Friday, December 29, 2017

Trade Your Cares for Calm by Max Lucado

Trade Your Cares For Calm

Feeling Stressed? Overwhelmed? Critical? Guilty? Upset? Restless? Take a moment, pick up this book and read a page or two and I would bet you will find something to calm your heart. Count your blessings, read some Scripture, ponder an inspirational quote, or just look at one of the beautiful pictures scattered throughout the book.

I just quickly read through this book and various quotes and sayings stuck out to me. I am planning to write a few down that I would like to display on my clipboards in the coming year.

There are ten chapters and each chapter is further subdivided into sections. There are very few sections that are more than two pages. There are Bible verses, there are short sections taken from Max's other books, there are strategies for coping with the challenge addressed in the book and always each chapter ends with a journaling section of thought-provoking questions.

Let me share a few things with you that stuck out to me:
Celebrate God's goodness
Ask God for help.
Leave your concerns with him.
Meditate on good things.

"Anxiety decreases as our understanding of the Lord increases."
"God's anxiety therapy includes a large, delightful dollop of gratitude."

Let me also mention that this is a beautiful book to have laying out on your coffee table. This way you will see it and be reminded to stop and read a page or two and be inspired and have something good to chew on through the rest of you day instead of stewing and fretting. Also because of its beauty, (think nice hardcover, gift book size) you can pick up  a couple for gifts. Give them to the lady who is struggling with anxiety, the one who is overwhelmed by her lot in life, the one that is constantly fretting over the past, etc. etc.

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz


The setting is just prior to the Revolutionary War, Lady Elizabeth is the daughter of a Tory who treats her with contempt. He escapes in the night, leaving her to fend for herself. I don't want to say much more because it would give the story away too much.

This was the second of Laura's books that I have read and I liked it better than the first one. Lady Elizabeth who goes by Liberty has courage and strength and is willing to take risks for the good of the cause she believes in. She believes God is able to protect her.

And, of course, Noble Rynallt is all that is desired in a hero who sweeps in. He's a Patriot but rescues a Tory and saves the day. There is, of course, more to it than that, but I can't give away too many spoilers.

As far as depth to the book, there was some, but I didn't walk away really inspired. I was impressed with Liberty's courage in the face of danger and her strength of character that allowed her to do menial work even though she was raised as a daughter of privilege.

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

The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

The Last Girl: My Story Of Captivity, And My Fight Against The Islamic State by Nadia Murad

My Story of Captivity, and my Fight Against the Islamic State

At the risk of exposing my ignorance on world events, I don't recall ever hearing about the Yazidis until I read this book. As best as I can understand them, they are/were a minority religious group in Iraq. They were viewed by ISIS as less than the least and completely expendable and mere property.

This book has a bit of the history of the people of Kocho and the story of Nadia and the genocide of the Yazidis by ISIS. It's an awful story of men being killed and women being taken as sex slaves and viewed as property nothing more.

It blows my mind how someone could use another human being in this way, but I don't doubt the accuracy of the story at all. From what I have understood of ISIS, I can believe they would treat women this way.

This is Nadia's story of her capture, escape and her current work as a human rights activist and also working to bring those men to trial.

Why the title? Because she wants to be the last girl who has to tell a story like that. It has only happened three years ago, so much remains to be seen if these cruel men will actually be brought to trial. I also hope that Nadia is able to find peace and forgiveness for these men as well. While in her religion, she believes in God, I don't think her God is able to offer her the peace that comes from a surrender to the true God.

This is a good, but horrifying book. I wouldn't recommend it to too young of readers. Nadia is not graphic in what she goes through and yet she is very honest and the honesty is brutal.

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

And I want to make clear that this book is not written from a Christian perspective. I just want to state that since most of my books that I review have a Christian world view. I think this book still has much to teach us about being willing to risk our comfort and safety to help others, but I don't want to mislead anyone.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Missing Isaac  -     By: Valerie Fraser Luesse

This is the Valerie's debut novel. She is an award winning writer and a senior travel editor for Southern Living, so she is very familiar with writing stories.

This was a very well-written book that I did really enjoy. It's hard to find authors that can tell a fascinating story that has a good moral and isn't all roses and kisses and money. However, the title here is a bit misleading, in my opinion.

Isaac is an employee of Jack McLean. Jack died when the tractor he was driving disappeared into a sinkhole. Isaac became a mentor/father figure to Jack until his mysterious disappearance a few years later. The sheriff was a dead beat and really didn't conduct an investigation, but it always bothered Pete as to what happened to Isaac. In a search for him, he stumbled across Dovey, a girl from the hollow, meaning she was poor and their people kept to themselves.

