Learning to Use Sign Language with Our Baby: A Book Review

I mentioned a few months ago that one of the things my husband and I are looking forward to doing with our daughter is using sign language, since children often are able to sign before they can speak. Originally, I went to the library and checked out a few resources, which were great introductions to signing and that gave us some key signs that we practiced. (You can read more about one of those baby sign-language resources here.)

As we practiced though, we found ourselves wondering, "How do you sign 'dog'?" Or, "I wonder what the sign for 'scared' is?" I tried looking some of them up online, but realized that would get cumbersome after awhile, especially when we're well into the throes of parenting and have enough vying for our attention.

However, I received a review copy of The Baby Signing Book (Second Edition) by Sara Bingham that is the perfect, all-in-one resource for parents interested in signing with their baby. Like the other book I got from the library, this one includes a lot of background information on why signing can be beneficial, as well as answering a lot of parents' questions about whether it will impede their child's ability or desire to speak. (It won't.) It also gives lots of tips and tricks for getting started with your baby (or even your toddler), as well as what to expect at various stages.

But where this book excels even more is that the bulk of it is an illustrated sign-language dictionary that teaches 450 different signs that are likely to relate to life with your baby. Signs range from everyday objects like "yogurt" and "coat" to directions like "come" or "help." The thing I especially love about this section (that I never found with the online resources) was that each sign includes a thorough description of how to make the sign as well as details to help you pair the sign with its meaning. (For instance, the sign for "cat" is like tracing a cat's whisker on the side of your face.)

There's also a section about signing with songs and some ideas for implementing signs into those childhood favorites.

All in all, I'm really excited about adding this resource to our arsenal, and can't wait to sign with her more. (They recommend starting around 6 to 9 months; you can always start earlier, but that's about when babies will start to comprehend and put two and two together.)

Find The Baby Signing Book (Second Edition) on Amazon.

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A Collection of My Pregnancy Photos

Still no sign of baby, but I thought it'd be fun to do a little retrospective of my pregnancy photos, side-by-side to see how much this little lady has grown over the past few months!

(read my three-month maternity update)

(read my four-month maternity update; I skipped posting a five month one because of my unexpected hospital stay and kidney scare)

(read my six-month maternity update)

(read my seven-month maternity update)

(read my eight-month maternity update)

(read my nine-month maternity update)

And here they are all, squished together, for easier comparison:

I think the leap from month 6 to month 7 is the most incredible one, don't you? And to think that in just a few days, all of that which has been growing inside will soon be held in my arms. Crazy!!

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Looking Back at My 9th Month of Pregnancy

Well, we have made it: Today is my due date, after nine months of pregnancy and preparation to meet our little girl. I’m still not sure when exactly she is going to arrive, but this will be the last of the pregnancy updates until that time comes—and that fact absolutely thrills (and also astounds) me!
Here’s how things have been faring this past month:

THE BABY. At forty weeks, the baby weighs between 6.2 to 9.2 pounds and measures about 18.9 to 20.19 inches, making her approximately the size of a jackfruit. (Interesting produce choice, there.) She had dropped and is head-down, so she’s ready for her exit whenever the time is right (and causing me to waddle until then!). She’s still wiggling and squirming, as always, and I’ve actually grown so accustomed to it that I don’t even notice anymore!

PHYSICALLY. I have felt pretty great, although this past month I finally started feeling uncomfortable from her growing size and heft. Things like rolling over in bed (because I had to switch sides every hour or so to alleviate the weight placed on my hips), bending over, and even getting out of the car have finally become difficult. Not awful, but uncomfortable enough that I told my husband that I couldn’t wait until I could sit up from a laying down position without difficulty that I might just start doing sit-ups for fun once I can!

I’m feeling more fatigued again, having to take more breaks and time to rest than I was even a month ago. I read somewhere that this is like the calm before the storm—that your body starts to conserve energy in preparation for labor, delivery and nursing.

BABY STUFF. Her nursery is finished and everything in place. There are sheets on her crib and clothes, washed and hung, in her closet. Her play-yard is set up, a diaper station is in place, her monitor is plugged in, her toys have all been cleaned, books are on her shelves, and my hospital bag ready. I think we’re pretty much ready for her arrival, as far as I can tell. The amount of things we’ve collected over the course of the pregnancy for her (thanks to our incredibly generous friends and family!) still surprises me!

