Saturday, September 26, 2009

If God Is Good

I am in the process of reading If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn and like what I’ve read so far.  I’ll post my full review in a couple of weeks, but here’s the publisher’s information about the book and the author.

If God Is Good

Summary:  Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.
In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?
These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.
In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.
Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.
As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Author Bio - Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our Week in Review – September 25, 2009


Wow!  It’s been an interesting couple of weeks around here!  I didn’t post last week because I was in the middle of a run of migraines last weekend so you get a two-for-one post today.

Rosie Girl

Two weeks ago, Rosie Girl had some real trouble with managing her time.  Her schoolwork was due Saturday night.  By 11pm Saturday night, she still had several subjects that had large chunks still not finished, and she went into a meltdown.  She was quite upset because she knew that her grade was going to reflect turning in late work.  She calmed down, went to bed, and finished the work on Sunday.  And we talked on Monday.

On Monday morning, I had her make two significant changes.  First of all, I told her that she needed to finish each day’s work on the day it was assigned (for History, Bible, Literature, Workbooks).  Second, I had her start using a timer and doing a certain timed amount of work on subjects that were assigned by week (Writing, Biology, etc.).  Each day, I asked several times about her progress on each subject.  At the end of each day, I made sure she was finished.  Tonight, at about 8pm, she was completely finished with the entire week’s worth of work.  She has NO work to do on the weekend and she is a happy girl!!  (And she has a happy mama!)  Not only that, but she turned in her writing assignment to WriteAtHome a day early!

Rosie Girl auditioned for and made both Madrigals and Show Choir at the high school, so she has Choir and Art every morning and practices at lunchtime on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Next week, the Choir will sing at the volleyball game on Tuesday and the Homecoming Football game on Friday.  Rosie Girl and I have already talked about how she is going to work ahead on Monday so that she doesn’t get behind in her schoolwork.

I have decided that the money we pay for WriteAtHome is worth every penny!!  I LOVE not having to assign and grade Rosie Girl’s writing.  I love getting to be her cheerleader, not the coach.  I’m also happy with our grading system.  Rosie Girl has occasionally been unhappy with her grades, but not because she thought they were unfair, but because she wished she did a better job. 

Wild Man

Wild Man is learning to work more on his own this year than ever before.  He is able to read his Sonlight readers quite well.  I have him do his Geography workbook on his own most of the time.  This week, I even had him do his History workbook one day by himself because I had a migraine.  He and I still do Bible, spelling, and Science together.  Because of my headaches, we are behind in Science, but I’m not worried about that.

Wild Man’s issues mainly have to do with attention and work habits.  He is getting better about getting up and getting to his chores and schoolwork.  He is sooooooo incredibly distractible, though!!  I make sure he has a list of his independent work to keep him on task.  Even with that, I’ll find him reading a library book because he got distracted from something else!

I have been quite pleased, though, to see that he is retaining some of what he has learned in Spelling.  He is able to write sentences much more easily than he was in the past.  He doesn’t like to do much that requires handwriting or typing, but he really is getting better.

Wild Man is trying out tomorrow for a community theater play in our area.  We live in a very small town, so I think there’s a good chance that he’ll get a part in the chorus.  The theater is within walking distance of our house (as is just about everything in town!) so rehearsals would be quite convenient.  Wild Man is such a performer and this would be such a great opportunity that I hope he gets a part.

So that’s what’s up in our little part of the educational world.  Homeschooling high school is definitely different even than middle school.  Rosie Girl needs far less direction than  she has in the past.  Wild Man, of course, still needs a good bit of my time and energy.  Rosie Girl needs me now for different things, I’m finding – things like teaching her to put on make-up, someone to talk to about school and friends, someone to watch her new tap combination, etc.  And it’s all good.  Migraines and all.

Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for more Weekly Reviews!!

Updates – September 25, 2009

Blog posting has been a little sporadic lately, as you may have noticed.  That has largely been due to my being busy with my “real” (that is, non-digital) life.  However, I did have a spell of six days of migraine in the course of a week which slowed down everything.  In spite of the migraines, life continues and is full of fun and surprises.

