Thursday, October 30, 2008

Win Against Yourself

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.


William Faulkner
US writer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Manic Monday to Keep Mum About

Today has been truly manic, but it is in my best interest to keep mum about the maniacal goings-on. Suffice it to say I need, covet and appreciate all prayers from those that pray and good thoughts from those that don't that my situations will be resolved neatly and quickly. Yes, situationS. There are a lot of things on my wonky-manic-plate, and frankly, I'd like the plate to be clean. It would take *way* too much space to go into detail about everything, and really it all just boils down to me having a better attitude and being a better Christian.

'nuff said.


On the upside, we went shopping for


today! Each year, we do a box for a child that is the same age and gender of each of our children. We let the kids choose a few specific things for their friends like a toy or two and a shirt to add in to the generic stuff like a toothbrush, bar of soap, and candy.

Bethy and I went alone today before school got out. She chose a baby doll set and a Pooh shirt for her friend, as well as some baby toothpaste and a Pooh package of wipes for bathtime. She kept saying, "I put in bag for my friend?" I loved it.

Sarah chose a Polly Pocket set, a Littlest Pet Shop set, and a tee for her friend. She picked the same yellow shirt that she got for her birthday so that they could be "twin friends, wherever she is." I thought that was incredibly sweet and cute. It has a little girl drawn on it dancing, and there's a cat sitting next to her.

Brandon got his buddy a set of 5 Hot Wheels crazy cars, a slinky, a set of jacks, and a big bouncy ball. We found a Spiderman shirt and shorts set on clearance, which he was excited about.


Now I just have to figure out how to fit everything into the shoe boxes!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opportunistic Carpentry

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.


Milton Berle
American comedian

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Manic Life

I just realized I haven't posted anything since the 16th. For those that might not know, our youngest child has not been gaining weight and has some other issues so we've been going to lots of doctors' appointments to get lots of tests done to figure out why she's not growing. I thought I'd post the process so I can keep track of it and you can get a peek into why I've been having anxiety attacks again.

no weight gain
short stature
lazy eyes
feet turning in

So far here's what's been done:
visit: general practitioner
test: 3 vials blood drawn
results: anemia, low something i can't remember
action: begin "complete" vitamins (with iron)

visit: geneticist
test: 5 vials blood drawn for chromosomal tests, metabolic tests, protein test and something else i can't remember
results: all returned normal/negative for problems
action: sweat test for cystic fibrosis

visit: orthopedist
test: x-ray taken from hip to foot
results: normal growth, growth arrest lines present on both ends of tibia and bottom of femur
action: await genetic results for possible explanation of growth arrest lines; feet revisited at 4.5 years, hips revisited at 9-9.5 years

visit: hospital
test: sweat test for cystic fibrosis
results: normal/negative for cystic fibrosis
action: report results to general practitioner

All this is above and beyond the WIC appointments and Early Childhood Intervention visits. I'll clean this up and add more later - it's 1am and I'm tired.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good Produces Evil

Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.


Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
(1797-1851) English writer

Starting From Scratch When You're Single Again


Starting From Scratch When You're Single Again
23 women share stories, encouragement, and
lessons learned
when starting over
was all they could do

Strang/Christian Life

Release date:
September, 2008

Cyndy Salzmann

“Someone you know
needs this book!”

Julie Barnhill,
bestselling author of
One Tough Mother

Sharon M. Knudson and Mary Fran Heitzman know how utterly lost and alone a woman can feel after experiencing the devastation of death or divorce. They know because they’ve been there themselves.
In Starting From Scratch When You’re Single Again, the authors serve up true, poignant stories from widowed and divorced women in their early to late seventies who survived a horrific death-blow to their dreams for a happy, secure future. With white-knuckle faith, each one found enough strength to not only survive – but thrive.

Each woman’s story and the lessons learned provide encouragement and spiritual refreshment. And as a bonus, her favorite recipe is included. (Appropriate for individuals or use with small groups.) Visit their website and blog at

Sharon M. Knudson is a full-time freelance writer with five book collaborations and hundreds of published articles. She speaks at Christian events and retreats, and also teaches writing courses on the craft of writing and getting published. Sharon served for four years as president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild and holds BME and MM degrees from Michigan State University. She lives with her husband in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Mary Fran Heitzman writes essays, poetry, and magazine articles and is current president of the 130-member Minnesota Christian Writers Guild. She is a certified member of Toastmasters International and co-facilitates a Faith Interaction group in her church. When she isn’t writing, she works with her husband at Heitzman Financial Group in Bloomington, Minnesota.