EMOTIONS. People ask if I’m “ready” for her to come. On a practical level, yes, we are totally ready (see above). But on an emotional level, I have to say no, I’m not ready. And that’s not because I’m not excited, but simply because I cannot even begin to wrap my head around what it’s going to be like to have a child and to care for her every single day for years. How can you feel ready for that?! I’m looking forward to it, absolutely, but I stand and look at it and admit that I simply cannot fathom what lies ahead for me. But you know what? I’m okay with that.

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO. Of course just meeting her is enough. But I can't wait to see her, see if she has a full head of hair (make that heartburn worthwhile!). I can't wait to see her showcase some of her personality, rather than just filter it through her kicks, twists and turns. (She seems to roll around quite a bit but has never kicked me, so I like to think she's sweet with a little feist!) I'm looking forward to the joy that comes once she's born and the overwhelming love that comes with it, a chance to really get what unconditional love feels like. And practically, I'm really looking forward to sleeping on my back again!

WHAT I'LL MISS. I am sure I'll miss all the free time I've had the luxury of having, like right now, being able to type a blog post and edit photos without worrying about time constraints or cries in the background. I'll miss getting to run in and out of the grocery store for just an item or two without it being a big ordeal. But those are all things of convenience. And I'm a firm believer that God never intended for our lives to be solely convenient, otherwise why would he tell us, "In this world you will have trouble"? No, I believe inconvenience is in fact good for my heart and helps teach me a little more about surrender. So though I'll miss them, I must remember that they, too, are worthwhile. For the sake of my daughter and my soul.

For now, though, we wait!

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A Crafting Fail: What Happened When I Tried Painting The Nursery Curtains

I think it’s no surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I love crafts. I’ve documented recovering my kitchen chairs, turning a media console into a mirrored cabinet, hemming my jeans, even baking my own sandwich bread. There’s something about making things with my hands that pulses through my blood.

It’s even one of the things I’m excited about most about having a daughter and getting to share those experiences with.

And the fact is that one of the reasons why I love crafting so much is because, honestly, they usually work. Before taking on any project, I usually do enough research or preparation and planning so that the end result is at least close to what I’d imagined in my head. Plus, I typically try to use resources I already have on hand so that even if the project does go awry, it didn’t cost me anything.

Recently, though, all that changed and I was confronted with one big epic craft fail. Disappointing to say the least.

But, I figured that all of you might appreciate seeing the other side of the crafting life, where things don’t always go as expected and sometimes a project that you had big plans for and great expectations of just doesn’t pan out. At all.

So it was with one of my nursery projects. I had a set of black-out curtains that I wanted to use in the room, to hopefully help our little one want to sleep longer by blocking out the sunlight in the early hours. The only problem was that they didn’t match my color scheme and I’ve never had much luck finding black-out curtains in any shade but brown and black.

I’d seen plenty of projects on Pinterest and elsewhere of people painting fabric of all sorts—curtains, rugs, couches even. And they all seemed pleased with the results.

After doing my research, I picked up my supplies: a can of 100% acrylic paint (no-VOC) in a pretty teal color and some fabric medium. I mixed the two together according to the directions and started painting. I soon realized, though, that the fabric sucked up a ton of paint, so that it took a lot longer than it would have for the same-sized portion of a wall. I sat hunched over a single curtain panel for an hour and a half, just applying a single coat and getting into all the fabrics’ nooks and crannies.

After letting it dry for an hour or two, there were obvious markings of where one section had dried before I’d gotten to painting the area next to it. I decided to do a second coat, since that’s pretty standard for painting walls. Another hour and a half later, the second coat had evened out a lot of the marks, but it still dried splotchy and, even worse, stiff. Plus, after three hours hunched over painting, my (pregnant) back was pretty stiff itself. I had to then go take an hour or so nap just to recover.

I hung the curtain just to see if it was really as bad as I thought. I let it hang there for a day, opening and closing the panel and having to crunch it into place. It did great at blocking out but as I looked at the other three panels that awaited, I knew that I couldn’t invest 9 hours into creating something I didn’t love. Plus, I’d used almost a whole quart of paint on that single panel so I’d have to go buy a lot more of the supplies.

Like a weary but realistic fighter, I knew when to the throw in the towel and wave the flag of defeat. Fortunately, I ended up finding some black-out curtains in a lovely dark, teal hue on sale that couldn’t be more perfect: (I seriously could not believe my luck!) They block out light, they aren’t splotchy, they aren’t stiff, the color is a great fit, and it only took me about an hour to hang them in place, from start to finish.