Rosie Girl was selected to be in both Madrigals and Show Choir at the local high school!!  Madrigals is a group of singers that perform in Medieval European costumes and sing Christmas carols during the holiday season.  As far as I know, they only perform for the holidays, so it is a fall/winter group only.  Show Choir is the group that both sings and dances to Broadway-type music.

Rosie Girl goes to school for Choir and Art every morning.  On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, she goes back at lunchtime for Show Choir or Madrigals rehearsal.  This week is Homecoming, so the whole Choir will be singing at the volleyball game on Tuesday night and then at the football game on Friday night (which I’m going to miss – more on that later).  I’m very excited about her getting to be part of these groups.  Not only is it great that she gets to hone her musical ability, but it’s a great opportunity for her to make friends in our community.

Wild Man is enjoying his band class.  The sixth grade band class is mostly for just learning to play the instrument, so he doesn’t have any performances scheduled yet.  Tomorrow is the auditions for a community theater production, and Wild Man is trying out for a part.  (Mr. Math Tutor may also volunteer his time and expertise in sound and lighting.)  Wild Man also has gotten a lot of the performing genes from his grandmothers and loves being on stage.

The kids and I have been going to the Senior Nutrition Center once a week to help serve meals.  Rosie Girl probably won’t be able to go very often until after the holidays because of Madrigals practice.  We usually get to the center right about the time the food arrives from a local nursing home.  We pack up the meals for Meals on Wheels first.  After that, we serve the people who come to the center for meals.  We sometimes will sit and talk with people during or right after the meal.  We help clean up and are done around 12:30.  It’s a great way for me and the kids to be involved in the community.

Mr. Math Tutor and I are attending a small group again, although I missed our first meeting last Saturday because of my migraine.  Our church is doing a series based on Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (which is an excellent book) in which the sermons and small group curriculum is tied together.  Mr. Math Tutor’s high school small group (several of whom are now high school graduates) are also working through this on Sunday nights.

Speaking of Mr. Math Tutor’s high school small group (AKA “Revolution”), they are going to do a Project Serve weekend at Fort Wilderness later this month.  And, I should say that “we” are going since this trip also includes our family.  We will be volunteering for the weekend, doing whatever needs to be done – kitchen work, maintenance, stable work, etc.

I’ve also decided to go to the Women’s Retreat this year.  Our church takes a group to the Fort Wilderness Women’s Retreat every year.  I haven’t gone before because I’ve been worried about getting a bad migraine and being without Mr. Math Tutor, etc.  But, I’m going to do it this year.  Pray for my head!!

I missed a week’s worth of chiropractic appointments because of the week-long migraine.  I started back today and kind of feel like we’re starting over.  The chiropractor did give me some exercises to do and has me using a special chiropractic pillow.  I’m keeping a headache diary, hoping to see results, although I’m sure any changes will take a while.  I’ll try to be patient.

You can see that we are getting to be pretty busy these days.  Mr. Math Tutor and I are pretty determined, though, to not let our lives become over-busy to where we don’t have time to be a family.  For example, Rosie Girl very wisely chose not to audition for the community theater production because of her music commitments.  Homeschooling really helps us stay connected to each other.  Mr. Math Tutor’s schedule keeps him busy during the evenings, so we have our main meal together at lunch time.  We want our kids to have fun and enriching experiences, but never at the expense of healthy relationships.

Well, I’ll write more later, I’m sure.  I’ve got a few books to finish reading and review.  And, of course, sometimes I just have too many thoughts to fit in my brain, so they end up on my blog!

7 Quick Takes Friday – September 25, 2009


1. When I got my hair cut a few weeks ago, Mr. Math Tutor and I joked that maybe my headaches would improve with less weight to carry around.  On Monday, when I was having my 4th day straight with migraine, Wild Man (who was adamantly opposed to the hair cut) said, “Maybe the hair cut is making the migraines worse.”  It was the first time in four days that I laughed.


2. Our poor garden just hasn’t been doing well.  Do you think it could be that we hardly ever watered it during the 21 days without rain a few weeks ago?  We’ll need to be more disciplined about it next year!