For more information or to book an interview contact:
Cyndy Salzmann 402.681.8288


Authors Sharon M. Knudson
and Mary Fran Heitzman
Chatting with
Sharon and Mary Fran

Mary, why did you write this book?
I’m neither divorced nor widowed, but I, too, have a heart for those who are starting from scratch. My father died when I was 16, and although she was never aware of the impression she made, my mother was an inspiration to me. While my faith in God faltered, hers remained intact. I watched how she made decisions—how she continued to put one foot in front of the other—how she guided my younger brother and me.

Today I work with my husband in the financial services business. We meet many women who, because of the loss or absence of their spouse, are faced with decisions that were once shared.

I wanted to offer all of these women hope and encouragement so they wouldn’t feel alone or overwhelmed. I want them to know that others have survived and that they will, too. I also want them to know—if they are young mothers—that their children are learning how to cope through the example they set. Children are not harsh judges, but will admire them for their willingness to learn new skills, and for listening to, talking with, and leading them even when the road is strewn with uncertainty.

Sharon, do you think widows and divorced women are treated differently? In what way?
When my marriage failed after thirty years, I was filled with tremendous guilt and shame. I had been a devout believer in Christ, an active leader in my church, the parent of two beautiful daughters, and the kind of person who loved both my own and my husband’s extended family. It was as if I had received a ten-foot tall letter “F” on my imaginary “Report Card of Life.”

Widows don’t carry that kind of shame around, although they are consumed with grief, as was I. Friends and relatives know what to say to a widow—they offer counsel and comfort.

Mary, as you talked with women, what did you find helped them cope with their situation?
Many of the women we visited with often spoke of turning to Scripture. While some had a strong faith that allowed them to draw comfort from great passages in the Bible, others questioned God at first, or had feisty conversations with Him.

All were needy of, and appreciated, kind words and gestures from friends and family. But I was struck at how they all found comfort when their supporters were not available. Many of the women we visited with mentioned a devotional, a workbook, or some special story that encouraged them. Some started blogs or began a ministry. Many swallowed their pride and accepted help from others, including the government, recognizing that this was just for a season.

For most of these women, dependency on God Himself seemed to be the key ingredient when tragedy first struck. After that they allowed others to minister to them. And then eventually they took that one small step necessary to move forward and accept change.

Sharon, the first story in the book is from your personal experience and is titled, “Telling.” Why is talking to others—even friends—about your situation so hard?
When I suddenly got divorced, no one knew what to think or say. It was a complete shock to everyone (including me), and it felt like a bomb had gone off in the night. People want an explanation, and if one is not readily apparent, they make their own guesses as to what probably happened. Some gossip and take sides. Some get very angry and feel betrayed: in a way, their own security is threatened and they wonder, “If that could happen to her, could it happen to me?”

“Telling”came right out of my journal. It was written as I grappled with how to tell people what had happened just a few months after the divorce. We have included this as a book excerpt on our blog.

Mary, what is your best advice to a woman who finds herself single again?
As tempting as it might be, do not stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head. Accept invitations from friends and learn something new, no matter how small. If God seems far away, ask Him for just a little bit of faith. Eventually, it will grow.

Sharon, do you have a quote from the book to close with?
Mary and I designed beautiful bookmarks to give away, and they express what the stories in this book convey. The bookmark says, “Be thankful for whatever God is doing in and through your suffering. TRUST that eventually He will make everything right” (from page 212). God is in the business of redeeming and restoring lives, and this holds true for those who believe in Him no matter what.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

Blog Tour Tuesday has been pre-empted by this post.
Please visit tomorrow for Starting From Scratch.
It's Blog Action Day 08. What are you doing to fight poverty? Here's my list of ideas:

Give to Operation Christmas Child by donating or putting together a box of gifts for a poor child. This is what our family does every year. We actually have an 18-gallon tote labeled for it that we save shoeboxes in and fill with goodies throughout the year. We will be giving 12 boxes this year.

Give a donation to help the poor in someone's name for Christmas through Samaritan's Purse.

Give to your local Toys for Tots

Give to your local Angel Tree

Visit the Hunger Site everyday

Visit the Breast Cancer Site everyday

Visit the Child Health Site everyday

Visit the Literacy Site everyday
Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Manic Columday

My Google Calendar for this week looks like an abstract splatter painting. The kids were out of school today. One would think that would mean "Day to Laze About," right? Ha!

And again I say:HA!
A peek into my life today:

2:30 AM: Bethy finally goes to sleep after awaking at 10pm after crashing at 6pm after refusing to take a nap all day Sunday.

7:00 am: Wake up for unknown reason and continue to toss and turn until I'm just about back to sleep good, when at

8:30 am: Sarah wakes me up with her usual "I'm hungry." Thankfully, Michael gets up with her.

9:30 am: I get up and take a shower and get ready to go to my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) playdate with all three kids.