I’m glad I tried the project, though, because in my head I was certain it would work. But in the end, things aren’t always as they appear—especially on Pinterest.

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(Finally!) Introducing the Baby's Nursery

It's been months since I first started working on the baby's nursery for our little girl. I started off by sharing some of my brainstorming and idea boards for decorating the nursery, including the color scheme and fabric ideas I had in mind.

Then, I shared some of the progress we'd made once we finally painted the nursery a creamy white and got some of the major furniture items in place. We also painted the interior of the closet a vibrant, sunny yellow.

And then? Well, things kind of went to a standstill while I got busy working on other preparations. But, little by little over time, I started working on the nursery again, until a couple of weeks ago when it was basically done. (And then, I had to wait for the clouds to clear to get a decently sunny day to try to accurately document the updates!)

But, finally, with days left until my due date, here is the reveal of the nursery that awaits our little girl. With sheets on the crib, toys and books on the shelves, and freshly washed onesies on hangers, I think we're ready to bring babe home!

As you can see, we stuck with my initial plan of going for a peacock, teal and yellow color scheme for the nursery. I love how the white walls make the curtains and rug pop!

This is some artwork I created for the room: The square frames feature antique handkerchiefs my mom had given me and a pair of pretty-patterned cloth napkins from my mother-in-law. The large piece is one I painted (and typeset myself!) with some words that felt fitting for this bundle of joy of ours.

Here's the little sitting and nursing area I have set up, complete with a pouf for setting my feet in the middle of the night! I also used a couple of extra of the patterned napkins to create covers for some pillows I already had on hand.

We opted for dark wood tones in this room, and so picked out this cube shelving to store her toys, books and my nursing gear. As you can see, she has quite the accumulating collection of owls! (And the ceramic owl atop the shelf is actually winds up to play music and spin around!)

Here's her crib, with the crib skirt I created for her. (Although you can't see the pattern clearly here, it's the same that I used when I recovered our kitchen chairs a couple years back, which you can see detailed here.)

I decided not to put any real art on the walls around her crib for fear that if they fell, she could really get injured. So instead, I hung a mobile made of birds-in-flight that I cut out from construction paper in the room's various colors.

On the opposite side of the room, we have her dresser and closet, which are fully stocked with plenty of clothes, blankets and all the other essentials we've collected for her. And, in the corner you'll see a life-size Scooby Doo dog, which was mine when I was really young that I've held onto ever since. I hope she loves it as much as I did!

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"She Did What She Could"

Happy Valentine's Day!

We are inching closer and closer to our little girl's due date; now counting down in days. Nine days left, to be exact. (Although our practice will let me go up to two weeks over, which could mean that in reality we still have as many as 23 days to wait.)

But still, even 23 is not that many.

This past weekend, a bunch of women from our church threw us a baby shower and one of my favorite elements of it was that at the end, they took turns praying for me, my husband, our baby and the new journey ahead for us all, as well as writing me notes of encouragement, advice and prayers as I embark on motherhood.

As the dawn of motherhood is nearly at hand, there was one particular verse that a friend shared that has touched my heart deeply and that I am treasuring as I get ready for all the unknowns ahead:

"She did what she could...." Mark 14:8 (This is in the context of the women of Bethany anointing Jesus' head with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. Everyone else around the table rebuked her for her actions, but Jesus commended her effort. Because she did what she could.)

Even now, I must remember this encouragment that as long as I'm doing what I can to follow the Lord and seek him and (in the coming days or weeks) raise my child up for His glory and learn the self-sacrfice of motherhood, then Jesus sees that and let's it be enough.

He is kind and merciful to fill in the cracks for us, for me, for my child, so that where my enough falls short, he makes up the difference and commends it. He sees through the mistakes and the lacking and makes my earnest effort enough.

I believe that during those sleepless nights and trying tantrums, those five words will be a balm to my soul, providing the hope and reassurance I need to keep on going, doing what I can, and trusting God to do the rest.

How's that for a lovely thought on this Valentine's Day?

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Building a Library for Our Daughter

I can remember growing up and having books always around me. I remember my mom sitting on the couch, reading her own novel, which encouraged me to dig out a book—whether it was of nursery rhymes or a Disney storybook—to do the same. I can remember trips to the library and used bookstore to replenish our stash of reading material. And nights not spent watching television (because back then, we didn’t have cable) but reading and exploring the printed page.