3. I got a silicone muffin pan and have decided that it is my absolute favorite kitchen utensil.  Muffins are so easy to make, but I rarely made them because cleaning the muffin pans was so difficult, but the silicone pan makes it incredibly easy!!  I just put it in the dishwasher and it came out looking brand new.

4. I went on a kitchen cleaning spree the other day.  We had tons of soap scum build-up in the dishwasher, so I ran an empty dishwasher cycle with a couple of cups of vinegar which worked like a charm.  The main event, though, was that I cleaned my wooden cabinets above the stove which were sticky and gross with a layer of grease (that was probably about 10 years old).  It took lots of Pledge and some elbow grease, but they are beautifully clean!!

5. My kids both drink coffee – not every day, but they enjoy it.  Mr. Math Tutor really likes his morning coffee, but not me.  I’m a Coke Zero gal.  But, the other day, Rosie Girl made me a cup of strong coffee with chocolate, cream and sugar in it.  I think it was about as effective as the migraine meds on that headache and I actually enjoyed it!

6. Sharing an office with Wild Man has its ups and downs.  Now that he’s a “real” percussion player, he is always drumming on something.  He’ll be sitting at his desk working on a workbook, but he is always drumming with his fingers or pencil.

7. One of Rosie Girl’s favorite things to do now is to back the car or van down the driveway.  She’s only 14, so that’s as much as she’s allowed to do as far as driving goes, but it thrills her to no end!!

Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our Week In Review – September 13, 2009

Weeks 1 and 2

I never got around to writing a Week In Review post last week, so I’ll just wrap up the first two weeks in one post.

Rosie Girl

One of the new things for Rosie Girl this year is that she is taking two classes at the local public school: Choir and Art.  In Choir, she found out that she is a Mezzo Soprano.  She is excited about trying out for Show Choir and Madrigals this week.  In Art, her class is working on pottery.  She also wants to try out for the Fall play.

At home, Rosie Girl is working quite independently.  Overall, this is working quite well.  She still could use her time a little better since she finds herself struggling to finish some things on time.  I had both kids scheduled to learn the states over the course of about six months, but Rosie Girl has already learned all of them.  She asked for a map of the entire US to fill in on Friday!

Rosie Girl’s other new thing this year is an online writing class.  She has been doing PowerSpeak for Latin for several months, but the WriteAtHome is new for her.  So far, she has just been doing her diagnostic assignments and hasn’t gotten any feedback.

In Biology, Rosie Girl did a microscope lab this week.  (Sorry, but I forgot to take pictures!)  She did the work all by herself, although I was close by (since she uses my microscope from medical school).  She looked at cells from her cheek and her dad’s blood (since she couldn’t quite bring herself to poke her finger).  It was a great experience for her.

Wild Man

Wild Man seems to be enjoying his band class.  I’ve had to help him some with organization to make sure that he gets where he belongs at the right time and that he has the right papers with him.  I’m really proud of how he’s doing.

Reading seems to be coming more easily this year to Wild Man.  He read most of his reader completely by himself!  In addition, he has been able to do his Geography workbook almost by himself.  I am finding that Wild Man likes to have immediate feedback, though.  He doesn’t like to do a whole workbook section before he finds out whether or not he got the answers right.  Something we need to work on!!

For Science, we are using a book on crime scene investigation techniques.  The first week, Wild Man did a lab exercise evaluating different handwriting samples.  This week, he learned about liquid chromatography by analyzing three different kinds of ink.  I put marks from markers on coffee filter strips.  Wild Man dipped the strips into water, vinegar, and alcohol, and then measured how far the ink traveled on the coffee filter strip.  Fun stuff!



Wild Man has decided that he wants to do his last year of AWANA this year instead of starting to go to the Junior High group.  Because of that, I’ll have him using the AWANA for his memorization.

In other news, Wild Man is going to try out for a community play that will be performed the first part of December.  Rosie Girl might try out for it if she doesn’t get a part in the high school play.


