Testimony Shaming Is Real

Have you ever been in a small group and you are telling each other your testimony, and it’s your turn? You have heard some amazing stories of rag to God’s riches and you think “I can’t tell my testimony because my testimony isn’t good enough”? Are you the Christian who has been in church since you were a kid and have stayed with the faith and not strayed to the right or the left? Or if you did, it still isn’t that “impressive”? Yeah, I’m right there with you.

I was recently in a small group and I felt it more than ever. the woman who shared has an amazing testimony of restoration and redemption from where she was to where she is. I was actually jealous of her testimony and now was dreading it to when I was picked to speak. But then I thought why? Why am I embarrassed to tell my testimony just because it isn’t flashy? Maybe it is because I have never seen a testimony given at a church from a person who has been the kid who grew up in church. All you ever see are the testimonies from people who have these flashy stories of how low they were until they found Jesus and now look how great their lives are because they found Jesus. Don’t believe me? Think about every public testimony. What do they all in common?

So why aren’t there more testimonies showcasing people who have grown up in church and are still in church? Those who grew up in youth group and now they are the leaders in that same group? To me that sounds like the only way your testimony is important is based on how “bad” someone was before they were saved. That isn’t right. No one should be embarrassed to tell their testimony, but that is the culture we have been brought up in. Only those who have Saul to Paul stories get the spot light and those of us who have been Stephens are the ones trusted in the ministries. Not saying that isn’t where a true servant’s heart is, but just once I would love to see a testimony where the person grew up in church and stayed on the straight and narrow. That would be a great testimony along with the “fancy” ones.

 

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Living Without Water

We had something kind of funny happen to us. We were remolding our kitchen and it was time for the hole for the sink in the counter top to happen. All was going well until the guys realized the hole was too big. We tried to fix it with just buying a bigger sink, but the hole was too big in a way we couldn’t find one. So we had to buy another counter. No big deal. It was just a trip to Lowe’s. The part that was interesting was the fact the guy helping us was not able to stay and try to cut the hole again and he wasn’t sure when he could come back. Guess what that meant. Yup, no sink in my kitchen.

It was interesting, but it helped me grasp a new appreciation for the running water in my house. All the time we heard about these countries who don’t have clean drinking water. The speakers will usually show a video of some poor kids with sad faces, we give money towards the cause and then go home and take a long hot shower or something with water. We have little idea just how important water is to people here in America because we have it literally on tap whenever we want it.

What if we didn’t? Now, I had water in other places in my house so I wasn’t completely without water, but I had lost for three days my main water source. I had to get really creative in order to do food and clean up without a kitchen sink. I bought two five gallon buckets to wash dishes in and was going to have to fill them up by the patio hose since it would be “too hard” to do it in the shower or another faucet. I was all prepared to do it Little House on the Prairie style, but there was something we have in America that those who don’t have water don’t have. My husband and I decided to just buy two Costco pizzas and a pack of paper plates. It got us through and we were tried of pizza by the done it was all done.

But what is my point? The point is that you can’t appreciate something really until you don’t have it anymore. I just got a taste of what it’s like… Okay more like a nibble of what’s like for people all over the world who don’t have running water in there house. Heck for those don’t have clean drinking water. At least all my water was drinkable and we had our fridge to get our filtered drinking water from. So many people don’t have anything, and it humbled my heart to actually put myself in their shoes.

Now I am not saying shut all your water off just because not everyone in the world has it, but I am saying to really be thankful you can turn a knob and clean drinkable water comes out. I know I do now and I wasn’t as grateful for it before. I expected it to be there, but, after this experience, I know now to always be thankful for it because in the blink of an eye it could be gone.

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How to Be a One Car Family

I know the thought of being a one car family might be down right frightening to some families. How is it going to work with the schedule? How are the kids going to get to where they need to go? I’ll have to be at home more! And the mental thoughts go one. Also, I will say this disclaimer: Being a one car family doesn’t work for everyone. Just want to be clear about that. Not everyone can make a one car thing work because of their work schedules or work locations. But if you are able to make it work, there are a lot of benefits to having only one car. Let me explain.

