Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out with the Old

Wow 2016 is nearly history. It feels like it flew by rather quickly, but it was a good year. However, I love new years. They feel so clean and fresh and like a new sheet of paper just waiting to be written on.

For those of you who are wondering about the rest of the pics for the month of December? It didn't happen. Ha Ha. I nixed the idea of trying it for a year. That felt like a wildly overrated goal.

But now that it is the last day in 2016, I reorganized, got rid of last year's things and got out next year's things. That, along with this post, might also have been procrastination. Procrastinating against studying my Sunday School lesson. I have to teach tomorrow and I feel woefully unprepared to connect. It hasn't been that long since I was a youth, but forgive me if any of you youth girls read this, but they seem so much younger than we were at that age. I am sure we were more mature, more advanced, more everything at their age. HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!

My very messy desk, but also my stacks of books that were on the verge of putting me over the edge. A large portion of them are now tucked out of sight.

Speaking of out with the old or in this case dirty. Honest, I don't think my house is that dirty, but the proof is in the socks, huh? Why did I buy white socks for her? She trompsed around stocking footed out in our entrance, which due to the cold doesn't get cleaned much in the winter. In the summer, I blame it on the heat of course. :) :)

And to all, Happy New Year. My next post will show some of my new things.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Summer's List by Anita HIgma

Product Details

This is a sweet story of love, forgiveness, redemption, and second chances.  The story begins with Summer breaking an engagement and discovering that her dear Grandma, her last relative, is dying. Her Grandma had a great faith in God that she passed on to Summer.

Before she dies, her Grandma gives her a list she wants Summer to accomplish. The first thing on the list is to fine her old friend, Martin. Need I say anymore about where that goes? You already can guess.

But when she enters Martin's life, there are few thorns in the way, namely his brothers who resent Martin. The humility and forgiveness that Martin extended to his brother's could only have been as a result of God's love. There is reconciliation, even with their father who had, along with their mother, left them and gone to Europe with no communication for many years. Okay, I don't want to give away more of the story.

I really, really liked the story as long as the Grandma was alive, but once the Grandma died, the story turned a bit more sappy. It was still well-written and I like the underlying themes portrayed through the book, but that was my opinion of it. Grandma was a well-grounded, yet fun-loving woman who wanted to see Summer have the best life had to offer.

I believe this is the first book I have read by Anita and I would certainly read more books by her if the opportunity arises.

I received this book from Moody Publishers and am not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Days 19-22

Day 20: Faces of Loved Ones 
I'm only mildly prejudiced here that that little girl is the cutest in town. She was celebrated 22 months on this day. The only problem was neither she nor her mom remembered until the next day. 

Day 19: PJ's
As you can see, she wasn't that interested in posing or she was doing her lay on the floor pose. 

Day 21: Wrapped presents

Day 22: A mug with a hot drink
And yummy biscotti thanks to a wonderful sister-in-law

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Lord's Prayer by Rick Warren, Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson

Product Details
Words of Hope and Happiness

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. That's what I have to say about this book.

This is a children's hardcover board book of the Lord's Prayer. Each page has a phrase from the prayer combined with a small explanation and a thank you prayer. For example, "Give us this day our daily bread. God has promised to take care of all my needs, so I will trust him and not worry. Thank you, God, for your gifts!" The illustration is a little girl feeding the birds. As far as the ages of children who might enjoy this book, that's a little hard for me to gauge. Because it is a board book, very young children could page through it, but is decent size. I would say 2-5 years maybe would enjoy the book. My daughter is almost two and I am thinking I might make it a last minute add-on to her Christmas gift or will save it for her birthday in two months.

The explanations were very simply and child-friendly. The pictures are nicely done. While the explanations are a bit different than I would generally think of when I think of the Lord's Prayer, I think they are appropriate for the age of the child and I love that there is a thank you prayer at the bottom of every page.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. I am not required to write a positive review, but I am happy to be adding this to our library of books.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Love Unending by Becky Thompson

Product Details
Rediscovering your marriage in the midst of motherhood

I am not sure what it is with me and challenges lately or what God is trying to show me, but I didn't realize this book was set up as a 21-day challenge when I requested it. I didn't read it like that. I actually read it through in less than 24 hours, so it's a pretty quick read, but there are some good things in there.

