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Monday, November 23, 2015

Keep Searching

33 degrees means drip, drip, dripping. Nature is decorating my house today.
I love my mama and sisters. Even if one is covering herself with a coat and one seems to be seeing Jesus at the moment this picture was snapped (my sister Rachel is going to kill me!). Such a fun day with us 6 girls and Tim Hawkins.
I laughed almost two hours straight at Tim's comedy. We were only about 8 rows from the front so it was great to see him so up close and personal!

Laughter was some of the best medicine for me this month. November and December are hard months when you are missing someone, especially someone who loved the holidays so much.
  During this month of Thanksgiving, I've been searching each day for the things I'm thankful for. Some days can be harder than others to have a positive attitude. But still I search...

Glittering icicles.

A girls night out.


 Least you think I'm implying that it's a simple thing, I'm not. There are days when my sorrow, my struggles, my grey clouds can be overwhelming. They can be so heavy. Tiresome. Burdensome.

We all have those days, but I know you grieving mama's know even more so what I am speaking of. Keep searching...even if it's just a

Soft Kleenex.

A fluffy blanket.

One swift happy memory.

It all counts. It is the little things, after all.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Beauty of Its Own

The view from my bedroom window.

 This tree is always one of the first things I see upon waking. Glorious flowers adorn it for a week in spring, green foliage with bird song in summer, browns and golds in autumn, and now the contrast of red berries against the pure white snow.

How beautiful - each season has a beauty all its own. Just like the seasons in our life.

 "He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Snow? Yes, Please!

This is the weather prediction for Friday evening.
Yes, we are in that possible 10" band. The first snow fall of the season tends to freak a lot of people out, which is strange because we live in Iowa. We should be used to snow, people

While I will be making a run to the grocery store tomorrow, it won't be to stock up on milk and bread, but rather to do my regular grocery shopping. Which will probably be a bad thing, amiss the people who are stocking up on bread and milk (and usually toilet paper) but also the two day sale that starts tomorrow as well. Opps, bad timing.

I'll admit that I'm kind of hoping that we do get this amount of snow. Not for my hubby, who will have to move snow at work (and probably at home - I think it's time to give that job to the kids though!). But for a fun snowed in Friday night. Christmas movies with my family, popcorn and eggnog, cracker and cheese platter, fresh fruit. 

Snuggling under quilts.

The first snowfall.

Candles illuminating our space.

It truly is the little things.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life, Lately

This has been our weather the last several days. Damp, chilly, grey. Gloomy is the perfect word for it.
I kind of like it. It's giving us a chance to tuck in and be. A sort of cocoon to keep us indoors and slow down. There is a chance of snow flurries later this week and the kids are excited about that.

I'm excited about a small Thanksgiving break from school next week! For holidays we typically follow the school's schedule on breaks so we will have just a two day school week next week. 

We've only missed a couple days of school so far this year, less than the school has already had with teacher in-service days so we are on track.  

But I am so ready for a small break to rest and recoup. I think I'm looking forward to it more than the kids even! Homeschooling is a full-time job when it's mixed with mothering, homemaking, and life.

Speaking of Thanksgiving break - can you believe that Thanksgiving is so near?! I'm looking forward to spending time with family and then celebrating a joyous Advent season. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me

I ordered Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me by Lorilee Craker because I am a big Anne fan. I let it sit on my desk for quite awhile though, expecting it to speak more to the heart of orphans than anyone else.

How wrong I was. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. While part of the premise of this book is about Lorilee's, her daughter Phoebe's, and Anne's story of being an orphan and adopted, it is so much more. Craker seamlessly wove in bits of all three of their lives together and I felt as this was as much a devotional as it was a memoir.

Anne quotes, the back history of  Lucy Maud Montgomery (how did I not know that she herself was essentially an orphan after her father so much as abandoned her after her mother died?), and words of wisdom make this book enlightening as well as endearing. 

Chapters such as "Vanquishing Josie Pye" (don't we all have a Josie Pye in our life?!) and "Twenty Pounds of Brown Sugar and a Garden Rake" (all about Matthew Cuthbert and the "fathers" in our life - such a sweet chapter!). Each and every chapter spoke to me and I already look forward to reading through this book again - I savored so many of the descriptions and 'yummy' words.

While this book would be terrific for anyone adopted, anyone who has adopted, or anyone who has given a child up for adoption, or anyone who loves Anne, there is so much more to this book. As the subtitle reads, this book is about "What my favorite book taught me about grace, belonging & the orphan in us all". 

This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 16, 2015


 I didn't plan to write about the *red cups*. Because really more people are outraged about the outrage. Uhm, because there doesn't seem to be an outrage in the first place.

A couple people complained. Then it was blown out of portion. I'd almost like to think that Starbucks started this debate themselves as a genius marketing ploy. Because the *red cups* are now everywhere. You can't get away from them!
Sadly, it probably really was someone who got a bee in their bonnet and complained about a non-issue. Then it went viral. 

Seriously, not a single one of my Christians friends were upset about the cups.

I did see a lot of people use this as a way to bash Christians. Yes, really. There is a war on religion and these things fuel the fire.Instead of realizing seeing the irony of the situation (the fact that there is no situation) some different type of ignorance was brought up.



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Hands Free Life

Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford is a needed book in such a busy and plugged in world.

We all yearn to look back to find we lived a life of significance. But is it even possible anymore? Considering the amount of distraction and pressure that exists in society today, living a fulfilling life may seem like an unachievable dream. But it is not—not with the nine habits outlined in this book.

It's not so much about unplugging from screen time but rather plugging into life. What I really took away from this book, and it is something that I've come to realize fully these past few years, is that we need to be completely present for our children and families and that it is our children that will teach us the real meaning of life.

