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On Violence, Peace, and Doing Small Things

The world is loud and terrible this summer. It is as if the entire planet has tilted on its axis and dipped us all in nightmare,” writes Christie Purifoy over at There Is a River, and I must admit, I’m glad someone else feels it’s weight.

The militant Islamic State kills Christians and Yazidis, among others, in torturous ways. According to a recent Newsweek article Jews are once again facing increased persecution in Europe. People march in protest and riot over the dubious killing of teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri while the National Guard is brought in. Israel and Hamas spill blood over Gaza.

My heart has been weighed down by the terror and madness of the world. Powerless, has been the word that come to mind. I have felt like Habakkuk:

” Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.”
(Habakkuk 1:3-4)

I go about my life praying for the oppressed. I weed the garden, feeling the trivialness of doing so while so much heartache and bloodshed pour around the world. I do what I can where I live, give where I can to organizations who can reach where I can’t, sponsor children to give them tools for life and pray that such small things will make a lasting impact.

I seek peace and pursue it. I remember that God delights in love, justice, and righteousness. I print out Jones Design Company’s free artprint because I love Gary Haugen’s words: “Justice is doing for others what we would want for ourselves.”

I hope in God and “do small things with great love” (Mother Teresa).

amy - August 18, 2014 - 4:34 pm

Read this while procrastinating from writing my review of Interrupted – and in going back through my highlights found this quote from Robert F. Kennedy:

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one man can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills–against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. …Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

“It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Danielle - August 18, 2014 - 4:40 pm

That is a great quote, Amy. Thanks for sharing. I love the “tiny ripple of hope” imagery.

Briana - August 18, 2014 - 9:38 pm

Amy, That is a very encouraging quote.

Danielle, I have felt similar except when I pray. I know I am praying to the Great God who does not stand aloof to the events going on in our world today.

But I do have a hard time going on w my life that does feel so cushy, comfortable, entitled, easy and yes, trivial most of the time. I can even have a hard time at church knowing that others do not enjoy the freedoms of religious expression.

I want to stop everything in my world and do something. To plan school right now has been so hard. All I want to teach my kids is 1. How to pray 2. Survival skills (bc who knows when the same hardships that so many in other parts of the world are experiencing are coming to us?)

Now We Are Six

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No, we’re not having triplets!:)
But our family size is now up to six people! Baby #4 will be arriving sometime shortly after Christmas or in the early days of the new year!

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Can you tell there’s some excited people in our house?

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amy - July 23, 2014 - 3:15 pm

AAAAHHHH!!! Danielle!! so exciting! did not expect to see this pop up on my news feed today! :) the kiddos are so adorable and so BIG (Sophia esp looks so old and grown up in these pics). love it. they will be such great big brothers/sister.

Zoanna - July 23, 2014 - 3:44 pm

What a big surprise!!! So happy. Four kids –great number, in my opinion! Really tickled for you all.

Kathleen - July 23, 2014 - 7:40 pm

So happy for you all! Congratulations!!!!

Corinne - July 23, 2014 - 8:41 pm

Congratulations!!! Your kids look thrilled :) So exciting! Hope you are feeling well!

Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake - July 25, 2014 - 11:31 am

Yay! So happy for you and your family. :)

Blueberry Lemon Pie

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This pie. My goodness. I’ve been making it every summer since the boys were born. Every year I can’t wait until the first batch of blueberries to make it. This year, I made it with our very own blueberries picked from our back yard. What a good feeling it is to walk outside to your own three blueberry bushes and pick enough to make a pie!

If you love blueberries and lemon this is a must try. It is essentially a no-bake pie (you just bake the crust for a few minutes) making it a cool and creamy treat–perfect for a hot summer’s day.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Lemon Pie

Ingredients Needed:
1 package of graham crackers, crumbed*
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3.4oz package lemon instant pudding mix
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 pint blueberries
2 tbs blueberry preserves
1 cup whipping cream

1. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter.

2. Press evenly in bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake pie crust at 350 for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

3. Beat cheese, milk, and powdered sugar until creamy.

4. Add pudding mix, rind, and juice. Beat until blended.

5. Spread half of mixture into crust.

6. Stir together blueberries and preserves, spread evenly over lemon mixture.

7. Spread remaining lemon mixture over blueberry mixture. Cover and chill 2 hours.

8. Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form and spread around out edge of pie forming a decorative border.

