Monday, May 31, 2010

Log On to Lobster...Get Connected, Get Organized and Get What You Need!

I am not entirely sure what Lobsters and Networking have in common...but I am pretty certain that the services offered (for free!) on the Lobster Network are going to be invaluable for many people. It is one of those websites that make you wonder why you didn’t come up with such an idea yourself, or, how you got along without it in the first place?
What can the Lobster Network do for you? Well, one of the simplest services is to help you keep track of your stuff! I think all of us suffer from the TOO-MUCH-STUFF disease. Do you share curriculum or reading material with others? Does your husband loan out tools or DVD’s? Do your kids like to share their video games with friends? Ever forget who loaned what to whom? With the Lobster Network, you can create your own personal inventory of things you have, things you are willing to loan, and who has borrowed them!
When you get your friends to use Lobster Network with you, they can see (for instance) that you have the Pride and Prejudice movie that you are willing to loan. They can ask to borrow it for a predetermined amount of time (say two weeks) and then you will each get a reminder for when it is due back! No more wondering what happened to the movie when you want to watch it, or feeling awkward calling your friend and saying, “Uh, remember that DVD you borrowed 6 months ago...we were wanting to watch it now...”.
Beyond the inventory control (which can also come in handy for insurance purposes in the unfortunate event of a fire or burglary, when you need to list your damaged/missing property), you can also have groups on Lobster Network that could suit many needs. These groups are secure within themselves to share information that not everyone can access.
For instance, a church library can utilize the Lobster Network as a way to track their items and remind people of when they are due without investing in an expensive compute system. How about a homeschool group that wants to share curriculum? A gardening club whose members want to share their seeds? There’s really no end to the possible uses for a secure networking site like this!
Within the Lobster Network you can set up personal accounts that only YOU can see. You can set up places for friends to browse your stuff that you are willing to share, and you can set up want ads or sell items, choosing how big the viewing audience is (from your own contacts to everyone on the Lobster Network).
The Lobster Network fills a niche I bet you didn’t know you had, until now! Click here to create a free account and let your friends know about this helpful site too. The sooner you connect, the sooner you guys can enjoying the benefits!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guacamole Heaven...The Best Guac EVER!!!

Every time I make guacamole, I think: I need to get this recipe on my blog! 

I just made another batch and decided to head right over to my computer and get this up for others to enjoy. I cannot take credit for it; my best friend's husband is the chef for this one. But, we make it all of the time and everyone that tries it agrees: IT'S THE BEST!


3-4 Medium- Large Haas avocados. (A ripe avocado should be very dark green and slightly soft but            NOT mushy!)

1 Can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles). Do not drain.

About 1/3 of a lemon. You can use refrigerated lemon juice if you don't have fresh. You can substitute lime, but it isn't quite as tasty. You may also add more juice to taste, if you want, when it is at the tasting stage.

Garlic salt (about 1/2 tsp? I just shake it on. Start with a bit and add as you taste).

Cavendar's Greek Seasoning OR  Ground Pepper  (1-2 tsp. to taste). Cavendars is yummy but pepper is nearly as good if you don't have Cavendars. 

Method: Scoop avocados into bowl and mush well with fork. Dump can of Rotel into bowl and stir well. Add seasonings, stir, taste, tweak if needed, taste again... then watch it disappear! 

So yummy! I expect to see this stuff in heaven!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure

