Friday, December 30, 2011
finding God's best in several areas:
my list could continue but i shall stop there so i can touch more specifically on things:
-sometimes, i don't feel comfortable being myself around even family. especially when i am under the weather with my fibromyalgia. when that happens, i am very fatigued, in pain, and in a fog. sometimes, i have to go off quietly to just sit, or rest. trying to realize that family is okay with this and understands, but it's difficult to not stress about it!
-i wanted our homsechool year to be "mission minded" and although we haven't accomplished that to the FULL extent i had desired, we've done some, even if we were mission minded FOR EACH OTHER because i think being nice to your SIBLING is hard to do! as a family we were able to help others with clothing and share gifts of toys. we went caroling. visited shut ins. prayed for missionaries. purchased something from a World Vision gift catalog for another person somewhere in the world. i think we were able to broaden our scope of helping, and being servants to others. it's a blessing- to us!
-homeschooling has been quite fulfilling, lots of rough spots, but fulfilling knowing it is the RIGHT thing to do for our children right now. the toughest thing is keeping Philip on track, and teaching him he needs to have a better work ethic when it comes to lessons! we have good days, bad days, and more than good days!
-photography desires are to take photos for my family and whatever God plops in my lap. that really released a lot of stress. and here, after relinquishing the photography, which was after relinquishing the scrapbooking, which was after relinquishing Etsy, i find myself on another journey- writing. i don't understand all the ups and down with my creativity, but i am trusting God has a plan for me through it ALL!
-my friendships have been renewed, challenged, pruned, watered, and grown majestically. i am blessed.
-embracing the fact that i truly enjoy solitude once in awhile. as a writer (and i can clearly call myself that now!) it's something i have to accept, after all!
-my faith has been tested and strengthened. i've seen God work through me to help others, and vice versa. I've held His hand many, many times.
-a dream of mine has been met. i've completed writing my first novel! i've felt God's leading and have entrusted to him the entire journey. i have had many thoughts throughout the process. remaining in His hope is the key to contentment about the stage of the book, ANY STAGE it is in, and as i figure out where to go next from HERE, from actually finishing my piece of fiction, to THERE, publishing it, i need to hold on to HIM to manage with JOY!
-rich and i have had ups and downs with our music ministry, i imagine just like everyone else who would call themselves a musician. we are now at a place where we can minister together joyfully each week, and i will humbly say what a blessing it is. to be used where we feel our gifts lie, and to do this together has been wonderful for our marriage. our kids see our partnership in a tangible way as we prepare our family for church each Sunday morning, and give of our time. more and more i see how our family has been placed together like those pieces in that puzzle you have set on a table and forget about a few times. you glance at it, think it's in the way, then the light goes on and you figure out a piece. only, it's the Master's hands that put the piece within the grasp of your fingers, and it is Him who guides it to the proper place.
As the year is almost done, I need to remind myself to remain faithful to the Lord in all things. To give thanks to Him in all things. We may face more challenges this coming year compared to last. We may experience even more joys. We do not know and it is not up to us TO KNOW. It is God's way of telling us to TRUST in him. We cannot live any other way but completely faithful in our hearts to Him as our Savior.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Tiller was not handed such an easy life, and he's made plenty of additional errors of his own along the way.
Finding his way to the inn Mariah runs is not one of them. There, he finds more than he bargained for, as he tries to run away from his past.
Mariah is not sure she wants this man around, as he may cause her to forgo her plan to guard a deception- a big deception. She will do anything to maintain ownership of her mother's land, Most importantly, it is Choctaw land, her heritage.
Because of a rash decision, Mariah will have much to ask forgiveness for, and her lies become too much. For Tiller, he has deceptions of his own, but it is the one whom he had so grievously betrayed who shows him God's mercy.
This book moved along very well and kept me intrigued. The story pricked at my heart- I felt compassion towards Tiller, especially as more of his upbringing was revealed. I so wished that Mariah could find herself at peace- her story pulled at my heart as well, a young girl trying to keep a promise in very difficult circumstances. Delightful, intriguing, five stars!
Thank you for Net Galley and Barbour Books for a complimentary ebook in return for a review of my own opinion.
Cindy Woodsmall has written a delicious Christmas tale full of the sights and sounds that make this holiday so special. From a tree strapped upon the top of a car to a simple sleigh for travel...I was captured.
Mattie could not forget the love of her life, Gideon, and when unfortunate circumstances set her back to where their love had gathered, she would have to see him again. He had hurt her, in his process of trying to cover up a secret. But now her cake shop had been destroyed and she must return to the Amish community where he lived to make a cake for her friend's upcoming wedding.