Back in 2016 my husband’s car was dying. It was needing a repair done that was far more expensive than the car was worth. now what? Do we buy another car? We really didn’t have the money for one saved up since we like to own our cars outright. So we made the decision to not replace the car. Instead my husband rode a bike to work since at the time we only live a couple miles away.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and disaster hit our family. You can read more about that in my post Empathy for Single Parents and it explains that we lost everything in our home to black mold and my husband and I had to live in separate locations because we only had one car. We then made the choice to go ahead and get a car loan on a used car since we wanted to be able to see each other more, but then our current car’s A/C went out which left us with a car payment and one car again. So I kept the car at my parent’s house with my young daughter and my husband stayed with a co-worker and got to and from work that way. This was the down side to only having one car for sure, but we made it through.

We bought a house that summer that was only 6ish miles from my husband’s work and I regularly drive my husband to work and pick him up in order to make this one car thing work for us. I have been a stay at home mom so I haven’t had a work schedule to deal with and is one of the reasons we have been able to live with only one car for a little over two years at the time this post was written. We do plan on buying another car but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet for us to do so.

Now that I have gone into our history of having only one car, let me go into some highlights I have learned along the way that are very positive and some that are negative, but I want to encourage you that having one car is possible. It just takes some planing.

Benefits of having only one car:

  • Cost

The cost savings is a HUGE thing with having only one car. We only have to pay gas for one car, insure one car, and pay to maintain one car. That alone is one of the biggest factors that has kept us a one car family is the fact that we save so much money by having only one car. To give you an idea of how much you could save, here is a break down. Now granted we are also in California so some of these numbers will be much different based on where you live.

Cost for gas: $120/month

Insurance: $100/month

 

Maintenance: $55/for an oil change once a quarter

So on average our cost for our car is under $250 a month. I know that for many people that is just your insurance bill. How does that sound to save money on you bills per month with having only one car? It’s been pretty great for us.

  • Storage

One other thing that is awesome about having only one car is that fact we can always fit it in our garage. We have a two car garage, but like most people we have stuff in it. No need to fight about which car goes in the garage because you only have one! Hehe. So storing one car is so much easier than two.

  • Care

If you are one of those people who love taking care of cars, good for you. I don’t have that gene apparently. I am one of those go through the car wash people and vacuum the car out once a month type of person. The great thing is that I only have one car to keep clean, and that works for me.

  • Maintenance

I know I mentioned the cost maintenance earlier but I am serious about how much you save both in time and money in maintenance for our car. We bought a Toyota so it doesn’t need a lot of maintenance any way, but it still needs to get it’s oil changes and flushes like any car. If we had two cars that would be double the cost and time. There is only one schedule to keep track of and you and your partner are both aware of where the milage is because you both drive the same car.

Drawbacks to having only one car:

  • Scheduling

This is the hardest part of having only one car. The schedule can be hard. Thankfully I don’t work right now so I am little more flexible so if my husband needs the car it’s not usually a big, but there are times where the schedules clash. Who is going to get the car? Many times I have had to cancel things because my husband needs the car for work and I like his pay check so his work does trump what I am doing. But that happens a lot less than you would think.

Maybe once a month the schedules clash. That really isn’t that big of a deal. So what I had to reschedule something. I end up having the car 95% of the time. I can do that thing later. There is give and take on both ends in order to have this lifestyle work. And it is a lifestyle. Don’t think that it is something you can just wing it and things work out. You need to plan how you are going to spread the car out and who gets it when. If you don’t it could be disastrous.

  • Time Limits

Since I have to take and pick up my husband from work, I do have my day on a clock. I have to adjust what I am doing to be able to go pick him up when he gets off work. This can be a drawback depending on how my day is going, but there is a way we counter balance the problem at times. My husband has some awesome co-workers who are willing to give him ride home. Find out if this could be an option for you. It could be once in a while or you could set up a regular thing, but ask co-workers if you could get rides from them and then compensate them for their gas.