“Here in the heart of the Sierras, the word lost took on new meaning. Steep, rock-encrusted gullies, ridges that went on for miles, and dark pine and sequoia forests marked this place as dangerous to the inexperienced traveler. Andi, for one, did not want to be left on her own in these mountains.” p. 35 
Oh, if eleven year old Andrea Carter (aka Andi) only knew the trouble awaiting her in those mountains, she may have dwelled on that thought long enough to return to the safety of her ranch...
Of course, headstrong and independent Andi would have scoffed at the idea of falling into jeopardy; not with her big brother Mitch and two of her closest friends trekking the mountains with her. After all, two weeks in the Sierras, fishing and panning for gold while sleeping under the stars, was to be the highlight of her life! On the back of her trusted horse Taffy, Andi always felt confident and ready to meet uncertainty head on.
What starts out as a promising adventure for everyone, quickly goes from bad to downright awful. Pulling the reader along the mountain paths of post Gold Rush California, the latest Circle C Adventure book from author Susan K. Marlow is sure to enthrall your tween readers with its rough-and-tumble tale set in the late 1800’s. From snakes to bank robbers--and even a stint in jail-- the young cowgirl and her posse seem to find themselves in a heap of trouble.
Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure  is a terrific and face-paced read that will prove to be hard to put down! Packed with good old-fashioned pioneer peril and a natural (yet not preachy) undercurrent of trusting in God and His care, this story delivers good, clean entertainment.
Although The Trouble with Treasure is part of the Circle C Adventure series, it is a stand alone saga that the reader can jump right into. But why limit the fun to just one book? Check out all of the Circle C Adventure books from Kregel publishing (available for $7.99) by clicking here. This series is also available in bookstores. As an added bonus, there is a free study guide with activities to go along with your purchase when you go to this website. 
**As part of the TOS Crew, I was provided with a copy of Trouble With Treasure in exchange for my unbiased review.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I have been going through Seeking Him, Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom. In lesson 9 the topic is "Forgiveness: Setting Your Captives Free." I really like the first line, that is sadly true:

"Forgiveness. The gift everyone wants to receive but finds hard to give." I just made that statement my status on my Facebook profile. It will be interesting to see some of the comments that will trickle in from it. I believe we can all relate to that desire and need to be met in our own life, whilst being rather unwilling to dole it out to others. Sometimes nursing our wounds feels so good! It is so easy to justify!

Yet, when we look at the treachery, the iniquity and the sin of our life and see how generous and gracious God has been towards us, we are without excuse to not offer forgiveness to others. We all know that is easier said than done. As the saying goes, forgiveness is divine. We are NOT divine...(thought I would point out the obvious in case you haven't noticed).

However, we are a new creation in Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He will enable us to do what we cannot do for ourselves. I heard a pastor say once that, "only God can forgive and forget, but we can forgive and remember it as forgiven!" That is a powerful truth. 

"Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold on to His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love. He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18-19

"But God who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved!" Eph. 2:4-5

"But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6: 27-28

(Just a thought to interject: does it sometimes seem easier to forgive the stranger that wrongs you than the one you love and have a relationship with? Is it just me? I think we tend to question why the loved one would hurt us, if they really love us. We feel undeserving of such treatment and take it upon ourselves to offer back what we feel they now deserve: unforgiveness.)

"Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?' 'I tell you, not as many as seven,' Jesus said to him, 'but 70 times seven.'" Matthew 18:21-22.  Jesus then goes on to tell the parable of the wicked servant who was forgiven of a huge debt by his master, only to go and hunt down a fellow servant that owed him a small debt. When the master found out what the forgiven servant did to the fellow servant, he threw him into jail. Verse 35 concludes with, "So my heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from the heart." Ouch!

I know I am preaching to the choir here so I will wrap this up with one more quote out of the Seeking Him study:

"Forgiveness means that I fully release the offender from his debt. It means fully cleaning his record. It is a promise never to bring p the offense against him again (to God, to others, or to the offender himself)."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Confessions of a Lazy Woman

The following article is actually a post from my OTHER blog. It has been a secret, non-active blog for a couple of years. It is supposed to be about my fitness journey. Up until this point it has been a little undisclosed part of my writing that has been untouched because of the LACK of a fitness journey. 

My husband and I have finally got into the habit of exercising together regularly. We are about to embark on a hard-core workout for the summer (P90X). So, I felt it was necessary to dust off this guilt-inducing blog and do something productive with it. 

If you enjoy the article, I hope you will go to this other blog, and follow me as I fight to become mentally and physically tuned up (which, I believe, will be quite a spiritual tune up, as well). Maybe along the way you will be motivated to tune up an area of your life that you have been avoiding!

