Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review: An Outlaw and a Lady by Jessi Colter

An Outlaw and a Lady is written by Jessi Colter and is published by Nelson Books.

This is one of the most touching love stories I think I've read in a long time. Mirriam Jennings, a.k.a. Jessi Colter, grew up in Arizona with a preacher mother and a mining father. Young Mirriam sang in church and loved the things of the Lord. But, as it sometimes happens to young believers, she fell away as she grew up. It was with a failed marriage and a young daughter that Mirriam met Waylon Jennings and fell in love.

That love lasted through thick and thin, through Waylon's infidelity and drug use, and through Jessi's own searching for something meaningful. As she became a country music star in her own right, she never failed to back Waylon as he shot ever higher to stardom.

This is a story filled with promise for those who feel that they just can't go on living with an unbeliever. Jessi's story is one that reminds people that if they will pray and encourage their unbelieving spouses without preaching to them, they might be able to one day witness a conversion to Christ that only the Holy Spirit can bring about.

This book started out a little slow for me but I was unable to put it down once I got to Part Two. This is a great insight into Waylon Jennings' life as told from the person he most cherished - Jessi Colter. Great story and worth the read.

*I received a copy of An Outlaw and a Lady in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Monday, May 15, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - May 15

Happy Monday! I am enjoying warmer temperatures and the start of a new gardening season. My Jerusalem artichokes are beginning to come up and the rhubarb plants are going strong. The cooler weather crops are planted and I will soon plant the rest. Can you tell I am excited? I really am!

Menu planning has been the best thing for me as a home manager. I know what I am going to fix ahead of time and don't waste time trying to decide later. I encourage others to plan their meals in advance too.

As always, remember that with my menu plans, I include meat dishes. I do not eat meat except on rare occasions, but I have a husband and children who think I am depriving them if it's not on the table. Gluten-free meals are marked with an *.


Pork Chops in Slow Cooker*
Blueberry Muffins
Baked Potatoes*
(I had a chocolate peanut butter smoothie*)


Sloppy Jo Sandwiches* (use Udi gluten-free buns)
Cottage Cheese*
Brussels Sprouts


Meat Loaf* (made with oatmeal)
Sweet Potatoes*


Baked Ham*
Mashed Potatoes*


Pizza & Pop
(Sonoma gluten-free frozen pizza*)


Bean Burgers*
Chips & Dip*


On Your Own

A Christian's Approach to Teaching Literature

I'm going to warn you from the get-go. I plan to weave more than one theme into this blog post. To set the record straight, I have been the wife/mom/school teacher in our home for a lot of years - married for 30, mom for 28, and teacher for 23. Life hasn't always been that good to our family but God has. It is with the experience of those ups and downs that I want to approach the subjects of literature and the whole media challenge that Christian homeschooling families face today.

Through the early years, I wanted to impart Christian values straight from the Bible to my children. We did not watch any TV for many years. I ordered explicitly Christian curriculum and used that for the elementary grades. As the kids approached the high school years, I rethought a little of that, sprinkling in a bit of the classics, but still keeping to the books and stories that most conservative Christians would approve.

The three oldest boys graduated and went on to college. It was then that the world hit them full force. College professors didn't necessarily put only Christian titles on their curriculum lists. In fact, since the boys attended secular schools (we couldn't afford Christian colleges), those Christian titles didn't amount to much in the eyes of the instructors. The boys got a crash course in secular worldview, and wow, was it ever a crash.

As for my younger two, they ended up with a different approach to learning literature - the classics from Treasure Island to Huckleberry Finn to Jane Eyre. By the way, these classic pieces have roots in Christianity, especially Jane Eyre. We have learned about the authors and their approaches to writing. Once you understand where the writers are coming from, you can understand a little better the literature itself.

Martin Cochran has said, "History is best at telling us what did happen, while literature is best at telling us what should happen." In classical literature, we find that life is not always perfect. In fact, it is a hard road. Those who pursue their own ways find ruin, as in The Great Gatsby. Always, being faithful to God when it is hard leads to great reward, as in Jane Eyre, granted that reward might be later in Heaven rather than the here and now.

Do I still believe in Christian literature? You bet. It can strengthen us and provide safe parameters for our reading pleasure. However, I think that to dismiss some of the great classics for an exclusively Christian curriculum might be doing our homeschooled children a disservice. Careful blending of the two, as they reach the high school years, helps them to solidify their own values and worldviews. Writing exercises drawn from the literature helps them to express those worldviews in an ever increasing hostile world.

Now, as for other types of media, I believe we should strongly lean toward faith based forms. I have watched some of the movies, based upon classic works, and have been sorely disappointed. Most modern adaptations of the classics are nothing like the original books. The language alone is enough to shock a Christian.

If we are Christians and say that we are, we need to be careful what we set before our children. Reading a classic tale that is not overtly Christian is not necessarily a bad thing - we can learn what "history should be" from them. However, setting something that is overtly anti-Christian really is a bad thing. We should be outraged when these sorts of movies and television shows are produced and refuse to watch them.

There are enough faith based, good films out there. Walden Media, Pure Flix, Fox Faith, and several other companies are working to making media more family friendly. The movies and shows they put out are quality stuff. I encourage you to seek them out. I borrowed some DVDs from our local library that were put out by Pure Flix. I love their variety of Christian movies and the kind of programming they have because I never have to worry about compromising my values. The home should be a place where Christ is honored.

So, to bring it all together, what I am trying to relate is that we moms are the keepers of the home. We can pump hostile values into our homes or we can allow Godly ones. Reading secular classical literature is not the same as reading that which purposely undermines our faith and values. Watching faith based programming for entertainment is a great way to learn those little life lessons in ways that our children (and we) enjoy.