It was obviously a pastime that impacted me, as I went on to fall in love not only with reading but writing as well, and to grow up to become a writer. It all started in those earliest days, when a book was as much a friend to me as a stuffed animal.

So it should be no surprise that I fully intend on passing a love for reading down to my own daughter, as well.

Fortunately, even though she isn’t yet born, she’s already started collecting a growing stash of books—from a children’s Bible to the Velveteen Rabbit, from well-worn copies of Dr. Seuss favorites to basic readers for when the time comes.

Plus, since almost all of my adult life was spent working in publishing, I had the opportunity to start collecting a few children’s books well before the possibility of having a child was anywhere near happening. Still, I knew how much reading had meant for me growing up, and wanted to prepare for that even then, stashing the books in a cardboard box that I recently dug out and can’t wait to read to her. These are some of my favorites because they’re filled with beautiful illustrations, like When You Were Small and Sparkle and Spin.

I also got the chance to receive a book for her from Tyndale Blogger’s Network to review, called Bible Stories that End with a Hug. I have to admit that it wasn’t quite what I expected. The one thing I do really like about it is that it covers a lot of Bible stories; 75 to be exact. You are hard-pressed to find a children's Bible book that includes that many! But, of course there's a compromise in having that vast quantity, which is that each "story" is condensed to a 2-page spread, which includes a full-page illustration (admittedly pretty cute!), one Bible verse, a sentence-or-two summary of the story, and then some reflection on the moral of the story and how it applies to our children's lives (this is set up in a short Q&A format).

I wonder if it would have been better to spread the stories out longer and separate the book into multiple volumes, rather than squish it all into one. I'm not sure how well the 2-page spread will capture a little one's attention or really excite them, to be honest. And then each story wraps up with the encouragement to give one another a hug, based on some aspect of the story. While it's cute, it seems a little extraneous tacked on the end to me. For those reasons, I definitely don't think it's the best Bible story resource for kids available, but I do think it will be interesting to incorporate this into her library and see how she takes to it; I could be pleasantly surprised!

So, even though she’s years away from being able to read on her own, we’re already cultivating this love for reading and preparing her for a lifetime of enjoyment that comes from it.

By the way, do you have any favorite young children’s books you’d recommend? Particularly ones with good “life lessons” (blessons!) woven in? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

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Sponsored Post: Publix Grocery Sale and Sweepstakes

As we're preparing for our little girl's arrival, one of the things I fully expect will fill our bellies upon her arrival is lots of yummy Italian dishes; pasta, pesto, my spaghetti casserole, bread sticks, homemade pizzas, you name it. Fortunately, the grocery chain Publix is running a sale that's all about those Italian-flavored favorites, which will make stocking up for these entrees even easier!

Their "Italian Days: Taste the Tradition" sale is in effect now through March 1, where you will find savings on General Mills brands like Muir Glen, Green Giant and Progresso. You can find out more about the sale and even download some coupons for it here. I received a gift card to shop the sale, and now my pantries are set with ingredients to whip up some extra batches of homemade marinara sauce and other freezer-ready dishes as we eagerly await our little lady!

Additionally, Publix is also holding a sweepstakes during the event where you can register to be one of 500 shoppers who will win a $100 gift card to Publix. Click here to register for the sweepstakes.

Sponsored by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

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The Practical Preparations for Bringing Home A Baby

As the days tick by, we’re inching closer and closer to my daughter’s due date, with less than two weeks to go until then. We are now officially in full-term territory; essentially, she could come any day now!

So in anticipation of that, I’ve spent the past week or two trying to get things around here as prepared as possible. Throughout the entire pregnancy, I’ve tried to focus on preparing myself emotionally and spiritually for bringing home a child as well as mentally, learning all the practical things about childbirth and childcare.

But now, I’ve got my sights set on things that will pave the way for when we come home. Little gritty things—like meals in the freezer, a fully stocked pantry, organized baby drawers—that I’m hoping will ease the transition a bit and take some of the frustration out of the picture so that we can focus simply on being parents, rather than on running errands or grabbing take-out.

Every couple of days or so, I’ve made it a goal to “stock up” on something. Earlier this week that was making two extra batches of homemade bodywash and some dishwasher detergent (a new homemade favorite of mine!). Before that was hamburger buns. Today, it was an extra batch of sweet potato chili.