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways to live with one car. It is something that is possible and there are so many pluses to it. Can everyone do it? Probably not but, if you are willing to get creative, you probably can. Take a look and see if being a one car family can work for you. It has worked for us 🙂

 

 

Do Children Learn Anything from TV?

I have been told a million times that I shouldn’t let my daughter watch TV because it will slow her intellectual development. Have you been told that too? It seems to be a common thought, but is it true for all children? As we all know, children are different and therefore certain things effect them differently. I, for one, think my daughter has learned a great deal in the selected shows we have picked for her so I believe that TV can be a great thing for children and here is why.

My daughter has been complimented all the time for her talking skills from as young as two to the present. Then they comment on how we must take her to all these enrichment activities and read to her all the time. Frankly, my daughter was not been one for books until she was almost four. She just wouldn’t sit for them so reading was a no. Then we were young and broke and couldn’t afford enrichment programs so that wasn’t anything towards her talking. The one thing we did have though was the radio, CDs and TV.

I believe allowing my daughter to watched controlled amounts of TV since she was little actually has helped her vocabulary abilities because she has been able to see how the English language is used outside of our home and in a more complex sequence than the basic English used in children’s books. To be honest, I get bored really fast with children’s books because they are so basic. I am loving the books that are for four year olds and kindergarteners because they have more depth and I think that was the missing element for my daughter too. The TV programs gave her that deeper knowledge bank of vocabulary than a book on the ABCs or farm animals. She wanted more depth to the content.

Now, I am not saying just put your kid in front of the TV and never do anything with them. We watched the shows with our daughter after we screened them to make sure they were appropriate for her. We used the same strategy people use when they read aloud to their kids by asking questions and using prediction skills but it was just in the TV show. For example, when there was a show about someone being a bully we were there to talk about what a mean person is and how our daughter thinks of the bully’s behavior. I would have done the same thing if I had read the book to her. I would have applied it to her background knowledge and her life in order for the lesson from the show to make sense.

How is that totally different from reading? Well, there is the whole phonetic awareness thing, but that wasn’t a problem for my daughter. She started being interested in the ABCs around three and wanting to write just before four years old. She recognized her name and almost every letter in the alphabet around that same time. For being not even four years old at that point was very good.

But according to the experts that isn’t suppose to happen. If anything my daughter should be riddled with ADHD and unable to sit still for long periods of time and not able to have a conversation due to poor language skills because she watched TV instead of reading a book. I am here to relieve your of that fear. Just because your kid watches TV doesn’t mean they will turn into a zombie that can’t learn. That is very much the opposite of what I am trying to say.

Actually my daughter has a wonderful attention span now. Before she would sit maybe for a minute at a time before moving on to something else. Now she is able to sit through a whole movie and be actively engaged with it. She sings and dances to the songs and already has the vocabulary skills and the articulation ability to sing along with the songs. Would she have been able to do that with a book, probably, but she was definitely able to learn it from her developmentally appropriate TV shows.

The other thing that has been a benefit from TV is that my daughter gets to have a taste of social interaction since she is a singleton. Now, she has friends and anyone who has singletons know that you have to get together with friends a lot or you will go insane, but she has the chance to be exposed to concepts like sharing, telling the truth, giving compliments and flat out being nice by watching TV since she doesn’t have a sibling to try all that on at home. So for me, the social impact of TV is benefit enough so my daughter does know how to act in public because the scene is acted out for her instead of just reading a few sentences in a book and looking at a pretty picture. There is that real world experience embedded in watching something play out to its fullness like a movie or TV show.

So if you are worried that your child isn’t going to learn something from a TV show that is developmentally appropriate don’t worry about it. Like my daughter, your child might be more of a visual learner who thinks right now books are too boring to work with. It won’t be like that forever. Now that the books are becoming more interesting and she has the foundation to understand the social settings going on in the books, my daughter is enjoying me reading to her and I am enjoying it now too. She is right on track for kindergarten and we are so proud of her accomplishments.

