Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: King's Blood by Jill Williamson

This book continues the story of Prince Wilek, his brothers, and their people as they make their way via ships to find a new land to settle after their old one was destroyed because of their unfaithfulness to the Creator-God. This one book actually contains three books bound together; the three were published originally via e-book.  In this one, the people have to deal with betrayal and treachery aboard ship, along with  storms and not knowing where to go.  After they find land, they still have old enemies to contend with as well as giants in the new land.  Will their newfound faith prove strong enough?  Will their God?

As the first book in this series, King's Folly, was a kind of retelling of the story of God's judgement -- and destruction -- of Judah, this book seems like a retelling of Judah's return from exile.  Wilek encourages his people to worship the true God instead of the false ones, especially since He has brought them to this new land.  Of course, not everyone does and Wilek has to deal with these problems as well.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the final book in this trilogy.  Williamson's writing is interesting, and her characters have depth.  Some people may complain about there being too many characters to keep track of, but I didn't have a problem.  In fact, I appreciated learning about the different situations from each one's point of view.  There are some characters that I really like and others that I don't care for at all -- which is as it should be.  As long as the ones I like are the ones that are good, I'm fine with it.  :)

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, February 20, 2017

How I "Fixed" My Bad Mood on Saturday

Mary had her first soccer practice Saturday, and she LOVED it!

When I chose joy for my word of the year, one thing I wanted to do was to figure out why I wasn't happy sometimes and see if I could "fix" it.  Some sadnesses can't be "fixed," and I'm not talking about those.  There are times, however, when I've gotten myself into a bad mood, and I don't know why.  Those times are the ones that I want to "fix."

These bad moods seem to happen consistently at two different times.  The first occurs when I put John into a cage of expectations -- and he doesn't meet my expectations.  The second seems to happen the most on Saturdays, and I wanted to figure out why.

My schedule is different on Saturdays than during the week because John is home.  But no, John isn't the cause of my bad moods.  I work really hard on Saturdays, but I work really hard the other days, too.  What's the difference?  I finally realized that the difference is that I have a built-in rest time for me during the week with nap time/play time.  While Hannah does still nap on Saturday, I don't send the other four upstairs to play because John is home, and they need that time with him.  I don't get my usual time to rest and recharge by doing something I enjoy.

This past Saturday, we had soccer games and practice all morning, then we came home for lunch.  After I cleaned up the dishes, did some laundry, and finished the grocery list, I headed to the grocery store -- with Rachel who had a great time!  When I got home and after I put the groceries away, I realized I had a choice.  I could immediately get to work on the dessert I was taking to church the next day, or I could rest for a few minutes and do something that I enjoyed.  I did the latter and was refreshed and recharged to continue my day.  

As a matter of fact, I took a couple more breaks that afternoon to do things that I enjoyed in between doing my other chores, and I stayed in a good mood.  And I think I actually accomplished more!  Since I was rested and happy, I was willing to keep going to get things done.

I have a question for you:  is there a certain time when you find yourself in a bad mood?  Have you ever tried to figure out why it occurs?  Maybe you'll have a breakthrough like I did!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What I Enjoyed this Week: Our Anniversary

We were so young!

Today is our anniversary!  Sixteen years!  As we tell each other often, it feels like forever and yet it also feels like it was just yesterday that we walked down the aisle.  :)

This week was a quiet one.  As I looked at my schedule Sunday night after writing everything down, I realized that I didn't have much going on, and I thought, "How nice!"  :)  Of course, my days were still fairly full with daily homemaking and homeschooling, but we didn't have much else.  But I am getting used to soccer season again, having to take Sarah Beth and Daniel to practice every evening which really impacts what I can fix for supper:  either something real quick when we get home or something real slow in the crock pot.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Daniel's birthday.  He's such a simple fellow that he didn't plan much, but he and John had a great time playing golf on Sunday.  
  • finishing a good book:  The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn
  • Daniel was invited to go fishing yesterday afternoon and had a great time
  • taking Daniel to the grocery store with me on Saturday.  We had so much fun together!  In order to spend more time with each child, I plan to take one with me on my weekly trip to the grocery store.  Rachel's eyes lit up when she discovered that she could go with me tomorrow.  
We're going out for supper tonight to celebrate our anniversary, and we have soccer games tomorrow morning.  Fun!

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

Kindness seems like such a simple thing that's not worth much, but according to this author -- and her research -- kindness has the power to change the world.  As we show kindness to those around us, in general, they will respond in the same way.  Felhahn also describes several ways that we are unkind without even realizing it.  She gives many examples of ways that we can show kindness.  Then she challenges her readers to implement what they have learned and show kindness to someone in particular with her thirty day challenge.

