Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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

Product Details

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, but this time I threw caution to the wind and said, "Yes, I want to review your book." And I'm so glad I did. It was the perfect book for this stage in my life.

Short, easy to read chapters that can be picked up and read whenever and wherever. They are guaranteed to either make you laugh, smile, cry, or or just give you that ah-ha feeling that someone else experiences life like that too.  I could quote from pretty much every chapter something that struck me in one of those ways, but I really want you to go buy the book so I won't do that many spoilers. I only want to give you a hint of what is to come in the book.

First off, isn't the cover beautiful? I can dream of a kitchen table like that with the apple pie still steaming and the tea pot, or coffee pot more likely, full to the brim and a beautiful arrangement of flowers hand picked from my profusely blooming flower garden, all arranged on a perfectly cleared off table. Oh and the friendship and chatter would be of the most upbuilding and edifying sort around. Ah, the stuff dreams are made of.

Anyway, more on to the meat of the book. One chapter in particular resonated deep in my soul right now and it's called "The Dark Clouds of Winter". Thank you Dorcas for being willing to share your struggle with SAD and the things you've found that have helped. I don't think I struggle with SAD, but adjusting to two littles has taken its toll on me and I've not been the nicest person to be around always. So vitamin D, exercise, and veggies here I come.

I laughed over the story of Dorcas' dad tipping over in his lawn chair in the doomed-to-failure trip to the beach one cold day. I also loved the story of him faithfully writing his letters and the magic he seemed to bring with him that caused the chickens to lay eggs in abundance, the grapes to produce prolifically and so on.

And then the chapter on The Words I Said I'd Never Say reminds me to cherish this littles season. Right now, I cannot imagine looking back with nostalgia on the middle of the night feedings for the baby or the inconsolable crying fits of the two year old, also in the middle of the night. I can't imagine missing the daily reminders to stop whining and the frequent trips to the bathroom to aid in the elimination process. But maybe I will someday miss that, so it's a good reminder for me to hang on to those moments.

I've gone on enough, but I want to leave you with one quote that I think can resonate with all of us, especially those of us who like to write.  "You don't have to live someone else's life or write another culture's story. You have a life, a history, a story of your own. It is worthy of telling, and no one else will ever tell it quite like you can. It is yours to tell and if you tell it well, I promise we will all be eagerly listening." I need this reminder too when I want to look around at others' lives and think they have it so much better than me.

Thank you Dorcas for the chance to read your newest book and review it. If I have it figured right, there are 36 chapters in this book. This book is composed of her once a month essays for the Register Guard. That means in 2020, we should be looking for a new book!!! At least I hope so.

And now the important things: how to buy this book and all of Dorcas' other ones for Christmas gifts.  
Order the book from Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. 
Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. 
Checks or PayPal accepted. (
Or you can go to Amazon and buy it for $1 more without the personal interaction with the author. Just saying.
You can also order her other books from her at the same time. If you go to this post she lists them all, along with her dad's and her daughter's books.

And the next most important thing: a giveaway. I was given three copies from Dorcas, one to giveaway through this post, one to give to someone who needs a fragrant whiff of joy, and one for me to keep. And so, drum roll please, to enter to win a copy of this book, please comment below one thing that brought you joy today. And if you had no joy, you should buy this book pronto, because it will bring you some. Also, to help advertise this book, if you share it on Facebook and let me know that you shared it, I will give you a second entry in the drawing!!  The contest will end November 22 at noon and I will try to announce a winner that day yet, but be patient if I don't get it done. We are going to be gone for Thanksgiving weekend, leaving that evening.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Blind Spot #3

As I've said before, I'm not generally big into mystery suspense books, especially if it involves murder etc. But Dani Pettrey does a superb job of writing that makes me hang on to the edge of my seat. It definitely makes middle of the night feedings almost fun and I can for sure stay awake.

This is the third book in the Chesapeake Valor series and it better not be the last one because the book ends on a cliff hanger. There are two main threads running through the book. A group of friends are all involved in investigation work of some sort, either independently, with the FBI or with the local police. A couple are investigating a coach's murder and another couple are trying to figure out what big terrorist threat is coming to the US soil and how to stop it in time. Combine that with sightings of a long-lost friend who's working undercover and you have a really good story. And while the one terrorist attack does get stopped, there's another in the works and that's where the book ends. So if you don't like cliff hangers, I recommend waiting to read this book until the next one comes out.

There is, of course, the thread of romance that runs through this book as well, but it wasn't overpowering. Faith in God and belief in His timing also runs through the book.

It does appear that there might be a final installment to this series, but no timeline is given for when it will be released.

I enjoyed this book just as I have enjoyed the other books in this series. I haven't read anything else by Dani Pettrey, but I'm guessing they're good as well.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Power of Modesty for Tweens by Dannah Gresh

Secret Keeper Girl: The Power of Modesty for Tweens  -     By: Dannah K. Gresh

This is a little almost pocket sized book filled with some very helpful information for tweens. It's also got a fun, catchy looking cover as well as pictures and illustrations throughout the book that it make it fun and easy to read. It's been awhile since I've been a tween to know on the reading level, but the words are simple and easy to understand, so I think it is suitable for a young girl.

I think Dannah has hit on some very powerful truths in this book. Modesty isn't about being covered from head to toe as much as it is dressing to glorify God and not draw attention to ourselves. As a Mennonite, we have a style of dress to adhere to, but that doesn't guarantee modesty. I have seen our "modest" dress look much more immodest than someone in a skirt or even pants. There's so much attitude that goes into how we dress and who we seek to portray: God or ourselves.