They say that it takes 40 days of a repeated activity to create a new habit. I am not sure who “they” are, but I have been getting up at 6:15 for the past three years to help my son prepare for school and I have yet to make a habit from it. Let’s see, with weekends and summer vacations and holidays aside, that makes around 540 days that I have pushed that snooze button come 6:15, and when the weekend arrives, I sleep right on through my weekday waking time by a good two to three hours! I am not any closer to becoming a morning person after three years!
Seventeen years ago I had a dental hygienist friend share that if you could only brush your teeth or floss for the rest of your life, flossing would be the best choice for your teeth. Although I had rarely flossed to that point, I immediately acquired a faithful habit to floss my teeth, and have rarely missed a day since!
I wonder how “they” would explain that?!
Proverbs 19:2 tells us that “even zeal is not good without knowledge...”, which explains why one can undertake many “good” things and burn out quickly because we just don’t fully grasp the benefit. I guess I am still looking for the “good” in “good morning” at 6:15 am... and it is still alluding me!
As I approach this P90X experience that looms over my summer, I am aware of the need to arm myself with knowledge of how important this 90 day event will be in my life! You see, I believe it will be every bit as challenging for me mentally as it is going to be physically. And, frankly, I am not an endorphin junky, nor am I a Type A “git-er-done” personality. I am inherently lazy, I must confess. I have always felt-- deep down in my secret, unrealistic heart-- that I am called to live a life of leisure.  
Due to good genetics, that I can take no credit for, I grew up eating whatever I wanted (which did not include much of anything healthy...corn was about my only “vegetable”) and was able to remain stick thin. The need to gain weight was my excuse to over indulge in junk food galore. I mean over-the-top galore! Tanning in summer with a canister of Pringles and a large carton of Whoppers was a day well spent in my mind!
Oh, I definitely developed some habits the first 20 years of my life. Mostly the habit of only doing what comes easy and with very little effort. I had a lot of natural ability that kept me from needing to work hard for things I wanted. My desires revolved around satiating my desires, and it was a catch 22 of self indulgence that I still struggle with today.
Marriage and homeschooling four children tend to beat the laziness out of a person but that ugly skeleton in my closet still likes to come tumbling out pretty regularly. And, although I haven’t wanted to gain weight the past, oh, 15 years, I still only carried around an extra ten pounds or so, which is easy enough to hide when you are 5’ 8”. But that 10 pounds has slowly crept up the last few years and the blubber in the middle has become increasingly hard to suck in. It has also been increasingly hard to take any of that blubber off, the older I get! 
Life being what it is, I am busy all of the time, tired most of the time and have justified my lack of working out quite believably. This past year I’ve noticed a marked change in my mental self; I have gone from at least sincerely wanting to change my slothful ways to reluctantly wanting to change and on to (almost) giving up because it is just so hard to change! Hard to find the time, hard to find the “want to”. Ultimately, having the “want to” will cause me to find the time, I am having to admit, and that desire is waning with each passing year. 
There’s a little, feeble voice of reason deep down that whispers a harsh reality: “If you don’t do it now, you never will. You are teetering on a precipice of will: what you choose now is going to define you for the rest of your life.” I can feel a sort of “biological clock” ticking...urging me to do this while I can, or I will just give up and eventually find that I am trapped in my weakness and even calloused to the Spirit’s conviction in this area of my life.
Interestingly, Proverbs 19:15 states, “laziness induces deep sleep,” and I can tell you that rings awfully true when I get into a pattern of extreme self-indulgence. When I readily justify going back to bed in the mornings and taking naps during the day, the more I want to go back to bed in the morning and take a nap during the day. Vicious cycle.
The next line of Proverbs 19:15 proclaims that “a lazy person will go hungry.”  How true that was for the time period in which it was written! Growing and harvesting crops and making every meal from scratch is hard work! If only the lazy people of Bible times had the pre-packaged junk food of our age, they wouldn’t have had to experience such hunger! Like most of us Americans, we can continue our SAD diet, fending off hunger, and remain inactive... and then get on about half-dozen prescription meds when we reach middle age. Ah! The wonders of Western civilization!
One area that, over the years, I have gained a lot of knowledge about is healthy foods and the benefits of eating a more primitive diet. Sprouting grain, grinding flour, drinking raw milk...I have much head knowledge and quite a bit of practical experience in this realm. The zeal to eat better and the knowledge of how to do that have made the mental procrastination even harder because I really do know better...and yet I continue to make really bad choices. Bad choices are just soooo much easier to make than good ones, aren’t they? Or is it just me?
Especially when you can hide those choices behind being tall and fairly thin. Which has morphed into hiding behind being tall and wearing clothes that fit in a certain way to hide the fact that I am not so thin anymore. Which is trying to morph into giving in and buying the next size up in clothes...
Enough is enough. The only thing stopping me, is me. My weak flesh and my years of coasting along must come to an end or there will be no end in sight to my self-loathing. That may sound very unbiblical but I don’t know what else to call it when you continually ignore the urging of the Lord in an area...God invented guilt to drive us to Him and his forgiveness and his wisdom...when we push that aside the conviction decays into condemnation as we continue to serve ourself. Walking around under a cloud of guilt is unhealthy and will allow all sorts of problems, physically and emotionally, to set in. God does not intend for us to live that way yet it is often our default setting, sort of a self-sabotaging mode.
So I am trying to get prayed up and psyched up for this “boot camp” workout. I cannot fool myself with any sort of illusions of ease and natural desire. This is going to be hard! But--hard is ok! Hard is good! Hard is what I need...EASE is my enemy! This must be my battle cry this summer!
I need this transformation Lord, just as much in my mental state as in my physical body! Let this journey be one of discovering new strength in You and a time of building character within myself that will overflow to other areas of my life. Help me to keep my eyes on You, to offer my pain of body and mind to You as a living sacrifice each day. It is nothing compared to the sacrifice of your Son, but it is the cross I am to take up at this time in my life. With You, I know that all things are possible. I am so weak but I know, Lord, that You are my strength. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

