Thursday, March 24, 2016

Called to Sparkle

This is my last post on the book "Longing for Paris." I wasn't even sure I was going to write more about it, but a page in the second to last chapter really stuck out to me. It touched on something that I've discussed with friends off and on.

Sarah talks about how we are made to shine God's love to those around us. We are called to live out of who we are, to be alive. So often we think that means we must get out there and do something big for God. We feel unfulfilled being in our homes, ministering to our children and our husbands, our parents, our families, whoever. We feel small and insignificant and we want to do something big for God. I don't think I'm along in this thought either.

I'm going to quote a couple paragraphs from her book.

"Sometimes I wonder if good works have been relegated to physically meeting needs outside our homes. There seems to be an unspoken consensus that if our good works are only done in the home--at least for a time-- that we aren't doing enough That we need to something bigger for God.

"What if my good works are being faithful to my family-- loving and supporting my husband, teaching my children about God and the world they live in, taking care of my home and being hospitable? What if the daily things such as feeding my children, bathing them, showing them how to properly brush their teeth, helping them learn to read and how to speak kindly to a friend who has hurt them-- what if those are my good works? Is that enough for God?"

If I look at it that way, then maybe I am doing enough for God. If I am being faithful right here, right now where he has called me, what more do I want? Sarah goes on to say that the guilt comes when we know to do something and we don't.  Maybe I am supposed to step out of mycomfort zone and invite that person over for coffee and I really don't want to, what do I do then? At the point, I think I am no longer being faithful to what God is calling me to.

God does give us the command to love and serve, but that is going to look different for everybody and quite honestly, I think that is going to look different at different stages of our lives. I like to think, when I worked as a nurse, that I was able to touch people with care and compassion at a rough spot in their lives. Yes, sometimes, I had to be blunt and brutally honest and probably didn't come across as caring and sometimes I didn't care. Instead, I wanted to shake them and say, "If you don't care about your health, then neither do I." I don't feel like I touch that many people right now, but my time may come again.

Right now, I do feel called to be a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes I get itchy fingers. I renewed my nursing license the other week and the itch to go back to work hit hard. I was trying to think how it could work and then I read a book on parenting and he emphasized very strongly that a parent, if at all possible, should be home with the child; and I realized once again, that I am where God wants me to be and I need to live my life right here, right now to the fullest extent possible.  If He ever calls me back into nursing, I will gladly go, but right now I'm going to love on my daughter and hopefully give her a childhood of good, positive, happy memories.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

What are Toys?

My sister asked me the other day if Amber ever plays with toys. Yes, she does, but..... she loves things that aren't toys. She loves to play with her socks. So the other day I took pictures of the different things she played with that day. It's not necessarily all-inclusive, but it gives you a glimpse.  Maybe I'm a bad mom by letting her have so many non-toy items, but my philosophy is, if she's not going to hurt it, it's not going to hurt her and she's happy, play away with certain exceptions. My kitchen cupboards are off limits. I just don't like the idea of her emptying them out and me having to organize and reshelve everything again.

Magnetic alphabets. She doesn't play with on magnetic surfaces, but she does play with them.

 These are hinges of various designs that are eventually supposed to become a board for Amber to play with, but until then it is great fun to rattle the packages.
 My cookbooks.  It's big and huge and fun to turn the pages while I stand at the office chair, because doesn't everyone store their cookbooks on office chairs?
 My punches. She can't hurt them can she and it's fun to open the lid and pull them out. I did take away the one thing after she had cut her finger on it. Inattentive mom moment.
 Yes, that's a little bread pan, gotten out for the purpose of it being magnetic and the alphabet letters would stick to it. I should wash it and return it to its place because it is so not used for that. And yes, a sock. Socks are off her feet more than they are on.
 A tea set which was a birthday gift. She likes playing with this very much.
 Individual Kleenex packages, which was all fun and games, but now have become off limits because' she's figured out how to open them and pull the Kleenexes out. Not so great.

Empty containers. Not always a favorite play thing, but today she did play with it a little bit.
 Yes, the Vitamin C container. It rattles when you shake it, why not? Yes, I know it should be kept out of reach of children and everything.
And yes, sometimes she does play with toys.  It's pretty hard work being a little girl and having to find all these non-toy things to play with. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

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I am not quite sure what to say about this book. It is written in first person switching back and forth between two different people. I give Terri a lot of credit for doing a good job at that. The story had continuity to it and I wasn't left trying to figure out what was going on.

The plot was really good, a girl runs away because she is sure she is going to be implicated in the murder of her good friend and she doesn't trust the justice system because they didn't listen to her about her dad who supposedly had committed "suicide" 12 years before, but in reality was murdered. The other main character was the investigator hired to find her. He is started to think that there is more to the story than he knows and gets some information that points to the cops being the bad guys. He also realizes that likely these same cops don't want the girl brought to trial, they want to kill her before that.

But then the story ends. The investigator found the girl and let her get away and she runs. And now what? Supposedly there are two more books in the trilogy, but I can't find a name of the trilogy. I can't find when the next book will be released. It will be honest, it was such a disappointing finish. I like that there will be more books. I want to read them, but give me something to go on.

There was some mention of God in the books, but the main character, the girl, was not raised in a Christian home and didn't seem to have much of a concept of God though she appreciated the Christians she had met. This too, I am guessing is a work in progress.

I would recommend the book, but maybe wait to start reading it until all the books are out.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Burning Proof by Janice Cantore

Burning Proof by Janice Cantore

If you like some suspense and mystery with a good clean Christian twist to it, Janice is your author to read.  I think this is the fourth book of hers that I've read and I'm on pins and needles hoping to get the next book in this current series when it comes out.

