Sheet Music book review

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One of my dear friends and I had lunch together at our favorite Mexican restaurant the day before I got married. We talked about all things married life and she recommended the book Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. A few other people recommended it as well so I bought it. It has survived the move to two different cities in Korea and I finally got around to reading it this fall, nine years later…

I’ve heard Dr Kevin Leman speak several times on the Focus on the Family Broadcast so I figured I would enjoy his book. It wasn’t quite a conversational tone. But much like Enjoy! The Gift of Sexual Pleasure for Women, it was very relatable and sometimes funny. He spent some time talking about the needs and desires of men verses the needs and desires of women in a marriage. I had to laugh so many times, just realizing that Tim and I are completely normal. Dr Leman seems to describe Tim very well when he talks about men and me when he talks about women. So that was a comforting thing and I do feel like our marriage is in a great place right now anyway. He does talk about different positions but most of this book is about the why and not the technical details of sex.

Some of my favorite thoughts and ideas from the book:

  • “Remember, you weren’t put together on overtime at a factory in New Jersey. You were designed, crafted, molded, and sculpted by no less a designer than God himself. And when he birthed you, he sat back, smiled, and said, ‘This is good'” (234).
  • “Try to begin listening to the man who loves you rather than all the men who want to sell you something (talking about the marketing on TV or in magazines)” (233).
  • “Great marital sex is about learning to love someone else the way he or she wants to be loved” (33).
  • “The beauty of married sexuality is that you have your whole lives to grow and explore and enjoy each other” (115).
  • “A sexually fulfilled man will normally be a better father and a better employee. A sexually fulfilled woman will have less stress and more joy in her life. Sex is vitally important to a healthy marriage” (45).

God Schooling Review

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Since Clarissa is in kindergarten, I am very new to this homeschool mom thing. As a former public school teacher, I am used to following curriculum or a pacing guide. But learning to go at my child’s pace is pretty new to me. I enjoy it but I always wonder if I’m doing it right. So when I had the chance to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco, I knew I would benefit from this book. I wasn’t disappointed.

God Schooling book

In the first section of the book, Julie really challenged my thinking about what homeschooling should look like. She makes some great points in the first chapter about curriculum as a tool and not as an end goal, teaching character before academics, and your relationship with your children. “If we are walking closely with the Lord, He will show us exactly what to do at exactly the right time. ” So as long as I’m seeking God,  Clarissa will be fine. “He loves Clarissa too much to let ME ruin her…” So it really helps to alleviate some of the stress of am I really doing this right?! 

In the second section of the book, Julie Polanco spends some time discussing how to teach children at different ages. Research shows that “the basic character of a child is set by age 7,” but a child can learn academics at any age. So especially when a child is young, teaching character and behavior is more important than learning facts. She thinks that children don’t really need formal academics until about age 8-10, but they will learn more quickly at that age because they are developmentally ready for it. She encourages readers to focus on life experiences instead like writing letters to Grandma or learning math through daily life (cooking, playing games, counting things, etc) instead of a formal curriculum. She also says that teenagers should be able to cook, clean, mow the lawn, run errands; basically to run a household. This totally makes sense if you are going to prepare them to be independent adults.

I did like how she said not to assume that Clarissa would enjoy certain subscriptions or field trips. Ask her first. Sometimes she would rather stay home and play. I have found this to be true with my child. Several times in the book the author mentions “I have often found myself worrying about what other people think about my kids, rather than what God thinks about my kids.” I think this is probably true of most moms, myself included. It is just refreshing to hear another mom admit this. My main goal in homeschooling is for Clarissa to be who God created her to be and to be ready to walk in whatever He has called her to. So it is going to look different than what other parents are doing with their kids because their kids are probably called to something different than Clarissa.

I like many of the points that Julie Polanco makes in her book God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn. I think it would be encouraging for homeschool moms to read, just to see how another mom thinks and teaches her children. I don’t think I’m a true unschooler as I am not ready to throw away all of my curriculum. But I am learning to not demand that Clarissa completes a certain number of pages each day. I have an idea of what I want her to work on, but if she loses interest before then it’s okay. We’ll get to it eventually. She actually enjoys doing things in a set pattern or working through a book together. As she gets older I think she will have more say in what subjects we will study. For now we are going to focus on Bible stories, life skills, and learning to read.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Women in the Bible book review

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When the Ladies Bible Study at church decided to study The Incredible, Powerful, Inspiring & Engaging Story of Women in the Bible, I decided to join. I probably would have joined regardless of the study in order to get to know the ladies at church better anyway. But I really enjoyed this study.