This book is the second one by Feldhahn that I've read, and I was so impressed by the first that I immediately wanted to read this one.  I was not disappointed.  As she weaves together her research with anecdotes, the idea of kindness actually changing our difficult relationships seems possible and even probable.  I haven't tried the challenge on anyone -- yet, but I can see how, realistically, it can change the one doing the challenge and even the one on whom the challenge is being done.  Yes, I recommend this book, not just because it is interesting but also because it has the power to show you how to improve your relationships.

I want to thank Blogging for Books for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Cage of Expectations

While I was at the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit, I heard about what Roxanne Parks calls "the cage of expectations."  In the same idea, Lindsey Lambert calls expectations the "chains that bind us."  Since I received a comment about this topic from what I brought home from the Summit and because it's something I'm working on, I thought I would extrapolate a little bit.

Let's see what this "cage" looks like.

When John arrives home from work, I expect him to help me.  Never mind that he has just worked a long day himself and is late because he stopped by to pick up Sarah Beth or Daniel from soccer practice.  Never mind that God designed wives as helpmeets, not the other way around.  And never mind that I don't even have a clear idea of what kind of help I want.  I just have a vague idea that I'm tired and want some help.

One of two things can happen when John walks through the door.  First, he could get distracted by a package that came in the mail that day, something that he has been waiting to arrive.  I'm irritated because he did not meet my expectations by helping me.  Secondly, he could walk in the door, see that Hannah is fussing at my feet while I'm washing dishes, and pick her up.  He just helped me, but I'm not grateful because I expected that help.

It's a lose-lose situation for both of us, and I have put my husband in the "cage of expectations."

Of course, this concept works with children as well.  When I expect my child to do well on a math test and he does, well, I'm not happy or grateful because I expected it.  If he does poorly, however, I'm upset because he did not meet my expectations.  (I'm using the generic "he;" I'm not singling out poor Daniel.)  I see this happening with chores, too, like setting the table.  You get the idea.

It's hard to let go of our expectations.  It's hard.  But we need to.  You can see from the examples above why it's called the "cage of expectations."  I've put my husband and my children in cages, and only I can let them out.

I'm working on this, and I wrote this post to remind me to work on it.

Do you put your loved ones in "the cage of expectations"?  If so, join me, and let's let them out!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Ninth Birthday, Daniel!

 Today is Daniel's ninth birthday!  I can't believe that in a year I will have two children in double digits!

He loves to build things:  legos, models, soccer goals.  :)

Daniel is very sweet and caring with his little sisters.

 Pictures like this one melt my heart!

He is also all boy and loves to have a good time.

But Daniel also loves to read.

Sometimes, he's a little goofy.  :)

I look forward to seeing what God has planned for my only son this year!

Friday, February 10, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: The Summit!

I do have more children, but this cutie is available more often for pictures.  She tends to be happier to smile for the camera, too.  :)

Last weekend, I attended the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit.  I had a wonderful time, and I learned a lot.  I wish every state had something similar for homeschooling mothers because we can all use that kind of encouragement and refreshment.  I went with a friend, and I also enjoyed spending time with her.  I think she went to spend time with me and was pleasantly surprised by how much she learned and was encouraged despite her twenty years of homeschooling.  :)  As I've told many people already, you know you have a good husband when he lets you go off for the weekend, leaving him alone with five children.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • texting my sister.  We don't do that enough.
  • finishing a good book
  • Hannah's birthday
  • an empty day.  One of my children was sick Wednesday, so we had to stay home from CC.  Since CC takes our whole day and we're tired when we get home, I schedule almost nothing to do on those days.  Staying home gave me a day with nothing planned!  I was able to catch up on a few things that I hadn't gotten to earlier in the week and also get ahead by doing things scheduled for Thursday.  That was nice!  In case you're wondering, we did do a little bit of school, too.  No need to waste the day!  ;)
  • soccer!  Sarah Beth and Daniel both started practices this week.  We were worried about Daniel's team because I received an email stating that they didn't have a coach for it yet.  But someone came through and volunteered!
  • listening to CDs of some of the workshops at the Summit that I missed because I was in different ones:  one by Lisa Pennington and one by Susan Seay.  I look forward to listening to the last one I have and then listening to them again!
We don't have much planned this weekend which is nice since I was gone last weekend.  Well, there's Daniel's birthday, but he hasn't asked for much, unlike Rachel.  :)

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?