Friday, January 29, 2016

Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Product Details

Another fiction book review today. I just haven't been able to find nonfiction books right now that I'm interested in reading.

Anyway, I generally like Tracie's style of writing though they tend to be a little on the light side of things.  This is the story of a little boy who witnessed his mother's murder and was warned by the murderer to not say a word or his whole family would be killed. The boy stops talking from then on. The dad is accused of being the murderer but there isn't sufficient evidence to charge him. Then, of course, the dad hires a nanny to hopefully help the boy talk again and they fall in love with each other, yada yada.

The element of intrigue is the killer is still on the loose and attacks again, but of course they catch him.

So what did I like about the book? Or what can I take away from the book and be inspired by? One thing is the acceptance of the mentally challenged people in the world. Harry, was a 21 year old with the mind of a 7 year old. He is accepted for who he is and encouraged that he is not an idiot, he is not stupid, he has a lot to give. I'm guessing in that era, that kind of a mind set was a little more unusual, but it does show some of the business owners in town also taking time for the boy and encouraging him.

It is so easy to see the person who's is intellectually challenged either autistic or a chromosome issue or whatever and focus on the external, what you can see, rather than on reaching out to them and loving them and seeing how special they really are. I know I can definitely do better in this.

I did enjoy the book. It flipped from person to person and I wasn't always sure the days lined up like they should have, but I didn't study it out either so maybe they did.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Need a Pacifier

Yes, you read that right. I think I need to go on a search for an adult pacifier. You know you used to be able to get those candy pacifiers-- I don't know if you still can or not. I think one like that would work, but preferably more of a sea salt caramel and chocolate flavor rather than just hard candy.

Why do I want one, you may wonder or you may just conclude that I needed something off the wall for a blog post and came up with this idea. Both could be true, but here's is what made me think of it.

Earlier this week, Amber was having a rough evening of it. She had only taken a half hour afternoon nap and was just crabby. I was trying to make supper and she was crying unless I was holding her. It's really hard to stir stir-fry in a wok with a baby in one arm because of the whole heat aspect of it. So finally out of exasperation, I decided we were going to leave supper where it was and we were going to go upstairs and take a nap before we even attempted eating.  You have to understand two things about Amber and napping. For Amber, napping is equated with getting her pacifier and her blanket--both are sure to elicit happy sounds, but the blanket for sure. No other time does her blanket mean so much to her as when she's ready to climb into bed. So we got those two items and settled down in the rocking chair.

After a few minutes and a little struggle, Amber fell asleep, I thought. Every time I moved her eyes would pop open and about two to five minutes later, she was done sleeping, but voila! she was happy again. We went back downstairs leaving blanket and pacifier upstairs and she was a different girl for the rest of the evening.

So you see, I thought maybe that would work for adults as well: a blanket, a pacifier (disguised as chocolate) and a little rest and maybe, just maybe the world would like all different again.

Then I read this verse this morning in my reading and it said to this effect, "My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest." Now that's the perfect kind of time out-- to rest in God and allow Him to go with us and to meet our needs.

May you have a restful week.

Joy moments for the week: I must get better at remembering to take pictures.
- Amber's only word so far, "Oh" when she drops things which she has started to do with abandon
- Watching her and her daddy play together. This never ceases to make me happy, partly because I love that she loves her daddy and partly because it means I can be sitting on the couch doing my own thing while she is happily playing
- Getting my sewing machine back and putting it to good use.
- Finishing part of Amber's birthday present. I will try to post pictures of it next week. I'm quite tickled with how they turned out, so stay tuned. If you are looking for a nice birthday present for a little person, I would be happy to make more of them to sell to you. Is your interest piqued yet?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Egyptians

One of the things I might do on my blog this year is talk about the various goals I have set for myself for 2016. I probably got a little carried away on goal setting, but so far I'm loving it.

I did realize yesterday, after feeling like a very bad mom, that I need to do some rearranging of my priorities. I'm not sure quite how that will work, but I'm going to work on it while still continuing on with my original goals. I think it's possible. It just requires me to be more intentional and disciplined. Oh, grrr!.

