAN for 33 years...and he STILL never made a mistake! That's what makes him SO worthy of our praise.
DD: (eyes huge) Wow!  I wish I could be like Jesus.
ME: Me too, Dolly.  But I think if we TRY to be like Jesus, even though we will fail miserably, we'll probably turn out to be pretty decent people, don't you think?
DD: Yeah.  But what if we make mistakes while we're trying to be like Jesus?
ME:  That's what grace and forgiveness are for.  God will forgive us...even though we don't deserve it.
DD:  God is really awesome!
ME: He really is.
DD:  Did you put half and half in here? (looking at her hot cocoa)

And just as quickly as the deep, poignant conversation started, it was OVER!  But, WOW.  Where did I learn to say stuff like that? It almost sounded like a Hallmark movie. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be having a discussion like that with my daughter, I wouldn't have believed it.  I probably wouldn't have even believed I would HAVE a daughter, much less be having such a thoughtful, important conversation about the God of the universe with her.  That is the power of the Spirit.  He works constantly, but I don't notice a lot of the time.  Then I get little glimpses of the importance of my role as mother to my children...and am blown away.  I don't want to waste a moment of our time together!

Just Amy