Monday, March 30, 2015

Family Camping Vacation

We went camping last weekend at Garner State Park.  Despite rumors to the contrary, I have been camping before:  a handful of times as a child and twice as an adult (before we had children).  

When we looked at the map, we saw that there was a trail to Crystal Cave and thought that would be fun.  It was listed as an "extreme" hike, though, so we figured we would turn back if it got too difficult.  

We never did turn back, though; the kids just trooped along, having a great time, even Mary.  This picture was from the trail, but what we walked on wasn't quite that bad...most of the time.  And we were glad that we had hiked the trail, although we'll probably never do it again!  ;)

Rachel tagged along with Sarah Beth and Daniel, following in their mountain goat footsteps.

The trail also took us to Painted Rock where the view was breathtaking.  

Down another difficult, but much shorter, trail behind our campsite, was the Frio River.  This part was very shallow, and John and the kids had a great time playing in it.  (It was too cold for my taste.)

Mary was game for anything and everything!  Except a nap.  ;)

I love this picture!

Here's our campsite yesterday morning before we left.  The kids were in one tent, and John and I were in the other one.  

Saturday morning was cold!  Thankfully, John woke up first and got the campfire and breakfast going, along with some hot water for my tea.  It was nice not to have to deal with breakfast!

We had a great weekend, and we look forward to visiting Garner again!  I have a feeling that this trip was the first of many camping trips.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

In this Robin Hood-esque tale, Merry has to take care of the children of her village after her parents and theirs are killed by King John's men.  Having been a noblewoman, she finds the transition to living in a forest hard, but when she learns to trust, she finds the help she needs.  Of course, there is romance, but the reader knows all along which man she will choose.

If you can suspend belief a little (which you have to do with this type of book anyway), this book is a fairly enjoyable read.  Too much is made of the one kiss between Merry and Timothy, but at least, that's all there was.  If you enjoy Robin Hood tales and/or the thought of a woman using a bow sounds like fun, you'll probably enjoy this book.

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

Friday, March 20, 2015


Today is the due date for the baby I miscarried last summer.  I want to remember this baby; I don't want anyone to forget that there should be another child in our family.  But I also don't want to dwell on my loss, especially since it's hard on one of my children.  Finding the thin line of remembering and not dwelling is hard.

I think about this baby every day, multiple times per day.  But I'm not devastated about the loss anymore.  Mostly, I think about where I would be in the pregnancy, and I guess now, I'll think about how old this child would be.

As a memorial, we planted this satsuma tree.  It's a visual reminder every time I go out in the yard which is every day, but it's not a "pushy" reminder.  I thought about doing something special for today like a birthday cake, but I'm not sure how well my other child will deal with it.  Maybe next year.  I think we're just going to have a nice, quiet day at home, and I won't even mention it to my children because one of them will break down.

I've also found that people are uncomfortable with miscarriages.  I guess they just don't know what to say; I know that I didn't before it happened to me.  But now I know; "I'm sorry" is enough.

Today, I will quietly remember and mourn the loss of who might have been.

If you've suffered a miscarriage, how do you remember your little one?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday: A Wonderful Visit and Cavities

Watching videos on the phone.

My parents came for a visit last Tuesday and stayed through Tuesday of this week.  We had a great time visiting with them.  Now I'm trying to get caught back up with my blog writing and reading along with other things like school that were neglected while they were here.  Here are a few things for which I'm thankful:
  • a wonderful visit with my parents!
  • they enjoy my children so much
  • John was able to come home early Friday and play some golf with my father
  • John and Dad played in a tournament Saturday and had fun...
  • and the icing on the cake was that they won a little money!
  • while the weather started out cold and rainy, it was sunny and warm for the rest of the week
I have to admit that I am not thankful for my cavities, even though I know that I should be thankful in all things.  Last week, I had a dentist appointment, and I'm going in today to have my cavities filled.  However, I am thankful that:
  • my dentist found my cavities before they started bothering me
  • one of our babysitters was able to come during the week so I could get my cavities "fixed"
  • I haven't had a cavity since I was seven

While my parents were here, I got some more chicks!  Sarah Beth sells some of our surplus eggs, and Daniel wanted in, so we got him some chicks.  We got four Easter Eggers this time so we'll have plenty of blue eggs.