Dannah offers seven truths to being a Secret Keeper Girl:
1. You are a masterpiece created by God
2. True beauty doesn't come from what's on the outside.
3. True beauty is not about how you look. It's about how you see.
4. God wants nothing we wear to distract people from seeing our true beauty.
5. What we wear becomes sin when it says, "look at me" instead of "look at God."
6. If you love God, you will obey Him in the way you dress.
7. The source of true beauty is a love relationship with Jesus!

Each truth has a chapter that's devoted to further developing and explaining that truth along with Scripture to use as power verses.

There is also a mom-daughter devotional available that goes along with this verse.

I think this would be a great book to give to a tween, though it would be even better to walk through the book with your tween.

I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Come as you Aren't

Product Details
A Role-Playing Game for Adventurous Couples

And since this is a family friendly blog, I'm not gonna say too much about this game, if you get my meaning!! I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested it, but it is definitely all about the sexual side of marriage. I guessed as much, but thought there might be some other things included as well.

There are three sets of cards, Who, (which to be honest, make no sense to me at all, though there innuendoes in about every description) Perhaps that is where the role playing comes in and you try to pretend to be somebody else, which sounds tiring and stressful to me, but I'm not much for acting either. I hate the game of Charades, so.....  Then the What and Where are pretty self-explanatory.  There is also an envelope for leaving the cards for your spouse to find  and a little notepad to add a few details.

For those looking for some variety, this might be the game for you. I definitely think it has potential to spice up your marriage. What I am going to do with the cards is for me to know and you to get your own set if you're curious.

Okay, this has taken me way out of my comfort zone and I really haven't said anything, so I will conclude. I received this game from Blogging for Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Whatif Monster

This is the book I was talking about in my last blog post. If you are afraid of the future, anxious about all the what ifs in life, then you need this book. It's so true

Some Whatif Monsters like to hang out, and fill up our heads with worry and doubt.
They are sneaky and quiet and quick as a blink, the words that they whisper can change how we think.
Jonathan James heard those words full of dread and all those "what ifs" got stuck in his head.
What if it's hard?
What if you're bad?
What if they laugh and make you feel sad?
What if it's yucky? What if it's icky?
What if Mom yells because you're too picky?
What if you lose? What if you're last?
What if you're slow and never get fast?
And then the tune changes. "But what if you're wrong?" asks Jonathan James
What if I climb to the top of that tree, and I never slip or skin up a knee?
And what if baseball is nothing but fun, and I end up hitting a triple home run?
And what if the chance that I take in the end, is just how I find my very best friend?

Isn't this book so true? We can let the what ifs in life paralyze us from trying anything new, when what if this new thing would be something we excel at or enjoy or allows us to make new friends. So when I am tempted to be afraid and not want to get out of my comfort zone, I need to remember, what if.

This book is available here . There is also a plush you can get to go with it.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle

Church of the Small Things   -     By: Melanie Shankle

The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life

If you've never read Melanie Shankle, you need to go do that. Now, just go to Amazon and order it. Or borrow it from the library or something. Only do this if you enjoy humor and little nuggets of truth all mixed up together. Only if you enjoy exaggerated stories and life lessons intermingled. She has written four books now: Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, Nobody's Cuter than You, and now this one. And it looks like she has a devotional coming out entitled Everyday holy, scheduled to release in March of 2018. I haven't read Nobody's Cuter than You and I'm not sure how I missed it, but anyway.

Melanie seems to have a flare for the dramatic. I am not sure what she would have been like to parent, but her books are a lot of fun to read. Interestingly enough, she portrays herself very much as an introvert. I find that interesting, because her writing screams extrovert, center of attention, but I'm not sure that is really who she is in real life, but her writing is not hindered by that. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to say I don't think introverts can write good books. I very much believe they can. I consider myself an introvert and I enjoy writing. Okay, I need to just stop with this line of thought and move on.

Let me start by quoting extensively from her second to last paragraph in the book. I think it sums up both the book and life quite nicely.  "In that funny way life has of teaching you as you go, I learned over the years that it's usually not the big moment that make up a life as much as it is the small ones. It's not going to college and setting up a dorm room that makes you an adult but the discipline of showing up for class....It's not the wedding ceremony that makes you a married couple, but the daily commitment to stay in love even when someone is seemingly incapable of throwing away the wrappers from the York Peppermint Patties he eats every night and asks every year if Valentine's Day is the second Tuesday in February. It's not giving birth or signing adoption papers that makes you a mom, but braiding hair and kissing scraped knees and walking the floor at night with a feverish baby in your arms as you whisper a silent prayer.....I've learned that the best way to live is to look for God in the church of small things. The church of small things is where God does his best work. The church of small things is where the majority of us live every single day."

Another thing she talks about that I can so relate to is this thing of worry, fear, and anxiety. She talks of how social media has taken fear and anxiety to a whole new level by all the "information" that gets shared around. As Melanie so aptly says, "One quick question: where can we send the bill for the medication we have to take every night in the hopes of turning off our brains long enough to get some sleep without worrying about all the ways we and our loved ones could possibly die?"

So as I said, she's a good mix of funny and truth. My takeaway from this book is one that I repeat to myself a lot. Enjoy the little moments. It's not the big moments the ultimately define a life, though they may, but it's the little mundane moment, the thousand whys from your toddler and your response to them, the shared looks that remind you of why you fell in love with your husband in the first place, the coffee dates with tried and true friends, and the list goes on. Look for God in the small moments. He is there.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.