One of my goals for this year is to read through the Bible in a year. Likely there will be updates throughout the year as something I read strikes me and makes me want to share.

I just finished reading about the ten plagues and the Israelites leaving Egypt. The Egyptians have pursued them, but haven't died yet. That will happen tomorrow.  But here's the thing: how dumb were the Egyptians? Reading the plagues, what was left of Egypt? The plagues had taken out a lot of Egypt's prosperity, it had to have. People were killed during the hail storm, then all the first born die. What is Pharoah thinking when he charges after the Israelites intending to bring them back? Wouldn't he have caught on by now that God really wanted His people out of Egypt and that it would be wise to let them go?

But then, what about us? I'm sure sometimes it seems like God has spoken plainly to us about what He wants us to do and we still try to sneak and connive and whine our way to a different ending. What happens? Nothing good. How much better to just have followed God in the first place.

The other thing right now is I"m rereading the book "Longing for Paris" by Sarah Mae. I had readt and reviewed it last July. It had struck a chord with me and I wanted to reread it and let it sink in and take root.

The chapter I read today was on adventure. What is your soul longing for? Adventure doesn't mean jetting off to Paris, though Sarah Mae really wants to go to Paris someday. Adventure can be as simple as perusing your town for the best croissant or going on a scavenger hunt with your kids. To me, in reading this chapter, adventure is awaiting me if I'm just willing to open my eyes to see it. It's taking time to do something out of the ordinary. It was passing out Thanksgiving breakfasts to the homeless for Sarah Mae. Maybe for me, it would be having the person I don't know very well over for coffee. That would be out of my comfort zone, but I think it would be a good thing to do. Am I going to do it? I  don't know. The idea only just now popped in my head. My point is, adventure doesn't have to be selfish. The point is to be fully alive and aware of what's going on around you and then responding accordingly.

And finally, some joy moments of the last two weeks:

Because I'm forgetful and and unaware I don't have a picture for this, but coffee with two very good friends is definitely at the top of the list.





























Watching Amber grow and develop and learn new things. Her utter delight at life.

Finishing a quilt with Mom. I can't show pictures here because it's a gift.






















My 11 month old baby.  She's not so little anymore and definitely not interested in posing for pictures anymore either. Though if she's in the right mood, she can ham it up for the camera. I have no idea how she has learned what a camera is.

Monday, January 18, 2016

All Aboard the Ark, Designed by Cindy Davis

Product Details

After reading this book, I thought three things. Nice book. Cute rhyming. Completely unrealistic. The rhymes are cute, I love rhyming books, but as far as Noah and the Ark story? It's not really there. It's written from the perspective of the animals and one picture shows them in a big tub in the ark. Okay? I wouldn't say it's unbiblical, just not at all what I would expect it was really like.

When they come off the ark, it shows them coming off down a hill, which is correct, but when you get to the bottom of the hill, it's just water all around. How did they get off the hill?

It is a nice board book that I am happy to add to my collection, but I definitely am not going to use it to tell the story of the Flood. It is definitely a children's book, very young child, I would say.

So, all in all, as a book, it's nice, as a Bible story, not so much.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Step by Step by Candace Calvert

Product Details

This is a medical fiction, so big surprise, I'm going to like it. But I'll be honest, I often feel a little sheepish posting fiction book reviews because so often it's hard for me to take away something inspirational and uplifting when the book was basically a romance novel disguised in another story. And I like those stories, just feel a little silly posting about them too often. And right now, I've had a hard time coming up with books that aren't fiction that look remotely inspiration to read, so fiction is the name of the game right now. Anyway, on to the book.

Yes, this book had some romance in it. You knew Tracy the main character was choosing the wrong guy right from the get go. But there was so much more in this book than that. Tracy was a widow of almost three years. And she decided to take the bull by the horns and by the three year date of her husband's death she was going to be so over it. She was going to check items off of her list and then she would be done. Grieving would be over and she was going to go on with her life as a different person. Except, of course, her world fell completely apart just before the third anniversary.