For what are you thankful this week?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Easter Stories

Easter Stories:  Classic Tales for the Holy Season compiles many wonderful stories about Easter by well-known and not-so-well-known authors.  Several of the tales deal directly with Christ's crucifixion, but several others tell stories that point back to Jesus' sacrifice but not directly.  All of them help the reader to think about what Jesus did for His chosen when He died on the cross and rose again from the dead.  According to the back of the book, it is a "treasury of read-aloud tales selected for their spiritual value and literary integrity."

Honestly, when I received this book, I wasn't thrilled.  But as I started reading the stories, my opinion changed.  I enjoyed every single story, except one.  While I haven't heard of many of the authors, something tells me (probably how well the tales are written) that I should be.  Here are the authors I am familiar with:  C.S. Lewis, Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Lew Wallace, and the Brothers Grimm.  My favorite story was "A Dust Rag for Easter Eggs" by Claire Huchet Bishop, which tells a story of a group of children who each contribute to make a sweater for a sick friend during World War II in occupied France.  Next year when my children are a little older, I plan to use this book as intended and read it to them in order to help prepare for Easter.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday's Quote: Do We Deserve our Heavenly Rest?

I'm still reading Richard Baxter's Everlasting Rest, and I came across these quotes which I wanted to share:
And as the objects we here enjoy are insufficient for our rest, so God, who is sufficient, is here little enjoyed.
We have things backwards, don't we?  We enjoy the things around us which are not enough to satisfy us, instead of God who is sufficient.
And can any soul that hath made God his portion, as every one hath that shall be saved by Him, find rest in so vast a distance from Him, and so seldom and small enjoyment of Him?
Can we really be satisfied with distance between us and God, the One that we truly desire?  Can we help but to draw nearer and nearer to Him?
Nor are we now capable of rest, as there is a worthiness must go before it.  Christ will give the crown to none but the worthy.  Are we fit for the crown before we have overcome?  or for the prize before we have run the race?  or to receive our penny before we have wrought in the vineyard?  or to be rulers of ten cities before we have improved our ten talents?  or to enter into the joy of our Lord before we have well done as good and faithful servants?  God will not alter the course of justice, to give you rest before you have labored, nor the crown of glory till you have overcome.  There is reason enough why our rest should remain till the life to come.  Take heed, then, Christian reader, how thou darkest to contrive and care for a rest on earth; or to murmur at God for thy trouble, and toil, and wants in the flesh.
Sometimes, I wonder why things have to be so hard here on Earth before I get to Heaven, and this paragraph helps me to understand.  While Christ has secured my place in Heaven for all eternity, I still need to go through some trials and tribulations in order to mature so that I'm more worthy of what He has done for me.  This is also a warning to me, not to complain about what my Heavenly Father has ordained for me.

I love reading books about Heaven, learning what it might be like although it will be even better than I can imagine.  As I learn more, my desire for Heaven and eternity with my Lord grows.  Isn't it wonderful!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Review: God Made You Special by Mike Berenstain

When the Bear family has another family over for a cookout, Sister notices that their cousin is a little different.  He doesn't do things quite the way the rest of the cubs do, but he is very sweet and friendly.  Sister asks her mother about Tommy and discovers that God made Tommy, along with every one else, special, and maybe part of Tommy's purpose is to share the "special joy" that God gave him.

Since Mike Berenstain took over the reins of this series of books, they have gotten even better.  Instead of just a moral tale, the books are infused with Christian principles which I enjoy sharing with my children.  This book teaches children to be kind to others who aren't quite like them and to appreciate them for their God-given gifts which may be as simple as a contagious happiness.  I especially liked how the author shows how Tommy has special gifts, even though he is a little different.  Here is another great addition to our family library!

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday's Quote: If We Could Change History, Should We?