So after my last post, someone said to me, I didn't know you had so many fears or something to that effect. Ha, if they only knew. That probably only touched a small portion of them. I was thinking of doing a series on the fears we can have. Fear of losing someone close. Fear of illness. Fear of being a bad parent. Fear of being a bad wife. Fear of failure. Fear of success. The list could go on and on. 

I was looking through my October pics to find a picture to put on here, because hey pictures are nice. I wasn't really looking for anything that went with what I was going to write about and then I saw this picture. Acorns. Tiny little round guys with funny hats scattered all over the ground this time of year. I wonder if they have fears. Do the look down from the branch they are hanging on and freak out over how far it is to the ground? Do they cling to the tree a little longer because they are afraid to take the leap or the drop? 

And once they hit the ground, do they sit there awhile grumbling and complaining and nursing their sore seats and wondering why they couldn't have just stayed up there in the tree where it was comfortable? Do they just lay on the ground with a poor me attitude and do nothing? Or do they get busy trying to grow another beautiful oak tree? 

What about me and my fears? Do I allow my fears to paralyze me or do I allow them to push me to greater heights on this journey of life? Do I fear too much what people will think and so I make disclaimers and side notes to explain why I do what I do, when in reality, nobody probably really cares anyway. Or do I just push down a little more and try to grow my roots a little deeper in Jesus so that I can grow tall and strong and withstand the wind that blows my way, so that I can rise above my fears to face each day secure in who I am and in whom I believe?

Fear will also want to take over. I'm guessing I will always have that niggling in the back of my mind, what if, what if, what if? But what if the worst case scenario doesn't come true? What if God is so much stronger than my fears? That's not a what if question, that is the truth.

So this post went a total different direction than I planned when I clicked New Post, but I'm okay with that. I think I should get a few acorns to put around my house to remind me. And I'm not finished completely with this topic. 

As some of you know, I have become an Usborne consultant and one of the things I want to do on my blog occasionally is showcase a book I really like. Showing lots of pictures and small snippets of the story line. There's a book that goes along really well with this whole fear thing and how it can cripple you if you let the what ifs take over. So next up will be Jonathan James and the What If Monster.

The Most Important Women of the Bible by Aaron and Elaina Sharp

The Most Important Women of the Bible: Remarkable Stories of God's Love and Redemption  -     By: Aaron Sharp, Elaina Sharp

Remarkable Stories of God's Love and Redemption

Aaron and Elaina look at a number of women who played a role in furthering along God's plan of redemption for humanity or who simply accepted the redemption that Jesus offered to them and then I'm sure they went on to make a difference in their world.

Women like Jochebed, who if she hadn't hid Moses, who would have led the Israelites out of Egypt? Zipporah who, with her quick thinking, saved Moses' life by circumcising one of their sons?
Rahab in protecting the spies?
The widow of Zarephath and her obedience and care for Elijah.

I'm not sure quite how all of the women they listed played a role in redemption, but they all had something to offer, something significant enough to be mentioned in the Bible, even if only a verse or two. Consider the Syrophoenician woman: we don't even know her name. Aaron and Elaina call her the believing beggar and that is appropriate. She is the one who went to Jesus pleading for her child's healing and Jesus seemed to treat with indifference and even rudeness. By saying he wasn't sent to anyone but the lost sheep of Israel and it wasn't right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs. The woman was undeterred and had a comeback for Jesus, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Jesus went on to heal her daughter and to commend her for her faith. He was testing the woman to see how great her faith was and she passed with flying colors. The question is, would I have passed? I'm afraid not. I can see that I would have walked away with my tail between my legs, deeply offended. This is a good example to continue pursuing, continue pounding heaven's door even when everything seems silent.

I enjoyed the book. One thing that I will mention, it's a very small thing, but the back of the book says there are three dozen women discussed in the book. My math tells me that would be 36, but in reality there are only 31 chapter. Two chapters discuss two women, but that still brings the number up to only 33. It just sort of bugs me that there's that discrepancy. Like I said, it's minor and really doesn't take away from the book, but....

I received this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I'm not a Nurse Today

While I know the contents of this post can be highly controversial, generating controversy is not the purpose for which it is written. If you want to state your opinions, this is a free world and you may do so, but remember it is also a free world and the next person is entitled to their own opinions.

Today is Logan's two month well child check.

It is also the day he will get his first set of immunizations. As a nurse, I gave hundreds, probably thousands of immunizations. I never batted an eye, I never saw a reaction, I never worried about anything.  Today I'm a mom and I'm taking my child in to purposely have pain inflicted upon him for the greater good of his health and all of a sudden I feel anxious. I worry a little, how will he react? I fret and start wondering if maybe I should wait another couple months. Then I remind myself, I'm a nurse, I know reacting to immunizations is very rare. I know starting him young is good so he can't remember them. I know all these things, but I'm realizing now, three and a half years too late that head knowledge and heart knowledge are two very different things. I know in my head that this pain and these vaccines are good for his health (Yes, I'm entitled to my own opinion here, thank you). But my mom heart says, but can't everyone else just immunize their children then I wouldn't have to? Please? Please? :) :) 

And then there's the other things I can worry about. Is he developing correctly? People comment on his coloring like it's unusual. Is something wrong with him? Did my mom instincts overcome any nursing knowledge that I missed something key I should have noticed? What about his head? See how it's turned to his right in the picture? He lays that way a lot. Are his neck muscles getting too tight to turn the other way? So I worry a bit and the next time I look at him, he has his head cranked the other direction and I breathe a sigh of relief. Am I giving him enough tummy time? People say their two month old is playing with toys, what's wrong with mine because he isn't. Then I justify it in my head and say, the other babies probably aren't either. Just because he holds a toy doesn't mean he's playing with it. And on and on it goes. 