What really stuck out to me in this book were the comments on grieving. The other big ticket item in the book was the crisis team. This team was called out to help in the cases of death and disaster--they were the listeners and supporters of the survivors. From that context is where some of these thoughts come from.

"Written by Max Lucado. Stuck with me. He said something like 'Anger lives in sorrow's house.' Because in grief, we have to deal with more than memories; we're battling disappointment...our unlived tomorrows." That is so true. Grief does more than leave us with only memories; it strips of many would-have-dones, could-have-dones, etc. etc. The future is left open and vacant at the same time that the past is compressed into memories in the heart. And then because of this, anger becomes one of the stages of grief that we need to go through.

And another thought: "But it's like we tell folks at the gatherings; everyone's path is different. And it's not like you get rid of the sorrow altogether. It's like you put it in a special place in your heart. So you can remember the good times and all the love you had for them and for the life they lived. Then you use it to help other people on their journeys."

And, and, and, I could go on some more of the other things that stuck out to me in this, but you can get the book and read them for yourself.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Nicole

It's the morning of your second birthday, Nicole.  Your dad and I "celebrated" with cupcakes and coffee before he went to work. And we wondered what you are like in heaven. Are you still a little, teeny, tiny baby? Are you growing up and now a toddler? How does it work in heaven?

Two years, my little one. Two years. I can still remember two years ago this morning, waking up about 45 minutes from now, feeling achy all over and begging for Tylenol. This was the day I got to "see" you for the last time alive. We were going to go home for the week, but the doctor wasn't too keen on that beings I was freezing cold and a little light headed. I remember it as a miserable day because I was sick and then you came. Just a little tiny bundle of perfection, so very tiny.

I remember the tears as we held you for the first time. You were our little girl, but you were gone too soon. You still are our little girl and will always be our little girl. We tell Amber about you and we will show her your pictures as she gets older. I want her to know you as best as she can.

Later today, Amber and I will share a cupcake and I want to look at your scrapbook again. Aunt Hannah is going to put some flowers on your grave.

We will remember the little girl who stole our hearts and never gave them back again.

I look at the little girls in church and I wonder what you would look like? Would you be the vivacious, charming little girl who says "There's Amber" when she sees her in church? Or would you be the sweet little pixie miss who's all cuteness and petiteness? These are things I wonder.  I will probably always kind of compare you to these little girls who would be your age. It's nice to be able to compare and yet sometimes it causes a little ache in your mamma's heart for what she doesn't have.

You have a wonderful little sister though, Nicole. She's all bright-eyed and eager. And I hold her and think that she wouldn't be here if you were and it messes with my brain and so I choose to be grateful that I have both my little girls together in my heart even though they will never be together on this earth.

You have a lot of friends in heaven, Nicole. We were just talking how two years ago, we never imagined who all would be in heaven already. You have grandpa to dote on you. You have Cheryl and Bentley to hang out with. And most of all, you have Jesus. You are a privileged little girl.

Happy 2nd Birthday!!!



Tough as They Come by SSG Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton

Product Details

I have mixed feelings on this review. This is an amazing story about overcoming extreme difficulty. On his third deployment to Afghanistan, Travis set his back pack down and ignited an IED. He lost all four limbs and become the fifth quadruple amputee to have survived after being wounded in war. His determination is an example for all going through tough times. His motto: "Never Give Up. Never Quit." I can learn from it.

Travis tells the story of his childhood and up and then the months of recovery and rehab he went through to be able to take care of his family again. Today, he can drive, make his daughter breakfast, go skiing, etc. etc. He has started a foundation and bought property to make a retreat for wounded veterans to go to for encouragement and sports activities, etc.

The thing I didn't like about the book is Travis comes across as a little over the top. God gets next to no credit for anything though he professes Christianity. He admits to pretty much never praying during deployment. He would carry a Bible, but never talks about reading it. I don't want to judge where he is at spiritually. He does mention God more after his injuries, so maybe he is on a journey. I also didn't care for some of the mildly crude language and stories he shared.