AP Exam Help: Chemistry

For those of you with ambitious and brainy students, homeschooled or not, check out the latest DVD’s from Cerebellum Corporation, the folks that produce Standard Deviants  DVD’s. As part of the TOS Crew, I was sent a copy of their Light Speed Chemistry AP Exam Prep DVD.
This DVD is not a chemistry course, but it is an efficient way for your student to hit the main points needed to study for the AP chemistry exam. The DVD features teenage actors/students that give a rapid fire approach to what can be expected in the exam. These are professional, non-cheesy actors, I might add (since I have a hard time getting past the corn-ball factor in low budget films). The entire DVD is professionally done and very engaging, even for someone like myself that hasn’t taken a day of chemistry...nor do I plan to have to personally teach it to my children (that’s what a co-op is for, right?).
But, l digress...

The Chemistry AP Exam Prep DVD features 25 minutes of testing taking tips, helping students know how to pace themselves, when to skip questions, and how to spot tricky wording etc. The instruction then goes over 30 of the main chemistry concepts in 30 minutes. Complete with graphics to help illustrate the explanations, this portion should likely be viewed several times in order to really grasp the points. Covering topics such as chemical bonding (sounds dangerous!), atomic theory and structure (yikes!), stoichiometry (huh?), and more! 
Along with the DVD, there is also an accompanying CD-rom that includes a digital workbook with lesson plans, worksheets and quizzes! This helpful set is just a teeny weeny investment of $14.95 (but is currently on sale on their website for just $11.24). They also carry AP Exam prep for History, English Language and Composition, and U.S. Government and politics. They also carry a ton of other videos for a plethora of subjects. Check it all out by clicking here!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Beeyoutiful YOU-tiful!

“Take two Aspirin, and call me in the morning.” Does anyone even own a bottle of Asprin anymore? (OK, one they have actually removed the foil thingy from? And the cotton?) Remedies have changed over the years evolving from basic Aspirin, to very long words pronounced correctly only with practice (can you say, “Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen” three times fast?).