That being said, his smiles are coming much quicker. Sitting on the couch reading stories to his big sister and looking down and his eyes are glued to my face. His big sister comes around and he seems to follow her and watch her. She is just delighted when he "smiles" at her. Her definition of a smile and mine are a bit different. 

And I think, this probably never ends does it? This worry and fear? This anxiety and wondering, will he turn out okay? Because for his sister, it's more down the lines of, should I check out that odd skin pigment on her one arm? She has some mild excema in the winter and people suggest Plexus or probiotics etc. I laugh them off, but what if? What if my nursing instincts are wrong here? What if it's more than just dry skin? And then you hear of little children fighting cancer and the fears can multiply a hundredfold. 

And then there's another angle: am I filling my daughter's mind with the right stuff? Is she learning what she needs to know? Will she require extensive counseling when she's older to learn to deal with the trauma of a mom who had no idea what she was doing? And when will she learn to cover herself up with blankets or not to cry out in the middle of the night because she wants a drink? And then I go in last night to cover her up and she's laying there with blankets pulled up to her waist, quite pleased with herself that she did it herself. Yes, child, I was sure you could, if you would only try. 

And then there's always the comparison game. You can compare sizes, weight gains, counting ability, athletic ability and on and on it goes. I listened to a podcast last week on the power of play and how a child needs unstructured play. It helps their development. Then of course, I can worry, do I plan her days too much with structure? Does she look at books too much? And then, she walks around the house with a handkerchief on her head because she needs a cover. Or she calls out and tells me she prayed before she ate her snack or in the middle of eating it. Or she lines up her puzzles and games and runs around them on her own accord and I think she's probably okay. 

Bottom line, I can't do this thing on my own. I need God's help, God's wisdom, and God's patience with me. He is gracious. He loves me and I, in turn, can pour that love out on my children. I also need D's help. He lends a different perspective, a different angle to child raising. He adds that daddy touch and he is dearly loved by his children, even if oldest child can break out in tears because Daddy took the truck to work and now Mom can't drive it. :) :)

And the final bottom line is this, I am blessed. God has blessed us richly and I would do well to enjoy each moment and quit worrying over the what-ifs. There are times I think I would do well to maintain the nurse attitude and not the mom one. 

Color Index XL by Jim Krause

Product Details

More than 1,100 new palettes with CMYK and RGB formulas for designers and artists

I must admit this book is well beyond my knowledge level. If I'm actually trying to design something, I tend to randomly grab colors and throw them together. Let's face it, my design work seriously lacks as well. But this book is really cool. There are over 200 pages of color combinations. Each page takes a group of five colors that match and Jim displays them in bright, light, dark and muted hues. In the middle of the page are the CMYK and RGB formulas for each color in each hue for that page.

Along the side edge on every page and on some pages the top and bottom edges as well are little rectangles of the colors. This is to help with comparing colors against another work or design. Plus it makes the book pretty to look at when it is closed.

I don't see myself using it a lot for graphic designing because I don't really enjoy that kind of thing. However, if I do need to design something, I think I will check this book out to see if I can figure out how to get my colors to go together. I also see myself using this in my scrapbooking projects to branch out a bit to different color schemes I wouldn't think of on my own. And I also envision using it to help coordinate colors for quilt tops. Obviously those things won't be perfect color combos because you can't change the color of a printed paper or fabric, but again it will be a go-to manual for color options.

On top of that, the book is visually pleasing just to look through with all the different color combinations. He rotates through four different designs when illustrating his color combinations. There's a chevron, diamonds, and etc.

This is a very nice book and would make a great gift, I think, for a graphic designer.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Be the Gift by Ann Voskamp

Be the Gift  -     By: Ann Voskamp

Let your brokenness be turned into abundance

Broken, something none of us like to be, but if we want to love and live and love and live well, we must be willing to be broken. It's going to happen. We live in a fallen world. Ann explores the idea of giving in the midst of that brokenness to be the gift, to Gift It Forward Today.

I won't pretend to act like I understand all that Ann says because I don't. Some of the concept feel more poetry than prose, more ideal than real. I don't doubt that they have application, but it feel beyond me to fully grasp. However, there was plenty in this book to be grasped.

I thought it was going to be a daily devotional book with daily ideas of how to give it forward today, but that's not at all how it's set up. There are key selections from her book, "The Broken Way" and they are somewhat set up that you could read a page a day and get something from it, but I found that several pages would run together on the same theme or story. So to be honest, I'm not really sure how you are supposed to read it. The pictures are just stunning as Ann's pictures always are. Also included in this book are 60 ideas of ways to give it forward, from as simple as smiling at everyone you meet to spending an extra five minutes with someone to emailing a former teacher to thank them for the impact they made on your life. She also gives the example in the book about leaving dollar bills in the aisle and on shelves at the Dollar Tree. There is a spot for a bit of journaling about you lived given today. And then there are also some beautiful gift tags to use to attach to physical gifts. The whole book would make a beautiful gift and I was thinking of keeping it as such, but the gift tags are almost my undoing to make me keep the book.

A few quotes from her book that stuck out to me:

"You are where you are to help others where they are. This isn't a Christian's sideline hobby; compassion is our complete vocation. We do not just care about people; caring is our calling. that's it.
God forbid, you don't get a roof over your head and food on your table because you deserve more, but so you can serve more. God forbid, you believe you're a little better than others instead of making another's life a little better. "

It reaffirms the idea that we do not deserve anything. We are blessed and broken and out of that blessing and brokenness we are called to bless other broken people.