And that is, to me, what the book is really about, a young, fresh-faced friendship/romance between Pete and Dovey. Even though both were white, there was a cultural gap between the two. Pete came from money, Dovey didn't. Yet that didn't bother Pete at all. I liked the fact that the whole McLean family wasn't all uppity about their wealth, but were willing to share it and befriend people who weren't wealthy, but yet were honest, upright, hard working people. Living in the south and being friends with the African-Americans was also a novel concept for most people at that time and that was another area where the McLean family excelled in.

All in all it was a good book, a book about overcoming cultural and racial prejudices, a book about friendships, a book about life and loss. And yes, they did figure out what happened to Isaac in the end.

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living  -     By: Emily Ley

Tactical tools for intentional living

Is anyone needing a last minute Christmas gift for that lady who is always rushing here and rushing there, mostly overwhelmed, and always wadded up with 50,000 things to do? Stop right now and go buy her this book. If she can ever force herself to sit down and read it and then get up and follow it, she will thank you for for ever.

First off, let me start by exclaiming over how beautiful this book is. It's just like the title, simple. But it's also just pretty like that. A nice thick hardcover, with thicker than normal pages that are bursting with lots of beautiful photographs or sometimes just a full page dedicated to a profound sentence or two. It would make a great gift or even a coffee table display.

Now about the meat of the book. Emily looks at ten areas that can be simplified: space, style, meals, schedule, finances, hospitality, technology, self, motherhood, and faith. With each of these she offers helpful tips on ways to make your life simpler. And if even that feels too much, each chapter ends with five things you can do right now. And they are very simple.

Get rid of anything you don't use, don't just love or isn't a family treasure. Purge, purge, purge. Not to the point of minimalism, but just to simplicity, so you have space in your home. Pick out your favorite clothes that fit well and get rid of the rest. Plan a simple menu and rotate through it. Say no to things that aren't on your top list. Put all your finances together in one place, have one person take care of the day-to-day and another the long-term, or they could be the same person, but make sure to include the other person if you are married. "Hospitality is really just the way we wrap our people in love and care in the most basic, non-elaborate, meaningful ways."Wrap up your cords, turn off notifications. Take time for yourself to recharge. Teach your kids to work from a young age. And take time for God.

Those were a few nut shell things. There's a couple things I want to expand on a bit. I don't agree so much with her simple meals ideas that come from a list of tried and true simply because I love to try new foods. I do agree with the menu planning and also with having some fun traditions with food like Friday night pizza, etc.

Also on the simplified self, too often we hear the thing of you must take care of yourself, almost to an obsession. You need your time away, etc. etc. I think Emily cut a very nice balance here. To me, her self-care had to do with simple things that make you feel confident and ready to face life. She views it as tending to your health, your appearance, your mind and your heart. Eat healthy, dress nicely, exercise, find a relaxing release and do a brain dump to get rid of all those random thoughts swirling around. She would also say that by simplifying the rest of your life, you will help to eliminate those things that trigger overwhelming feelings and therefore you will have brain space to continue to fill others.

And last but not least, her little thought on teaching her children to work is so spot on and resonates with what I want. When she was little, someone asked her mother why she helps Emily clean her room instead of just telling Emily to clean it herself. Emily's mother replied, "Because she has to be taught how to clean up." And that's all I'll say about that now, but it is something I could go on and on about, because of how important I think that can be for the rest of the child's life in many areas of life.

Anyway, as you can tell, the book was great, easy to read and very insightful with lots of good tips.

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

The 10 Commandments of Marriage by Ed Young

The 10 Commandments of Marriage: Practical Principles to Make Your Marriage Great / New edition - eBook  -     By: Ed Young, Beth Moore

Practical Principles to Make Your Marriage Great

1. Thou shalt be selfless.
2. Thou shalt have no strings attached.
3. Thou shalt continually communicate.
4. Thou shalt make conflict thy ally.
5. Thou shalt avoid the quicksand of materialism.
6. Thou shalt flee sexual temptation - online or otherwise.
7. Thou shalt forgive thy mate - 490 times and more.
8. Thou shalt romance the home.
9. Thou shalt begin again and again.
10. Thou shalt build a winning team.