*Since I was short on time I bought pre-made graham cracker crusts, baked it, and then made the filling. So easy and a great pie to make on a summer day since you only have to bake the crust and you serve it cold.

I originally found this recipe at the blog, As Seen Through the Eye Of . . .

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Brandy - July 9, 2014 - 6:03 pm

YUM!!

Team Us: Marriage Together {A Review & Giveaway}

“You guys are going to make a great team,” Mr. Paul told my soon-to-be-husband, Josh, when he shared the news of our engagement. Mr. Paul was a man we respected and someone we’d both worked for during our days in college.

His remark about our impending marriage stuck with me more than anyone else’s response to our engagement news. It was a complement for the here and now and a challenge for the future. You’re going to make a great team has stuck with me all these years as the way I envisioned my marriage and wanted it to function practically. And the mentality of teamwork has proven to be one of the most important values we’ve experienced the past ten years of marriage.

So it was with excitement that I read my long-time friend and fellow writer’s newest book, Team Us: Marriage Together. I first became acquainted with author, Ashleigh Slater, during my early blogging days way back in 2005 or 2006. Later I worked with her in a more professional capacity writing for her website, Ungrind. And we even got to meet in real life once! So it was with great joy I read her first in-print book!

Team Us is a book from a Christian perspective about building a marriage “team.” It reads very conversationally, like Ashleigh is having a chat with you over coffee. It doesn’t present itself as having all of the answers to the struggles of marriage or knowing “the right” way to do marriage. Instead, it’s more of a chronicle of the Slater’s own marriage and what they’ve learned along the way to help their marriage “team” grow together. It almost reads like a marriage memoir. It is lighthearted and humorous in tone that makes it easy to read, even while also dealing with weightier issues like job loss, depression, and grief.

I think the book’s strength is in dealing with communication within marriage. This shows up through out the book no matter what the topic, whether it’s conflict or parenting. You can tell the Slaters work hard on respectful communication and Ashleigh gives some practical techniques on how to make this happen, like the use of the “communication sandwich,” which is basically sandwiching a criticism between praise and affirmation and giving the person the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming motives and going in for an attack.

One thing that makes the book unique is there are “Ted Says” sections where Ashleigh’s husband, Ted, shares his perspective on a subject or what Ashleigh has shared. Each chapter also ends with discussion questions called “Us Time” to foster reflection for an individual reader or a couple reading it together.

Check out Ashleigh’s website for more information about the book!

I’m giving away one copy! To enter to win, please comment with why you’d like to read Team Us. I’ll choose the winner randomly and announce on Friday, July 11th.

Update: The winner is comment #13, Dani! Please email me through the contact form your full name and address and the book will be sent to you. Congratulations!

This contest is now closed.

 

Sara Hays - July 7, 2014 - 4:28 pm

Communication in a marriage is very important. Whose couldn’t use improvement?

Cassie Adams - July 7, 2014 - 5:23 pm

A marriage where teamwork is including, and focused, on God is ultimately the goal in a Christian relationship. This is a great book idea for a couple to read together or for one to read!

Shelbi Gustafson - July 7, 2014 - 5:29 pm

I would love to win this book as I’m a newlywed and have been looking for more books about marriage for us to read, and this has been on my list!

Stacie Sloan - July 7, 2014 - 5:34 pm

Scott and I always refer to ourselves as “team Sloan”, so this would be a fitting read!

Jessica Evans - July 7, 2014 - 5:36 pm

After 6 years of boxing gloves while fighting; (which may as well be literal, since words DO hurt and leave bruises!) we certainly need the communication improvement. We own so many books on relationships. This one sounds like one I might finish without getting frustrated! :)

Krystal C. - July 7, 2014 - 5:38 pm

I would love to read this book because my husband and I need, now more than ever, a refresher on why we need to be a team.

Joy - July 7, 2014 - 5:51 pm

I would love to win this book to prayerfully read it with my husband. We are currently living in a battleground and we are both losing. The only way to win is to get on the same team and communicate properly. I think this would bring us some great insight.

amy - July 7, 2014 - 6:01 pm

You are either moving forward or falling backwards. I prefer the former.

