Friday, February 27, 2015

February Reading

Three books that I read this month were really good, and I highly recommend them.  The fourth book was good, too, and I recommend it, just not as much.  Let's see if you can figure which one that one is.  ;)
  • Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  This book contains excellent teaching for studying the Bible and actually getting something out of it.  I cannot recommend this book enough!  Read it!
  • Wings of Refuge by Lynn Austin.  When Abby takes a trip to Israel to help with an archaeological dig, she hopes to leave behind her hurt and anger.  Instead she finds a way to work through her pain and find healing and restoration through Jesus Christ.  I really enjoyed how Austin weaved the stories of Leah (a first century Jewish Christian) and Hannah (the expedition's leader) with Abby's to make a wonderful book.  Thanks, Tracey, for the recommendation!
  • Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl.  Wynter's brother was kidnapped several years ago, and when she sees a picture of a boy who might be her brother, she has to investigate.  Along the way, she discovers a lot about herself and her parents, and she even finds her way back to God. I enjoyed reading this book while walking on my treadmill; it made the time seem much shorter.
  • Fierce Convictions:  The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More -- Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior.  In the late 1700's and early 1800's, women weren't able to do much to change society, but Hannah More was able to accomplish much using the gifts that God gave her.  What William Wilberforce did through politics to end the slave trade, More accomplished socially, bringing attention of the plight of African slaves to the British people, most of whom had never seen one.  More also started Sunday schools where the poor learned to read, and she worked toward curbing cruelty to animals.  This book was a neat look into More's life and the times in which she lived. 
  • The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting.  This book about a doctor, who can talk to animals, was our read aloud book this month, and my children loved it!
If you guessed Gathering Shadows was the one that wasn't quite as good as the rest, you guessed correctly!

What have you read lately?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are There Such Things as Dragons?

No, of course, not!

But were there once maybe?


I have to admit that I hope that dragons existed at one time.  They seem like such neat long as you didn't get too close.  Since so many ancient cultures have stories about dragons, I don't think it's farfetched to think that God did make dragons and that they just died off with the dinosaurs.

Listen to what God says in Job 41 about Leviathan:
Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?  (v.1)  Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears?  Lay your hand on him; remember the battle - never do it again!  Indeed any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him?  (v.7 - 9)  I will not conceal his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions.  (v. 12)  Who can open the doors of his face, with his terrible teeth all around?  His rows of scales are his pride, shut up tightly as with a seal; one is so near another that no air can come between them.... (v. 14-16)  His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.  Out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out.  Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.  His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.  Strength dwells in his neck, and sorrow dances before him.  (v. 18-22)
Did you catch that part about breathing fire?  Maybe Leviathan didn't fly, but there were dinosaurs that did.  When I read about this fearsome beast, I am glad that I wasn't around to see one when they existed!'s another reason I look forward to Heaven:  seeing if dragons did exist at some time and maybe getting to see one there.  Wouldn't that be neat?!

I don't know for sure that there will be animals in Heaven, but I don't see why not.  And I realize that they won't necessarily be as tame and gentle as our domesticated animals.  But I do know that they won't be afraid of us, and we won't need to be afraid of them even if they don't act like pets.  And I can't wait to see what dinosaurs really looked like, and maybe even dragons!

Have you ever thought about dragons being in Heaven?  What type of animals do you hope to see?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday's Quote: Everlasting Rest, What a Glorious Thought!

I've been working my way through The Saints' Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter, and I have to admit that it is work since it was written over three hundred years ago.  But what I'm gleaning from this piece of literature is worth every minute!  I discovered this gem through reading Randy Alcorn's book Heaven, and I'm so glad that I did!

When we Christians die and arrive in Heaven, we will have rest from our earthly labors.  Isn't that a glorious thought?