By the way, Pure Flix is currently offering a free 4-week trial. Visit them today to learn more.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: Hello Stars by Alena Pitts

Hello Stars is written by Alena Pitts (with Wynter Pitts) and is published by Zondervan.

Lena Daniels is the oldest of four children who, with her trusty dog beside her, desires to become an actress. In order to become the big star she feels she was meant to be, she at first has to jump through the hoops, so to speak. This wears on her as she has to make choices between faith, family, and career. Ring a bell, adults?

Life is not easy, and in this darling story, Lena learns that valuable lesson. However, the road to that revelation is quite the rocky way.

I found the story sweet yet realistic. It is written in a story form with some of those appetizing diary pieces scattered throughout the chapters. I guess the reason Alena can pull it off is because she is a bit of a star herself. You might recognize her as one of the actresses in the movie, War Room. It is clear that she has a great talent and can go somewhere in this world of influencing others for Christ through media. I'm recommending this title to all of the tweens out there.

*I received a copy of Hello Stars in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Monday, May 01, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - May 1

As homemakers, the keepers of the home, so to speak, it is important that we make every dollar stretch as far as it can. That often means being super creative at the grocery store. I believe it goes further, requiring that we also grow as much in home gardens or pots as we can. Why grow our own food when produce sometimes goes on sale so cheaply that it seems futile to put in all of that hard work and time? The answer is really rather simple.

We save money when our families are no longer sick all of the time and requiring doctor visits. The produce that we buy in the grocery stores, unless we only visit expensive health food stores, are often laden with chemical upon chemical. We can't see these with our eyes - or even taste them - but they are there in the form of pesticide, and herbicide, residues. Who wants to eat Roundup®  or  Malathion? Don't know what they are? Google them and then decide for yourself if you want your family ingesting any part of them.

Here in the north, it is hard to get anything in the garden before May or even June. I am in the process of getting my new garden fenced so I can keep my dogs out of it, as well as rabbits and deer. As for the raccoons, they will climb over the fence. Hopefully the dogs will scare them away. By the way, I have been told by people who have done this with success, that planting marigolds around the edges of your garden will keep rabbits away. I am going to do it this year, as they are pretty even though they are strong smelling.

For my menu this week, I have again taken books from the library to get new recipes and ideas that will help me stretch my budget. This is the time of year when our resources are at their lowest and I have to be so careful not to overspend.


Slow Cooker Beef Stew (from Southern Living's What's for Supper?)
Salads and Fruit


Meat Loaf (from Alton Brown's Good Eats, the Early Years)
Baked Potatoes
Tossed Salads


Chicken Thighs in slow cooker (Southern Living)
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans


Bacon and Potato Hash


Pizza and Pop


Easy Skillet Chicken Cordon Bleu (Southern Living)
Mashed Potatoes


On Your Own

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review - The Angels' Share by James Markert

The Angels' Share is written by James Markert and is published by Thomas Nelson.

Well, I did not exactly know what to expect upon reading this book, in spite of what the back cover said. My first thought was, "This is a book about whiskey." My first thought was partially correct. Whiskey does play a part in the story and, for those of you who do not drink alcohol - myself included - it can be a stumbling block.

As I got further into the book, I realized that the protagonist (William) and his family were not your normal Christian family. Barley (the father), in particular, was pretty bad. So ... of course I then thought that the booze that was taking such a large part of the storyline would get the bad rap that I thought it deserved.

It did not, per se. However, all of the drinking aside, I have to tell you that the story is a compelling one that grabs the reader from the get go. There is that mystery of who Asher Keating really was and that mystery is a thread that starts at the beginning and winds throughout to the end, where it is pretty much tied up. And that Asher Keating thing got me confused - and worried - because I did not want to read another The Shack type of story.

It does sort of read like The Shack. Bummer. However, The Angels' Share is not an allegorical type of book. Does Markert make Asher Keating into Jesus Christ? You'll have to read it for yourself to know that answer. For me, I was not totally in love with that whole part of it.

When Jesus Christ returns, He's not going to come as another baby human who grows up - and a very flawed and imperfect one at that. If you will recall, Christ has always been perfect and Holy. Though His first coming was in the form of a human baby who grew up and died on a cross, and resurrected on the third day, He will return as the King that He is.

I hope that people will not read The Angels' Share and become confused about who Jesus really is. I hope they will not come away with the thought that salvation is not dependent upon their repentance and trust in the only One perfect enough to become a sacrifice for the sins of others. If all one wants is a fun and interesting read, the book is great. If folks are looking for a truthful look at redemption, they will want to look to the Bible.

*I received a copy of The Angels' Share in exchange for my honest opinion. My thoughts are my own.*

Monday, April 10, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - April 10

Before I post my not so healthy menu plan, I want to direct you to the updated dirty dozen foods as well as the clean ones. Let's face it. People are becoming more and more sick and wanting answers. I think we deserve to know what's in our food, don't you? Please join me in supporting the groups who are demanding that the food companies in the United States be required to label genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), as well as perhaps all of the chemicals that have been blasting our food for decades.


Meat Loaf
Baked Potatoes
Fried Gluten-free Biscuits




Cottage Cheese


Beef & Gravy over Noodles
Green Beans


Pizza & Pop


Potato Salad

Easter Sunday

Baked Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Gluten-free Green Bean Casserole
Deviled Eggs
Sliced Pineapple
Cherry Pie
Custard Pie

Monday, April 03, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - April 3

Happy Monday!


Scalloped Potatoes


Slow-cooker Pork Chops
Rice Pilaf


Grilled Steaks
Baked Potatoes
Organic Corn


Taco Salads


Pizza & Pop


Burgers & Beef Hot Dogs
Tossed Salads


On Your Own