Janice is a retired police officer so she can write from experience. It's a continuation of the story from the first book Drawing Fire of Abby Hart's search to find out what really happened when her mom and dad's restaurant was burned and her mom and dad murdered.  But the story didn't end with this second book yet either and I am sure there is much more suspense to be had in the next book.

Abby had a crisis of faith during this book in which she wanted to just hide, but some blunt honest words from her aunt forced her to reconsider what her foundation was and she realized that God was not the Rock in her life like she needed Him to be. Re-establishing that enabled her to be ready to go and face the world again. That is what every person needs to come face to face with: what is the foundation of  your life based upon? Your own whims and fancies or the solid, undeniable truths of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.

I could not be a police officer and be a Christian, because I believe God calls for nonresistance. However, I am not going to say that there are no Christian police officers because I really feel like there are and that they can help to keep the world as sane and safe as possible. And maybe this is duplicitous, but I really do enjoy a good Christian mystery like this as well.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for good clean reading. There is a hint of romance, but even that didn't materialize yet like I expected by the end of this book. It remains at really just a very small  part of the book, though I'm convinced I know what's going to happen there.

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

Thoughts on Mothering from Sarah Mae

I think I've mentioned that I'm rereading Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae.  She has a long chapter on mothering and there are a few thoughts I'd like to share from that.

I'm at the beginning of this thing called being a mom. Most of the time, I love it, but there are seconds, minutes, hours, etc that I'm not a big fan of it. I mean, I love my little girl, don't get me wrong, but some days are hard. It's me and her All. Day. Long and sometimes All. Evening. Long too.

I have this horrible fear of messing up, of being a bad mom, of ruining my child. What if I don't give her enough sensory stimulation? What if I don't talk to her enough? What if I talk too much? What if I don't engage with her in profitable activities enough times in a week?

One of my goals for this year was to spend 15 minutes a day playing with Amber, sitting on the floor without my phone or computer and playing with her. Do you know how hard that is? I confess, I've not done well at keeping that goal. I sit down and play with her for a few minutes and then she is off doing her thing perfectly happy, as long as I am on the floor. I have decided some of that time can be split up. I can spend five minutes and then let her play and then come back and reorient and re-entertain for another five minutes.

And then why can she eat her piece of toast perfectly fine all week long and the one breakfast out of the whole week that her dad is there, she gags on too big of a mouthful? Talk about feeling like a failure. It ruined my morning for awhile because to my fragile mom brain I was a bad mom. I was incompetent and D would never trust me with our child. That's not how it is, but it is how it feels. I find I am very sensitive in this thing called mothering.

Anyway, back to what Sarah has to say. She talk about investing in her children, about nurturing their souls. She says if we want to nurture their souls then we must be intentional about filling their minds with good things. And this is so true, I believe. I used to not like the "Christian" story books because they had a hard time telling the story in a good way. They were too interested in bringing God into the story. And I still think there are books like that out there. I mean, do children really say to their dad after being punished, "Thank you so much for punishing me." I'm sure I never did and I sure don't expect A to say that. But I have become a fan of books that promote a good moral, that talk about God, and that teach children good things. I want my children to love the Bible Stories, to love biographies of saints, to love the old classic books. I want them to love beauty and good food and rich relationships. How are they going to do this? I'm going to have to model this for them. Wow, I have so much to learn.

I want my children to be kind and intentional and nonjudgmental. I do? I better get started acting that way myself.

Sarah talks about going for one week without turning the TV on because the thought had struck her of what would the world be like if Beethoven and the other great composers and artists from years gone by had had access to a TV screen. Is talent being lost and unexplored because kids are too busy watching talent instead of learning it. And some of that stuff? Is it really even worth being called talent?

Yes, I know there are studies out there on the harmful effects of a child getting screen time before they are two and it terrifies me, but yes A does get some screen time. Her and her dad will sit on the couch in the evening and watch music videos of Jesus Loves Me and other songs. Is it going to hurt her in the long-term? I have no idea, but it is cute to watch her snuggle in and hang out with her dad.

So I don't know about this mothering journey. I'm just struggling along. What I need to remember is to do the best I can, leave the results with God and remember that as they get older, I can't force them to make the right choices, but I can do my best to guide them and most of all to love them regardless.

Live Free by Margaret Feinberg

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Ahh, another coloring book.  Makes me happy.  This one is unique in that with each coloring page there is also a page for journaling, doodling, or whatever you feel like doing. There is also a Bible verse for each page and the point is that while you are coloring, you are to be meditating and memorizing the verse on the page and then writing down any reflections or thoughts that come to mind. It's really a good idea, a good way to relax, destress, and still keep your thoughts from going aimlessly in directions that accomplish nothing.

The pictures look like a lot of fun to color, a lot of flowers which is down my alley.  It makes me want to go buy some pencil crayons or some other coloring markers, but that's a whole other story.

The one con I see with the book is the binding is too stiff. It doesn't feel like the type of book that is going to lay down well so that you can color in it. I think you will either  have to be very rough and "break it in" good or you will constantly be contending with a book that wants to close. That is a little disappointing. It needs a softer cover so it will lay open better.

However, I look forward to being able to color in it. Of course, being the person I am, I am sure my other coloring book will have to be completed first. I probably should just will this one to Amber right away, but I want to color in it so bad. It looks like way more fun than my current coloring book.

This book was given me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

My Great Big God by Andy Holmes

Illustrated by Marta Alvarez 20 Bible Stories to Build a Great Big Faith This is a beautiful hardcover board book that tells 20 Bible ...