We’ve had a really good couple of weeks.  These are the weeks that make me glad we still homeschool!  I’m also very happy that we live in a school district that allows our kids to participate in some school activities.  Rosie Girl is looking forward to auditioning for the play and to singing with the Choir at homecoming.

I don’t plan to make many changes.  I have already told Rosie Girl that her schoolwork is now due on Saturday night instead of Friday night, giving her more time to work on it.  I will also start writing a daily list of independent work for Wild Man on his whiteboard.  He has two lists of work that he has been using, but it was rather overwhelming for him to figure out what to do next, so I’m helping him out by making a list of what he can do without my help. 

So, how has your week been?  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others have been up to!!

Potato-Sausage Pie

I made some seriously yummy Potato-Sausage Pie last night so I decided to share the recipe.

The basis of the recipe is this Bacon-Potato Torte from Melissa D’Arabian of Food Network.  Here are the modifications that I made:

1. I used 1 pound of Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage that I cooked and drained well instead of the bacon.

2. Because of the amount of sausage I used, I didn’t need quite three potatoes.

3. I didn’t have fresh thyme, so I used dried and ground thyme.

4. I used half and half instead of cream.  It doesn’t really make it healthy, but it does give it a little less fat.

Here’s the final product – well, after we had served it!!


My thoughts about the final product:

1. The crust was amazing!!  I have made pie crusts before, but they weren’t any better than what I could buy at the store, so I tend to go for convenience.  From now on, though, I’ll be making pie crusts with this recipe and technique.  This crust was buttery and flaky and delicious.

2. Using sausage meant that the flavor of the thyme and Gruyere was really masked.  I think I will probably leave out the cheese next time or use a less expensive cheese.  I love the flavor of the sausage, though.

3. This recipe is definitely NOT heart-healthy.  That being said, it is a pretty heavy dish, so it should be served with something light, such as fresh veggies, so it can be part of a reasonable meal.


Friday, September 11, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – September 11, 2009


1. Wild Man and I watched a TV show about September 11, 2001 today.  What sad memories.  And I realized how little he knows about what happened.

2. I’m seeing a chiropractor now.  A couple of the adjustments actually triggered migraines, but now they’re just giving me neck pain and worsening of the chronic headache for a day or so afterward.  I sure hope this helps some.

3. I’ve started wearing make-up again and bought some new clothes when I went school clothes shopping with the kids.  So, I got my hair cut yesterday.  I have no idea why!!  I’m starting to feel more social and like being more active, even though my headaches aren’t much better.  Whatever the cause, Mr. Math Tutor has noticed the change and is enjoying it as well!


4. The kids and I are volunteering every week at the local Senior Nutrition Center.  We help pack lunches for Meals On Wheels and then serve lunches to the clients who eat at the center.  Being in a small town, there are usually fewer than ten clients at a time, but they enjoy seeing the kids, and they do need the help.

5. Our garden has been moderately successful this year.  I’m going to put in some garlic later this fall.  We’re going to simplify next year and just plant some of the things that were most successful this year, like green beans and onions.

6. Mr. Math Tutor and I have been watching all the extra appendices and material with our Lord of the Rings DVDs.  We did this when we got the DVDs, about 6 years ago.  It’s great fun to do it again!!

7. I mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors tonight.  This is exciting for me.

So, what’s up with you?!  Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Friday!!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Book Review – Fearless


Fear – it’s all around us.  Fear of the economy getting worse (or of not being able to feed their family in the current economy).  Fear of the the culture’s influence on our children.  Fear of terrorism.  Fear of Swine Flu.

And our culture feeds into it.  The media tells us how awful the Swine Flu pandemic will be (which it might be, so get your vaccine if it’s recommended).  They make it sound like each tropical storm is going to be another Katrina.  Conservatives tell us that Obama is going to corrupt our children with a speech to children in school.  Liberals tell us that Christian fundamentalists are going to take over the government.  Environmentalists want us to believe that we have only a few more years of life on this planet.