I really like the advice Becky gets from her dad which is the premise of the whole book. Wake up each morning and act like it is the first day of your marriage. You know how you listened better, loved better, delighted to do things for your spouse back then? Act like you are back there and be amazed.

She has 21 different things to focus on, for 21 days, of course. Here's the list:
- Greet Lovingly
- Speak Kindly
- Touch Him Purposefully
- Listen Intently
- Thank Him Frequently
- Pray Continually
- Forgive Immediately
- Expect Gracefully
- Serve Joyfully
- Reach out Intentionally
- Fight Fairly
- Prepare Expectantly
- Honor Consistently
- Correct Sparingly
- Choose Wisely
- Connect Intimately
- Join in Willingly
- Profess Passionately
- Discover Daily
- Love Unexpectedly
- Interact Patiently

Each day has a personal story from her life, a prayer for you to pray and journaling lines to help you process the day's challenge.

I have realized that between this 21 day challenge and the last book's 31 day challenge, I have 52 challenges, one for each week of the year next year. We'll see what happens, but investing time in my marriage and working to make it the best possible is a big goal for 2017. More on that later.

I do recommend this book. The challenges are not time-consuming. Most of them are simply a switch in perspective and attitude.

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Days 14-18

Day 14: A candy cane. 
And the picture is very bad.

Day 15: Stockings
Since we don't have any big stockings, I decided to grab a pic of Amber with her socks. Socks are a pretty big deal to her. As is putting chairs on a chair apparently.

Day 16: Baking
This is not baked actually, but it is so good. I have much to learn about food photography, but I would rather know how to make this stuff than take a pretty picture of it. Though it might be better for my waistline if I just took pictures of food. I have been into making Christmas goodies this year. So far I have made Molasses Cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms with Candy Cane Kisses, Butter Toffee Popcorn, Peanut Brittle, these  Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Pretzels, and Killer Crunch Brownies. I have another five things I want to make. Yes, I have no idea what I'm doing this year, but I have this storage room that is freezer temperature right now and so everything goes straight in there and seem to be keeping well, so I am hoping that we will have baked good for the next few months. 

Day 17: Favorite Christmas Book. 

I just don't have one

Day 18: Family Holiday Tradition
Again, we don't really have one. One thing we have tried was to get take out on Christmas Eve. But since moving to Hayward that has been very difficult as there is not much open except fast food on Christmas Eve. 

The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

Product Details
Thirty days to Improve any Relationship

If you don't want to be convicted about improving your kindness quotient, don't read this book. There are three elements to this challenge. Number one, you may not say anything negative to or about the person you are doing the challenge for. Number two, you need to say something positive to the person you trying to be kind to and to someone else about that person. Number three, you need to do one kind act a day for that person.

Reading through this book, I have been made aware of how critical and negative I can be and how much I can feel the need to correct things that I view as "wrong". It has challenged me to think, think, think before I speak. I am convinced if more of us would do this kindness challenge, the world would be a better place and there would be better relationships all around.

Shaunti has done extensive research and surveys on this and a huge majority have stated the difference it has made in themselves, in the relationship they are trying to improve and in the other person as well.

To quote part of what Shaunti quoted, "I've had many issues in my own marriage, in my own life. I know it works. Your choice starts the process. I told you, 'You have to start somewhere, and this is it. You have to be receptive, forgiving, and kind.' She said, 'But it's not changing him!' And I said, 'You're right. But it is changing you. And the change in your heart has the ability to change the atmosphere in the room. And then that changes his heart. Almost every time." This was in context of a woman saying she can't forgive her husband. The lady told that yes she was right, she couldn't because she was running on empty. She needed the Holy Spirit to help her. That is so true for all of us. I need to let the Holy Spirit do a work in my life and choose to allow Him to lead me and guide me and teach me to speak kindness and to be quiet at times.