I have been a Christian since I was a little girl, so I know a lot of Bible stories pretty well. I was pleasantly surprised that I learned a lot that I hadn’t realized or heard before.

For example, Adam was with Eve when she tasted the apple. He was with her for the whole serpent experience. It’s in scripture that he is right there, but I guess I always thought he was somewhere else. And can you imagine being Eve pregnant or giving birth? This had never happened before. There was nothing to compare it to. I bet nine months felt like forever if she didn’t know how long she would be pregnant!

Some of my other favorite quotes and thoughts:

  • “Like Mary, there are times in a woman’s life when she needs to step back intentionally and allow the Father to lead the man in her life, as he has the God-given ability to hear, heed and walk with the Lord, just as Joseph did” (27).
  • This idea of using your influence for good and not for evil. She talked about Queen Esther saving her people (at 14 years old!) and then in the next chapter talked about how Queen Jezebel used her influence for evil.
  • Talking about the woman at the well, the author says, “Our testimony belongs to the Lord and we never know how He might wish to use it” (77). I like the idea that this woman wasn’t looking for Jesus. She wasn’t looking for a miracle. But the change in her life, changed the lives of many in her town.
  • It was also very interesting to read about Naomi and Ruth and perspective of the responsibility of a mother in law because one day I will probably be one.
  • Or to be reminded of how many times that Sarai and Abram made mistakes and God still used them to be the father of all nations.

On a different note, if you have the opportunity to attend a Bible study, I definitely recommend it. It doesn’t really matter what the study is about. You will learn scripture and grow in your relationship with God. But it also gives you the opportunity to get to know some people in your world better. You will do life with people and pray with them. They can become your lifelong friends.

God’s Girl Says Yes

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Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

Bee – bim-Bop!

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Clarissa has been very literal with her books lately. If it’s in a book, we have to do it. One such book is Bee – bim- Bop! by Linda Sue Park.

We got this book from the library before our Hong Kong trip to learn a little bit about Korean culture. My favorite Korean dish is probably bibimbap so I thought it would be fun to read about it. In the book a little girl and her mom go to the grocery store to buy ingredients and then come home and make bibimbap together for the family dinner that evening. At the end of the book, the author lists her family’s recipe for bibimbap, with specific instructions for children and adults.

Clarissa asked if we could make it for dinner. I assured her that we would after we returned from vacation. She would not let me forget! The day after our return she demanded to go to the commissary to buy the ingredients. She fought with Daddy one night about dinner because Tim wanted pizza and Clarissa wanted to make bibimbap.

When it was time to make the bibimbap, Clarissa was excited to help. She helped measure the rice and the water. She measured the ingredients for the marinade and mixed it up. She even helped with the eggs.

At which point, we had been working for at least 20 minutes and she was tired of helping. She went to the couch to read some books while I sautéed the meat and vegetables.

I think they should charge more for bibimbap in restaurants! It is always less than $10 and it takes a while to make. We all enjoyed our meal and plan to put it in our meal rotation. Clarissa even ate eggs and carrots with her rice. I am hopeful that she will continue to try new things and enjoy the other vegetables as well.

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Ingredients:

1 cup white rice
1 pound sirloin or other beef steak
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
4 eggs
PAM cooking spray

Marinade:
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5 tablespoons gluten free tamari sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:
1. Pour one cup of rice and two cups of water into a saucepot. Cook on high until the water boils. Then switch to low heat until the water is absorbed into the rice.
2. Mix all marinade ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Slice beef into thin slices. Place sliced beef into marinade and mix thoroughly.
4. Whisk eggs in a bowl. Spray small frying pan. Pour egg in sections into . Cook like a pancake. Slice eggs into strips. Put into small bowl for serving.
5. Spray frying pan. Saute carrots until tender. Put into small bowl for serving.
6. Spray frying pan. Saute spinach until tender. Put into small bowl for serving.
7. Spray frying pan. Saute mung bean sprouts until tender. Put into small bowl for serving.
8. Spray frying pan. Saute beef and marinade until beef is cooked through. Put into small bowl for serving. Pour marinade into small container for serving as well.
9. Serve with rice in bowls. Each person adds the ingredients that they want to their bowl and mix it all up.

