Saturday, September 03, 2011

Book Review: Indelible (A Novel)

Trevor McDaniel, a former Olympian and local celebrity, spends his days leading adventure-seekers in a small Colorado town. But in his spare time, he and his business partner join local officials in extreme search and rescue cases. And when he rescues a small two year old boy from the jaws of a mountain lion, his world collides with the boys aunt and local artist, Natalie.

Trevor is accustomed to being rescuer and savior, and Natalie and her nephew Cody afford many opportunities to be just that. Indelible, by Kristen Heitzmann, is a story about gifts and curses, strengths and weakness. And they are hidden and found in surprising places as Trevor and Natalie form a strong bond entwined with chemistry.

Heitzmann creates characters and a story line that draw and compel the reader. Trevor and Natalie are complex people, who both have experienced personal tragedy and trials in their pasts; because of this, they they are drawn to each other and provide the healing and help that the other has been searching for.

That being said, I thought her writing style taxing and confusing at times; and I found myself re-reading sections because I didn't follow her train of thought. And I admit that after reading the first paragraph (below), I was set on my guard for a not-so-great read (and it reminded me of the website How to Write Badly Well).

A veined bolt of lightning sliced the ozone-scented sky as Trevor plunged down the craggy slope, dodging evergreen spires like slalom poles. Rocks and gravel spewed from his boots and caromed off the vertical pitch.

While I appreciate an extensive vocabulary, I also appreciate the words of Winston Churchill when he said, "Short words are the best, and old words when short are best of all."

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hawai'i and Me

Last week while in Michigan, we were excited to share our involvement with Antioch School Hawai'i with our church in Allen Park, Bethesda Baptist Church. Chris was able to provide a lot of details about the school and our part in it, and I shared a personal testimony of how God has been leading me and our family regarding Hawai'i. So, this is what I said, much of which I have written before in the few times I've blogged over the past year. I guess I just keep coming back to it because it's the core of what God has been doing in my life lately:

Jeremiah 29 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

As Chris will tell you, God began planting seeds of a vision for ministry in Hawaii in his mind and heart before we even met. And when he and I fell in love, well, sure, I would serve Jesus in Hawaii if that was what marrying him meant! But over the next 9 years as we moved around the Midwest and he went to graduate school, future plans were very unclear; and before I knew it, as far as I was concerned, life after Chris finished school involved him teaching theology at a seminary or college, and the closer to family the better. I was trying to live in the moment, enjoying our sweet boys and those early years of their lives, but ultimately, Chris' graduation symbolized a finish line of sorts; and we would cross it to move on to a more secure and stable life, with a house and a yard. And the closer to family the better.

But then we reached that "finish line," and what was on the other side of it was not what I expected. We were pretty discouraged last summer after some extensive job interviews left us emotionally exhausted when they unexpectedly came to dead ends. For the first time in my life, I had serious questions about God's role in our lives. I wondered if we had made a mistake somewhere along the way, or if we were simply another family affected by the poor economy and weak job market. Was this what God had in mind for us? God really used this time in both Chris' and my life to encourage us and bolster our faith in the Gospel. When we had doubts and fears, I remember asking these questions out loud and to Chris; and every time, we would remember the truths of Scripture: God has a plan for us. Each of the hairs of our head are numbered, and he knows what each day holds before it comes. He is not letting the cards fall where they may, but he is 100% for us! And no matter what jobs fall through, or any other problem we face, our biggest problem has already been solved, through Jesus, on the cross.

I believe now that God was using all of the uncertainty and disappointment of the last year to change me, preparing me for this opportunity to serve in Hawaii. He has revealed hidden idols in my heart - things that I counted so important that my happiness depended on them. He is showing me that only Jesus should hold that place. Everything else that I hold on to so tightly - even good things, blessings from God, like family and living nearby - will leave me disappointed.

One by one, God met each of our needs, big and small. But if I am honest with you, when he told me about his email exchange with a pastor in Hawai'i who was starting a church-based seminary, I MAYBE rolled my eyes a bit and held my breath, because I knew the man I was married to, and I was getting pretty comfortable in suburban Chicago now that Chris had a good full-time job and I had my minivan and grandparents a half-day's drive away.

As God started laying out the pieces for this new ministry in Hawaii, he also began working in my heart, patiently changing my desires and giving me a shared passion with Chris for this needy area of the US. After many years of transition and being at churches for only a few years at a time, we are so excited for the plans God has for our family in Hawai'i. I am thankful for this opportunity for Chris to use the training and gifts God has given him, and I am confident in God's plan for Chris & me, and Luke, Simon & Elliot.