Still, these medications only mask the symptoms, and basically are toxic to the body although they have some beneficial side-effects (such as pain relief). I am not completely knocking them, and I am not without the need for them at times. But, I want to avoid dependance on them, all the same.
One thing I have had even less need of over the last dozen or so years, is a doctor. I am not knocking them either; praise God for wise and talented doctors! We have gone to the doctor for the occasional emergency (stitches, broken bones) but never for a cold, sore throat, sinus infection etc. (with the exception of strep throat or an ear infection I didn’t manage to catch in time). I am certainly willing to go if needed, but my first line of defense is always natural products that spur on our bodies own healing! 
One company that I have turned to as a source for natural treatment, and have the privilege of reviewing now as a member of the TOS Crew is: Beeyoutiful. They recently sent me a free bottle of their Berry Well Syrup to try, along with their extremely informative catalog.
Although I was excited to receive the Berry Well Syrup, I was a bit perplexed at how to go about doing the review. It is not a daily supplement; rather, it is taken when ill with the flu, cold or a viral infection. Thankfully, we are not often under the weather. So, it was most convenient when my husband (who never gets sick!) and oldest daughter came down with some sort of cough, sore throat, shnocked-up yuck the very next day!
After I thanked them for donating their bodies to science, I got out the Berry Well Syrup, along with the usuals, (garlic, echinacea, Vitamin C, Airborn), and began their treatment plan. Second problem: hard to know for sure how that syrup is working with all of the other supplements. However, I will say they recovered in about 1 1/2 - 2 days, rather than the usual 3 -4 days, so that could be attributed to the Berry Well Syrup, though I have no way to prove that. It didn’t seem right to withhold the other things for the sake of a blog review.
Ultimately, what I want you to take away from this review is the inkling that you can treat most of the common illnesses yourself. God has gifted the earth with so many helpful herbs and other healing foods that equip your body to sustain itself. It is shameful how little modern science has recognized this fact, but there is really no excuse for us to remain ignorant! With the internet at our fingertips and prayerful guidance as we take baby-steps to reclaim our health (beginning with our diet!), everyone can at least improve their quality of life... let alone enjoy being (almost) doctor-visit-free for 12 years!
The Beeyoutiful family knows and believes this concept as well. They are an excellent source of quality products that stimulate your bodies supply of healing properties. From daily supplements for prostate health or pregnancy, to cleanses for ridding yeast from your body, Beeyoutiful has an abundance of fresh, natural products for preventing illness and treating your family at home. And their website and catalog is full of articles, tips and recipes to get you moving in a healthy direction. I was especially excited to see articles in their Winter 2010 catalog on sprouting grain and baking with the two-stage fermentation process. 
But, since this is specifically a review for the Berry Well Syrup, let me tell you a bit more about this special substance! First of all, it is fairly high on the “yum” scale, as far as medicines go. I mean, you wouldn’t want to guzzle it or pour it on pancakes, but it is taste bud friendly and your children should willingly swallow a spoonful. 
Made with elderberries, raw honey, bee propolis, Echinacea root extract and raw apple cider vinegar, this is a power-packed bottle of purple goo! It is full of anti-viral powers and immune system enhancers (that’s the elderberries). Also it gives “a rich supply of live enzymes” (thanks to the raw honey), and natural antibiotics (courtesy of bee propolis and Echinacea root). Top it all off with raw apple cider vinegar to increase your bodies alkalinity (cancer fighting) and give potassium to cells to fight back against the bad bacteria, and you have an intensely potent arsenal defending your body!
Berry Well syrup is one of Beeyoutiful’s best sellers. It sells for $18 per bottle, which is WAY cheaper than a trip to the doctor! Check out all of the natural products and helpful articles, designed with your health in mind, by clicking here. Start taking steps over the summer to stock up on body strengthening supplements and treatments before flu season hits next fall!

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.