Windows to Our World 

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I started reading Windows to Our World Sarah’s Journal : Growing up,  crossing oceans,  finding love,  and giving life to 10 children by Sarah Janisse Brown on our trip to Suwon.  I haven’t made the time to read over the summer.  But I am glad I decided to load this book to my Kindle for this trip.

I enjoyed Sarah’s writing style.  I feel like if we had grown up together in youth group,  we would be great friends.

The book is written chronologically as her autobiography.  But the chapters are short,  more like journal entries.  I loved reading about growing up and finding her calling,  meeting her husband,  missionary adventures,  and mom life.

As I read her story,  God really spoke to me about mine and gave me some great things to think about.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book :

God will call me to do things that I don’t think I can do.  I need to do them anyway.

I need to ask Clarissa what jobs SHE thinks she can do around the house.  The answer will probably surprise me and she will do chores more willingly if she chooses them herself.

If I feel tired and stressed out all the time,  I need to reevaluate my priorities.

I need to be content with what we have,  but also where we live.

One of my favorite things was this prayer in chapter 57

“I dedicate myself to teaching my children to follow after you.  I want to give them the tools they need to grow in many skills. Help me not to waste time on things that have no value.  Please give me your wisdom to know how to spend their time; childhood is precious and fleeting.  As I teach them help me to give each child a unique education that prepares them for Your calling on each of their lives. ”

This book also reminded me that I am on facebook way too much so I need to delete it from my phone.

It also reaffirmed my desire to homeschool Clarissa and also see the world.

Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts

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If you’ve known me in person for any length of time you have heard me say, “There is no such thing as a junior Holy Spirit.” I’ve been saying this for at least thirteen years. It goes back to my children’s ministry days. But I truly believe with all of my heart that the same Holy Spirit that was in the apostle Paul, that is in me, is in children.

A month or two before the anatomy scan to confirm that we were in fact having a girl, God told me that our child would be “a little girl with great faith.” Thus we named her Clarissa Faith, which means brilliant faith.

I have a friend whose nephew was born last month with some serious heart conditions. He has been in NICU his whole life thus far and they are crying out to God for a miracle. Yesterday as we got the latest report, I really felt like it was time for the children to pray. So I posted his picture on facebook and asked for my friends to have their children to pray for baby Donovan. I showed Clarissa baby Donovan’s picture on my phone and tried to explain to her toddler self how sick he was and asked her to pray for him. I really don’t know what she was saying, but she kept touching the picture of Donovan and saying something for a couple of minutes and we just prayed together. I really do believe that we will hear of a breakthrough because of the prayers of children for this little boy.

When I was the children’s ministry coordinator at my church, I spent a summer teaching kids about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. In my quest to help equip parents I stumbled upon the book Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts by Adam Stadtmiller. The book contains a spiritual gifts test for parents to take for their children. The book talks about each gift, how to notice and test which gifts your child has, and how to nurture your child in his or her spiritual giftings in practical ways. I thought the book was great and decided to reread it recently now that I am a parent myself.

The author asks you to take the spiritual gifts test twice, before and after reading the book. I got similar results each time. I will probably want to do this every couple of years. Some of the questions in the test are hard to answer at this point. For example, it is hard to know if Clarissa is able to communicate the Bible clearly since she is only twenty-three months old and does not communicate many things clearly (in English) yet. The test did confirm what we thought about discernment and administration gifts and also some things to look for to see if she does have a missions, giving, or mercy gift.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

“Children can rip God’s kingdom from the sky and release it with a vibrant infusion into this dull and sullen world. That is, if we as adults do not hinder them with our unbelief.”

“If we disregard our children’s sensitivity to what God is saying to them in the quiet of their hearts, they will begin to doubt if they can hear from God.”

“Believing kids are called not only to understand the faith but also, like us, to find their unique ministry and purpose, and live it out the fullest. Navigating this journey with them is part of our divine commission as parents.”

“If we listen to and seek God for our children’s life purpose and direction, especially in the area of their spiritual gifts, God will make them known to us.”

In the book Adam Stadtmiller tells a story about a little girl and then says not to get lost in thinking it is just a cute story. It reminded me of Lenny LaGuardia. I went to a signs and wonders camp the summer I was teaching this (I plan to bring Clarissa to one of those once she is old enough) and he emphasized that “Kids aren’t cute. They are dangerous!” Kids can do big things for the kingdom of God.

I was also convicted from reading this book that as she grows I need to be as worried about Clarissa’s spiritual education as I am her academic education. I need to find practical ways to incorporate scripture memorization into her life.