Book Recommendation: Restoration Series

I tend to be skeptical of all products labelled “Christian.”  So the “Christian fiction” section in my local library isn’t a place I often frequent.  My aunt loaned me her copies of the Restoration Series by Terri Blackstock, and, I admit, they sat on my shelf for quite a while.  In fact, I only started reading them because I knew I was going to see my aunt soon and needed to return them to her.

Boy howdy, am I ever glad that I did!  Never has a piece of current fiction inspired me as much as these books!

Terri Blackstock, creative though she is, is not the world’s next George MacDonald.  I’ve gone on to read all her other novels since starting out with this series.  Most of her books are entertaining and suspenseful, but her books won’t become classics.

However, the concept behind this series is fascinating.  She answers the question, “What would a Christian do if he or she was without electricity?”

Not only did this series of books bring me back to my days in Kosova of on-again, off-again electrical power, it also made me seriously consider how to implement changes within our home to be more self-sustainable and less wasteful.  This set of novels has seriously changed our family life and set into motion my starting to research gardening, nutrition, homeschooling, and foraging.  It also gave me the desire to learn how to shoot a gun.

Read it, read it, read it!  That’s all I can say for these books.

This fall, NBC will be introducing a television series that explores the same concept, minus the Christian aspect, I am sure.  It is called Revolution, and I am really looking forward to it.

Have you read this series?  What would you do without electricity?

A Plain Quote

Amish farm kids

“If anyone tells you religion is just habit – we’d answer them that’s better to have that habit then not have it at all.” Elizabeth Coblentz, The Best of the Amish Cook, Vol. 1, 1991-1996

Amish folk are characterized by hard work, disciplined lives, great food, and religion.  I checked out the previously referenced book so that I could get some mouth-watering recipes, but have been getting some down-to-earth tidbits of advice about life too.

This quote is very counter-cultural, but I like it.  Our culture wants religion to be all about relationship and good feelings.  But I like thinking about attending church as a good habit.  I don’t always feel like brushing my teeth, but I know that it is good for my well-being whether I’m in the mood or not.

I could say the same for attending church.  We are attending a church that is an hour away from our house.  Sometimes, I would rather roll over and sleep in than obey the alarm clock when it sounds off at 6:00am, telling me to hurry up and get the girls ready so we can be out the door by 7:30am.  But I continue this habit because it nurtures my relationship with God, my family, especially my husband, and other believers.  It is good for me even when I don’t feel like it.

What do you think?  Is this an incorrect view of church?

Do you agree or disagree with this quote?  Air your opinion.

Reading Recommendations

When I experience something good, I like to share it. When I make personal discoveries about recipes, saving money, or health, I love talking with anyone who will listen about what I am learning.

Growing up, I was home-schooled and the primary mode of my education came through reading. I loved to read, enjoyed studying the English language, and devoured my favorite subject in school: Literature.

One day, I had a conversation with a woman whose name I no longer remember. I couldn’t tell you anything about her except a short interchange she and I had. She had several elementary aged children, and, when I asked her if she was reading anything good, she replied, “Oh, I don’t have time for reading.”

Then and there, I promised myself at the ripe age of sixteen that I would never lose time for reading. Yes, I have had seasons where my reading habits have dipped, but I have never let it go completely. It is still the primary way in which I learn (and get entertained!).

So! I want to start sharing with you some simple book reviews. Nothing fancy or lengthy. Just some reading recommendations. I want to share with you some of my favorite books, fiction and nonfiction, in the hope that you will be inspired and energized by learning or being entertained by the books that educate and entertain me.

I’m always looking for a good read. What are your book recommendations?

Getting on my Soapbox about Breastfeeding

I have been thinking a lot about the controversial and sensation-causing breastfeeding Times magazine cover.  When I first saw it, I was surprised and shocked by it even though I am a breastfeeding momma.  I was surprised because I’ve never seen pictures like that in national media.

Now, I have seen plenty of photos of breastfeeding since I became a mom.  Randy has joked by saying he’s never seen so much nudity since I got pregnant with Phoebe.  The books I read, the products I have bought (especially when we were overseas in Europe), and the websites I look at all support breastfeeding so I’ve seen plenty of photos with moms feeding their children this way.

But we never see a mom nursing in public and never see pictures of breastfeeding in national media.

Until now.

This cover caused a huge buzz!  It was all over the internet and talk shows.  Even breastfeeding advocates were critical about it, saying that the mom was not shown to be nurturing enough in this picture.

So here is my two cents about this controversy and why it irritates me.  This controversy is very cultural.

When I visited Zimbabwe, it was common and normal to see a mom breastfeeding public in mixed company with men and women.  No one thought anything of it because that is what they do in Zimbabwe.  What was considered inappropriate was exposing both sides at the same time.

In Kosova, women would breastfeed in front of other people.  In the city, you only did it in front of other women.  In more rural areas, it did not matter when and where you nursed.