"Fear of brokenness has pushed away everything I have ever wanted, everything I have loved." I would equate this word to almost mean fear of failure, fear of suffering. These fears can keep us from truly living, but they cause their own brand of brokenness and this brokenness is so much worse.

I really enjoyed this book and want to make a more intentional effort to gift it forward, to make a difference in someone else's life today and every day, and to not be so concerned about my own comfort that I miss comforting others.

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

Choosing a Life that Matters by Dennis Rainey

Product Details

7 Decisions You'll Never Regret

1. Seek God, not Sin
2. Fear God, not Men
3. Love God, not the World
4. Believe God, not the Deceiver
5. Obey God, not your Feelings
6. Worship God, not Comfort
7. Serve God, not Self

In a little gift sized book, Dennis Rainey gives the secret to fully serving and surrendering to God. When we choose God first and foremost, the rest falls into place. That is not to guarantee life will be easy, but if we place God first, it will be doable.

At the end of each of these chapters, Dennis gives Life Skills, ways to put the chapter into practice. For example, how to grow in faith from the chapter on believing God, be intentional about Bible intake, with suggestions on what to read and do. Search, discover, write and apply every day. Recall the big and little things God has done for you. Obey what you know. Read books and mine hearts. Evict unwelcome house guests. Some of these were in my own words.

I liked this aspect of practicality that comes with these principles. Sometimes it's easy to write or read about these things, but not so easy to apply them in real life. Even knowing what to do doesn't mean it will be easy. It will still take discipline, but a little book like this is easy to read and a good reminder to keep following Jesus and trusting God and not be sidelined by the lesser things like the worldly comforts, peer pressure, etc.

And then he ends with these this quote:

"To seek God is the greatest quest.
To fear God is the greatest respect.
To love God is the greatest affection.
To obey God is the greatest act.
To believe God is the greatest adventure.
To worship God is the greatest experience.
To serve God is the greatest privilege.
All this so that God may be glorified and exalted."

That is the ultimate purpose of why we are here on earth.

I received this book from Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review.

Two Months

October 23, two months since Logan joined our family. Two months of learning how to handle life with two littles, of laughing and crying, of rejoicing and being a bit at my wits end. I like to think I've learned a little in these two months. I've got lots of reading done both for myself and to Amber. 

Daddy meeting Logan. Sorry, you can't really see Logan's face.

 Big sister meeting Logan. She was way more excited about giving him his puppy stuffed animal than she was about actually meeting the baby, I think.
 Holding Logan. One thing I've learned is I'm not a professional photographer and as much I aspire to being one, practicing and reading up on how to take professional looking pictures isn't high on my to-do list. So I'm trying to be okay with my less than professional looking pictures.
 Grandma Glick and Logan at 5.5 weeks old. We flew to New Jersey for Dave's oldest niece's wedding. I was a little stressed, but it went so very well.
 At Grandpa's house.
 Grandpa Glick
 The very happy couple. Laverne and Grace Fisher. I amazed even myself by taking pictures at the actual wedding.
 Miss Cool Lady. She loves sunglasses
 My people.
 Fun Melissa and Doug reuseable stickers
 Blowing bubbles together.

 And this was today, two months old. His grins come a little quicker these days. He was looking at Amber, it appeared and grinning at her.

 The contrast of eyes: blue and brown.

My chatterbox. I am amazed at how much a two and a half year old can retain. She loves doing "schoolwork". She talks constantly pretty much and is very much a bright spot in our day. But I have learned, I do not have the infinite patience or wisdom on my own. I need to stay connected to the Source and recharged. 

I've also learned that the whole nap in the afternoon is a figment of someone's imagination. For both children to actually sleep at the same time for any length of time happens about once or maybe twice a week. When it does, I soak it up and try to get some stuff done. I'm still trying to figure out a schedule that works for us, works for me getting my computer work done, my quiet time in and the basic housework done. 

I'm learning that if all I get done in the day is taking care of my children and getting some food on the table for supper, it is enough. While it drives me crazy because I feel inefficient, especially when the first two weeks of Logan's life I had sewed the major parts of two quilts and felt so efficient and everything, I realize that right now my children are my most important treasures. Investing in them is investing in eternity, transcribing and selling books and sewing quilts is only temporal. 

So here is an update and also in my attempts to establish a schedule is an attempt to want to pencil in regular blog posts once again. We will see. 

But stay tuned, because on November 15, I will have a wonderful book review and a giveaway that you don't want to miss. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life by Colin S Smith

Product Details

Finding freedom in God's commands.

The Ten Commandments, huh? Old Testament? Easy, peasy. I can keep all those. I don't swear. I don't have an idols in my house. I only worship God. I take Sundays off. I honor my father and mother. I don't steal, kill, lie, commit adultery or outwardly covet. So I'm good right?

Wrong. Colin views the Ten Commandments as lines on a railroad track and while the end station may be outright stealing or outright adultery, etc. what about all the lines leading up to the station? Ah, that might be what trips you up. And if nothing else trips you up, what about coveting? That's in inward struggle that nobody can see, but is sure to get us.

Colin takes these Ten Commandments and calls them our greatest struggles:
Your struggle with God
Your struggle with Worship
Your struggle with Religion
Your struggle with Time
Your struggle with Authority
Your struggle for Peace
Your struggle for Purity
Your struggle for Integrity
Your struggle with Truth
Your struggle with Contentment

Need I say anything else? Those ten words all of a sudden change the picture? Do I use my time wisely? I'm only given one life to live. Do I steal from my boss by not working as efficiently or as hard as I could for him, but still taking the full paycheck? Do I always tell the truth with kindness? Am I content? There's a lot of room here to grow.