So if you are looking for a life-changing, relationship-building new year's resolution, I would recommend reading this book and trying this challenge. There is a chapter dedicated to an alternative element for husbands that includes really listening to their spouse and staying in the game during an uncomfortable exchange longer than they would normally. I didn't read the chapter. I heard once that when reading things like this, don't read what the husband is supposed to do because it can make you discontent and so I chose not to read that chapter. When we're talking kindness, my husband beats me 10 to 1 every time. At the back of the book there is a section of tips for wives doing the challenge for their husbands, husbands doing the challenge for their wives, and for anyone doing the challenge for someone other than their spouse.

There is also a website Join the Kindness Challenge that offers assessments, surveys, etc. Beings the book does not release until December 20th, the website doesn't look like it is totally up and running yet.

I am definitely going to put more effort into nixing the negative in my life. I know I need a lot of help in this area.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books. I am not obligated to write a positive review.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible

Product Details

by Troy Schmidt

If you are looking for encouragement, then this is the book for you. Filled with 100 verses and small devotionals for each one, this book is meant to give you courage to face the journey. Be it a terminal illness, loss of a loved one, financial disaster, or something else, this book will point you to the One who is able to bear you up and sustain you through your difficulty.

There are the common verses that you would expect like Hebrews 4:15: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses....." , Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.", and Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;...."

Then there are some unusual ones that you don't think of when you think of encouraging Bible verses, but which are very good as well. Verses like: Genesis 21:6 "And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.'" The encouragement with this verse was to find the humor in your situation. "Laugh at the unusual things God is doing and get ready for the uproarious surprises."
Exodus 2:25 "So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." God is concerned about the situation you are going through and He sees you.

While I just read through the book cover to cover, I would recommend taking more time to read it. Use it as a daily devotional and read through it slowly, taking the time to get the context of the verse listed, etc. I think it would be a very beneficial book used in that way. For me at least, just to sit down and read it through you miss a lot of things because you forget one verse and the encouragement it provides because you're moving on to the next five verses in rapid succession.

Troy has two more books like this: The 100 Best Bible Verses on Prayer  and The 100 Best Bible Verses on Heaven.  I think these would make nice gifts for people who are going through a tough time or have just lost a loved one, etc.

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 7-13

Day 7: Wrapping Paper

Day 8: Favorite Christmas Decoration
This is a sign from KLH Design Shop on Etsy and it was given by Cheryl Burkholder

Day 9: Something that brings you joy
I love watching Dave and Amber interact together

Day 12: A cozy blanket
This is Amber's night-night blanket. Why is she on the floor? I have no idea, but lately whenever I say I want to take a picture she lays on the floor like that. I think she's seen too many Bible School pictures

Day 10: Christmas lights
Yep, I have the days switched and it doesn't appear that I have Day 11 which was supposed to be a lit candle. We were going to go look at Bentleyville in Duluth, but it was cold, so we went out to eat and then Dave and Amber had a snack when we got home.

Day 13: Favorite Christmas ornament
This was a new discovery this year, that we have a little shelf above our stairs and it is just right for putting a few decorations on it. It makes me smile.

And there you have it. I don't have Day 14 yet because I haven't taken the picture yet and am not going to get the picture taken today. 

After the Cheering Stops by Cyndy Feasel

Product Details
with Mike Yorkey

An NFL wife's story of concussions, loss, and the faith that saw her through.

This is the story of Grant Feasel, who played center for the Seattle Seahawks for most of his career and his downfall into alcohol and prescription painkiller addictions after he retired from playing football.

This is a great story to raise awareness of the dangers of head injuries incurred by playing contact sports. Injuries to the brain can cause CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a "progressive degenerative disease of the brain found mainly in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions and concussive hits to the head."

Because Grant played center, he was hit on pretty much every play. He was also a long snapper which resulted in hits even on special teams. This led to the development of CTE. He also had multiple aches and pains and was an old man before his time. After a lot of games, if not all, he would come home with a baggie of Vicodin to help with his pain.

He went from an easy-going loving man to an occasionally physically abusive and definitely verbally abusive husband who was the complete opposite of the man Cyndy married. She lived with this for many years until her divorce, which actually happened within a year of his death. Grant became financially unstable, had poor memory, and basically drank himself to death. Cyndy would still go in and visit him in the hospital until he was moved to hospice five days before his death. I think she did still love him and in some ways I think, and this is just my opinion, he might have been more the man she married in those last few days. He acknowledged and apologized for the pain he put her through and also commented that had he known football would take everything he loved, he never would have played.

