Monday, June 30, 2014

June Reading

I got a good bit of reading done this month, and I really enjoyed it!  I was able to read while I was visiting my parents since I didn't have to worry about cooking, cleaning, or even much laundry (for some reason, it didn't seem like much to do mine and the children's clothes).  It was a nice vacation!
What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thankful Thursday: The Little Things

Isn't God amazing?  I mean, first He chose us "before the foundations of the world" for salvation, then He provided that salvation through the life and death of His Son.  And if He did nothing else for His children, that would be enough.

But it isn't all that He has done.  Every single day, God lavishes good gifts on His children.  He gave me a wonderful husband with a good job so that I can stay home with our children.  He gave me supportive parents.  He helped us get a quick diagnosis for Rachel through our excellent nurse practitioner and a doctor who knew exactly what she had.  And this is just the beginning.

But God is also a loving Father, and He cares about the little things, too.  Yesterday it rained here.  It rained off and on all day long, and we are so thankful for that rain because it's been so very dry.  But one of the times that it didn't rain yesterday was when we arrived at the indoor pool for our swimming lessons.  God knows that I hate being soaked by the rain, so He held it off long enough for us to get inside.  It was raining pretty hard when we left, but I didn't care then because I was already wet.

Of course, God is still good and loving when things don't go my way.  Just because I have to walk through the grocery store soaking wet from the rain, doesn't mean that He doesn't love me.  When I'm up half the night with a fussy child who just can't seem to get to sleep, and I pray and pray that she will just go to sleep because I'm so tired, He's still good, and He still loves me.

But every time the little things work out for my good, I try to remember to praise Him because it certainly doesn't have to be that way.  And I don't know why I'm so surprised by the little things my Father does for me, but I am.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Loneliness Part 2: A Few Reasons Why We're So Lonely

Last week, I wrote that more of us are lonely than we might think.  As I've talked with women, I've been amazed to discover that so many are lonely, even the ones that we usually think have lots of friends.  And I've come up with several reasons that we might be lonely.
  • A life change.  Getting married makes it hard to be around single friends.  Having a baby separates women from their friends without babies.  Divorce, change in job status, there are many things that can make us feel estranged from our friends.  In my case, a couple of moves have separated me geographically from my friends.  Although we do still keep in touch, it's just not the same.
  • Unwillingness to be vulnerable.  It's hard to open up to the women around us and tell them just how lonely we are, how much we need a friend.
  • Being too picky.  When I was a child, there were many boys in my neighborhood but only two girls.  Neither girl went to my school or my church, and both were older.  But we played together because it was that or nothing.  Now I find myself thinking, I can't be friends with her because her children are older (or younger), or she doesn't have any children at all.  But just because we aren't in the exact same life stage with the exact same beliefs doesn't meant that we can't be friends.  Maybe we need to reach out to women who are a little bit different to get the fellowship we need.  And maybe that friendship will develop into something better than we expect.
What do you think?  Can you think of another reason so many women are lonely?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday's Quote: Twenty Years From Now

Recently I read Looking Like the Enemy by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald which tells the author's story about her life in an American internment camp during World War II.  She relates how she struggled with her feelings of guilt because her parents were Japanese and bitterness because she was imprisoned solely for that reason.

One night, Gruenewald's feelings overflowed, and as she confessed them to her mother, she was surprised to discover that her mother dealt with similar feelings.  She asked her mother how she was able to carry on, be  kind to others, and live joyously.  Her mother responded that she wanted to live in a way that she could be proud of when twenty years had passed.

(I wish I had the exact quote, but I loaned the book to my mother.)

This advice resonated with me.  I want to live in such a way that when I look back on my life, I can be proud of the way I handled things.  More so, I want to live so that my Savior will be pleased with my life.  I need the constant reminder that what is happening now will not continue forever, and one day I will look back on these times.  Will I be happy with my reactions?  Or will I be disappointed?

Have you ever thought about how you will look back on your life?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Loneliness Part 1: It's More Common Than You Might Think

When I told you about my spur-of-the-moment trip to Georgia to visit my parents, I didn't tell you why I took the trip.  John has been working a "turnaround" at his plant which means that the plant is shut down while they do maintenance on it, maintenance that has accumulated over the past couple of years.  Everyone is working lots of hours, and John's days have been starting before 5:00 a.m. and lasting until 6:30 p.m. or later.

A couple of weeks ago, there were some nights that I was in a funk.  John asked me what was wrong, and I finally told him that I was lonely.  Right then and there, we set up the trip, and my mother was gracious enough to fly here, help me drive to her house, then help me drive back home so she could fly back to her home.

Loneliness.  I was lonely, and I needed some time around friends and family.  As I talked to other women about the reason behind my trip, I discovered that every single one of them was lonely, too; all except one who told me about a relatively recent period in her life when she was lonely, too.

Loneliness.  If you're reading this post, I would be willing to bet that you're lonely, too, or you have been recently enough that you know how it feels.

What are the reasons for this post?
  1. To let you know that you're not alone.  Jesus said that He would never leave or forsake us.  He's been through everything that we have, and He knows how it feels.
  2. To let you know that you're not alone.  You are probably surrounded by other women who are lonely, too, even if they don't appear so.
  3. If you're not lonely, to encourage you to befriend someone else.  Even if, especially if, you have a great support system and are not lonely at all, I want to encourage you to expand your circle to include another woman who might need a friend.
Being lonely is no fun at all, but I know that God can use it.  If nothing else, we learn compassion for others who are in the same circumstances that we are.