Gideon tried to spare her pain, but as the truth comes out, it causes more pain for her. And despite her feelings for Gideon that she tries to suppress, she has Sol, who is seeing her, to deal with as well.
I loved Mattie and Gideon. Their story is one not void of pain. It is bittersweet, but God's love and forgiveness in turn gives it the ingredient to show them how truly wonderful their lives together can be.
Thank you for Blogging for Books for the complimentary review copy in return for a review of my own opinion.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Rose is bought buy a man who needs a cook, a particular kind of cooking for his stomach trouble. It's interesting to see how this plays in the story, and how the man changes in his sourly ways, to be someone you ALMOST are endeared to.
The only comforting presence for Rose as she is forced to journey into the wilderness with the trader and his guides is Nate, a frontiersman and wanderer by rights. He is besotted with her and finds himself unwilling to force himself away from her sight. He remains close by as much as possible, and they both continue their friendship, and this becomes more as they discover their love for each other.
This first book of a series brings to light a time of history we sometimes forget, as well as its hardships. You will go from Bath, England to the coast of colonial America and then further into the barely known lands of wild America. There are so many unknowns to Rose, especially will she ever hear from or see her sisters again? Will she truly be living in the wilderness for four years, indentured to the rough trader and his hateful wife? Will Nate recognize the Lord for who He is, and enter into a faith as Rose longs him to do?
The writing of Rose's Pledge is superb, springing forth adventure, love, and careful documentations of our nation's history! It is a love story that has it all- adventure, faith, and courage of heart! I was most impressed with the historical details and do look forward to the next two books in this delightful series.
*Thank you to Net Galley for providing the opportunity for me to review this book. Published by Barbour, it is available here.
Monday, December 19, 2011
watching old Mickey Mouse shows with two of her great-grandchildren
look at wd's twinkle toes..curled and overlapping
i love seeing him do that
ella has her riding boots and vintage looking cream ruffled vest
which i love
can't forget the rice krispie treat the little boy's eating
and my grandmother
holding WD close
her chin tucked in close to his curly hair
she so enjoyed herself
watching those with them...
on the ipad
who knew she'd be comfortable watching a show on that thing!
i can just imagine her thinking how special
this moment was
this was taken with my trusty little camera phone...so not
an award winning photo except for the moment it captured
we were all toasty warm that day, back in November
my parents' fireplace was lit
their two cats playful, resting, silent...
we had come over for the weekly math tutoring session
for Ella and Philip with my dad
and he surprised us with Gram being there
my heart longs for more and more days like this
but at least this one can be etched in our minds
i thank God for the amazing heritage my family has!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
As someone who mostly reads historical romances, this was a good change for me. A daring one, but positive one. I have never read a book by this author before. I am now curious to see what her other novels are like. I felt this one was a delightfully fresh read!
What I especially liked- an endearing story line. I LOVED the quip on the back cover. It pulled me in, made me think, made me wonder, made me hope. I worked as an intern for World Relief, helping to resettle refugees in Nashville, and the plot interested me fully. The humanity aspect in the story drew me in completely.
I was expecting something different than what I was given to read, but found it very pleasant nonetheless! Someone who enjoys contemporary fiction would find this book heavenly!
I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review. Thank you to Bethany House!
This week, the kids and I put forth the effort to make these bird seed ornaments as small gifts for our friends and family. So, sorry if this spoils the surprise for anyone receiving one! The surprise will be what shape it will be in! We only had two tree muffin tins to use, and the rest weren't exactly "Christmasy" but in fact, very unique.
If you end up ever making these, make sure your cookie cutters don't have a lot of corners or little edges/crevices. I found myself breaking a few parts of the ornaments by accident. Another note- DO use water. I did NOT but keep finding recipes which DO use water and I think that adding H2O would help the consistency and "gluing" it all together.
I am not so much for making tons of cookies, but we did this one craft this week, and I think the kids enjoyed themselves. Even WD made a little one! This coming week, we will bake sugar cookies. I wish I had a clone to do this with the kids but I know they need the memory for their sweet hearts and minds so I am praying for the mental and physical strength to carry on in my grandmother's way of baking sugar cookies. She is living in an assisted living center now and I sure do miss those cookies she made every year. There is NOTHING like them. We will use her sugar cookie recipe and cookie cutters (IF I CAN LOCATE THOSE SINCE I CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME REMEMBER WHERE I PUT THEM!). They have to be in the house somewhere...right?! HEHE!
