Friday, June 15, 2018

Raising World Changers in a Changing World by Kristen Welch

Raising World Changers In A Changing World by Kristen Welch

How One Family Discovered the Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving

This right here, this is a good book. I highly recommend that you go and get a copy, buy one, borrow one, anything but stealing one.  This book challenged my views of generosity.

It's not just about giving money, though there is some of that, it's about giving your life: time, energy, talents, etc. for the greater good. It's a mindset that a person needs to have that is always looking for ways to help and ways to encourage and give.

It's not about going to a third world country, like they do, it's about giving right where you live. Kristen gives four ways you can give generously with your family right here and right now, right where you live. 1. "See the people around you." In other words stopping to notice them, not being so busy always and rushing on by. 2. "Spot the needs in others' lives." This involves taking the time to develop relationships with the people around you. 3. "Scatter kindness." 4. "Start over with number one."  These four ways don't take any money, but they do take time and intention and a willingness to engage the people around you.

"Generosity is really about teaching our kids to see people other than themselves. And as parents, it begins with us."  Yes, so true. And so hard. And so challenging. And so life-changing.

At the end of every chapter, Kristen lists a few questions to ask your kids to start world-changing conversations with them. She asked each question to one of her kids and gives their answers as well. And then after that, there's a small section called "Practice Generosity" where she gives some practical suggestions like volunteering time, paying it forward in a drive through, and many more.

Like I said at the beginning, this was a really good book, one I would recommend. I would also recommend her book "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World." And I haven't yet read her first book called "Rhinestone Jesus", but I can only imagine it is also equally good.

I received this book from Baker Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

grace like Scarlett by Adriel Booker

Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss by Adriel Booker

Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss

Let me start by saying I recommend this book to everyone who has lost a baby, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, failed adoption, etc. This book gives you permission to grieve while also pointing you very strongly to one who will comfort you in your grief. I need to start carrying sticky notes with me when I read books like this so I can mark sections that speak to me. So often when I go back to find them, I can't find them anymore or they don't stick out to me like they did.

There were just so many things in this book, I could resonate with. Having lost three babies as well, so much of what she said resonated with me. I loved that they named their babies, that they took the time and effort to find out whether they were boys or girls, and most of all, that they allowed themselves to grieve. So often miscarriage, especially in years gone by, has been such a hush hush thing. Nobody talks about, you are just supposed to go on with your life as though you just lost your favorite hanky or some other trivial treasure.  But the truth is, you have lost your baby. No, you maybe didn't hold him or her in your arms, but you were holding them in your heart. Even if you only knew about it for a few days, dreams were being formed for that child. They changed your view of the future and when they slip away to Jesus, those dreams are lost and your life is once again altered. This doesn't even take into consideration the physical changes your body goes through in losing a baby, at least in miscarriage and stillbirth.

I just appreciated the way Adriel was honest about her own journey, her own losses. She grieves, but not as a mom without hope. She knows we were made for more and she knows her babies are already there, but the truth remains, as her husband said, "I don't want her to be in heaven...I don't want Jesus to look after her. I wanted us to look after her."  I can so say Amen to those words.

We know there is a better place coming, but listen to what Adriel says we do in this "in between" time. "We participate in the new creation now by living into the kingdom, setting our eyes on things above and things around us, and allowing the Spirit to heal us as we work together to see the whole earth healed and reconciled unto Jesus. We embrace our belovedness and give ourselves to love others even while still being healed ourselves. We bake the casserole. We write the bereavement card. We open our doors. We share our stories...We worship while we weep. We rejoice while we give thanks....We dive deep and then resurface, transformed and transforming." And that's one piece I want to take with me. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, reaching out to help the next hurting person helps us to heal. I fail in this too many times and it's something I want to work on.

At the end of the book, there are a couple appendixes. One is ways to remember your baby, one is ways to help a friend who is hurting and one is a letter to the dads (who are so often missed), written by Adriel's husband, and a couple other ones too.

At the end of every section, there is a journaling prompt too, to help you process even more fully. I didn't do this, but I can totally see how helpful it would be, especially with a recent loss.