So there you have it. This book was full of practical tips for making your marriage work and be great. A few things that stuck out to me and/or convicted me, I can't change my spouse. I can only change me. And the sooner I accept my spouse the way he is, the happier I will be. Expanding on this a bit: if I focus on his negatives, they will increase in size and unforgivability (yes, I think that might be a new word), but I believe that if I focus on his good points, his negatives will shrink and become miniscule.

Along with that is the thing of forgiveness over and over and over again. It doesn't matter what it is, you are called to forgive, big or small. Interestingly enough, I was reading this chapter while I was feeling a little grumpy over the fact that D wasn't home to help me and I was pacing the living room with Logan rather than getting my work done. D had done nothing wrong, but yet I recognized that I needed to let go of this annoyance at him or it was going to eat away at our relationship. So sometimes you may need to forgive even when in reality your spouse has done nothing wrong. I'm not sure if that's forgiveness or what it is.

And again, it was the overall challenge to make time for our marriage. It's a struggle right now. With a two year old who loves, Loves, LOVES to talk and a baby who doesn't like to settle before 10 at night, there's not a lot of time for communicating, but it was important for me to realize again how necessary it is to somehow make time for each other.

While this book doesn't go on my list of the best books of marriage I have read, it has some very good and very practical words of wisdom and I have nothing bad to say about it.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I Think I Missed my Calling

Orange Pear Apple Bear
Apple Bear Orange Pear
Orange Bear Apple Pear
Pear Bear Apple Orange

I think I should write children's books. After reading one book like that above few sentences, I'm pretty sure I could do it?  Or how about this?

Have you seen my duckling? Followed by a blank page or two showing the duckling hiding. Then Have you seen my duckling and so on and so forth until the end of the book where of course the illustration shows the duckling reunited with its mother.

I'm not sure what I would write about. Maybe I could write a book called "Have you Seen my Sanity?" and on the no word pages, I could have a picture of a hidden brain for the children to find.

If that's too scary, how about Goat, Goat, Cow. It would go something like this: goat goat cow, baa-baa-moo. horse, sheep pig, neigh-baa-oink. That idea isn't original with me. I saw it in a book called Chicken Chicken Duck.

Another idea might be Snow. Snow is white. Snow falls down. Snow covers ground. Snow is pretty. Snow is cold. Snow melts. It snows again.

I don't know, what do you think?

I have been getting a lot of books from the library these days based on the animal we are currently reading about. Bunny, bear, duck, I'm not sure which one will be next. With each animal, we are learning a Bible verse, reading some stories, learning a color, and a character trait (hopefully). Anyway, that's beside the point, except to say we don't really learn facts about the animal. And that is leading me down a bunny trail (pun intended) to remembering that I am an Usborne consultant with some of the neatest little beginner books about some of these animals, like Baby animalsBears, and Eggs and Chicks . Guess what I'll be thinking about buying next month. I have the Baby Animals one, but that's it. Amber is a sponge and can remember things she maybe ought not to, so why not teach her animal facts.

Okay, back to the subject at hand. we have been getting a lot of books from the library and I have been amazed at what can get published. I am not kidding about the Apple Pear Orange Bear book or the Chicken Chicken Duck, etc. And I think to myself, I could do this. All I need is the talented illustrator or not so talented depending on your tastes. So maybe as I spend this month thinking about goals and projects for 2018, I should put "write a children's book" on my list.

January, February, March, January, February March, April, May June: How am I doing so far? Each page could have a little illustration of a holiday that goes with each month. Best seller?  Let me know if you want to buy one.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent

Same Kind of Different As Me, Movie Edition  -     By: Ron Hall, Denver Moore

A Modern-Day Slave, An International Art Dealer, And The Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together.

The Incredible True Story That Inspired Millions

He was a black man born to sharecroppers. Sharecroppers were still basically owned by "the Man". He kept track of what they made taking care of cotton and he kept track of what they bought from his store and somehow at the end of the year, there was also a debt to "the Man."  This is the life Denver Moore was born into, though his was even worse as he was the son of a sharecropper and then there weren't even records kept, he just lived and worked there with no chance of a better life, until one day he decided to ride the rails. He lived homeless, he lived in jail for the next many, many years.

He was born to lower middle-class parents. His grandpa also had black people working his plantation, though he treated them a bit better. He grew up and became an international art dealer, living high-end and making millions. This was Ron Hall. The unlikely woman? His wife Debbie.

It's just a great story of what God can do when people are willing to listen and follow through. Debbie was an exceptional woman. Hearing of her husband's affair, she fought for their marriage. This included calling the woman he had an affair with and forgiving her and taking part of the blame for not being the wife Ron needed. Amazing courage. And it was Debbie that first forced Ron to the Union Gospel Mission and forced him to become friends with Denver Moore.

