Friday, July 29, 2016

A Day in the Life, Things I'm Loving and a Little Giveaway

 So this little miss is a high energy, fun-loving, running through life kind of girl. She has been doing much better at playing by herself and keeping herself occupied, but yesterday was an exceptionally good day. I'm sure it helped that I was up and around and not sitting and sewing or being on the computer. She loves to help in the kitchen, so in the morning we made granola and the pie that's coming up further down in the pictures.
 I'll be honest, I didn't know you could love someone quite so much and then sometimes be that frustrated with them all at the same time. Actually, I guess I did, but maybe just not on someone so little. She is so much fun. I think I've said this before, but I am loving this age. She chatters nonstop. I don't know what it will be like when I can actually understand what she is saying. Her main words seem start with b. Ball, Baby. A similar word that starts with B for puppy. Ni-ni is night night and good bye. And to be really sappy, she has started to give real hugs, not ones where she leans in for you to give her a hug, but if you make sure her arms are free, ones where she actually squeezes you and that melts this mom's heart completely. She is a four-wheeler fanatic. All we have to mention is going on a ride and she is all over it, knows where the keys are kept, knows where they go in the four-wheeler, and is unhappy until she gets her ride. Okay, enough of an update on her life. Boring for most of you, but the family of Amber might be interested.

She had toys strewn from one end of the house to the other yesterday. There was coconut all over the floor from her attempts to eat it yesterday morning while making granola. But in the midst of all that mess, I got some stuff done. 

Like this yummy Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken made with fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil and fresh picked cherry tomatoes.

I also made this scrumptious Magnolia Lemon Pie

Finally, finally, my sign for behind the couch is taking shape and so far I am tickled with how it is turning out. Hey, we've only lived here for 2 years. It's a little embarrassing considering how quick it is coming together, but I wouldn't have used discarded pallet boards from my brother's burn pile two years ago, so good things come to those who procrastinate. 
This is a sign I saw on the world wide web somewhere and it's one of the things I loved or actually it was a sign and then my blog host or whatever you call them freaked me out by telling me that hackers might be trying to steal my information from that site, so I'll just tell you what the sign said: "It's not procrastination, if you're drinking coffee; it's procafinating."

Let's play under the table where mom is working because it's more fun there. These markers are washable stamps that I thought she could maybe manage playing with. Oh play with them she does, but not with the lids off. 

The storage room because lids and rings from canning jars are just the best toys and while I'm at it, I may as well drag out some books, some legos, and some balls. 

I peeked at her yesterday because it was quiet of course and she was sitting by the love seat looking at a book. She has been loving books lately. I don't read much to her, because book lover that I am, it drives me nuts that her attention span barely lasts a page. If I'm reading a book, I want to read the whole book and not half a page.

And I didn't post the picture that showed where she had dragged the kitchen run into the living room because it wasn't at its normal spot in the kitchen. It had been put out in the entry so I could sweep and mop the very dirty kitchen floor. She was busy, busy, busy, but it was fun to watch her bustling about. 

Other things I'm loving right now is as always this website: Mel's Kitchen Cafe I have been making such yummy food from there, like this and this and this.
Fresh Strawberry Cobbler

I actually have two homemade cookbooks with 99.9% of her recipes in them. I print them out, stick them in sleeve protectors, and organize them by category. My first book is a 3 inch binder which covers from the beginning to the end of 2014. My second book is 2015 and 2016. I know I have expounded the virtues of her blog before, but her food is so so yummy. 

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And last, but not least, is my giveaway. As I mentioned in my book review, Tyndale accidentally sent out two copies of this book to their book reviewers. They encouraged us to pass them along through a giveaway, etc. So I decided I would do a giveaway. Now, I would feel so much more noble if this was a good inspiration nonfiction book that I was giving away that if you read it, it would change your life. But it's not. You can't look a gift horse in the mouth and I'm not about to give away my own books at this stage in my life. So to enter the giveaway, comment on my blog and my blog only what three things you are enjoying in life. Also you need to make sure that I have a way of contacting you if you won. I will close out the giveaway around August 15th. I'm leaving myself lots of options and leeway here because after all, it is my first giveaway. So go ahead and enter. I'll even let you enter once each week until then, but you have to have three different things you're loving, no copying and pasting. Now without further ado or making this more challenging for myself, you may now enter your comments. Thank you for your cooperation!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Deadly Encounter by Diann Mills and an Upcoming Giveaway

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This is the second DiAnn Mills book I read and I don't think it will be the last one. She has an excellent way of writing, I think.