I received this book from Baker Books and was not required to write a positive review.

A Memory a Day for Moms

A Memory A Day For Moms: A Five-year Inspirational Journal by Thomas Nelson

A 5-Year Inspirational Journal

I love these kinds of books/journals. This is more than just recording memories, this book makes you stop and think and reflect too. You don't just write down a memory, though I'm sure you could, you are asked a question and each year for five years you answer that same question on that same date. It's interesting to see how your answers change from year to year and also how they stay the same, depending on the question. I am currently doing a book like this that's just general questions and I love it. I am in year three now and it is so fun to read back over the last two years and see what I said. Some things stay very similar year after year and some things change drastically. It all depends on where you are in life and also on your mood.

I am not sure if I will do this book myself or gift it for a friend, but I'm leaning toward keeping it. I think it would be so interesting for my children years down the road to read my thoughts on different things and how my goals and ideas changed as they got older.

The one thing I really like about this book is that not only does it have a question to answer, at the bottom of the page it has a Bible verse that goes along with the question and also a couple sentence prayer. This all ties together and I think that adds extra beauty to the book.

The book is also very pretty. In a soft green, I'd probably say it's a mint green or seafoam or some such color. Of course, someone else may disagree with my color name entirely, but it really doesn't matter, it's a green of some sort with gold leaves and banner and white lettering. It also has a ribbon marker, which is such a good idea in books like this.

A few examples of questions are:

"How has your child shown kindness this week?"
"What's the newest parenting trend in the media this week?"
"A tradition I'd like to start for Mother's Day is:"
"What is your child's favorite treat?"

So, as you can see, the questions are all across the board in the mothering department.

A full example, including verse and prayer is: "Who's been a big encouragement to you lately?  Encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. I Thessalonians 5:11 NLT  God, please let every word that comes from my mouth today be one that encourages and builds up my child."

This would be an excellent gift for the new mom, for the mom of young toddlers, or even for yourself, if you're a mom, and are wanting a place to write down thoughts and funny things your children say. I'm quite sure there would be room most days to add those to the days lines. 

I received this from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Guilt or Gratitude

"Sometimes I feel more guilty for what I'm not than grateful for what I am." Lysa TerKeurst

You know it's been awhile since you started posts, when you aren't even really sure what you were thinking when you go back to finish them. So who knows if this post will go anywhere close to what I was thinking when I originally typed out that quote. 

But there is so much truth in that quote, at least for  me. I can shoot myself in the foot and paralyze myself simply by feeling that I am not enough. I will apologize over and over for something simple and even silly, but it makes me feel like,... well, I'm not sure what it makes me feel like. It might make me feel like a martyr, like if I apologize ten times, preferable with some tears, it will make it all go away, whatever it was in the first place. 

What it usually does is it sends down this shadow over the circumstance. The evening turns a little sour, my mood becomes grumpy and I manage to ruin everyone's attitudes. Not exactly a fun evening. 

This apologizing over everything caught me between the eyes when I heard my three year old apologizing over not getting out the right spoon for her little brother. D was making a comment about little brother being too big for a baby spoon and big sister commenced to saying, I'm sorry, I didn't know, etc. Ouch!!  She has gotten that from me.

Yes, I want her to learn to apologize, but I don't want her to apologize for things that she didn't know better about. And to me there are two kinds of apologies, the one that says, Hey, I'm sorry, I didn't know. And the kind that grovels and repeats, etc. 

And it comes down to beating myself up over what I'm not. Why didn't I have the laundry put away, at least all the laundry baskets out of the kitchen? Why didn't I start supper earlier? Why didn't I do this? Why didn't I do that? 

Wouldn't I be better served to yes apologize if it was a problem, but then move on. I don't have to live in the guilt of what I didn't do. Yes, I can work on improving, but I don't have to let it ruin my evening and everyone else's, when most of the time, it really wasn't that much of an issue to anyone to start with. 