Next week, I plan to explore some of the reasons that we might be lonely.  

Have you been lonely?  How did you deal with it?

Monday, June 16, 2014

What I've Been Doing

I took a spur of the moment trip to visit my parents last week.  We flew my mother in so that she could help me make the drive to Georgia with my children because John was busy with work.  He's been working long hours lately, and it was a good time for me to take a trip.

Here are a few things we did:
  • spent time with family.  I got to see both of my brothers, my sister, and their families.
  • spent time with friends.  One of my friends goes back all the way to when we were little girls!  Laura and I even arranged to meet in Atlanta on my way through.
  • spent tons of time with my mother.   Between the drive to and from Georgia and the time at her house, we had a lot of good, quality time together.
  • swimming.  We went swimming five times which was a great way to prepare for swimming lessons that start today.
And do you know how pictures I took?  ZERO!  Argh!

I also didn't spend much time online, so I need to catch up on all of my blog reading.  We returned home Saturday afternoon, and I've got much to do to get caught up at home, too.

How did you spend last week?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review: Here is Where by Andrew Carroll

Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll does exactly what the title says.  Carroll traveled all over the United States searching out parts of our history that have been forgotten.  Obviously, the author did a lot of research before starting his trip, and I learned much about our country from this book.

Honestly, when I received this book, my first thoughts were how long it was and how dry it was going to be...and I couldn't have been more wrong.  Carroll weaves together the history with his travel adventures - the people he met and the sites as they are now, and the result is a fun, informative book that didn't feel long at all.  Throughout the whole book, I was amazed at the facts he relates, facts that I wasn't taught in school.  My favorite chapter was about the Spanish Influenza, not because I like sickness and death, but because it was such a big deal at the time and has been largely ignored since then.

If you like history or travel books, you will like this one.

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May 2014 Review of Goals

With the beautiful weather, I've been trying to spend as much time as possible outdoors which means there is less time to work on my goals.  I'm okay with that because I know that the summer heat is coming (along with the mosquitoes), and we won't want to be outside too much.

 Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I got a lot read this month but only one book from my book list.
  • Continue walking on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  I didn't do so well this month.  
  • Look for a job.  I'm still stalled at my resume.
  • Go through every room in the house, one a month, to clean out unwanted and unneeded items.  I'm sick of the clutter!  I finished my closet (as much as I'm going to do right now), and I cleaned out the toys that had accumulated in our living room.  I also went through all of the children's clothes, switching out winter for summer and packing up outgrown clothes.
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Done.

Goals as a Mother:
  • Do something (like a playdate) with someone (and her children) once a month, whether it's having someone over for lunch, going to someone else's house, or heading out for a field trip together.  We met friends at the park one day.
  • Continue having one fun day in school a month.  We celebrated Chocolate Chip Day with chocolate chip pancakes and chocolate chip cookies, and we read about the history of chocolate.  One of my favorite "holidays"!
  • Continue taking my children on one field trip a month.  We visited the Bayou Wildlife Park where I took these pictures.
  • Do a service project with my children every month.  I purged a bunch of the toys from the living room and told my children that we were taking them to the pregnancy center for children who didn't have any toys.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house, like mopping and folding clothes.  What a great way to build their self-esteem.  They've helped fold clothes several times along with the other chores they do.  

Goals as a Wife:
  • Continue monthly date nights for John and me.  Done.
  • Do something weekly to make John feel special.  (I got this goal from Tracey at Girls to Grow.)  Hit and miss.

Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  Done.  Twice!
  • Start having Game Night once a month.  Fail.  I may need to take this one off my goals.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Fail.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Monday, June 2, 2014

May 2014 Reading

I got a good bit read this month, and I'm not sure exactly why.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that we started our summer break; with no school, there's more time for reading...even by me!
  • The Genius of Ancient Man by Don Landis.  It's amazing what mankind built after God dispersed them at Babel.  This book shows you so many of those wonders, and I found the whole book intriguing.  Honestly, I can't wait to get to Heaven and talk with saints who lived before the Flood and right after to hear about those times.  In the meantime, this book is the next best thing...although these structures won't be in Heaven since they were not built to worship God.
  • Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin.  My new favorite author Lynn Austin once again explores how the decisions of one generation impact the following ones.  This one takes place during the 1920's and Prohibition.  
  • The Healer by Dee Henderson.  Rachel specializes in helping children after a disaster, but this one hit a little too close to home.
  • John (St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary) by R.C. Sproul.  A collection of Sproul's sermons on John.  Wonderful!
  • In the Garden of the Beasts:  Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson.  (This book is from this year's reading list.)  Again and again, I'm amazed at how blind people were to Hitler's power grab and his assault on the Jews.  I wonder if we're that blind, and I'm afraid we are.  This book tells the true story of William Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Germany during the 1930's.  
  • Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin.  A retelling of the story of Hezekiah with emphasis on how one's decisions impact one's children and grandchildren.
  • The Gentle Revolutionaries by Don Lord.  You can read my review here.
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I can't help but wonder if the mass of people who make this type of book so popular realize that their voting habits (or lack thereof) are working to bring this type of future.  But after seeing the movie, I wanted to see how the book stacked up.  And honestly, I enjoyed both.
I've only read four of the seventeen books I want to read this year!  I'd better get cracking!!  What have you read lately?