I’ve started gathering items for my hospital bag and making a list, so that we make sure not to leave home without grabbing last-minute things like my eye glasses or phone charger. I’ve also started culling together different things into a drawer in our living room that will (hopefully) help ease early labor: a stack of encouraging Bible verses written on notecards, a heating pad, a cheatsheet of helpful laboring positions to try among other things.

I figure that whether it’s the fog of labor or of new motherhood, it’ll be a blessing to have already thought some of these things through—because I know there’s plenty to come that I certainly will not be prepared for! Until then, I’m trying to take care of some of the things that I can prepare for.

By the way, anyone have any other preparations or ideas of things to do that you'd recommend to make the transition a little easier? If so, please let me know in the comments!

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A Cleaning Schedule for People Who Hate to Clean

We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to anything, even homemaking. Mine? Well, I enjoy making a lot of everyday stuff from scratch (from salsa to salad dressing. But housecleaning is not a strong suit of mine. So that’s why I started keeping a housecleaning schedule. But not just any schedule, where every day I have to take up a specific task like Mondays are for mopping or Tuesdays are for toilet scrubbing. No, my schedule is one that takes advantage of my desire to mix things up. The beauty of it, in fact, rests on its flexibility. (Keep on reading if you want to download a printable copy of my schedule!)

We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to anything, even homemaking. Mine? Well, I enjoy making a lot of everyday stuff from scratch (from salsa to salad dressing). But housecleaning is not a strong suit of mine.

I do take care of the laundry and dishes and keeping the kitchen countertops and floors swept, but as most of you know, there’s a lot more to a clean house than just that! Everything else? Well, I kind of just don’t even notice it…

Which is why my husband actually ends up doing a lot of the deep cleaning around the house, from cleaning the tub to vacuuming the carpet. I mentioned before that it’s part of that “two are better than one” thing that happens in marriages: He takes it upon himself to take up the vacuum and the cleaning supplies while I handle the clutter around the house. Together, the house ends up looking well kept.

But, since my husband already spends more than forty hours a week slaving away, I really want our home to be a place where he can relax and a refuge for him after a long day’s work. It’s not that he really minds cleaning (I nabbed a good one, I tell ya!), but I just want to be more proactive.

So that’s why I started keeping a housecleaning schedule. But not just any schedule, where every day I have to take up a specific task like Mondays are for mopping or Tuesdays are for toilet scrubbing.

I’ve tried those kinds of schedules but found that after a day or two, I just get bored with them. And then abandon them completely and go back to my natural way of cleaning, which is that when it gets dirty enough to tell, I clean it. (But usually that just means that my husband tackles it before I get around to it!)

No, my schedule is one that takes advantage of my desire to mix things up. The beauty of it, in fact, rests on its flexibility. (Keep on reading if you want to download a printable copy of my schedule!)

Because the way I have it set up, is that I have one list of all the cleaning chores that need to be done around the house that I normally never think of or get around to doing. Then, once a day, I’ll look over that list and decide what items I want to check off, depending on my mood or my ambition.

I have the list framed in a picture frame behind glass so that I can use a dry-erase marker to check off each item as I go, and then every Monday, I wipe the slate clean and begin again.

Here’s a closer look at my list:

(By the way, you can check out some of my favorite cleaning essentials  here.)

You’ll see that my list isn’t completely comprehensive. That’s because I left off the chores that come naturally to me—like laundry and dishes and countertop cleaning. I already do those routinely, so I don’t need to be reminded by a list to stay up on them. You’ll also see that there are some things that are on there multiple times (like sweep the kitchen floors), because I want to make sure they’re swept at least that many times a week and otherwise I’ll go for longer between grabbing my broom.

The goal isn’t to complete everything on the list every week. The air conditioning filter only needs to be cleaned once every three months, after all. But since it’s on the list, then I can’t forget about it and can aim to repeat it every couple of months. So by tackling a couple of those seasonal or once-in-awhile jobs every week or two, they’re all taken care of in turn.

The thing about this list is that it works so well because if I didn’t have “Clean mirrors” staring me in the face, I probably would not have taken up my spray bottle and newspaper and spent thirty minutes going from room to room, wiping down each looking glass. But because of this list, I did.

If you want, you can download a PDF of my list here. It’s tailored specifically for my home and for my cleaning needs, but it can be a good starting point for any small home or just to inspire you to make your own list.