Stacy, the heroine of the story, happens upon a dead body, a military-grade drone and a dog that, unknown to her is carrying a deadly genetically modified disease. Alex and Ric are the FBI investigators assigned to the case. Of course, there is romance involved between Alex and Stacy and while that's part of the story, I don't consider it predominant and yet you can tell it definitely determines the course of actions taken by both Stacy and Alex.

Anyway, the story gets all tangled up in mysterious happenings, a hoax water threat, a shell company and people getting sick from the dog. One person I really like too is Whitt, a 12-year-old genius. It's hard for me to believe that someone that age could be that intelligent, but I think it can happen. However, he has dead-beat parents and Stacy is in process to gain custody of him. She loves him like a son. He has many emotional issues to work through and trust in God is one of the concepts he had a hard time buying into.

There was just a lot of healing in this book. Stacy's sister had died when Stacy was young and taking in Whitt helped her to heal from that grief. She had a broken relationship with her parents and that was healing by the book's end. Alex's belief in God was seeing a comeback to the faith of his youth. Whitt was seeing a counselor and dealing with the rejection of his parents who preferred alcohol and drugs to parenting.

I really enjoyed this book. And it just so happens that Tyndale sent out duplicate review copies of it and so keep your eyes open. If you would like a chance to win this book, there will be a giveaway coming up in the next few days.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter

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This is one of those books, that if portrayed according to the times, and I think it was, makes me so grateful not be living in that era. Did anyone follow that sentence? Set in the early 1800's in London, it's the story of a girl with dyslexia trying to nab a husband during her first Season so that she has protection for when her secret comes out that she can't read. Somehow she had managed to hide the fact of her inability to read from her family her whole life. Georgina has plotted for three years about which eligible men were the wealthiest with the best titles so she can work to marry them.

The endless parties, card games, dancing, and even eating can almost make one tired just to read about it. Then there's the dressing up and going out and making sure you have the right clothes for the right occasion and the endless maids and butlers and ensuring that you behave just perfect in public so you don't become the topic of a scandal in the next day's newspaper.

I'm not going to tell you much about the plot of the book, you can read the back cover for that. It's the story, like I said of a girl with dyslexia in a time when that kind of disability was completely misunderstood and you were deemed as dumb, stupid or simply lazy if you couldn't read. She believed that God must not love her because she couldn't even read His Word.

Of course, there's an ineligible man, in Georgina's opinion, who discovers her secret and almost becomes her conscience and yada yada yada. They fall in love and live happily ever after, but the big thing of this all is she discovers that God really does love her and that, at the end of life, it doesn't matter if she has landed the best husband to boost her status. "Because no matter what we do, be it good or ill, it goes away and only God is left. And fearing God, following God is the whole duty of man. The only thing that remains." That is still true for us today. Our accomplishments will fade away, but what we think of God is what is going to last forever.

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Love Speaks Truth and God is Good

Love speaks truth and that is not always what we want to hear. But the question I have, is how and when does this happen? Do the rules Is it Kind? and Is it Necessary? still apply? (That was a weird sentence and I seriously doubt it is anywhere close to grammatically correct, so you guys can decide your love for me by whether or not you want to tell me how to fix it to be correct!!! )

I think about these things with love though. Life can be hard and cruel sometimes and sometimes you want to fall down in the ditch and hide and never return, but you need that person to speak words, that feel harsh at the time, but get you up and out of the ditch and facing life again.

Those words for me lately have come from the Psalms. I've been struggling keeping my chin up the last while and my Bible readings have been from the Psalms. So every morning I read about praising the Lord, blessing the name of the Lord, gratitude for the Lord's protection from their enemies and on and on and on. And every morning it seems, I am challenged again to praise and give thanks despite the fact that life is pressing in on me. Now, this is easier to take coming from the Bible. I mean, you can't really argue with the Bible, but what if a friend would have quoted these verses to me? Oh boy, up in arms right away, saying things like, "They don't understand." etc. etc.