So what does it mean to be grateful for what I am? I'm not sure. I think our culture can sometimes focus more on what we are not, to fully embrace and celebrate who we are and the gifts God has given us, is equated with pride. And yes pride can come into play here, but shouldn't we also be grateful for those gifts?

I like to write and type and I can use that typing ability to earn a little side income and for that I am grateful. I love to sew quilts and it's a great way to spend time with my mom and, as a by-product, help provide covers for those who need them. I enjoy baking, so why not use it to bless other people?

Along with that, most days we make it through the day and my children and I still love each other, so I must have done something right. That's cause for gratitude. And of course, I want to add this disclaimer, despite all the things I did wrong that day!! :) :) 

I'm not great at decorating for a party like one of my friends are, but that's okay. I can enjoy going to her house for a party, but that doesn't mean I need to apologize if people come to my house and there's just food and not tablecloths and lights and four kinds of drink, etc. I can still be a gracious hostess. 

Some people love kids and thrive on being a mom and seem to live to please their kids.  I'm so glad for them. That doesn't mean I need to feel inferior because being a mom feels like more of a struggle to me and I don't go out and play in the sandbox with my three year old.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love the two littles that grace our house, but sometimes I can feel guilty for occasionally wanting to be for an evening. This doesn't excuse me from doing the best job I can at being their mom, but I don't need to feel guilty for not having activities to fill their day every.single.second. But it doesn't excuse me either from feeling grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me. It didn't come easy and I don't want to forget that either.

So these are just some of my random wanderings through the words of a quote. I want the challenge for myself to be, choose gratitude over guilt. Strive to improve what I can, but rather than guilt over what I'm not, I want to be grateful for what I am. 

Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

Becoming The Talbot Sisters: A Novel Of Two Sisters And The Courage That Unites Them

One sister is a professional cooking show host, the other works for an NGO conducting community health programs in post-Communism countries. They have drifted apart, but are united over their aunt's death and an unusual proposition.

Overall, the book was disappointing, if I'm truly honest, and I don't like leaving less than positive reviews. The positive thing about this book was how the sisters, who were twins, did come full circle back to being close like they once were. That part is the redeeming part of the book and the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. So in that sense, the book was good.

However, there is no real mention of God or church. There are a few quotes by Aunt Mae about God and a couple mentions of prayer, though more as a passing notion. Then there is the baptism of their children in the epilogue, leading me to think they were nominal Catholics. They mention the baptism taking place in the church they attended with their parents twice a year.

Both sisters ended up marrying divorced men, which goes against my beliefs, so that was another strike against the book for me. I don't know, the book just gave me a bit of an unsettled feeling, some of the circumstances seemed completely unrealistic, some of the information unnecessary. I do not think books need to mention God every ten words, but I do like when He is given a pretty prominent part in the book, especially if it is a Christian book.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Saw a Bear and a Bear Saw Me

It was a beautiful evening, the kind you want to capture and hold close and remember. The sun was setting after a warm day, the wind was sending a cool breeze making the outdoor temperatures pretty much perfect. The children were enjoying being outside.

The clouds were doing a dancing act in the sky. In particular, one big fluffy cloud kept being illuminated by the lightning streaks from behind it. It was fascinating to watch.

The evening was further commemorated by a smore party around the first true campfire of the season. There were all the yummy smore fixings: graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, Symphony bars, Kit Kats, Candy cane bars, peanut butter, and nutella. This was a real "smoregasboard".

The wind was wreaking a bit of havoc with the smoke sending it swirling in all directions around the campfire making sitting down comfortably in one place a practice in perilous times. It was better to stand and be ready to move on around the circle when the smoke came your way. (Spiritual application anyone?)

And then it was time to take the niece home. All the ladies jumped on the four-wheeler, leaving the men to bond around the fire and hopefully start cleaning up maybe? We headed out, continuing to notice the big fluffy cloud. As we turned out of the field lane onto the road, what should we see but a big black bear.

Now one thing I should mention before going any further is I do not like bears. (Is it bear or bears?) I have been known to run in the house and close the windows at a bear sighting some 500 plus yards away on the other side of the road and clear back by the woods. Now, I was much, much younger at that time, so have a little pity on me. Anyway, I slowed the four-wheeler down and considered my options. And the bear just looked at me.