And now I need to stop or I will tell the whole story. Suffice it to say, there's a movie out telling this story and another book called "What Difference Do It Make?" telling more of Denver's story. Both are ones I really want to see and read. Denver may have been homeless, but when he spoke, there was wisdom.

If you want to read about bravery, courage, prayer, commitment, etc. read this book. It will increase your knowledge of what the homeless go through and increase your faith that there are rich people willing to get down and get dirty and make a difference with their hands and not just their money. A challenge for those of us in middle-class America to make a difference. 

It's just a compelling story. Go read it for yourself.

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

Monday, December 4, 2017

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope.  -     By: Christopher Yuan, Angela Yuan

A gay son's journey to God.
A broken mother's search for hope.

Wow!! This is quite the story, a bit graphic maybe for some, especially younger readers, but very much a God work. At first I was a little disturbed by the details of his sinful life, but then I realized he was also pretty detailed about his new life in Christ as well. And knowing the depravity that he had dropped to makes the story all the more amazing.

The story begins with Christopher "coming out" to his parents. His mother Angela is used to manipulating and controlling and this is the final straw. She is in a loveless, disconnected marriage and decides to commit suicide after a last visit with Chris. Instead, she finds Christ and starts reading the Bible and praying and her husband joins her.

Chris, in the meantime, continues down the path of sin: homosexuality, drugs, etc. until the law catches up with him. His parents try to stay connected to him, but he rebuffs their efforts. Finally jail time make him stop and think and he turns his life over to God. He seeks to follow God, but he's struggling as he always believed his homosexual tendencies where who he was. A chaplain even gives him a book to read that says that God doesn't have anything against the homosexual lifestyle. He didn't make it through one chapter before he realized the book was not true.

Another thing Christopher realized is that while God condemns the sin of homosexuality, he doesn't hate the sinner.

I need to stop. I feel like I have already given too many spoilers to this book. The one thing I was concerned about with this book was that it would make allowance for Chris to have been born a homosexual and there was nothing he could do about it. But that is not the case. He also recognized that heterosexuality wasn't the ultimate thing either, first up was holiness to God. I really appreciated this book. God did an amazing work in both Christopher and in his parents, Angela and Leon and is continuing to do an awesome work through them.

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent Calendar

Advent: what it is and what does it mean? I'll be honest, I'm not really sure. I know it has to do with Christ's birth and involves the four Sundays before Christmas. So let's see what Wikipedia has to say: Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives. "Since the time of Bernard of Clairvaux (d.1153) Christians have spoken of the three comings of Christ: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time."[2]The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

Practices associated with Advent include keeping an Advent calendar, lighting an Advent wreath, praying an Advent daily devotional,[5]lighting a Christingle,[6] as well as other ways of preparing for Christmas, such as setting up Christmas decorations,[7][8][9] a custom that is sometimes done liturgically, through a hanging of the greens ceremony.[5][10]

Expectant waiting and preparation: are those things not at opposite ends of the spectrum, an oxymoron, I believe? How can you wait and prepare at the same time? I will have to ponder that for a bit. Perhaps I will expound on that more later. 

As you might have gathered, we are doing an Advent calendar this year. Just little things. Something to make the month special and to have fun with a little two and a half year old. I want it to be a tradition and to get more in depth as the kiddos get older. It's pretty us-centered this year, but I want it to become more other-centered and involve giving and being kind, but for this year, I wanted things that involved staying home. 

One of the things I want to do is spend some time on Sundays, reading the story of Jesus and maybe looking at other aspects of waiting and preparing in my own life. 

So today was Day one. 

And yes, the picture is sideways, and no I'm not even going to try anything to change it. There wasn't a simple rotate button and I'm running with the clock and my son to get this done before he really starts yelling and I have to get supper going. 

But yes, tonight after supper because D will be home then too, we are going to have a hot chocolate party, complete with these pretzel and toffee pretzel and peanut butter brownies.  Yes, we are. And if I remember I will record the event with photographs. That is my goal for the month, to record each day in pictures that I will then post on here. 

For other wonderful Advent ideas, check out Shari's post on what she does with her family.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Secret Keeper Girl: Mom Daughter Devos

Secret Keeper Girl - Mother-Daughter Devos: with Coloring Experience  -     By: Dannah K. Gresh

I got this devotional to go along with the Book that Dannah wrote called The Power of Modesty for Tweens.