But how can I learn to accept the truth spoken to me in love? I'm not even focusing so much today on how to speak the truth in love, I need to know how to accept the truth that was spoken in love or even just the truth that was spoken to me whether it was in love or not.

"A life of love requires that we look in the mirror and give an honest and humble self-assessment." This is a quote from the book that is inspiring these blog posts and I don't remember it sticking out when I read the book, but when I glanced through this chapter to see what the highlighted quotes were this one jumped out at me.

I think honesty and humility is what will enable me to accept the truth. If I honestly look at my own life and recognize that what they are saying to me is true, then I will need the humility to graciously accept that truth and make the necessary changes.

I don't know that any of this comes from that book, other than the quote, but it's what came out as I started to type.

I have been trying every day that I journal to write down things that brought me joy, etc. the day before. My joy this morning is that God was watching over my husband. I wish I had the picture he showed me, but him and a coworker were at a wood mill looking over where to put their loads of wood. The rows were short so they could stand at the end and look down where normally they would have had to walk down the rows to see if there was room. There was one row with an awful pile of wood. Dave remarked that that pile is going to fall over, not really thinking it would. Five minutes later, the pile fell. If they would have needed to walk down that row,..........  I'm grateful to God for protection.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell

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I've read a few Lawana Blackwell books and liked them, as I recall. I often find the descriptions on the back of books to make the book appear to be much more mysterious and scary than it actually is. This book didn't disappoint in that regard either, though when you read the back description again, you can understand what it is saying.

However, I found this book quite nice to read. It's the story of an actress who had married for the third time and was secluded on her husband's estate, a man who treated her rather badly. She is given the opportunity to make a comeback in the acting world, but on her first public appearance she has a memory lapse and forgets her lines and is put in a hospital. Her estranged daughter takes her away to a secluded location where their relationship is repaired.

Anyway, this actress, Charlotte, takes this opportunity to befriend the people around her, taking an interest in two abused little boys and trying to renew her relationship with God. Her daughter, of course, falls in love with the local bookshop owner, etc. etc.

I really enjoyed this book. The landlady of the house where they lived was the local town gossip and it reminded me once again how harmful and unbecoming gossip is.

There were a couple other good things to take away from this book. One of them involves the boys who were mistreated by their stepmother. The scene is the stepmother's biological daughter throwing a fit and hitting and biting her and the stepmother's stricken look. "The only person she loved in the world had turned against her, at least for a while. When you loved but one person, he thought, your happiness rose and fell, depending on that person's treatment of you....If she could have but attempted to love him and Albert, and Father, perhaps she would not allow a baby's fit of anger to make her so sad. Perhaps, even, she would be three times as happy!"

How true. I think the more we reach out and attempt to love the people God has placed in our path, the more love and joy we will feel ourselves. When you love people, you want to make them happy and you aren't looking for ways to tear them down. Your search for their happiness will bring happiness back on yourself. I believe the opposite is also true, as we look for ways to tear down others and hurt others, we will ourselves be hurt because our attitude will be bitter and critical.

The other thing that stuck out to me also had to do with this same stepmother. In the epilogue of the book, 19-20 years later, Charlotte is attempting to reach out to the stepmother of the young boys by offering to take her along to the train station to meet her sons. Her husband, the boys' real father has passed on and while the boys do not come to see her, they do provide for her so she can remain in her house. She, however, is unwilling to apologize for the way she treated them when they were young. (Things had improved after Charlotte had prevailed upon the father to make a better life for his boys, but the stepmother never allowed herself to care for them.) "How utterly foolish, to be unable to ask forgiveness. To allow pride so much importance when it was the sorriest of companions in old age."

So so true, but how often do we allow our pride to stand in the way of good relationships because of our unwillingness to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness or ask for help or ask for anything.

I want to take these lessons with me and to reach out and love and to maintain a spirit of humility rather than pride.