Besides making the little ornaments for the lovely birdies outside, we went CAROLING as a family Friday night! Rich and I had a blast, and our children did, too! THEY ALL sang as we went up and down the floors of a local nursing home and the shut-ins we visited, who used to attend our church. We went with our Sunday School class, and I truly love those people..they have become special to us, and I am thankful for their friendships. Several other children accompanied their parents as well and afterwards we all enjoyed cookies, cider, and hot chocolate. It was a blessing to be a part of this and I plan on making sure our family makes this an annual thing. What a difference a visit makes for those who do not get such attention. It humbled my heart and I could just cry thinking of those elderly persons who reached out their hands as we walked by, wanting to grasp the children's wee little ones. They adored the kids, and I heard some chuckle over Will David's boots and Curious Georgie. Little CJ, who is WD's age, requested we sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and the residents loved that. His joy was evident as he sang, loud and clear. WD's favorite was "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and he marched proudly down the hall singing it. Rich conveniently brought his harmonicas along so he could share that as we sang as well. It was a gift to us, the carolers, maybe even more to those we sang too. It made me seriously consider how much we really DO have to offer others...time and being PRESENT....a smile, and friendly greeting....authenticity in your hello and a handshake or hug. A CARD...a song....all gifts. The people we saw touched my soul, and I am thankful that we shared this experience AS A FAMILY.
One nurse mentioned she was awed by the "young men out with their families."
It struck her to see not just the moms with their kids caroling, but their fathers as well.
This comment blessed me...the Lord made a way for our class to go out with song and love...no matter the skill level, no matter the numbers..HE used us ALL. Even the three year old boys, even the boy (ahem, Philip..) who adamantly said he would not sing and indeed ended up singing- hehe..I caught him singing sweetly and reading the caroling book!!!- and even those who perhaps were a little shy about it...
This Christmas, open your hearts to what God has done and can do through you because of HIS LOVE. I think of His greatest gift. I think of what we need to teach our children, and not just children, but anybody...giving of His love so needs can be fulfilled! Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach--but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.
The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton's home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined--as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves--and each other--for who they really are.
A Lasting Impression is an elegantly romantic and historical novel with amazing spiritual tones throughout. I feel like it's a rare gem of a book when you find one of this depth. The characters are truly alive, prose brilliantly placed, descriptions quite magical, and most of all, the faith element is pursued perfectly throughout the novel.
If you read this book, I promise it will be time well worth your while. I took note of many details which carried with me throughout the book. The art of Claire, and how she makes things for a party. Different conversations with supporting characters that were simple but meaningful. I loved the Claire's self-discovery of her true worth, and how her faith did indeed grow, amidst her mistakes and family trouble. My heart ached for her, because you knew that sometime along the way, her past was going to come out one way or another.
Her help comes in the way of a potential suitor and then also, an employer. I had a love-hate relationship with the latter, but Ms. Adelicia Acklen grew on me. She was truly a strong personality but that is what, I believe, was needed for her to get through to Claire on several levels. I see her as a woman who intended the best for Claire and she gave her mercy despite her deceit. I appreciated that element in the book, as well as the love story that blossomed throughout.
This is one book that I will rate, whole-heartedly, a five star read. Don't miss it!
I received this book complimentary from Bethany House as part of the blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
i'd stick around here for awhile. when my baby was a baby. i'd like to look at this child as he was sleeping here again, under this adorably decorated Christmas tree. when life "seemed" simpler even though it was crazy dealing with three children, six and under. the little sounds he made then, he kinda still makes those sweet sounds when he sleeps- the sighs, moving of lips, small limbs.
i'm thankful that each day my heart grows more tender to the idea of him growing up.
it is NOT easy. it is harder than i thought it would be to see this child, and my other two wonderful children, grow up.
i think of how God entrusted Mary and Joseph to raise His Son.
He has entrusted Rich and I with three more of his children. It is indeed a journey of absolute trust in God.
My heart is simple in its faith, but made purer and stronger each day. Love to think that as we near Christmas the faith of my own children grows larger and larger....it inspires me to show them God's love every day.
So if I went back in time, I'd like not to stay. There's so much here, as life is pressing on. I want to see those little footprints grow and walk surer along the path God has laid out for them. If I went back in time, I'd treasure the memories I could relive but would set my mind on the ones not made yet and embrace those as they come with joy. If I went back in time, I'd ask God to forgive me for those moments I have missed to truly treasure His spirit. The Lord is good to us all, though we have times when that goodness seems like heartbreak. When the good seems to be a raincloud always above our thoughts. HE is there, and HE IS good. If I went back in time, I'd see this as a testament of His love. But, I don't need to go back in time to see that love- it is here all around, and I am truly thankful, and blessed.