Andrea Roberts - July 7, 2014 - 6:47 pm

Trying to start a marriage study with my small group. Would love to read this.

Amber B. - July 7, 2014 - 6:48 pm

My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years. We still have trouble communicating and I’d love to win this book. I’m sure it would help out tremendously.

Jessica Williams - July 7, 2014 - 8:34 pm

I am always looking for new ways to keep my marriage focused and on track. I think this would be a nice addition to the family.

Kiera Regan - July 7, 2014 - 11:13 pm

My fiance and I will be married on August 23. We are both missionaries with life Teen, a catholic youth ministry organization. We love serving God abs His church and we love each other and each to be saints and love a good and holy marriage. We want to be a witness of God’s covenant. Mostly, I want so badly to be a good wife and one day mother. I want so badly to serve, honor and revere my husband and I want the tools, like this book, to help others along the way!

Dani - July 8, 2014 - 12:18 am

My first marriage ended with him as a horribly mean, atheist, adulterous mess. I dont want a repeat.

Amanda - July 8, 2014 - 8:17 am

Hi Danielle, love visiting this place. This book sounds like an intriguing read and I would love to know what makes a good team in marriage. Thanks!

Sonya Brown - July 8, 2014 - 12:54 pm

It’s always refreshing to read a new book about marriage…everyone needs a little refreshment every now and then. ;)

Bekah - July 8, 2014 - 1:27 pm

We have always approached our marriage as a team. Especially now that we are parents it definitely takes team work. Any help making it work better is always welcome.

Janine from South Africa - July 10, 2014 - 3:10 pm

This came by inspiration after reading the review and meditating on the phrase, “You guys are going to make a great team.” :
T-Time
E – Enthusiasm
A- Affirmation
M-Momentum
Will definitely get the book. :-)

Of Grilled Cheese & a Swinging Bridge

Last week we were able to sneak away for a little getaway. Josh was doing two weeks of training for work so we joined him for two of those days at his hotel for a change of scene and a little fun.

The kids had never stayed in a hotel before, so this alone was fun for them. (Well, Sophia did when she was a baby, but that hardly counts.) The first day we spent our entire time at the pool. We almost had it completely to ourselves for most of the day. I even got a lot of reading done while the kids splashed!

My novel of choice was The Language of Flowers. It completely riveted me. I’d heard a lot about it from various blogs and it interested me, as it intertwined with the Victorian’s “language of flowers” into the plot. The language of flowers had always interested me too, and the use of this language throughout the book was captivating, as was the story of the main character, a foster child who ages out of the foster care system and must make a life for herself and confront her past actions and her fears.

After our day of swimming we got dinner at Grilled Cheese & Co. Josh got the Crabby Melt with was loaded with crab claw meat and melted monterey jack cheese. I got a limited special, The Philly, which had thin slices of philly steak with roasted peppers and American and Provolone cheese. Each meal had a side of crunchy sweet potato fries. Total yum. If you’re ever in Catonsville, Maryland, check them out!

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Day two took us to Patapsco Valley State Park. We played at the playground, explored some trails, and ate a packed lunch there. The most fun by far was the Swinging Bridge. I discovered one of my sons has a fear of heights when we tried to cross it! The bridge was once used daily by workers to get from their homes on one side of the Patapsco river to work at the Orange Grove Flour Mill on the opposite side. All that’s left of the mill are some ruins. However, while we were checking out the ruins the kids were quite excited to see an CSX train roll by on the tracks that once would have had a stop at the mill, many years ago, to add flour cargo to their freight cars. So often when visiting a historic site I wish I could go back in time–even for an instant–and experience the place in it’s prime. Do you?

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The Swinging Bridge at Patapsco Valley State Park

amy - June 16, 2014 - 9:57 pm

so fun! that grilled cheese place sounds delicious! but I am NOT a fan of swinging bridges…or rather, they are tolerable if you are crossing by yourself, but if there are people behind you making it swing and sway like crazy, EEEEEEEK!

Danielle - June 17, 2014 - 8:32 pm

Actually this bridge was a bit not like I imagined, Amy. It was more like a “bouncing” bridge vs. actually swinging, which didn’t make it that bad.