That is the key. As long as your child knows you love them and are proud of them they will succeed whether they read it from a book at the age of two or watch it explained by a character on a TV show. They will be able to have the skills to be the best they can be. So don’t worry about being the perfect parent and don’t worry if your kid watches some TV. In the right amounts, with the right content, TV can be a tool to give your child access to the world outside your home and a way to have them learn in the style that fits them.

Why Editing a Book Never Stops

Are you working on a book and you feel like it will never be ready? You know what? That is COMPLETELY normal. I have been working on books for years and they still are not ready. Mostly because I have been writing fiction since I was twelve years old and have done quite of bit of growing up in the past fifteen years. I look at my stories even written five year ago and I shudder at the lack of setting, dialogue and description. The point is that you never not growing and developing so your books never stop until you decide they are full grown and ready to be published.

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I have heard of actors not watching their movies after they are released because all they see are their flaws. It is very similar with writing a book. You edit the book, put it down for a little while, and then pick it up again only to have it covered in red pen. I love my books that are out but I can’t pick them up or I will redo the whole thing. I made the decision to publish them at that time and that is where they need to sit.

But wait! That doesn’t mean you should stop editing all together. Don’t publish your writing throw up just because you are afraid of more work. Editing and proofreading are vital for your book, and you for that matter. I have had to take books off my page because they were not fully edited like they should have been and I am thankful people have told me the errors along the way.

So editing is very important and should never be over looked. It can make a good book into a great book. Like right now I am working on a book I “finished” ten years ago. I thought I was the best author on the planet. I was like Stephanie Meyers or Francine Rivers (yes, I have a very diverse taste in books) in my own opinion, but looking at it now I am horrified. It’s a great outline but I would not consider it a great book right now. It’s only sitting at 46,000 words and I have already seen where six chapter breaks need to be added along with another 50,000 word minimum. It is a wreck, but then again I am not seventeen anymore. I have life experience to add to this book now that I didn’t have then. As it was my main character was only a year older than I was at the time. Talk about sounding awkward.

notebook-and-pencill-2

So now I am in the thralls of editing once again but it is because my book is not grown up. I grew up but my book hasn’t. After this growing pain period I am pretty sure it will be ready to be published but I have to patient. Editing shouldn’t be rushed. It must be done just right or the whole book can fall a part. The edits must help the story and not leave the reader with more questions than when the editing started.

I need to take my time and water the seeds of my own thoughts about what I was thinking and picturing in my head when I first wrote the book. It is important to never lose the original vision. I have read books that I can tell the author wrote one half of the book and then added to it and the two halves don’t make much sense together. I don’t want that to happen and neither to do you, dear reader. So take your time editing, but know when it is enough. Because the world needs to know your thoughts. They need to know your book and who you are. Don’t leave your audience waiting because you are still editing a book that has been ready to leave the nest for some time now.

I hope this has been helpful to you and know that the editing process will never stop for an author. You can always make it better but that might mean it will never see the light of day and no one wants that to happen. Happy publishing!

 

 

5 Reasons Why You Need to Buy New Books

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This seems to be a big controversy in the book world – to buy new or buy used. So may people buy used books mostly for the cost difference but let me tell you why you should always buy books new.

  • Helps the Author’s Ratings

I know this might sound selfish of the author, but most authors write books to make money. I am not sure why people think writing should be charity work, but they do. An author hasn’t just a few hours on their book and put it out on the market. The only way an author will know whether or not his or her book is selling is if it is bought new.

  • Greater Chance of the Author Getting a Renewed Contract

And that leads to the next reason to buy books new. If the author sells well then the publisher will continue their current book contract and then offer them a new one for another book. Publishers are dollars and cents. They don’t care about the literacy of the world just as long as the book sells. So if the author’s book is not selling then they will drop the author like a hot rock and the author probably won’t ever be published again.

  • Helps author’s commissions

As a stated before, authors publish books to make money. It might sound cold but publishing is a business. Like me, they work for years on their books before they go out and publish them. Years!! So if an author thinks his or her work is worth $25 bucks for a hardcover then it probably is. And it overall helps the author’s ratings in sales. If a book is bought at a used book store, the author loses a sale and the ratings don’t matter.