The best part is that this book teaches kindness and empathy. And how to pass those traits onto our children (or learn them from them). 

The "Hands Free Life Daily Declaration" throughout the chapters are encouraging and also words to mediate on. One is:

"Today when someone messes up, I will not keep track. Today when someone spills, I will not let out an exasperated sigh. Today I will meet blunders with "Everybody makes mistakes" or "That happens to me." Today I will take a page from the book of kindness and compassion. Today I will be the giver of second chances, the give of hugs, the giver of grace not just for those in my path but also for myself. And something tells me that my day will be better because of it."

It took me several weeks to get through this book. Not because I didn't enjoy it but rather because I wanted to savor each chapter.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  


The Grownup

It was a dark and stormy night when I sat down to read The Grownup by Gillian Flynn...

 A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

Okay, it was actually a dark and stormy day. But still. If you've read Gone Girl by the same author you will realize that this is going to be a book with twists and turns. This day was the perfect backdrop to such a book.

When I received this in the mail I was surprised to find that this is a 62 page story. This made for some quick reading - within an hour it was started and finished. Considering it was so short it was packed full of surprises and just like Gone Girl it left me thinking "What did I just read?" The ending is a cliffhanger and leaves everything up to your imagination. 

It's not scary so much as suspenseful. 

My question now is, "What just happened?! I read 62 pages and have no idea!"

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

God is Good

Yesterday I watched as my sister was baptized. While I'm sad that my daughter's Godmother has left our church, I know that each and every one of us has to follow our own journey to God.

As she breaks away from the nest - studying nursing at college, falling in love, paying bills and living life - I rejoice that she has grown closer to God and made HIM the priority in life.

37 people stood on the stage and gave their testimonies. Some were so broken and bruised when they came to God that they said they had nothing to lose. He was their last hope. From suicide attempts to drugs to prostitution, these people made the choice to set aside their ways and become born again. No matter what our faith, what our beliefs are, to see people put their hope, trust, and life into our Lord is a beautiful thing.

It is this post this morning, by Scribbles & Crumbs, which I feel as though I could have written word for word (though not quite as eloquently).

God can take our pain and use it for His glory. I often try to think of the analogy of a mother giving birth. It's hard, it hurts; but it is so worth it in the end. I look at each of my children and think - yes, I would totally go through that pain again for each of you. I imagine this is what Heaven is like - we look back on the struggles of life and think this reward is worth that. I would go through that again to get to here. 

I love God more now then I did 5 years ago. Does that sound weird after seeing some of the greatest suffering in those 5 years? I could blame God for the pain that my loved ones suffered, that the ones still here suffer. But God brought them HOME. No doubt that there are evils in this world. God may allow things to happen, but that doesn't mean that He makes them happen. Free will is still a thing. The presence of the devil is still real. God is always good, even when bad things happen.

That doesn't mean it's easy. As a matter of fact, sometimes the hardest thing is still giving glory to God when everything around you is crumbling. It is a choice - sometimes one that needs to be made daily, hourly, by the minute. 

As the praise song goes: "Sometimes blessings come through raindrops, sometimes healing comes through tears."

Other times those blessings come as a bright burst of yellow flowers, still blooming on my porch in November (all you Iowa peeps know this is no small feat for this little plant!).     
A hug from a friend.

A funny saying from my child.

A knowing glance from my husband when we know we are thinking the same thing at the same time.

Blessings are everywhere. God is everywhere.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hello, November

We had the perfect start to November. A beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday. 

We took advantage of the glorious day to hike through the woods.
This may be my new favorite photo. A girl and her dog. The warm light leading the way like a stairway to Heaven.

With the month of Thanksgiving upon us a ritual of many is to list one thing that they are thankful for each day on Facebook. While I won't be doing this publicly, I am making it a habit to sit down each evening with the family to see what each of us is thankful for. It will be written down in a journal and hopefully referenced many times in the future. 

Every single day there is something to be thankful for. Today it may be the lovely hike with my sweet little family. Tomorrow it may be a hot cup of coffee on a Monday morning. I hope by keeping the thankfulness present each day in our minds that my kids (and even hubby and I!) will look at things around us very differently...always with a thankful heart. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Bronte Plot

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change. - The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

Any book that involves a character who is a lover of all things literary is a book that I am drawn to. I loved some of the descriptions, such as the one on page 38:

"I mean that reading forms your opinions, your worldview, especially childhood reading, and anything that does that has an impact. So call them friends, call some stories enemies if you want, but don't deny their influence.
   You learn drama from the Brontes; sense from Austen; social justice from Dickins; beauty from Wordsworth, Keats, and Byron; patience and perseverance from Gaskill; and don't even get me started pn exercising your imagination with Carroll, Doyle, Wells, Wilde, Stoker-"

    Yet I ended this book disappointed. I felt the characters lacked any, well, character. I could barely tell you what they looked like (except for the eyes and the red hair) or even what their personalities really were. The story lines jumped around...the relationships started and ended and then began again without so much as a time line keeping us on track of things.

   Dare I admit that I have not read a Bronte book? That may have been an issue too, seeing as some of the "insider talk" very well could not be understood without knowing which books, which scenes are being discussed within this book.

   Some of the descriptions seemed overly wordy without saying a thing. The antique store details made me long to picture what items Reay was describing and yet nothing came to mind. Too many colors and abstract details but nothing solid to grab hold of. 

   I think I was more frustrated with this book than anything else. Parts of the writing clearly show that Reay can interest a reader, can grab hold of the imagination. Yet the story fell flat. Maybe a lover of Bronte books would feel differently.

This book was sent to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.


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