According to “It’s a Jungle Out There” by Randy Newman (theme song from Monk),

People think I'm crazy, 'cause I worry all the time
If you paid attention, you'd be worried too
You better pay attention
Or this world we love so much might just kill you
I could be wrong now, but I don't think so
It's a jungle out there

But Jesus tells us (more than once!) not to be afraid.  According to everything above, we absolutely should be afraid.  But, Jesus tells us otherwise.  And that what Max Lucado wants us to learn from his book, Fearless.

With his signature prose, Lucado goes through the most common fears of mankind and reminds us that Jesus is the answer to all of them.  He tells us that we don’t have to worry about not mattering, because we mattered enough to Jesus that He died for us.  We don’t have to fear loss of stuff because we can’t trust stuff in the first place.  The answer to all of our fears is Jesus.

A couple of things really stood out to me in this book.  I loved the chapter on the fear of disappointing God.  In this chapter, Lucado reminds us that we can have courage to tackle whatever God puts before us because we know that God has forgiven us.  The connection between forgiveness and courage is one that I had not seen before but it makes sense.  I can have courage because of God’s grace.  How amazing!!

My other favorite chapter was “Fear of God Getting Out of My Box.”  In the last several years, I have seen God do lots of things in my and my family’s life.  We are stronger and love each other more deeply.  Yet, God didn’t work in the box I had made for Him.  If He had done that, I would be done with my headaches and be back at work.  Instead, He has done what He wants to do.  This chapter was affirming to me that God is God and I don’t have to be afraid of letting Him be Himself.  God knows what He’s up to, even when I don’t.  And the end result is much better than I could have imagined.  So, there’s no need to be afraid.

This is an excellent book that I can highly recommend.  It is quite readable.  Lucado includes a number of stories and examples, but not so many that the message gets cluttered.  He remains focused on how we can leave a Fearless life in Jesus.

For more information, check out the Fearless website.  You can purchase the book at Amazon or Thomas Nelson.  There are discussion resources at the back of the book and a small group discussion guide is sold separately.  Enjoy!


Hey, guess what?  I have a blog!!  No, I have not completely forgotten about it!  So, here’s what’s up in my life.

1. I’m seeing a chiropractor for my headaches.  Unfortunately, the adjustments last week ended up giving me migraines – part of why I wasn’t blogging!!  Today’s adjustment seems to have been a little bit easier on the head and neck.

2. The first week of school was great all the way around.  Both kids are getting into the groove of doing their schoolwork.

3. Rosie Girl is going to try out for Show Choir and for Madrigals.  Wild Man is going to try out for a community theater production.  Yes, we’ll be busy!

4. The kids and I are helping out at the Senior Nutrition Center on Wednesdays at lunchtime.  We help pack the Meals on Wheels lunches as well as serve the lunches to the clients who come to the center.  They have a keyboard so Rosie Girl can play her piano pieces and they have games so Wild Man can play cards and checkers with the clients.  We’ve enjoyed it and the clients seem to be happy about our coming to help.

5. Dance starts this week – Tap for Rosie Girl and Theater Dance for Wild Man.

6. Rosie Girl is in the High School group at church – EEK!  And Wild Man is in the Junior High group – EEK! EEK!  I am seriously not old enough for this!!

7. I made some yummy Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup a few weeks ago, but the tortillas disintegrated, so I’m trying again this week with white corn tortillas.  I’ve also gotten a hankering to make a meat pie after watching some old Top Chef episodes – lol!!

8. I have many thoughts rambling around in my head, but I’ll wait until I can put them into some semblance of order until I post.  Here’s a little foretaste –

What kind of paranoia do conservatives have that we can’t let the elected President of our nation talk to schoolkids for 18 minutes?  Obama is talking about having a “trigger” to a mandatory public option – that’s the same as a public option, just a few years down the road!  I love doing fixed hour prayer, but I wish I was more disciplined about it.  Have you ever eaten “ramps”? – I’ve heard about them on two cooking shows recently and now I want to try them!   Why am I having to run the air conditioner in September in Wisconsin?  I found a great new sock pattern! 

Does that whet your appetite for more of my crazy thoughts?  Well, stay tuned.  First up, though, is a book review.  That’s coming later tonight!