Here in America, it is really taboo to nurse anywhere except behind closed doors or draped with a blanket.  Even at the breastfeeding support group I attended, where every single woman was breastfeeding and there was no one present who wasn’t breastfeeding, we had this unspoken rule that you had to keep covered.

God made moms to be multi-taskers and that definitely included our bodies!  In both men and women, our privates were made for a couple different functions.  The Lord made women’s breasts to be enjoyed by their husbands and also to sustain their children through nursing.

In our American culture at large, people want to acknowledge the first function but not the second.  I’m not sure why this is.

You can see evidence of this everywhere.  If you want proof, read this article about a mom who was breastfeeding in the women’s section of Target and asked to move into a fitting room.  It’s not so much the article I care about but the comments by readers of the article.

So here is what really gets my goat.  It is considered vile and disgusting for a mom to feed her baby in public, but it is considered attractive and beautiful when a woman wears clothing that highlights and draws attention to her cleavage!  If you want evidence of this, just walk into any Wal-Mart and take notice how most of the women are dressed and what the focus point of most magazines covers are.  Talk about double standard!

This drives me crazy!  In this country, breasts are only viewed as sexual organs.  People don’t want to think about them as having the God-given function of feeding children.  That is considered disgusting!

As a Christian woman, I am not advocating your getting all angry and going out someplace public to defiantly breastfeed in public.  But I am saying that, as women, we should not be embarrassed by doing something that God created us to do, especially if it is done in a manner that considers and respects others’ feelings and viewpoints.

I wish that this country was more like Zimbabwe or Kosova in that respect, but it isn’t.  This is just another way that Satan has perverted what God has intended for good.  Let’s do what we can, in a respectful manner, to reverse this trend.  Let’s help make the change for breastfeeding to become the norm and exposing our cleavage to be a source of attraction to be what causes a scandalous, newsworthy sensation.

Are you applauding this post, or do you totally disagree with me?  I’d welcome your thoughts either way.

Line Drying

Yes, I finally have my own clothing line!

We had one of these growing up, but I hated how scratchy the towels and clothing felt after being line dried.  I do not mind it as much now, but I am thinking that I will enjoy a soft towel come winter.

I found the clothing line for $7 at Lowe’s.  They had other kinds that were more expensive, made of metal and different kinds of plastic.  Mine is made of PVC, which I know is not the healthiest since PVC is said to off-gas harmful chemicals.  I figured it would be okay for us since I am only using it outside, where I have plenty of grass to convert that yuck into fresh and pure oxygen.

I also bought clothes pins.  They were $5 for a pack of 100 at Wal-Mart.  I know that seems like a lot of money, but I decided to “splurge” and get pins made of bamboo.  I am liking them, especially since I have only got one splinter so far.

My line is small, but I am still able to wash and dry two loads of clothing a day.  Our shirts hang inside the house on hangers and the rest of the laundry goes outside.

Benefits of line drying:

  • Saves money you’d spend on electricity to run the dryer
  • The mixture of sun and oxygen released from grass underneath is a natural “oxygen bleach,” brightening colors and whitening whites.  Speed this process up by laying a stained article right down on the grass.
  • Adds a little extra exercise to your daily routine
  • Allows you a chance to do housework and soak up some rays at the same time!  Work on your tan or just get your body to produce some more Vitamin D.

Downsides to line drying:

  • The articles feel scratchy.
  • If you leave colors in the sun too long and too often, they will start to fade.

Here is one tip that I recently found that I am enjoying.  After you wash a load, stick it in the clothes dryer for ten minutes.  This is just enough time to get the wrinkles free so your clothing can dry straighter on the line.  This dramatically reduces wrinkles, which I am enjoying especially on Randy’s work clothing that I iron.  However, because my goal is to save money, I only do this with our clothes.  All towels and diapers go straight outside without a whirl in the dryer.

Do you line dry?  Would you?  What are your tips?

Keeping in the Word

If you are a busy mom like I am, chasing down an almost three-year-old while nursing a five-month-old, you do not get enough time in the Word.  Oh, yes, you may wake up early, before 7am, so that you can have some time to yourself before the Nuggets let you know they are ready for the day.

But it isn’t enough.

It is so hard to keep your mind on heavenly things, when earthly things – meal plans, clothing that needs drying, poopy diapers, a stack of clothes to iron, unmade beds, mouths to feed – press themselves to the forefront of your mind every day.

Here’s my solution to help myself seek first His righteousness.

Phoebe has a nice little collection of dry erase crayons.  On a whim, I grabbed one and wrote a Bible verse on our bathroom mirror.  Then I could not help myself and wrote verses on every window in our house.

I bet you could use washable crayons.  You could definitely use dry erase markers.

I left this on for a month and was able to wash it off with my normal window cleaning solution (50% white vinegar, 50% water).