On the last page of the book, Colin says this: "No Christian is everything that God calls him or her to be. The finest Christian you have ever met has only a small beginning of obedience.

"But there is a beginning of true holiness in every believer. No Christian is completely pure, but there is the beginning of purity in every Christian....." 

It's comforting to know that while I can never attain absolute perfection, there can be the beginnings of these things for me and I can continue to allow God to work in me.

At the end of the book, there is a 30 page study guide to go along with each chapter. This was put together by Tim Augustyn. And while I didn't read through it all, it looks very thought-provoking and challenging.

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hurt Road by Mark Lee

Product Details

The Music, the Memories, and the Miles Between

Mark Lee is a founding member of the music group, Third Day, an award winning Christian rock band. I have never listened to them, I don't believe as I don't listen to rock music, but I found his story interesting.

This book is less about his music, though it's a prominent place, and more about God's leading and direction in his life. The writing is simple with no pretention. He really has almost nothing to say about their performances or life on the road. The book is about his journey to becoming a musician and his desire to follow Jesus first, a commitment he made the summer after high school.

Mark lost his dad at age 16 to brain cancer. It was a hard journey for him. Hit by a truck a couple years before that, he had some injuries to recover from there as well.

The last chapter kind of recaps the book in a way and I want to quote a few lines from there that give the gist of the story better than I can. "These simple things will lift us up during the times we are down and feel we don't deserve to breathe the same air as everyone else. They will keep us humble when we are up and we want to claim credit for ourselves. We realize that it is all God's. Most importantly, whatever happens, we are God's. It is an amazing way to live."

It is an interesting story. I really like how Mark seeks to give God the glory in everything he does, how he strives to put God first. After all, that is our purpose in life, to give glory to God.

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

God Gave us Family by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Product Details

Illustrated by David Hohn

This is the story of a wolf kid who is an only child and he is trying to figure out why some families are big and he is only one. His parents are explaining that families come in all sizes. There is the family with lots of children, the family where the cubs are raised by the grandparents and the family that is raised by the mother and only see the dad in the summer.

Then the wolf family goes to a family reunion and the cub realizes that all these other wolves make up his pack/his family and while sometimes they are annoying, they can also be fun to play with.

The storyline is cute. I hesitate at the hint of a divorced family and yet I realize that is the culture we live in and my children are going to be exposed to it at some point. And also, this could indicate a family where the dad works away and is only able to come home on weekends or monthly, etc. If there was no indication of a dad, I would take it to mean a spouse has died, but I don't think that is the intention here. All that being said, it's that sentence that makes me give the book a lesser rating, because I don't believe God's ideal plan included broken homes.

The pictures are nicely done, not real to life, but cute. My two year old is convinced these are foxes.

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

I'd Like You More if You Were More Like Me by John Ortberg

Product Details

Getting Real about Getting Close

Relationships--so vital and so hard. Why do we fear being real? Why do we try to hide behind a fake facade, attempting to be whoever we think the other person wants us to be?

John explores getting real and really experiencing intimacy. This applies not just to a spouse, but to all close relationships. We were born to bond. That's why attachment and bonding is so important as babies. We need that so we can thrive as adults

"God's primary goal for us is character, not innocence. Innocence means I haven't done anything wrong. Character means I am habitually devoted to doing what is right. Babies are innocent. Saints have character." It is this character that allows us to experience intimacy with those around us.

"People who are skilled at intimacy look for opportunities to create joy for other people." It's an outward focused thing, how can I best help the other person, rather than a me focus.

John talks about how technology can both help and hinder intimacy. While it can promise to help us stay connected more easily than ever with more people, it oftens makes us more disconnected than ever. We start to be our cell phone's servant and therefore can cease to be present with the people who are physically present. That's a good reminder for me to engage with my children and spouse and my friends rather than with my phone.

Intimacy involves being vulnerable and that's just downright scary, but it that openness that lets you really see into the other person's soul.

John is a very good writer, throwing in humor and puns to make the reading fun. This is at least the second book of his that I have read and I am certainly open to increasing that number. I definitely recommend this book if you want to go deeper in your relationships. There is also a small group connection kit available to go with this book if you want to take it one step further.

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

Product Details

The Napalm Girl's Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace.

June 8, 1972, at eight years old, Kim Phuc's life changed forever. That was the day the Napalm bomb was dropped on her village of Trang Bang. I do not fully understand these types of bombs, but they work by burning. It's a sticky substance and sticks to whatever it touches. It also burns at 5,000 degrees F. The fire chased her, burned her clothes right off of her and deeply burned 30% of her body. She was taken to a hospital and placed in the morgue where her mother found her three days later. Interestingly enough, and I hope I'm not giving away too much of the storyline, Kim always wondered and struggled with why she had been left for dead when she was still breathing, but because of the way napalm worked, other victims who were taken to the hospital and well-meaning nurses would remove the bandages, they would immediately catch on fire again and die. Napalm needs oxygen. By being left for dead, her bandages were not touched giving her a better chance of survival

Survive she did, but she is left with almost continuous pain and deep scarring. So while her physical survival has not been easy, her spiritual survival has been amazing. Kim cam to know Jesus around 19 years old and has been on fire for him ever since. She travels all over the world talking to groups about the love of Jesus and how peace is so much better than war.