The things contained in heavenly rest are such as these: a ceasing from means of grace; a perfect freedom from all evils; the highest degree of the saints' personal perfection, both of body and soul; the nearest enjoyment of God, the chief good and a sweet and constant action of all the powers of body and soul in this enjoyment of God.
Read that paragraph again?  Doesn't that sound wonderful?  To be perfected in body and soul, to be free from all evils, and to have continuous, sin-free interaction with God?!
Still more, this rest will be absolutely perfect. We shall then have joy without sorrow, and rest without weariness. There is no mixture of corruption with our graces, nor of suffering with our comfort. There are none of those waves in that harbor, which now so toss us up and down. Today we are well, tomorrow sick; today in esteem, tomorrow in disgrace; today we have friends, tomorrow none; nay, we have wine and vinegar in the same cup.
Everything good will be untainted by anything bad!  This thought is so wonderful that I can't even imagine it!
We shall also rest from all the toils of duties. The conscientious magistrate, parent and minister cries out, "O the burden that lieth upon me!" Every relation, state, age hath variety of duties; so that every conscientious Christian cries out, "O the burden! O my weakness, that makes it burdensome!" But our remaining rest will ease us of the burdens.
And we will get to lay aside our burdens and responsibilities.  As a homemaker, I feel like my job is never done:  there is always laundry to do, meals to make, dishes to wash.  There will be work in Heaven, I'm sure of it, but it will be without any of the burdens that our work here has.

As I continue reading this book, it makes me long more and more for my "everlasting rest."  To God alone be the glory!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thankful Friday

Once again, I'm a day late with my "Thankful Thursday" post.  Oh, well.  I'm going to blame it on not being home two afternoons in a row when we are home almost every afternoon.

First we stayed the afternoon at CC, seeing what Essentials is all about since Sarah Beth will do that next year.  So far, we've just gone to CC in the morning, so next year is going to be a change.  We also enjoyed homeschool story time at the library and had such a good time that we stayed longer than usual, visiting with friends.  So Mary missed her nap twice in a row, and I missed my quiet time.

Here are a few things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • fourteen years of marriage to a wonderful man
  • and a nice dinner out tomorrow night along with maybe some shooting practice
  • nice weather again this week after a yucky beginning
  • homeschool story time
  • spending time with friends
  • the way that CC challenges my children and will continue to challenge them as they learn and mature
For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fourteen Years

We were so young!

Fourteen years ago today, John and I were married.  Our journey together has been filled with lots of love, some tears, and much joy.  Since our wedding day, we have moved several times, added four children to our family, and experienced one miscarriage.  It's been a long road, although at times it has seemed very short.  While I don't know exactly what God has planned for us in the upcoming years, I know that it will be for His glory and our good.  I feel blessed that God gave me to John fourteen years ago.

Book Review: The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb is packed full of useful information about gardening in a small space.  From planning and setting up a small garden to reaping the harvest, almost everything one would need to know is contained in this book.  There is even a chapter about heirloom varieties, and a section in the back listing reputable sellers.

I enjoyed reading through this book and learning how diverse a small garden can be.  The author makes it seem so simple and easy, enough to make anyone able to have a postage stamp-sized garden.  I've even been inspired to get some vegetables planted this spring.

If you want a productive vegetable garden but don't have much room, you ought to read this book!

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

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thankful Friday

Well, there's no alliteration in Thankful Friday (as opposed to Thankful Thursday), but it's the best I've got.  ;)

This week I'm especially thankful that God blessed us with Daniel seven years ago.  He's a sweet boy; he loves to help; and he's gentle (for the most part) with his sisters.  Daniel is also all boy, and we wouldn't have it any other way!

A few other things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • my husband's encouragement to take a Basic Pistol class
  • that there were only women in the class (Whew!)
  • that John didn't have any trouble with the kids while I was gone all day
  • children who are easily satisfied for their birthdays:  Daniel wanted a trip to the Lego Store in Houston, chocolate cupcakes with blue peppermint icing (um, okay), and lunch at Chick-fil-A.
  • a nice, long weekend with John since he took yesterday and today off and has Monday off
  • Teachers' Night Out, you know, since we homeschooling moms are teachers  ;)
  • beautiful weather again this week 
For what are you thankful this week?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Seventh Birthday, Daniel!