I didn't read through the whole devotional, but was pretty impressed with how it is set up. There are seven weeks of devotionals, five days per week. Each week is set up to go along with a chapter in the book. While you can do the devotional alone, it is recommended to do it with the book. Each devotional is a two page spread, with a little over a page being reading and then there are some journaling exercises as well. There is also a Bible reading to go along with each day.

Some of the journaling jobs include: "Write a confession of any lies you have told lately." And then a part where you ask God to give you a desire to tell the truth. Or taking some time to write some personal goals. A lot of the journaling parts have multiple little designs with lines in them, so both mom and daughter could do it if they wanted to. At the end of every week, there is a two-page spread to color. One side is a quote and the other side is a picture of girls or fashion that go along with the lesson of the week. The quotes would be fun to color, but the other page isn't really my style as much. There is also a "Talk about It" section for mom and daughter to discuss together. For example, "Has there ever been a tie when you dressed a certain way to get attention and have people look at you?"

The book is written for 7 to 12 years old, with the understanding that the younger girls will for sure need their mom to help them with the reading to fully understand what is being said. This book could also be done by an older girl on her own, I think, though I think it would be very valuable for mom and daughter to discuss these concepts together. It could bring out some very good and vital discussions.

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

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of  Your Life

When to say yes
How to say no
to take control of your life

Where do I start with this book? It was excellent, let's start there. While, for the most part, I don't feel like my life is out of control, it was good to hear confirmation that sometimes saying no to something good is not bad. Even if we feel guilty, it's not wrong.  That was probably a key piece for me.

Another thing I really liked about the book was the section on boundaries with children. Allowing children to be able to say no without fearing a loss of their parent's love enables them to be better equipped to have good boundaries when they are older. This doesn't mean the child is allowed to run wild with no discipline, to me it means that my child is allowed to not want something without me threatening not to love them. I don't know if that makes sense or not, I'm still not sure if I fully understand all of how it works.

But it does seem that a child who was controlled and manipulated and not given choices in their early years can become a controlled, manipulated doormat when they become older because to refuse to do what someone said meant they were going to be unloved or anger was going to be unleashed and so they just go with the flow. And this can lead to harmful circumstances. Okay, just read the book to fully grasp that.

There's also a really good chapter on Boundaries and the Digital Age, not letting technology control you and being able to go offline for a few hours or days without going crazy and not being deathly afraid you are missing out on something.

Another good chapter is on Boundaries and Yourself. Ways that we can be out of control of our own lives include food, money, task completion, time management, sexuality, and words. John and Henry give you ways of identifying a lack of boundaries and ways to establish boundaries with yourself.

This was a very good book and I would especially recommend it to anyone who feels like their life is out of control and they feel powerless to change it. I feel that this book is very Biblically based, otherwise I would hesitate to recommend it.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

We Have A Winner

Brenda is the lucky winner.  Please be patient with me in getting the book out. We are leaving for the weekend. Thanks to all who participated!!

A faithful husband, three blessings of children that God has given to us. A Christian school close by to send them to. A small church body of believers who love the Lord. The health to be able to get out of bed this morning enjoy a warm cup of coffee!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Remember back then?

So way back in 2011, Dave and I had this conversation about pie. And the challenge went forth to make 50 pies, all different, no repeats. Well, I made it to the teens somewhere and I don't know what happened, but something did because that is where it stopped.

I made pie since then just not in an intentional manner to create 50 different kinds of pie. But the other week I tried a new pie crust. Believe it or not, it actually didn't really shrink much. That is amazing for me. It involved odd steps that I was not used to like freezing my shortening and grating frozen butter into the mixture, then refrigerating, then rolling out the crust and then refrigerating again. Line the pie with tinfoil and fill it with beans and back at a normal temperature for 45 minutes. All things I hadn't been doing, but you know what? I ended up with a very delicious pie crust that pleased me greatly. There was a small shrinkage, but not much.

That simple act reminded me once again of the Pie Challenge and I thought maybe I should attempt it again. This time with no time frame like one a week, but simply a challenge to make 50 different kinds over the course of the next who knows how long. Because frankly we don't need a pie a week. It's so hard on the waistline. And when attempts are being made to shrink said waistline, pie is the great evil opponent. So we will see how this goes. That being said, if anyone would like to come for pie, please feel free to let me know. I will make you one.

Pie number one was a Banana Cream and pie number two was a Peanut Butter pie made with instant chocolate pudding. I had never done that before, but it was quite delicious. So there are only 48 more pies to go. I am eager to try an apple pie recipe I saw and this time of year begs for pumpkin pie, so we will see what pie is next on the list.