Fed up with her behavior, Charlotte’s father Daniel pressures her to settle into a nice marriage despite knowing she is set on going to college. Then Daniel sees Charlotte with the handsome but annoying English astronomer Alex Hambly, and everything changes. Though Alex and Charlotte can barely stand one another, Daniel offers them a deal they can’t refuse: if they agree to marry, he will save Alex’s family from financial ruin and grant Charlotte the freedom to go to college. Reluctantly the couple agrees, but in private they plot to annul the marriage as soon as possible. But when Alex’s feelings change and he refuses to dissolve their contract, will Charlotte find a way out of her vows? Or will she discover that maybe this marriage isn’t so inconvenient after all?
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah Press for the complimentary review copy! This review is of my own words, and I was not required to write a positive one.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
My daughter was thrilled with the idea of a girl, who, just like her, would daydream about horses each and every day if she could- and practically does, even in school! It was a book she did not put down until it was read, and I agree with her- very sweet story, especially with its inclusion of Ellie's hearing impaired brother. Ellie's dream is much like my own Ella's dream- owning a horse. Although our own backyard has a bit of land lacking to encourage such a dream, my daughter and her little brother have surely set upon themselves a way for their grandparents to have a horse in their backyard. I can see my daughter gaining much wisdom in the way God works in mighty ways through this book. I love the Christian influence found in it- Ellie's prayers and even the fourth grader's humorous idea of replacing Amazing Grace lyrics with her own horse-infused ones. That gained several giggles from my Ella and myself.
We are both looking forward to reading more of series. I thank the author for providing such a book series for this age group- an answer to prayer!
Thank you to Tyndale Publishing for the review copy. This review is of my own opinion. I was not required to write a positive one.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
the next morning, the "kids"- a.k. Ella and Philip- went with Rich early in the morning for pancakes however...
they brought home a half dozen balloons and a card for me.
inside the card was an Amazon gift card so I can buy BOOKS. HA!
(yes, there's more!)
they made me a SPICE CAKE!
and after a quiet afternoon, we took our children to my parents' house where they spent the late afternoon and evening.
Rich and I went to Aladdin's to eat..
then Barnes and Noble to sit and read.
then Caribou- to write and drink a chai latte.
then the mall....where he picked up a couple little hair things for me to save for Christmas from my favorite store, Icing. And he bought me an Auntie Ann's pretzel.
TRULY a wonderful day. The best birthday ever. My hubby really put a lot of thought into making it a day for me. He even REQUESTED the day off on Friday because IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY!
Also, since I homeschool my children, I gave us ALL the day off.
Then, Today, the day after my birthday,
found a sweet handmade necklace from my sister in law....with my kids initials stamped on metal...LOVELY...
and, later in the afternoon... I was away spending time with my dear friend, Elizabeth, who surprised me with a writer's planner :)
'cuz we write and she supports my habit. I LOVE HER TO PIECES!
and then...I got a gift from my dear friend, Jen, my friend since junior high, and THAT includes some sweet treats and makeup.
The blessings kept rolling in!
The best thing was- spending the day with my family. If I wasn't homeschooling, I wouldn't have enjoyed such time with my children all day on my birthday this year. They couldn't have enjoyed a delightful breakfast with their daddy and shopped for me like that.
I love how God orchestrates things like that for our lives. I hope my kids feel blessed by homeschooling, and even in the future, that there is no resentment for it.
OH, and I got a few dollar bills, pennies, Chuckie Cheese coins, rafia piece, little rocks, scrap paper with I love moommy written on it, rubber bands, a clothespin, and
and acorn from the kids, too...haaaa......I have to embellish a "treasure box." So I can keep these treasures forever. These are the sweetest gifts. They were really from the heart, and I will love the simplistic gift giving my children do.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
we choose ourselves over the "I love you" as a sister, brother, mother, father, friend
we say it
we may love in actions most of the time
and then those times we don't, well, sometimes they can overpower the times you DO love in actions
so be careful
with your own expectations for other people, and for yourself, but not for God
i was disappointed with the lack of love my children had for each other certain times today, and for me
it pierced my soul
IS THAT HOW GOD FEELS? when we deliberately, and consciously, snub our noses at showing LOVE?
and then HE offers grace, and discipline I believe is there with it
oh, i am good at disciplining, but grace..how much grace do i show. enough? maybe the problem is more myself and being willing to change my own reaction to when others fail at showing love
because i am certain they are not the only ones. i do too.
today my children practiced showing love, anonymously, to other children in our town. we purchased toys and clothing for a couple of kids, from the Angel Tree at our church. THAT was a concrete, memorable thing for these three precious children of my own to do.....and I hope it sticks with them as a way to show love, true caring, compassionate love, to others. to serve. sometimes, it comes way easier to show love to those that are, in fact, "needy." then, when it comes to your friend, your parent, your sibling...it is just too hard at times.
today was a day of many lessons- for school, for home, for serving, for living a life for the Lord. if it HAD NOT been such a day, i think i would have been sorely disappointed. a day where we did not learn much from our mistakes means a day where we did not gain some precious knowledge of sorts to help us on our journey. if we have a day like this tomorrow, a day of apologies, and renewed patience, i will be happy, i will not be dismayed. the Lord knows our tomorrows. BLESS HIS NAME!