I am so excited to down and gather a bunch more verses for this month!  I’ll be changing out the Scriptures each month so that our minds stay fresh and don’t just glaze over the words.

Money Saving Ideas

We’d really like to be in a home of our own.  Not only are we excited to be able to make decisions about decorating our house, then just doing it instead of asking the landlady, but we’d also like the freedom to have pets if we want AND, most importantly, we’d like a place to stake our tents permanently.

To get there, we are trying to save up for a down payment.  To do that, we recently discussed ways that we can save money.  Here are some of the things we’re doing:

  1. Making our own yogurt
  2. Making our own “cream of” soups
  3. Line drying our laundry
  4. Starting our first vegetable garden
  5. Having a garage sale

I have two questions for you.

What do you do to save money?

and

Would you like me to write about the ways that we are saving money?

The Day I Met Eliza

The day before I met Eliza, I started having regular contractions around lunchtime.  It was Sunday.  My sister Grace had come to visit so that she could watch Phoebe while Eliza was born.  I didn’t let Randy and Grace know about my contractions until the evening, when I started to not be able to ignore them.

“Guys, I’m having regular contractions that aren’t going away when I change position.  I think tonight might be the night.”

They both whipped their heads around to stare at me with mouths hanging open.

We went to bed at our normal bedtime.  I was excited, but wanted to make sure that I got rest in case I couldn’t sleep later during the night.

I had contractions all night long.  Isaiah 40.11 played through my mind, over and over.  I meditated upon the mental image this verse gave me.  I imagined myself a ewe, being lead through each contraction.  While I was laboring with Phoebe, I had wanted to lay on my back.  This time, my side felt best, and I HAD TO HAVE my hand stuck underneath my pillow during the contractions, especially at the toughest parts.

Randy had come to bed with me, but his usual moving in his sleep bothered me too much during the contractions so he ended up on the floor.  Oh! the things our men do for us!  Even feeling the vibrations of the floor moving when someone walked around the room bothered me.

Around 2am, I told Randy that I thought it was time for the baby to come and we had better call the midwife.  They got here and were here for a couple hours but I did not move closer toward having Eliza, even though my contractions were storng and closely timed.

It was at that point that I found out that I was only dilated to one cenimeter.  When they told me that, I’m sure my eyes bugged out of my head.  The contractions I was experiencing with Eliza were worse than the ones I had felt at the end of my labor with Phoebe.

I was given a shot of benadryl to try to relax my body.  The midwife told me it would help me fall asleep.  When I would wake up, then we’d know whether I was really in labor or not based upon whether or not I was still having contractions.  They’d come back if I woke up and was still in labor.

People, I never fell asleep.  Those contractions were so strong that, even though that benadryl made me feel like I could doze, I did not sleep five minutes.

At 6am, I couldn’t take laboring myself any longer and woke Randy up.  I told him he better get that daggum midwife back over here before this baby popped out.  Not my literal phraseology, but you get the idea.

The first one to show at the house was a medical assistant.  She quickly came in and sat on the bed.  BIG NO-NO.  Then she proceeded to grab my hand, stroke it, and try to talk to me.  EXTRA BIG NO-NO.  I couldn’t get any words out, and just snatched my hand away while Randy politely told her that she should probably get off the bed.

Half an hour after the midwife showed up, I felt like I had to the go to the bathroom.  One of the assistants lead me by the hand into the bathroom.  I sat down, still contracting, and my water broke into the toilet.  I let the assistant know and, in my labor-induced stupor, just sat there.  I could tell that everyone was running around.

By this time, I had also realized that Grace and Phoebe were awake and were watching a movie in Grace’s room, across the hall from the bathroom.

The midwife, her two assistants, and Randy crowded into our little bathroom.  I, of course, was still on the pot.  The midwife coached me through pushing.

If you’ve never pushed a baby out, let me tell you that it is very surreal.  For me, both deliveries felt about five minutes long.  In reality, they were both about half an hour.  But time seemed to speed by as all my focus was on getting the little nugget out into the world.

I remember looking up at Randy during labor.  Eliza’s head had just started coming out.  He was beaming at me and told me that I was doing a good job.  That gave me the will and extra oomph to get her out the rest of the way.  The midwife caught her and scooped her up to me.

Boy, was she big!  That’s what I remember thinking!  That, and, get me back to my bed.

They helped me back to the bed.  Randy cut Eliza’s cord.  There weren’t any issues with her or I.  We just enjoyed the rest of the day and getting to know our new precious bundle.

It happened that, while I was in labor, my parents and sister, Priscilla, were on there way to our house to drop off Mom and pick up Grace.  Perfect timing!  They all got to meet Eliza on the day that she was born!

It was wonderful to have Eliza born in our home.  It was less romantic and more real than I had anticipated it to be, but we got our girl.  That’s what counts!

Eliza – Oath of God
Charlotte – Free
Sophia – Wisdom