If I could ask you to pray for us as we prepare for our Hawaiian adventure, I would ask you to remember 3 things:

1) Pray for us as a family. Growing up in church, I don't remember too many missionaries mentioning the stresses and challenges of ministry and the circumstances it entails. Let's just say, it's not always a healthy enhancement to your marriage! Chris and I don't have a perfect marriage, and our kids do not have perfect parents, and we do not have perfect children! Ask God to give us unity of spirit and a home that daily remembers the gospel.

2) Pray for us as we make the practical arrangements necessary for moving a family of five to Hawaii. It's not as simple as loading up the truck and hitting the highway, and we need wisdom for many details.

3) Finally, pray for the adjustment period after we move to Hawaii - both for us and for our families here in Michigan and Wisconsin. We are thankful for new friendships that we are already forming in Hawaii. But of course, there will be a time of adjustment, especially for the boys and me, as we get used to a new life in a new place, far from our family and friends.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love the One You're With

I read a thought-provoking article yesterday by Jeremy Pierre and was encouraged to love and appreciate my husband - everything about him, not just my "favorite" qualities.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Loving the original requires lifelong adjustment on your part, and this deference is a key proof of the marital love that Christians are called to (Eph. 5:21-33). Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse. Where there is no disagreement, no annoyance, no resistance, there is no opportunity for sacrifice. If we love only what is pleasing to us in our spouse, we are loving only our preferences. We don’t need the gospel to do that.

We do need it to free us from our tendency to adjust one another constantly to our liking. Jesus came to serve an impulsive Peter, a distracted Martha, a dubious Thomas. And he came to serve a silly person like each one of us. And yes, Christ’s redemptive love changes us by degree, but this change is about conformity to righteousness, not conformity to personal preference.

So if your wife laughs too easily for your taste, love her for it. If she’s more pessimistic than you prefer, minister to her fears. If your husband is quieter in social gatherings than you’d like, be grateful for it. If he has more difficulty making plans than you think reasonable, come alongside happily. In all the little spousal resistances, celebrate the privilege of loving a person, not an image.

You can read the rest here.

If you're married and you don't absolutely love everything about your spouse, it would be worth your time to read it. If you're married, and you don't think you fit into that category, well, I think we'd all like to hear from you!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Book Review: More than a Game by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth

One of the biggest news stories in this year's baseball off-season was Albert Pujols. Would he or wouldn't he re-sign with the St. Louis Cardinals? Would he get $30 million per year? Would he sign a new contract before spring training began?

Shortly after all these questions were swirling, I read the recent biography of Pujols by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth, More than a Game.

Lamb and Ellsworth open with Pujols stepping to the plate in September 2006. Although the Cardinals found themselves in preparing for the playoffs after a long divisional race, Pujols found time to mingle with the Cardinals' special guests that day. Many of them, like Pujols step-daughter, had Downs Syndrome. In a single day, Pujols managed to mingle with these special fans, who look forward to this trip to the ballpark all year. And by the way, he also managed to hit 3 home runs that day as well.

The opening to the book captures the tone quite well. Lamb and Ellsworth weave anecdotes from Pujols' herculean feats on the ball field with the story of his life and faith. Pujols' roots in the Dominican, his lightning quick journey through the Cardinals farm system, and his growth in faith helps set the discussion of Pujols' contract talks in their larger context. Pujols and his wife have start the Pujols Family Foundation, which gives millions each year to assist those with Downs Syndrome. Based on this book, Pujols appears to be the genuine article.

Earlier this summer, I read the biography of Stan Musial, who is probably the only Cardinal ranked ahead of Pujols on the pantheon of baseball greatness. Musial and Pujols share many traits: both were committed family men and both were "religious" by the general public. Because of this, the media considers them boring. However, there is something inspiring about a life committed to excellence, consistency, and devotion. In a culture where far too much attention is given to which athletes are dating which movie stars, Pujols and Musial give us great stories. Only God can know the hearts of these men, but my prayer is that our sons will emulate their devotion to excellence in whatever place they find themselves.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 01, 2011


This is what I had to tell myself when Luke asked me to tell him about the day he was born and the telling of such story led to his asking the dreaded question: How exactly did I come out? Um, say what???