In his defense, while I thought the book came from a Christian source, I'm actually not sure it does and so that does make a difference to me. If the book is advertised as Christian, to me it falls a bit short. I wouldn't want my children reading it until they were pretty mature and able to handle some crudeness, like 30 maybe :) :) But as far as a story of determination and resilience, it's an excellent read and an encouragement that life is what we make of it and I want to live life to the fullest.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Berenstain Bears' Easter Sunday by Mike Berenstain

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This is a children's book, ages 4-8 put out by ZonderKids. It is part of the Living Lights edition of the Berenstain Bears.

I thought Mike did a good job with this story. He told the basics of the Easter story and then got into the Easter bunny and eggs scenario a bit. He had the bears going on a treasure hunt at church for Bible characters that they put together into a picture story. His explanation of the Easter bunny is that in the spring is the sign of new life and Easter is also a sign of new life and so they came to be associated together even though they have nothing to do with each other.  He doesn't view the candy and Easter egg hunts as wrong as long as you remember the real meaning of Easter.

I think his explanation makes sense. It is going to be hard to raise children that aren't exposed to all the candy and bunnies, etc. around Easter and I think this is a way to explain it that keeps Christ in Easter. I don't know. My daughter isn't old enough yet to try it out on her. She liked the story all right, but was much more interested in playing with the book than in sitting and listening.

Once again, I like the book simply because I am a Berenstain Bears' book fan. For those of you with concerns, I feel Papa Bear was as equally represented in answering questions as Mama Bear. Mama might have responded first, but really how many children don't ask questions of their Mom first.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016

So I decided in the New Year that I would try to post once a week on Thursdays give or take a couple days or weeks. On Tuesday, I decided to get a head start and write a post, then on Thursday I could just quick proof it and post it and I would be done. Well, the post sat there and simmered and tonight when I was thinking about posting, it had simmered into something totally different than what I felt like writing. I am leaving that post to simmer back into something I want to use.

There was nothing wrong with the post. I talked about resolutions and some of my goals for the year and I will likely come back to that and post it at a later time.

But today, I wanted to talk about other things. I think I will schedule this post because by the time it is actually Thursday I may have something different up my sleeve again. And right now I have time as Amber is taking a bath. (Yes, yes she is not left unattended in the water; though I really think she would have to about crawl out of her tub and face plant into it in order to drown because you see I still have her in her baby tub. It's easier that way. She doesn't know any different and I don't worry about her slipping and drowning.)

I talked about my word for the year in a previous post, I think. I chose a word and so I want my blog posts to revolve occasionally around the word throughout this coming year.

The word is:

The year 2015 was a tough year. Amber was definitely the bright spot in the year. Joy often felt depleted or missing altogether so this year I want to purposely look for joy even in less than desirable circumstances. One of my loosely held goals for the year is take a daily picture of things that bring me joy and I would like to post a few on here throughout the year.

These are some of the things from the first 6 days:

Yes, she appears to have figured out what to do when the camera comes her way. She is learning to stack rings on her little ring stacker or whatever it is called. 


I love to watch her daddy and her play together. She is quite a daddy fan.


 The sun shone for like two days this week.  It was Awesome!!!

So, you can read online about sensory play and giving your children textures and things to play with. Well in the interest of not wanting to be a bad mom, I was reading up on some ideas. Actually, in the interest of being able to make supper without a whiny crying baby, I read up on some ideas that might keep her entertained for a few minutes. This was a pan of water. I thought she would be like "How boring" but she actually enjoyed it until...
 I gave her ice to play with which she again thought was great fun. But then when she could get the whole ice cube in her mouth, it made me nervous, so I took it away and replaced the pan of water with warm water and let's just say we had a meltdown, no pun intended.
 My planner just makes me so happy. I love to write down what I would like to get done in a week, both have-tos and want-tos and the sheer joy of being able to check off my list each day. Yes, I know some of you will totally not get it. It is the place where I write all my menus which I plan out for a month. This planner has perforated shopping lists in the back where I write down my grocery needs according to the week. I am planning to do a monthly shopping trip where I will get all the nonperishables and as many perishables as I think we can use before they spoil. The remainder of the month I will shop sales and perishables.