The storyline was very good. I think raising awareness of the dangers of brain injury is very important. There were some aspects of the writing that I struggled with, but I can't really lay my finger on why. It was told in a very blunt, honest manner which is good, but I think it felt a little hard on Grant and yet I don't think the truth should be sugar-coated. I also need to recognize that I have no idea what a wife goes through living with a husband who struggles with addiction to that degree. So with all that in mind, it was a good read.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and am in now way required to write a positive review of the story.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Days 7 -11

Okay, due to extreme frustration on the part of getting my computer to upload pictures, I am suspending the picture a day for the month of December on my blog. I may post them on Instagram if you are interested. If sometime I can get my computer and this blog to cooperate, I may post some of them later.

I apologize if anyone was greatly looking forward to seeing any of them.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Momentum by Colin S. Smith

Product Details

Pursuing God's Blessings through The Beatitudes

Okay, I know I exclaimed over the last book I reviewed too, but this book, this book is worth reading.

It's fairly small, but very compact. Colin describes the Beatitudes as being rings the we must pass through in order to get to the other side. Think of it at those monkey bars at a playground where you swing across with your arms to get to the other side.

The first ring is the first Beatitude: poor in spirit. It's when we recognize that we are nothing without God and can do nothing on our own is when we can start to recognize our sin and mourn it. Then we are able to submit to God, to each His will and to each other. From there we hunger and thirst after His Word which leads to forgiveness, pursuing one thing wholeheartedly and living at peace. Because of our commitment to God we can expect to suffer for being a Christian.

Almost every chapter lists steps that help in becoming more Christ-like. I could go on and on and quote extensively, but I will try to limit it to one or two quotes, just to whet your appetite.

This quote is from the chapter on Spiritual Mourning: " Heartfelt sorrow over a particular sin grows when you see what it costs. Take a long, hard look at the cost of this sin to you, to others, and to Christ, and you will enter more deeping into spiritual mourning." And the six elements of spiritual mourning include: naming particular sins, heartfelt sorrow, arises from humility, is infused with hope, happens at the cross, and leads to forsaking of sins.

I am planning to read the book again as part of my devotions in 2017 and look at it more closely.  But as you can tell, I really enjoyed it and was blessed and challenged and I hope to be changed by reading it.

This book was given me by Moody Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 6: Fireplace

And in my dreams, it would be a beautiful white brick fireplace, but until then, this nice little candle will suffice. Plus there is so little maintenance here.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 4 and 5

Day 4: Book You are Reading

I am actually done with this book now, but it was worth reading. All those little tags you can just faintly see sticking out of the sides of the book? Those were to mark those quotes that stuck out to me. There were just a few of them.

Day 5: A Hug

Polar Bear Mother Hugging Her Baby clipart

So I'm not that much into taking pics of hugs and posting them on the world wide web, so I substituted with these cute little guys.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Product Details

Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted

This book was a fast quick read. Why? Because Shannan's way of writing kept you coming back for more. She will challenge your thinking, make you wonder if you should be moving to the inner city, whether you should empty your savings account, or how to create community with the most unlikely people.

I really enjoyed this book. I want the thoughts to stick with me and challenge me and cause me to rethink how I do life. No, maybe I won't move to town, but I do go to  town, generally at least once a week or more, so how can I reach out to the people I see?

I'm not going to say a lot more. I will let a few quotes from the book speak for itself. Tomorrow, I will probably post a picture of my book and you will be able to see all my sticky notes sticking out from between the pages.

"In a world where we possess the power to distract or buy our way out of most discomfort, can we ever really mean it when say God is all we need?....
"Faithful and capable folk, we parrot familiar phrases from a place of theory rather than practice and warm ourselves by their feel-good, holy glow. But please don't press us. We don't really know if we actually believe them."

"Afflicted with relentless humanity, we view the world with person-eyes, then project what we see onto the flawless creator of the universe, assuming he operates as we do. We trick ourselves into thinking God is just a holier version of us--our brain, our worldview, none of the sinfulness. We forget that while we bear his image and harbor all his love, we can't comprehend the scope of eternal reality from our anthill vantage point."