This was followed by some very uncomfortable questions about the difference between boys and girls.


Hee, hee, whooooooo.

I explained to him about the stork, of course, but he didn't seem to buy it. (No, I did not actually tell him about a stork.)

Any suggestions? resources? experiences?

Sunday, July 31, 2011


As in, I seriously want to start blogging regularly again!

Do I sound like a broken record? I'm sure I have written that in at least 2 previous blog posts. But I have a feeling that if you were a local friend of mine that I hang with regularly (some of you are!), you would think I sound like a broken record a lot. No one's sleeping well! Luke follows me around everywhere! My boys are crazy! Simon wakes up at the, er, CRACK of dawn! Elliot is such a brute! How come I can't keep track of anything?! My house is so small! And for the love, what are we doing?? These are the lyrics to the broken record of my life. But, they're not the only lyrics; maybe just the lyrics to the 3rd verse, that is usually more somber, problematic and frustrated, leading up to the final verse of joy and triumph.

I think that part of the reason why I haven't blogged regularly over the last year and a half is because during that time, Chris has been looking for a job. There have been times where he was interviewing for a job, we were flying to cities across the US (literally, we got to go to Seattle and Boston!), and I just didn't have the freedom to lay out all that was going on. I never thought so many doors would close upon us, so I was always kind of glad I didn't blog about what I thought was going to happen. Because, bottom line, not much that we thought would happen actually did. God does that sometimes.

I've mentioned this before, but 2010 was a rough year for our family. In it were some of the most challenging months Chris and I faced as a couple. At the end of the year, things started to calm down for us. God was faithful in providing for us, and Chris got a great job in the area. But things for the future were still not settled. We knew that we were not at the end of the path that God was leading us on since Chris finished grad school.

In October, Chris "randomly" connected with an Acts 29 pastor on Oahu. Chris has always had a "thing" for Hawai'i, and since before we were married he had desired to do ministry in this needy area of the US. But as he continued through seminary and graduate school, it was unclear how Hawai'i would fit into our future.

Well, things are clearing up. You can read about it here.

And here's to hoping you'll be hearing from My Beanstalk more often.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Never Say Never!

Have you found yourself changed as a mom since that first time you snapped that teeny little bundle in the car seat at the hospital? Sure, now you can change a diaper in 10 seconds flat while avoiding pee spray AND singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. But, do you do things you thought you would never do? Here's some ways that I've changed as a mom.

  • I never thought I would have snot-nosed kids. I said this to a friendly stranger at Aldi yesterday. She was sweeting-talking Elliot, who was turning on the charm through a smile smothered in slimy boogers.
  • Parent Directed Feeding. :) Ah, Babywise; I pledged allegiance to you morning, noon and night during Luke's first year. With Simon, I turned to the Baby Whisperer for additional input and advice, but I ended up throwing both books out the window in frustration. And finally, with Elliot, I kissed some rules goodbye and rocked my baby until he wouldn't let me rock him anymore. Turns out, that was okay, because E was the sweetest and best baby ever and almost always did what Momma wanted him to!
  • Sleep. I used to get some; now I have changed and I do not! Ha. Not really. But when Luke was a baby and I was intoxicated by all things babywise and 7,10,1,4,7,10, I would not rest until I figured out exactly why Luke was waking up at night and what I should do about it. When he woke up, I would not nurse him right away; I would let him cry a bit, and even if I ended up feeding him, he usually would not wake up the next night. Fast forward 5 years, Elliot is a baby, sleeping a few feet away in my closet (yeah, my closet), and I would barely be fully conscious by the time I had a bottle in E's mouth. My point is, I didn't worry anymore about why he was waking up. I knew he would get over it and get good sleep again. And he did. I learned this primarily from Baby Simon. Dear Baby Simon, he just did not sleep through the night for a LONG time, hence the throwing the books out the window. I about drove myself and Chris to clinical insanity trying to figure that boy out. Finally I admitted that I wouldn't figure him out, that I would eventually sleep again, and that I would just be thankful for my sweet and healthy boy.
  • Baby Sign Language: Luke knew the signs for please, thank you, all done, and more. Simon knew please, kinda. Elliot rocks back and forth in his booster seat when he's ready to be done.
How have you changed as a mom? What's something you said you would never do, but now find yourself doing??

I know I have more examples of my own, but I'm too tired to think of them right now. And Elliot is crying and probably needs his Momma to rock him. He's getting some monster teeth in right now.