Today is Daniel's seventh birthday!

He loves to play outside, and he's discovered baseball!

Daniel is a sweet brother.

 And he loves riding his bike (even though it's getting a little small).

Daniel also has a silly streak!

We love our only son Daniel, and we look forward to seeing what God has in store for him as he grows.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: Winter's Child by E. Kaiser Writes

In this retelling of The Snow Maiden, the king and queen of Noran have wished for a child for a long time when finally they receive Ilise.  As she grows, they realize that she has extraordinary powers, the ability to manipulate ice and snow.  They seclude her so that she doesn't hurt anyone and so no one will discover what she can do.  Meanwhile, they have another daughter Girta who is a rambunctious child.

There are other characters introduced into the story, but they don't interact with the first ones.  In a different kingdom Demargen, the king and queen have another son, one of many.  And somewhere else, a little boy named Kai is found by a woodcutter while wandering lost in a blizzard with his two reindeer.

I liked this story, but I have to admit that it's disjointed with the different characters not coming into contact with each other.  And this story is full of ideas from the movie Frozen, and it almost feels like a retelling of that movie with more backstory.  And I have to wonder if this trilogy would flow better as one book instead of three, although I've only read the first one.  However, I look forward to seeing what Writes does with this story in the rest of the books.

I want to thank the author for my copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, February 9, 2015

What's the Bible Really About?

Or rather, Who is the Bible really about?

In Women of the Word:  How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds by Jen Wilkin, the author shares some of the ways in which she studied the Bible incorrectly before realizing how to study it correctly.  Here's one:
The first thing I got backwards seems so obviously backwards that it's embarrassing to admit:  I failed to understand that the Bible is a book about God.  The Bible is a book that boldly and clearly reveals who God is on every page.  In Genesis, it does this by placing God as the subject of the creation narrative.  In Exodus, it places Him in comparison to Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt.  In the Psalms, David extols the Lord's power and majesty.  The prophets proclaim His wrath and justice.  The Gospels and Epistles unfold His character in the person and work of Christ.  The book of Revelation displays His dominion over all things.  From beginning to end, the Bible is a book about God. 
Perhaps I really did know that the Bile was a book about God, but I didn't realize that I wasn't reading it as if it were.  This is where I got things backwards:  I approached my study time asking the wrong questions.  I read the Bible asking "Who am I?" and "What should I do?"  And the Bible did answer these questions in places.  Ephesians 2:10 told me that I was God's workmanship.  The Sermon on the Mount told me to ask for daily bread and to store up treasure in heaven.  The story of Kind David told me to seek after the heart of God.  But the questions I was asking revealed that I held a subtle misunderstanding about the very nature of the Bible.  I believed that the Bible was a book about me.  (p.23-24)
Sometimes, I find myself reading the Bible "backwards" just as Wilkin did, thinking that it's a book about me to help me.  But it's not; as she says, it's a book about God, and we must remember that while reading and studying it.

Do you fall into this trap, too?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Thankful Thursday...on Friday

It was not pretty enough this week to play outside, and we missed it.

This week has turned out to be much busier than I expected.  We didn't have CC, so I scheduled some other things to take advantage of our week off...and I think I overbooked ourselves.  Oops!  We had friends come over on Monday, and later I took another friend out for dessert for her birthday; Wednesday I took all four children to the doctor's office, and the three girls got shots; and yesterday we had more friends over.  It was fun (for the most part ;) ), but it was busy!