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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Love Sacrifices

First off, I want to give kudos to all of you moms out there who have more than one child.  I say "Good Job" "You guys rock", etc. etc. Even to those moms of only one child, you rock too. I was thinking I was going to veer off my Love tangent this week to talk about something I'm fighting, but then I realized that it fit in perfectly with one of the laws of love.

Love is sacrificial. 

I'll say it: mothering is hard work and I know I have nothing to talk about yet. I have a 16 month old child. It's probably about as easy as it's going to get, but I've been fighting a bit of burn out. Said 16 month old (see below pictures) is adorable and cute and yes I know I'm prejudiced. But said 16 month old is high energy, go-go-go-go all the time. It's fun. I love this age. So in some ways I am enjoying being a mom more than I ever have before and in some ways I am just exhausted.

I love watching her learn new things. Yes, sometimes digging around in grease on lawn mowers while mom chats with her land lady isn't the best of ventures, but it all cleans up. Yesterday for the first time, she finally acknowledged correctly where her nose, ears, eyes, and hands were. Normally all such questions were answered by pointing to her mouth.
 I love watching her mind process things. Dave will come home and in less than two minutes, and I don't think I'm exaggerating, I may even be generous, she will grin at him maybe, point to the dogs (because somehow Dave coming home is always equated with needing to point out the dogs), bring him her ball, bring him her doll, etc. etc. This is not every night, necessarily, but one night in particular she was moving with lightning pace from one object to the next and Dave said, "She's just played with 4 toys in less than 30 seconds." Yes, dear. Welcome to my world.

The other Sunday, we had some overnight company and he mentioned having seen a study done somewhere where a child should only have 150 toys total from birth to 8 years old. It helps them develop their imagination if they don't have so many toys to play with. It made me stop and think a bit about my need to buy her toys, even if I think they are educational toys. Most days, I could put everything away but her doll and accessories, her car, her ball and her shape bucket and she would never notice the rest of her toys are gone. It's some food for thought to consider as I go garage saling this summer. 

 So so far, I've just discussed the fun side of where I'm at this morning, but it's been a couple hard, hard weeks. I was gone for a week and then with VBS every evening for the next week, I felt a little like a single mom, so the next week I took it out on everyone around me. Nice of me wasn't it? Anyone, I think we have worked through it and so far this week, I have a better perspective, most of the time.
 Now, this morning was cause for concern. We watched the fireworks last night which Amber loved, but it meant she didn't got to sleep until 11 or so. I thought I would let her sleep in this morning rather than waking her for a walk, because I figured she wouldn't wake up by then. Oh no, at 5:50 this morning, she cried out and when I gave her her pacifier, she realized the world was waking up and so she was going to get up too, thank you very much. I was bitter, I'll admit it.  One thing I like to guard very fiercely is my alone time in the morning before she gets up and this morning I got up later than normal and she got up earlier than normal. Not a good combo. I was grumpy, but then we were eating breakfast and I was reading my Bible and guess what? Yup, the Bible reading was aimed at me.
"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, 
And your faithfulness every night." Psalm 92:1-2

"In the multitude of my anxieties within me, 
Your comforts delight my soul." Psalm 94:19

Okay, well, that ought to cure my discouragement over not having any alone time this morning. These three keys fit into my theme for the year too of being joyful.

From my journal: "I have a sweet adorable little girl who I love dearly. She's sitting on my lap as I write these words, playing with papers from my Bible. But I rest my head on her head and I have to think, these days are going to pass. Soon, too soon, I will be hollering for her to get up already and to not be lazy, etc. Too soon, she will be too big, both in size and maturity to want to come snuggle on my lap. So I give her an extra kiss and resolve to sing praises, to claim God's faithfulness, to load up on patience and to live with joy this life I've been given. I have such a good life. I know I do."

And she was a happy little girl for a long time this morning. In between rubbing at her eyes, she played very nicely, which amazed me and reminded me that God does care about the little things even without me asking.

So this gives me hope to do one more day of mothering. God doesn't ask me to look ahead and take the whole year at a time, He only asks me to walk step by step, moment by moment on this journey with Him by my side. And I know I can do it. But maybe I should go have another slice of my english muffin bread first.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...