In other news, this is Thanksgiving week. There are so many blessings to count. I realize all over again how blessed I am. I sat on my rocking chair last night at 10:00 snuggling the little man trying to get him to sleep and tried to seal into my heart the feel of him in my arms, the look in his eyes, the feel of his head under my chin. I know these days won't last long and so often I am focused on the next thing or on reading or or or and I forget to just sit and absorb and try to savor the moment. Even when or maybe especially when, I want to be in bed and he thinks it's too early yet.

Or as I sit on the rocking chair or go about my day pummeled with that all exasperating question of "Why". I don't know where Amber picked it up, I'm blaming her cousins, but we came home Sunday evening and the why question surfaced and it has surfaced over and over and over again. "Why is it getting dark?" "Why do I get hungry?" "Because God made you that way." "Why?" The other popular conversation at our house goes something like this:
Amber: What are we going to do tomorrow?
Me: Go to town.
Amber: What are we gonna do when we get home from town?
Me. Take a nap.
Amber: What are we gonna do after my nap?
Me: I don't know, we'll worry about that tomorrow.

A few minutes later:
Amber: What are we gonna do tomorrow?
Me: What did I tell you?

And if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, please go back a few posts and do so. The book is full of joy filled moments and I needed just that when I read it. I want to learn to see the joy in the moment, to remember the little things and to cherish them and to write about them. I think Dorcas has such interesting posts and stories, but if you really look at them closely, you see they are comprised of everyday happenings. The difference is, she chooses to notice them and enlarge on them and learn a truth in the midst of the everyday happenings. That is what I want to do to, but it takes purpose and intention.

30 Days to Joy Journal

A One Month Creative Journal

If you are looking for a nice gift for someone, look no further. This is a pretty, hard cover journal that would make a lovely Christmas present. It's on the smaller side, so you could stash it in your purse if you find yourself waiting in the car a lot or keep it on the coffee table to enjoy with a good cup of coffee in the morning. Okay, depending on how personal you get, the coffee table may be too public of a location to store it, but you get the idea. I love the cover because I think it looks just a bit old-fashioned, vintage-style in a modern sort of way. Ha, go figure that out.

You can start the book whenever. There are no days of the week marked, just Day 1, Day 2, etc. In reality, you could pick this book up one day and then wait a week or two to pick it up again, nobody's going to care. You probably could do the days in a random order as well, though if you do, please do not tell me, it would drive me crazy to do that. But the important thing is that you choose joy every day

Each day there is an opportunity to draw, doodle, write, or even paste in a picture. There is no right or wrong way to do this. I can't draw, so there will be none of that in my book. I'm guessing mine will be more writing or handwriting practice splashed across the page. Each day has a quote or a Bible verse that could have a bit of coloring to enhance the page or be left blank. It's pretty just the way it is, though I think on most of those pages a bit of green for the leaves/vines around the saying would be nice. Then there is a question to answer or a direction to complete. Things like: "How is joy different from happiness?" "Who are the people who bring you joy and brighten your day?" "Look up from the page. What's the first thing you see that brings you joy? Draw or describe it."

I think it is a lovely book and I am looking forward to adding it to my collection of Bible study books I want to go through.

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

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

Out of the Ordinary #2

This is the second book in the series "Apart from the Crowd." They are about the "wallflowers" of society, those who stand along the wall because they don't quite fit in with "in crowd" of society.

This book was definitely out of the ordinary. Most books I read about society from the late 1800's is all about protocol and fashion and etiquette. Males and females rarely talk and it's all teas and social events. Not this book. It was a highly entertaining read. The romance between the color blind Harrison Sinclair (meaning he wore some very odd colors and styles together) and Gertrude, the companion to the wannabe fashion designer, Mrs. Davenport is the main thread through the book, but the conversation is very interesting.

It doesn't feel quite real to life, I mean would people really have attempted to make a bustle out of half a bird cage? And would Mrs. Davenport really have gotten away with her multiple thefts which she later would make Gertrude replace? Some of it definitely is the stuff of fiction, but I did enjoy the conversation between all the parties even so. It certainly wasn't all parties and balls, though everyone did have a lot of money at their disposal as is normal in these books.

So, in conclusion, if I was looking for some takeaways to help me in my life from this book,  I would be disappointed. If I was looking for a brain break and wanted to sit down and read without needing to ferret out truths, this book is a good one. It's light fluffy reading that is easy to follow.

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

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. 

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...