I wasn't sure if I had seen some smaller objects go scuttling off into the ditch on the other side of the road and getting between a mama bear and her cubs was not high on my bucket list at all. So, I did what any smart driver would do, I continued to pause and think.

I drove forward a bit and the bear kept looking at me.

I paused a bit more and considered further. And the bear kept watching me.

I drove forward a bit more and the bear moved about three feet toward the woods and kept watching me.

I paused a little, uncertain, what should I do?

Then this very brainy thought came to me, I am on a four-wheeler, I'm pretty sure I can "outrun" this bear if he or she decides to be unfriendly, so with this new found courage, I crept forward a bit more, hoping the bear would turn tail and run. Because I still didn't want to drive by a bear sitting on the edge of the road.

I drove a bit and finally the bear ambled to the side of the road. Oh joy.  Then, he or she stopped again and sat up on its haunches. And I thought now what.

But remember, I can drive faster than a bear can run, so I should just put the throttle down and go, so I inched forward a bit more, trying to instill confidence in the four-wheeler. And then finally, the bear loped off into the woods and we saw it moving back as we raced by.

And we dropped the niece off and admired the sky some more and thought about what we would do if we met the same bear on the way back home and then finally decided to be brave and we headed for home. And on the way, the little girl completely tuckered out by her experiences succumbed to sleep for a few heartbeats and we arrived home where she informed the males of the  family what we had seen. And, of course, the male was quite jealous that we had seen the bear and not him. And of course, I was also wishing he had been along as well so I could have fully and effectively freaked out as I am quite sure he would have happily chased that bear with much more vigor than I had.

And all of this on a beautiful evening in May and not one picture to capture the event. But as it has been said, sometimes we need to put the camera down and capture the evening in words instead of photographs. So there you have it!!

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli

If you are looking for a fiction book that isn't just full of boy meets girl, they have a fight, make up and then live happily ever after, this is the book for you.  This is Heidi's second book she's written and it's even better than her first one and I enjoyed her first book, "Freedom's Ring".

This book takes a very tough subject, school shootings, and, while it's all fiction, to me it helps me to see the shooter and their family in a different light. It also flashes back to the Culper Spy Ring that was in action during the Revolutionary War by following the fictional character of Mercy Howard, who was part of that ring.

First, let me say, that the theme of the book, what all the main characters were finding was a hiding place in God. They were recognizing how much they needed God to get them through the tough situations they were in, whether it was dealing with being in an enemy's prison ship or dealing with the consequences and wrong choices of a son and brother, they clung to God for their lifeline. Not to start with, but that is how they ended up.

"I released a sigh at the immense relief of my spirit, convinced now it was entirely a work of God and not just my imaginings. He had waited for me, patiently. He had used this broken time in my life to pursue me. To give me a mercy I didn't deserve."

Chris, the brother, who still desperately needed Jesus when the book ended, was found to be a very troubled young man. Plagued by an undiagnosed mental health disorder, some substance abuse and other things, yet it was inexcusable what he did. I feel I'm already giving too much of a spoiler so I don't want to say more. But one thing I took away from the book is the need to extend grace and mercy to the family of the one who commits a crime.  They may very likely just be a normal family trying to navigate life as best they can and they too, are shattered, by the devastation their family member causes.

I want to end this review with the second to the last paragraph from the book: "Strange, but I felt at peace with that fact. I felt at peace in my own skin, even. Being real did hurt. But truly seeing ourselves - seeing each other - I finally got to realize just how loved I was despite the flaws I tried to hide." And the last sentence. "But in the midst of our grief, we were not without hope."

When we are in Christ, we have hope and I feel this book did a good job of portraying that. I definitely recommend this book if you are looking for some good fiction that isn't just light and fluffy in its content.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers and I was not required to write a positive review.

Raising World Changers in a Changing World by Kristen Welch

How One Family Discovered the Beauty of Sacrifice and the Joy of Giving This right here, this is a good book. I highly recommend that yo...