"It should go without saying that, often, letting go is not our idea. We're conditioned to receive, not to relinquish. God wants dominion over every area in my life. Even worse, he has made it clear he already has it. It is his. Always has been. Basically, I can lay it down willingly, or he'll wrestle me for it. But he wants what is his--namely me."

Okay, that was only three sticky notes. I still have seven more to go, so I think I will just stop and recommend that you go buy the book or if you live close to me, ask me and I will loan you my copy.  It's worth it.

I was given this book by Book Look Bloggers and am not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day 3: A smile

I'm not very likely to post videos of Amber on social media, though I enjoy seeing videos of other people's kids, but I've been wanting to get a video of her excitement when her dad comes home. The other night I heard him before she did and so I was able to capture her in her finest moments, better than some nights.  It makes me smile to see her so excited about seeing her Dad.

And I suppose I could wax all eloquent and make a spiritual application, but I'll let each of you ponder and draw your own conclusions.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 2: Favorite Slippers

Well-Worn and Well-Loved

Ah, what comfort slippers seem to embody. To me, they seem to tell of warmth and home and even a bit of cheer on a dark dreary day.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Day 1 of the Photo Challenge

So today's photo is to be of a favorite holiday movie. Well, about the only holiday movie I can remember seeing is Elf. I am hoping to change that this year and so I decided I would go with my favorite song.

Now I did cheat for today's picture and I'm going to post it off the web, but beings that will require me taking a little time to do it, I am going to consider it an intentional picture. And when Amber gets up, we will take some time to watch the YouTube clip of it again.

Christmas Shoes

Welcome to Our World

And then for a fun Christmas Song The Drummer Boy

So yup, that's three songs instead of one. Christmas shoes makes me cry about every time I hear it and really listen to the words, especially if I watch the music video with it. It's so much what Christmas should be about, thinking of others and giving to them. Children can be such a good example of this.

So what are your favorite movies or songs?

Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

Product Details
Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World

For those who are feeling overwhelmed and burdened by life, who feel like they go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and never have a break, this book is for you. Shelly is big on finding a rhythm of rest that is a part of your life. It doesn't matter how busy you are, take a day or start with an hour or two, plan it into your schedule, prep your meals in advance and take the time to rest.

Rest can be different for all of us. For some crafting is rest, for others it's a drudgery. For some cooking is restful, for some it's a necessary evil. For some reading would be rejuvenating, for other it would be a job to plod through. Take the time, be still, let your mind rest and just soak up Sabbath and God and what He is telling you.

I'm not sure if I agree with everything she shared in the book, but I find the theme and the various components of it so necessary. Our bodies need rejuvenation, our souls need rest and worship and if we don't take the time to make those things a regular part of our lives, too often illness will make us take a forced Sabbath and that can be doubly hard. This is not to say that if you rest, you will never be sick.

So when I read books like this, I have started to put sticky notes throughout the book at places I want to quote in my book review. The problem is now to find the sticky note and then to remember what stood out to me at the time. I need to decide that reusing the sticky note (when I literally have a drawer full of them) is unnecessary and so I should write my thoughts out on the sticky note so I have them. Anyway, let's see which ones I can find.

"When we abide in Jesus, all our questions about how we Sabbath are answered in who we worship....What begins as a sacrifice of time becomes a willing surrender the more we choose it. We long for rest, and the Lord of the Sabbath longs for communion with us.

"God is less interested in how we spend our Sabbath than that he has our undivided attention."

"Sabbath is a time to transition from human doings to human beings." Matthew Sleeth, 24/6

"I'm learning that when we say yes to God and let go of the need for certainty, that doesn't mean he'll grant our every wish or provide rescue with instant security. God cares more about our transformation into his image than immediate relief."  Ouch, this is not a popular thought in today's culture. We want to be like Christ, yes we do, but we want it right now without anything bad happening to us, thank you very much.

I did enjoy this book. I think for me, Sunday has always been a day of rest for me, so the concept was not new, but the taking time to be quiet and think and reflect is definitely something I could do better on. Sunday is often the day that I spend the least time in quiet and reflection. And I don't think both have to be done on the same day either.

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers. There is no requirement that I write a positive review.

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...