10:30 am: Leave the house 30 minutes late for the playdate, three excited kids in tow. Sarah remarks on the smell in the back seat. I recoil in horror when I go to the van door and am attacked by aforementioned odoriferous beast.

12:00 pm: Leave the Nature Preserve after 1.5 hours of playing, picture-taking, light lunch and Momtalk. Head home and clean out the car quickly, discovering a decomposed (I'm talking black, dried and shriveled up) banana under Sarah's seat, before

12:50 pm: I head to Quitman to meet the Registered Dietitian at WIC (Women, Infants, Children) to discuss Bethy's lack of weight-gain.

1:10 pm: Arrive late for appointment, discuss strategy for getting food in child, realize that the doctor didn't fax the prescriptions she was supposed to, admire new breastfeeding support giveaway backpack, receive one anyway because the worker loves me and knows I've breastfed for over three years of my life. (SCORE!) Head to the store to get tea for the Sanity of the Parents and 350-calorie per 8-ounce serving strawberry-flavored nutritional drink for Bethy.

3:10 pm: Arrive home; unload car and get to turn on the computer to check for urgent/important e-mails before

4:00 pm: Brandon's eye exam. He cries when the nurse describes the optomap exam because he doesn't realize the pictures he sees are not taken by poking around his eye. He thinks there will be prodding and pain involved. We assure him there's not, then he gets excited and tries to win $100 by not blinking when they puff the air at his eyes (he didn't win). We go through the exam fine - he thinks it's cool when he sees the veins in his eyes while doing the light test. Diagnosis: nearsightedness, right eye worse than left eye. He will have glasses by the end of the week.

5:18 pm: Leave the eye doctor to head for parent conference/report card pick-up that was scheduled for 5:00. Told Bethy is asleep. Get to the school to wait while teacher finishes one conference, then does another that was already waiting.

5:44 pm: Finally get into conference. Discover that Brandon is 2 years and 3 months ahead of grade level (he's in third grade) in reading and about a year ahead in math. His teacher is recommending him for Gifted and Talented and tells me that I have a lot of work ahead of me to keep up with him. No kidding.

6:03 pm: Call Sarah's campus to tell them I'm on my way to the appointment with her teacher that was scheduled for 5:30. Arrive and am told by her Kindergarten teacher, "She knows it all." I beg her not to ever say that out loud. Sarah knows everything they've covered already this year and "a whole lot more." She's a whiz at rhyming and will most likely be a helper when they cover it more in-depth later in the year. Conclusion: I've got two brains running around my house that get the utmost glee from bantering, "You Dum-Dum!"

6:30 pm: Get home, go outside and bleach the basket that goes in my car between the seats while I call my mom to update her on eye exam and grades.

8:00 pm: I start this post. Bethy wakes up. Michael and I hope aloud that maybe she'll go to bed at midnight tonight since she got up at 8 instead of 10.

9:30 pm: Bethy is lying on the couch sucking her thumb and watching Pooh as I write this post. Strike that, she just got up to play with stacking rings. I hope I'll get to go to bed before tomorrow.

Somehow, I don't think today's itinerary allows for that.

10:30 pm: Bethy has fallen asleep. I'm working on graphics work for a client.

It is now 12:55 am Tuesday morning. I have a Parent-Teacher Partnership meeting at 8:45 am and I still have to type the minutes up from last month's meeting. I'm going to bed now. There's only one word for this:Oy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shabbat Shalom - Crimson Leaves


Many thanks to my very dear, very talented friend Kristine for permission to use her absolutely beautiful photos for Shabbat Shalom. This is an untouched photograph!

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18 KJVR

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Grafting Hatred

In hatred as in love, we grow like the thing we brood upon. What we loathe, we graft into our very soul.


Mary Renault
English writer

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall Into Reading 2008 Update


Fall Into Reading 2008
Free to Be Me

So I finished my first FIR08 book inside of a week. Check out Free to Be Me if you're in the mood for a quick, encouraging read that lets you know that Betty Robison is just like us. I found her book to be just that. I didn't know much about her, but just assumed that she was one of those blessed-from-birth, always-been-with-it women. I was so wrong, and so glad to be.
Seeing Through the Lies
Second book, not so fast. I'm reading Seeing Through The Lies and about halfway through it. Fantastic book! Vonda is in an online writer's group that I'm lucky enough to be a member of, and I'm loving it so much I actually went a little wonky on the poor woman and e-mailed her to tell her how much I'm loving it. Bless her, she was beautifully gracious and grateful for my e-mail. Michael has been amused that I frequently laugh out loud while reading this book. Vonda's book makes you wonder if you're reading or having a conversation with girlfriends in your living room. It's very conversational and funny, but don't let that fool you. Seeing Through the Lies breaks through the fluff and delivers poignant, deep, spiritual points that women need to hear. Vonda's gift is that she makes you feel good about hearing these deep truths, not shamefully convicted. If you wonder how your spiritual health is faring or your relationship with God or the church, as Vonda would say, "You need to read this book, girlfriend!"
Spirited Women
Next up, I'll be reading Spirited Women, about the women of the early church. I'm looking forward to delving into the lives of these women that worked so tirelessly for God, not from a sense of duty or I-have-to-itis, but from an overflowing love of the Savior that had set their hearts free. Maybe I'll catch of glimpse of their passion. I'm hoping, anyway.