  • Mold, parasites and other things

One thing that people don’t think about is where did the book come from? I am not saying that new books are white as snow when it comes to cleanliness but they have a better chance of not carry the same amount of germs, dirt mites, mold, mild dew, parasites, and other unfriendlies. How do I know this? I lost everything to black mold and black mold LOVES paper. So all my books were contaminated and had to be thrown out. In my blog post,  What Can be Saved From Black Mold? I explain everything that can be saved and sadly books are not on the list. So say someone has mold in their house and they donate a book. You go and buy the book not knowing the mold spores are on the book and now you have infected your house with mold spores. Not that great huh? Now I know that warehouses can have leaks and mold but I have never had a new book with it. (After you are exposed to mold poisoning you can tell when it is around by an allergic reaction your body creates. Mine is I can’t breathe.)

  • The Virgin Book

And lastly, who doesn’t love a virgin book? The feeling of the binding crunching since you are the first person to open the book. The smell of the fresh pages that no fingers have flipped through. I love virgin books because they are all mine. I don’t have to wonder how many people have read this book before me because I have been its only owner. Now call me strange but deep down you know what I am talking about. You can’t get that same feeling with a used book like you can with a virgin book.

So I hope that helps you understand a little bit more why it is actually important to buy new books instead of used books. It’s good for the economy because Publishers are out to make a profit so they only have contracts with authors who sell books, the authors are out to make money for all the work they have done, and you need a great read to curl up in bed with. To me there is no other option than to go to Barnes and Noble or even your local bookshop and buy the new book on the shelf.

 

 

Has Woman’s Rights Helped All Women?

If you clicked on this post I assume that you found the title interesting and you already have your opinion. Do you say “Yes! Woman’s Right has made life better” or “No! It has made life harder”? What area of Woman’s Rights am I talking about? Did that question pop into your head? Do you think that I am talking about voting, pay, or economic standing? Well I think I will surprise you if you can hang in with me.

I would say that no Woman’s Rights haven’t helped ALL women. I love being able to vote so I am not talking about that. I appreciate being able to go school and college so I and not talking about that. I love I can go and get a job, but that is what I am talking about. Has women going into the work really helped women in the long run?

I’ll just let you think about your opinion for a moment but I suggest you hear me out and keep reading.

I am a very motivated woman who is studying to be a teacher. I have a 4.0 GPA and believe in working hard for what you want out of life. But there is one thing that makes me crazy and that is the fact that a single woman or a married woman cannot thrive anymore on one income. Now think about what I mean.

I know many single women who have to have roommates to help with rent, utilities and food or they would have to move back in with their parents. And someone like me I am a married woman who is having to get a career because my husband can’t support us alone on his slightly higher than average income.

According to Woman’s Rights that shouldn’t happen so why is it? It is because there is honestly only so much money to go around. Back in the 50s and prior, women stayed at home (I know all about the history  and I am thankful for the work of women before me so don’t go there quite yet) and their husbands were able to provide for them. Yes, women had to get married to be able to leave the family home. They had to rely on a man to provide for them. But they were able to be good house keepers, mothers and friends because they had the time to devote to that. Now days that isn’t true.

We are now in the modern age and a woman to be on her own still needs people to help. She still needs a man or roommates to help. But here is the flip side. Because more women have wanted to work that means that men can’t make as much. So the option of a woman wanting to stay at home has become a very tough thing if not impossible. It has created this atmosphere of both parents having to work to make the same amount as a man would have back in the day to provide for his family.

So no I don’t think that Woman’s Rights has helped all women. It has taken away my ability to thrive as a stay at home mom and puts us in the poverty line. It makes it so that I have to go to get an official career that makes more than minimum wage so that I can make a profit after paying for child care. It has made it so that my daughter will have to go to school for her younger years because I need the school to watch her while I am at work. It has messed the equilibrium up and we are no better off now than we were back in the 50s with the exceptions of voting, education and job opportunity.

So now that you have read this whole article what is your opinion? Do you agree or do you not? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments as long as they respect both sides of the argument.

Have a wonderful day and I will see you next time 🙂