Here are a few things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • a week off from CC!  (My children, however, were disappointed.)
  • friends willing to drive an hour to see us
  • a fun way to celebrate birthdays:  dessert out
  • vaccinations, so we don't get sick!
  • that Rachel can now receive vaccinations
  • Baskin Robbins ice cream after shots
  • more friends -- who left cookies and ice cream with us when they left.  I'm still not sure whether to be thankful for that or not....  ;)
  • a quiet day today (I hope)
  • children who are trying to earn money; they're almost fighting each other to see who will unload the dishwasher or vacuum the floor after we eat!
  • cold weather that kept us inside and gave us time to clean the baseboards
  • Daniel who is looking forward to his upcoming birthday
For what are you thankful this week?  Do you tend to schedule too much for your weeks off school?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Do You Want to Know the Future?

When I'm reading a book, I like to skip ahead to see what's going to happen.

When my children come to a part of a television show that's a little scary to them, they always ask me what is going to happen.

When watching tv myself, I like to read a short synopsis about each episode so that I know a little of what's going to happen in it.

Lately, I've noticed thinking thoughts like, "I wish I could skip ahead to the end of the month and see what's going to happen."  And then it hits me that I can't.  But then I find myself thinking it again.  It occurs to me that my skipping ahead while reading is partly to blame for this thinking.

Real life doesn't happen according to a script.  With a sovereign God in control, we never really know what's going to happen next, which is why James says, "Come now, you who say, 'today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow....Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'"  (James 5:13-15)

I have to admit that I wish I knew what was going to happen for the rest of my life...until I actually think about it.  Then I'm glad that I don't know.  But I do know that it's very comforting to know Who is in control of everything, and He knows what will happen.  And He will work everything out for my good (even if it doesn't always feel that way).  (Romans 8:28)  Knowing Him is much better than knowing my future.

Do you peek ahead while reading books?  Do you find yourself wishing that you knew parts of your future?

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Review of Goals

Putting together a 24-piece puzzle all by herself!

This month we returned to our school routine after taking a couple of weeks off for Christmas, which was a needed break, and it was great that John was able to take the time off to spend with us, too.  Then I headed out of town with a friend to the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit and had an amazing time!  Last week we celebrated Rachel's birthday, and she had a wonderful day.  She wanted to pick out some legos and get a My Little Pony from Build-a-Bear, so we traveled into Houston to accommodate her wishes.  Pleasing her on her birthday was so easy, we figured, why not?  Other than that, we've just spent a lot of time doing school, getting things done so we can have a nice summer break.  Oh, and the weather has been beautiful (at times), and we've enjoyed that, too!

Working hard!  I forgot to take a picture with Daniel in it.

Personal Goals:
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.  Fail.  I was just too busy doing school to schedule anything else, but that changes next month.
  • Have one fun day in school a month.  We read some books about Martin Luther King, Jr., on his birthday and discussed why the Civil Rights Movement was needed.  We also celebrated Puzzle Day with reading a couple of books about puzzles and doing some jigsaw puzzles.  I bought a 200 piece puzzle, and the four of us (not Mary or John) had a great time putting it together.  It took all of us since none of my children are quite ready for that size puzzle (except maybe Sarah Beth).  We had a such a good time that Sarah Beth and Rachel wanted to do it again after we finished!
  • Take my children on one field trip a month.  Fail.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house.  This month, I plan to have Sarah Beth and Daniel help me with cooking supper.  I didn't do very well with this.  Oops!  I kept forgetting.
  • Read a book about motherhood.  Not yet.
  • Read a chapter book with my children each month.  I forgot all about this goal.  Oops!
  • Do one service project with my children each month.  I earned enough swagbucks for a $25 VISA gift card, and I used it to buy some animals through Samaritan's Purse.  My children helped me decide on chickens, since that was really all we could afford anyway.  And they were very interested when I packed up several baby blankets I had knitted for our local pregnancy center.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Schedule monthly date nights for John and me.  We went to our local pregnancy center's annual fund-raising banquet.
  • Read a book about being a godly wife.  I haven't started one yet.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  We didn't feel like we had time this month what with my retreat and the pregnancy center banquet.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Fail.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?