18 Oct 2008
12 Noon GMT
So what are you reading for Fall Into Reading 2008? If you haven't started yet, don't worry. You still have plenty of time, and if life really conspires against you, you can just work on your list for this year's 24-hour Read-a-Thon on 18 October. It's exactly what it sounds like: 24 hours of unadulterated reading bliss. It starts at 12 noon GMT (find your equivalent time here) and all you do is read.

And then read some more.

And then read a little more.

And then read a lot more.

And then your brain will be in bibliophile heaven. You're welcome!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Halloween and Religious Liberty

I read an interesting post over at ParentDish called Halloween at school - A do or a don't? Being one of "those" parents, I felt the necessity to share why I am one of them.
As one of those parents who do not celebrate Halloween, I believe it should be kept out of the school - just like Christmas and Easter should be kept out of the school.

It is each family's right and privilege to believe and celebrate in whatever way is best for them, and it is NOT the right or privilege of the public school system to allow the children "to be kids at school-regardless of what their parents believe." That approach takes parental respect and rights away from parents, and teaches the children that "anything is okay, as long as it's at school."

It is subtleties like this that help make our children today less respectful of parents and allows the government to gain more and more control over citizens. As our children are taught that the origins of holidays don't really matter and that they can celebrate anyway despite their parents' teaching, they are also taught that what their parents have taught them doesn't matter and that can do whatever the government says despite the rights and privileges granted to them by the Constitution. It is already taking place with the Patriot Act.

Our country and government were established to create freedom for our citizens to believe, worship and celebrate how they wish, and to protect those that believe differently from being proselytized by them. The public school system is a place of academic learning. The separation of church and state provides religious learning in the home, church, or church schools. The public school should be devoid of ANY religion, whether Christian, Pagan, Wiccan, Buddhist or Muslim.

I am a 32-year-old Christian that believes our Wiccan, Buddhist and Muslim citizens have just as much right to NOT be exposed to the Nativity as we have the right not to be exposed to Halloween, Buddha or Mohamed.

Feel free to sound off in the comments - just keep it respectful.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Few Things to Ponder

What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power.


He who sees the truth, let him proclaim it, without asking who is for it or who is against it.


That which is unjust can really profit no one; that which is just can really harm no one.


Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.


How can a man be said to have a country when he has not right of a square inch of it.


Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.


Poorly paid labor is inefficient labor, the world over.


How vainly shall we endeavor to repress crime by our barbarous punishment of the poorer class of criminals so long as children are reared in the brutalizing influences of poverty, so long as the bite of want drives men to crime.


Henry George
US economist

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Make Some Noise!
I got to answer a question last night on a post about Krystal Meyer's newest album, Make Some Noise: "How do you make noise for God?" I think it's a good question - one we should ask ourselves on a regular basis. So to spread the conversation into the blogosphere, I'm asking you:
How do you
make noise
for God?

Here's my answer:

Besides singing and teaching a class for kids birth-5 at church, I make noise by standing up for my beliefs and not being afraid to be vocal when someone questions me about my beliefs and values. As Christians, we need to be just as comfortable discussing God and His place in our lives with non-believers as we are with believers. I never hesitate to share what God has done for me or my family, no matter who they are or what they may (or may not) believe.

I live in a Bible-belt community where halloween carnivals are "sanctified" as fall festivals, trunk-or-treats, and other "Christian" names for celebrating a pagan holiday. My family will not participate in these events because of our beliefs, and I'm never afraid to share what God has shown our family when confronted about it. Sometimes it's more eye-rolling and accusation than conversation, but by being loving, tactful and non-judging I can make some noise for God, whispering His "I love you!" to their hearts.
I also try to live compassion and teach it to my kids. Every year, we participate in Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child through our local Mothers of Preschoolers program. We send boxes to children the same ages and genders of my three kids so they learn that they can help someone just like them. My family gets to yell "God loves you!" clear across the world to needy children - how cool is that?!

They say silence is golden. Sometimes the loudest noise is made by the gentlest whisper... or no words at all.

Share your answer in the comments, and if you missed the contest, buy the CD at Amazon


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