Sunday, December 4, 2011
can reveal much more sometimes than an image of a face
i look at this, my brother tenderly holding my grandmother's weathered fingers
and i think of the beauty within his grasp
these are the hands that made the best apple pies around
that mended shirts and dresses
sewed an Easter dress for her granddaughter
worked in the garden
held their own babies
and then grandkids
and now great grandchildren
served the Lord
doing, seeking, helping, worshiping
touched my grandfather's face for the last time
held pain within them
comforted others in their own suffering
this grasp of hands shows
my Grandmother has made
a long lasting one
it is not just a treasure to us on earth
a piece of the Lord himself that He is sharing with us
for His glory only
that special touch from her, as special as it is,
does not compare to the touch from our Lord
the sacrificing, redeeming love He has
if we just GRASP it
and let the truth of it warm our souls
i love this photo of my brother and my grandma
it speaks so much, yet says nothing
it shows the love in their hearts
yet pictures only their hands and arms
how truly lovely and wonderful
are the ways
Friday, December 2, 2011
One of the best ways to get to know God on a deeper level is to know the names and titles both he and his people give to him. Now the bestselling author of Praying the Names of God reveals the richness of God's character and love found in his names. The Names of God Bible restores more than 10,000 occurrences of specific names of God--like Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay--to help readers
Discover the Hebrew names of God within the biblical text
Understand the meaning and significance of each name
Encounter God in a new way through prayers, promises, and devotional readings
Perfect for personal study, prayer, and reflection, The Names of God Bible includes these special features
more than 10,000 names and titles of God restored to their Hebrew equivalent and printed in brown ink to stand out within the biblical text
Names of God Reading Paths lead readers to the next reference of the name so they can pray the names of God throughout Scripture
Name Pages feature
- background information associated with 68 names and titles of God
- key Scripture passages in which the meaning is revealed
- devotional readings on each of the featured names
- specific Bible promises connected to each of the featured names
introductions to each book of the Bible highlight the main themes and list the names and titles that appear in that book
300 callouts highlight key Scripture for memorization and reflection
Calling God by Name sidebars shed light on the relationship between biblical people and the specific names they called God
topical prayer guide, pronunciation guide, name index, and Bible reading plans to assist in study
Anyone who desires a deeper understanding of God and new insights into the Bible will cherish The Names of God Bible as it opens a door into the Hebrew roots of the faith and the Scriptures.
As this year went by, I found myself pondering how much of the Lord I would truly know when it came time to meet him in Heaven. My answer to myself: not as much as I think. When God calls those to enhance our understanding of the Word through such as the 'extras' in this Bible, I think we should full-heartedly take hold of such wisdom with discerning, and open, hearts. I feel blessed to have such knowledge in my hands, for it's amazing to explore the essence of God's names this way!
Because I've grown up in a Christian home that encouraged reading the Bible, and churches which provided many opportunities for studies, I have learned many of the names and attributes of God. After reading bits and pieces of this newly released Bible, however, I've come to know additional names, and have a desire ponder and meditate on them to glean what I can from them. Some that I did not know: Tsemach, or Branch; Miqweh Yisrael, or Hope of Israel; Ish makoboth, or Man of Sorrows.
One that I've known but struck a chord with me at this time of year: Bright Morning Star. Why? Although pagan religions celebrated the winter solstice on December 25, and the birth of the sun, Christians in the fourth century chose to celebrate Christmas on this day to make it holy, because of He who MADE the sun. What was noted in this Bible was that as we experience so much darkness for our day, the hope that light would return may diminish. Perhaps the reason we decorate our homes and celebrate the birth of Christ is a hope pronounced that the Light will come. I love that....as a homeschooling mom, I am always searching for a new way to share our faith to our children, and this is one thing during this Advent season we will discuss.
I recommend this Bible as one for someone who wishes to take time to contemplate more about their Lord and incorporate what they learn directly into the greatest book on earth- His Word.
Thank you to Revell for the opportunity to review this book, and for the copy. I was not required to write a positive review.