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Disclosure: This post from my archives is being re-run as part of BlogHer's Smart Mom's Guide to Being Busy editorial series, brought to you by Rice Krispies and BlogHer.


What My Husband Has Been Reading: The Idolatry of God (A Book Review)

I've mentioned before that one of the things that has always drawn me to my husband is a shared love for reading. So, I wanted to take a moment and let my husband share his thoughts on a book he recently read, The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins: The author writes about how Christians have come to idolize God. What he means is that essentially, we’ve been addicted to certainty and satisfaction. Humans order their lives around that which might bring certainty and satisfaction. To those of us who have this addiction, Rollins says, “Stop it.” Rollins argues that when I became a Christian, I did not stop trusting in money, sex, or food for certainty and satisfaction, to then trust in Jesus for certainty and satisfaction. Rollins maintains that Jesus invites us to follow him in spite of the uncertainty and dissatisfaction we face in our daily lives. We are given new tasks, no longer seeking to appease the certainty-satisfaction craving in our lives.
I've mentioned before that one of the things that has always drawn me to my husband is a shared love for reading. (Between the two of us, we have four bookshelves filled with tomes, and that's after I've tried to pare down our collection!) 

While we both share that affinity, the shape it takes looks a bit different: I love reading things like memoirs and Christian living titles, while he gravitates toward the more meaty and academic ones. It's a good balance for us, and I imagine will make for well-rounded conversations once our daughter is older and asking some of life's deep questions!

So, I wanted to take a moment and let my husband share his thoughts on a book he recently read, The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins, which he received from Howard Books to review. Here are his thoughts:

In his 205-page book, The Idolatry of God, author Peter Rollins writes about how Christians have come to idolize God. From the outset, I was a bit confused, wondering how we could make an idol out of God. However, Rollins quickly makes his case.

Essentially, we’ve been addicted to certainty and satisfaction. Humans order their lives around that which might bring certainty and satisfaction. To those of us who have this addiction, Rollins says, “Stop it.”

Rollins argues that when I became a Christian, I did not stop trusting in money, sex, or food for certainty and satisfaction, to then trust in Jesus for certainty and satisfaction. Rollins maintains that Jesus invites us to follow him in spite of the uncertainty and dissatisfaction we face in our daily lives. We are given new tasks, no longer seeking to appease the certainty-satisfaction craving in our lives.

As Rollins writes, “[this book is] about the theme of salvation—not the type of salvation that is preached today from the pulpit, the false salvation that promises us freedom from our unknowing and dissatisfaction, but a salvation that takes place within our unknowing and dissatisfaction (page 5).”

True to Rollins’ form, this book displays his philosophical background and can at times be a bit dense/confusing. Those sections require a re-reading to comprehend the points and logic Rollins is driving at.

The first section looks at “the problem,” the second section looks at “the solution,” and in the third section “the new collective”, Rollins puts forth concrete ways that the church can learn to exist and be faithful within our unknowing and dissatisfaction by what he calls “contemplative practice.”

While more traditional “evangelical” and “reformed” Christians may differ with Rollins on some points because of Rollins' tie to the postmodern movement, The Idolatry of God is still a worthwhile read and addition to any Christian’s library.

Find The Idolatry of God on Amazon.

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Reminder: One More Week to Submit Your Guest Posts!

I wanted to post a reminder that I'll be accepting guest posts for one more week. Please make sure to get any submissions to me by Friday, February 8, so that I can prepare them to post while I'm on my maternity leave. You can send them to me by email.

In case you missed my original call for guests posts, here it is again:
With my due date getting closer and closer, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up and take care of in preparation. And what I'm going to do with this little blog during that time is one of those.

I expect to spend plenty of time those first few weeks tending to my little girl, getting to know her, and trying to get as much sleep as possible. Which will likely leave little time for this blog until I get the hang of this motherhood and newborn thing.

Which is why I'd like to open the blog up to a month full of guest posts to stand in place while I take some maternity leave. If there's a topic you've wished I'd cover or you think ought to be addressed on here—why not write a guest post? Or if you want to share your story (about your faith, a lesson you've learned, a blessing you've experienced, or anything else along those lines), now's the time to chime in! The options for story ideas are pretty endless, and you needn't have a blog to participate.

Please send your submissions in by February 8 so that I have enough time to edit and prepare them to post in my absence. Email me with any submissions or any questions about a story idea or pitch you have in mind. I appreciate your help in tending to this blog while I'm away!

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