All this happened because a journalist/photographer happened to be in Trang Bang the day the bombs fell and captured a picture of Kim running naked down Route 1. That picture captured the hearts of many people who prayed for her and wondered what became of her.

It's an amazing story of forgiveness. I recommend it to anyone, but you might have to have a bit of a strong stomach for the first part as the mental picture Kim paints is not pretty, but it's true.

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson

Product Details

This is the third in the series Heart of the Frontier. I am thinking it is the last as Mercy was the youngest sister

Mercy lived up to her name. In the previous two books as everyone dealt with the after effects of the Whitman Mission Massacre, Mercy wanted love and forgiveness to prevail. She wasn't after revenge. That theme didn't come out quite as strong in this book, but it was definitely there.

She was once again put in some life threatening situations and her earnest desire was for peace. While this was a purely fiction book, it did open my eyes to the fighting and wars between the whites and Indians and I'm sure there was a lot more truth in the fiction than I ever realized, as far as the hatred the whites had for the Indians.

It was a good book. I like Tracie's books. It was also rather predictable as we might assume. There was a little twist in the plot involving a little girl, but I'm not going to give away any spoilers here.

I received this book from Bethany House. No positive review was required.

I'm Not a Scaredy Cat by Max Lucado; Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez

Product Details

A Prayer for When You Wish You Were Brave

This is a nice hardcover book with a dust jacket suitable for ages 2 and up or any age where they will sit and listen to a story. Even as an adult, I can stand to remember this story.

It's the story of a cat who thinks he's a big, strong cat and not a scaredy cat, but turns out he's scared about a lot of things like sprinkles on his doughnut.  When fear strikes though, there is a prayer to pray.

"God, you are good.
God, you are near.
God, you are here!
And, God, you love me."

These words, are repeated throughout the book and are so very, very true. God is good, He is near and He hears me. I need to remember this when I want to allow fear to overtake me.

My daughter loves this book and had her daddy read it twice back to back as soon as the box was open. I hope she too can remember to go to God when she is scared.

I really like this book and the lesson it teaches. I will say for those who have read Max Lucado's Wemmick books or "A Hat for Ivan", this is not like those at all. I would say this book is geared for much younger children.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. No positive review was required.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

fierceHearted by Holley Gerth

Product Details

Live fully, love bravely

"a fierce Hearted woman...
"looks life in the face and says, "You can't beat me."
"Knows love is risk but reaches out anyway.
"Understands kindness takes real courage.
"Makes gentle the new strong, small the new big, ordinary the new extraordinary.
"Chases Jesus with a tender, world-changing wildness."

And there's more. This book was good. It was written in a style I could hang on to. I think every chapter started with a little story or anecdote. The chapters were small, they were read in just a few minutes, but they pulled me in and made me want to keep reading. This is the first book I've read from Holley. I have a Bible study book of hers, but I haven't gone through it yet. I definitely will be on the lookout for more of her books.

It's not a book that says how wonderful you are, blah, blah, blah. Yes, it says that, but in the way that Jesus made you who you are. You are good in His eyes, now go live like that. It's a call to be authentic and to live fully and bravely with courage. "Let's make this our declaration: instead of trying to have it ALL TOGETHER, we will dare to do real, messy, imperfect life all together."

She talks about how we are called to be kind, not nice. Nice will just say what you want to hear to keep everything calm, kindness says what is best for everyone in a loving way. It's way harder to be kind than nice. That was a new thought to me. I hadn't thought about kindness in that way before.

I just really enjoyed this book and want to live as a braver, more courageous fierce hearted woman who embraces life, love and faith to the fullest.

I received this book from Revell Publishing. A positive review was not required.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

Product Details

Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful

For those of you who have read Kisses from Katie, I definitely recommend this book. It continues the story of Katie's work in Uganda, the heartache and loss she experienced and yet how she always found God faithful and good. It wasn't always easy, but there was always hope. Katie talks about grieving the loss of a friend and putting sticky notes all around her kitchen of verses that told of God's goodness. She talks of battling it out on the bathroom floor night after night because it was the only private place in the whole house. With 13 adopted girls and often visitors in need of help, her life was busy and crazy, but she trusted and hoped in God.

This book offers hope for those who are going through tough times. I was challenged to hope more in God, to talk to Him as a friend, to keep Him in the daily running of my life and not to try to do life on my own. Katie has given of herself in amazing ways and she loves what she does. She has a heart of love and compassion for whoever walks through her door.

And her family expanded during this book to include a husband and a son. Someone willing to take on 13 children also yells to me of sacrifice and service and a full commitment to God.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking to be challenged.

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Shine by Allison Allen

Product Details
Stepping into the role you were made for.

Allison performed hundreds of live performances of Grease on Broadway, so she knows a little about acting. She takes lessons learned from theater and translates them into real life. Are we standing on the stage that God has for us or are we trying to hide in a corner or play another role completely, one that we're not equipped for?

She talks about being an understudy and learning from older and more experienced actors and how much she could learn from them. How like life when we allow ourselves to be mentored and taught by those older than us or when we delve into the Word of God and let Him teach us.

She also talks about how an actor needs to learn to stand in the spotlight and to be at the right place and the right time so the light illuminates the main part of the story. Again, in real life, we need to stand in the light God has called us to. That may not always be easy, it might be calling us to share a difficult part of our story or step out of our comfort zone, but unless we want to leave an empty spotlight and miss the key part of our story, we need to step out into the spotlight.

This was a good book. I enjoyed the parallels between theater and real life.