This was another sensory project though they said to give her uncooked rice. I knew that would never work. This was no sensory project to her: this was get this rice in my mouth and down my dress as fast as I know how. It's food and I sure enough am not going to play with it and feel it.
And then a curling ribbon entertained her for a long time tonight. She played with that the whole time I made supper and how easy is that?

So in case you can't tell a lot of my joy for the year will likely come in pictures of Amber and right now there is a little girl by my side who is saying it is time to get off the computer and come and play with her. 

So post number one is done for the year. 

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

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This was a sweet love story that spanned over 60 years. The story of two high school sweethearts and a jealous sister who split them up. They went their own ways for over 60 years before reuniting. There is also the story of a young couple eloping and then wondering if it was really going to be worth it to stay married.

This is the first book I've read by Rachel and I would like for it to not be my last. I really enjoyed the book. It did hop around a lot from character to character and from the late 1950's to 2015 and back again. I found it easy to follow, yet almost frustrating because I just wanted to know how the story ended and yet it was very well-written and added to the whole depth of the story.

The main theme was the fact that Jimmy built his girlfriend a wedding chapel in which to be married in. It was a beautiful chapel set in an out-of-the-way place complete with stained-glass windows and everything. It was breath-taking. They pledged youthful vows of marriage to each other, but nothing legally binding, and then he was shipped out to war and her jealous sister who could copy handwriting sent each of them a letter breaking them up.

The loyalty of Jimmy in staying true to his girl for over 60 years even with no contact is amazing. Yes, it is just a fiction story, but the premise is beautiful. God is not mentioned much until the very end which in some ways makes sense because that is when healing can happen.

The biggest negative about this book is that is was only offered as an ebook and I just don't like ebooks as much. I can only read them on my computer because my phone will not let me open the files and it's just not the same to grab a computer and sit down to read as it is to grab a book. It's not as versatile either.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage by Greg and Erin Smalley

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12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance

Greg and Erin have written, I believe, several books on marriage. I think this is the only one of theirs I have ever read and it is worth your read. I say this after a lot of marriage books I read, but this one has impacted my life and I hope it will continue to impact our marriage.

I wouldn't say we are having marriage struggles-- no, no-- but let me say this, I think I can be a little difficult to live with at times. Praise the Lord, I am married to an extremely patient and loving man who puts up with a lot at times. I would like to blame some of my nasties on stress and grief and upheaval and etc. etc. but I'm not one that likes the blame game when you should take personal responsibility. Now, I'm not saying those things do not contribute to mood struggles, I think they can; but for myself personally, I need to take responsibility for them and work on making our marriage a thing of beauty rather than endurance.

At the risk of that being too much TMI, this book was very helpful for me. Greg and Erin talk about how to handle conflict, how to love and cherish and nourish each other and these things were good for me to read again. They bring a new perspective on truths that we have  heard for a long time; different wording that strikes home to me. They are honest about their struggles and arguments and share about they resolved them.

Along with it being a New Year and wanting to commit once again to having the best marriage possible, this book gave me some insight on how I need to change my ways of relating and communicating. I still have a long ways to go.

The book jacket is very nice: almost a sparkly high-quality cover. It immediately impressed me.

One sad thing is I cannot get the website to work: crazylittlethingcalledmarriage.com is supposed to have more insights and date ideas, etc. but I have not been able to find it. So hopefully eventually it will be up and running. Okay, I tried it again and it switches you over to Focus on the Family and brings up info about the book. It looks like to get the date ideas and things you have to sign up. Not as nice as a full website, but usable I guess.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by Dorcas Smucker (It's Giveaway time)

Ah yes, this was just what the doctor ordered. I've wanted to review Dorcas' last book or two and was always too chicken to ask, b...