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

how to listen so people will talk by Becky Harling

Product Details

Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections

In a day and age when it seems like books are about how to talk so people will listen, this book comes as a stark contrast. This is not a book about selling yourself or your product in such a dynamic way that everyone wants to buy it. Instead it's about how to sacrifice your own interest in talking so that people will confide in you and trust you and really talk to you.

How often do we find ourselves checking social media, email, or otherwise zoning out when someone is talking? How often do we finish  the other person's sentences? Or think about what we're going to say in response to what they're saying or how we can one up their story?

This book offers practical, helpful tips to overcoming those tendencies and becoming a listener that actually listens and hears and asks thoughtful questions.

I was challenged and convicted to be intentional in my conversations, to listen to what people are saying, to draw out more of their story and to keep my own stories and agendas to myself and not interject them. I have such a long ways to go, but I want to work on this area of listening and learn to do a better job.

At the end of every chapter are some listening exercises. First about listening to God, then listening to yourself, and then listening to others. Excellent exercises.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a better listener, a better friend and develop stronger relationships.

I received this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman

Product Details

Embracing the Everyday Moments of Motherhood

Life is made up of moments, but too often we miss the moments in our attempts to grab onto the big things. The next thing we know, we've missed living life because we were always looking out ahead. Nichole challenges us to look in the here and now, to enjoy the moment we're in and to treasure each day.

"Creating a table with joy at the center has very little to do with what's being served."

"Holding on too tightly to relics and memorabilia can fool me into remembering things inaccurately. Everything was beautiful and easy. The babies slept soundly beneath the moon. I pureed organic carrots. What? Not even close."

"Sometimes the only thing that turns an ordinary event into a special tradition is just calling it one."

Besides being  a good reminder to cherish the moments, the book itself is beautiful. A little hardback gift book size book with beautiful photographs of the cutest little children, it's nicely put together with spots for reflection and journaling.

Looking for a gift for a new mom or a harried mom or just as a good challenge for yourself, I recommend this book.

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann Gabhart

Product Details

Set in Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains during the time of the Frontier Nursing Service and the end of World War II comes a story that features love, adventure, and caring compassion. The Frontier Nursing Service was established by Mary Breckinridge and it still serves southeastern Kentucky and the midwifery school continues to train nurse-midwives. I really like when fiction books incorporate true history into their stories.

Francine Howard comes to the Frontier Nursing Service to run away from a botched relationship back home and, of course, you know what happens.

The book is more than that though too. There are tales of treating a moonshiner's accidental gunshot wound, Granny Em with her herbs and wisdom, a baby being born on the back of a truck in the middle of winter enroute to the hospital, and so on.

Francine embraces the mountain people, seeks to understand them and develops rich friendships because of that. She gets hopelessly lost very quickly in the mountains, but someone always comes along to rescue her.

There was a saying among the nurses that nobody comes there by accident. Isn't that true in life as well? We are not accidents. God has a plan for us and sometimes the way may seem muddled and we may feel lost, but God is there.

I enjoyed the book and thought it was well-written.

I received this book from Revell Publishers. A positive review was not required.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Product Details
Living out the beauty of the Gospel Together

Many of you might know her as Nancy Leigh DeMoss, or as the founder, I believe, of Revive our Hearts. She has written a number of books, of which I have read very few. Right now I can't think of any other ones I have read. But I have listened to her broadcasts and inspired and challenged by what she has to say. This book was no different.

Taken from Titus 2: 1-5, 10, this is Paul's challenge for the older women to be "reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine." Then they are to teach the younger women "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands." That is what Adorned is about, talking about each of these characteristics and encouraging the older women to get involved in the life of a younger woman, to not check out and think their work is done, but to mentor and teach. And to the younger woman, the encouragement is to seek out an older woman who will mentor them and provide wisdom and practical advice and encouragement in the day to day struggles of life.

There was some very thought provoking and challenging chapters in this book to be sure. Creating a home that is welcoming, loving your husband and children and being dedicated to mothering and being kind regardless, those are all needed reminders for me. It all is really.

Again a few quotes: "When we serve people, we serve Christ."

"Nowhere am I more tempted to be selfish and lazy than in my home with my closest relationships. Too often, we show more concern and kindness for a complete stranger than for those who live under the same roof with us." Ouch, this hits very close to home. It is so true.

"Self-control is both a lifetime need and a lifetime pursuit."

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to become a Titus 2 woman.

I received this book from Moody. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick

Product Details

This story is set in the late 1800's and is based on a true story. Jennie is a young woman married to an alcoholic. He divorces her and she goes to work as a caregiver/nurse for an older lady in failing health. In a bizarre turn of events, after the lady dies, her husband, a 64 year old man and Jennie, a 26-year old, fall in love and get married. She goes on to become a doctor and to say much more would be to give away some of the story line.  From what I was able to gather in the author's notes is that this is all true.

Knowing that this book was based on a true story does help the story line a bit, but I will have to say the book had a hard time pulling me in. There really seemed to be no plot, nothing that just grabbed my attention. The references to God were somewhat minimal, it didn't seem like a real relationship with God. There was a piece about guilt, where Jennie's friend would have said, you need to confess your failings to God, then forgive yourself, and rather than drowning in guilt over some supposed wrong, to pick up and move on and make something of yourself. Those are my own words, but I thought that was good. Sometimes, I think, we know, in our brain, that God forgives us, and yet we struggle to forgive ourselves thinking we aren't worthy of forgiveness.

So my final conclusion is that this is not my style of book at all. I'd like to think you could write a down-to-earth, true-to-life story and have it pull the reader in, this book did not do that for me at all. I can't really tell you what it was missing, but I was somewhat disappointed overall.

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

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...