I've been reading Easter Stories:  Classical Tales for the Holy Season which is a compilation of stories by different authors.  In an excerpt from Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace, I came upon this one.  Jesus has just passed by Ben-Hur, on His way to the cross.  Ben-Hur has several men who are willing to fight with him to overthrow Rome, and he has the chance to save Jesus before he is crucified.
The sovereign moment of his life was upon Ben-Hur.  Could he have taken the offer and said the word, history might have been other than it is; but then it would have been history ordered by men, not God -- something that never was, and never will be.  (p. 125)
There are many things in history that we wish hadn't happened:  the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition, the beheadings of Christians by ISIS.  And if we had the choice, maybe we would choose for them not to happen.  If we did that, however, history would be by our making, not God's, and do we really know what's best for the whole world?  If someone had intervened in Christ's suffering and dying, so that it didn't happen, where would we be?  I don't know.  It's incomprehensible.  But I do know that God's way is the best way, and all I can do is trust Him through it.  Look at the beauty of salvation that comes to us because of the horrors of the cross!  What good came from the Holocaust and other atrocities?  I don't know exactly, but I do know that good was a result because God works everything for our good and His glory.

If you could change the past, would you?  What would you change?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Book Review: Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl

When Sarah's sister is murdered in a way eerily similar to their parents' murder twenty years before, the police refuse to see the connection.  Sarah is left to investigate with the help of a local deputy.  Meanwhile, Sarah takes in her sister's daughter and has to figure out how to help her deal with her mother's murder while also having to figure out how to be a mother to her.  Through it all, Sarah learns to trust God in the good times and the bad, as she discovers how God has used the hard times in her life to help those around her.

I enjoyed this book, especially the parts where Sarah interacts with her niece who is hurting so much from the loss of her mother.  Also, I appreciated how Sarah learned to appreciate the dark times she had lived through because God does use those to draw us closer to Him and to help others.  And the romance between Sarah and Paul, the deputy who assists her in the investigation, is sweet and not at all inappropriate.  Oh, and I really liked how Mike redeemed himself in the end, but I'm not going to say anything else about it because it would spoil it for you.

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

Friday, March 6, 2015

Do We Really Want God's Help?

Mary enjoys doing puzzles.  She especially likes doing the harder puzzles, ones with 100 pieces.  The problem is that she can't really do these puzzles by herself, so she asks me, "Will you help me do a puzzle?"  Then I sit down and do the puzzle while she watches.  It occurred to me one day that I'm not really "helping" her; I'm doing it for her.

I wonder if we act like Mary with some of our problems, asking for God's help when we really just want Him to do it for us.

"Lord, please help me get up earlier," when I consistently turn off the alarm and stay in bed.

"Lord, please help me not to yell at my children," then I ignore their misbehavior until I'm so frustrated that I yell at them.

"Lord, please help me to lose weight," when I keep buying and making foods that are not conducive to losing weight.

Do we really want God's help, or do we just want Him to do it for us?  If He does it for us, though, we don't learn anything.  And He gives us all the help we need.

I can set my alarm across the room so that I have to get out of bed to turn it off.

I can set aside whatever I'm doing to interact with my children and instruct them before resorting to yelling.

I can make healthier grocery lists.

As I discipline myself in these areas, I will also grow spiritually as I rely on the help that God has already given me.  I know it's not in the Bible, but in these cases, I think it's true that "God helps those who help themselves."  He's not in the business of doing things for us (other than salvation) because then we don't grow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

February Review of Goals

We did a few fun things this month.  John took the older two girls to a Father/Daughter Dance on Valentine's Day.  Daniel celebrated his seventh birthday, and John and I celebrated our fourteenth anniversary. And the Bear Fairy visited!  That was something special, since we thought the Bear Fairy only came once per child.  Amidst all of that fun, I did fairly well with my goals.

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I'm in the middle of one of the books from my list, and I read several others last month.
  • Walk on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  Check!
  • Write one letter or note a month.  I wrote two to make up for not writing one last month.

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 had friends over twice this month.
  • Have one fun day in school a month.  It didn't happen; I wasn't inspired by February's holidays.
  • Take my children on one field trip a month.  Nope.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house.  They've been helping me do all kinds of chores.
  • Read a book about motherhood.  Not yet.
  • Read a chapter book with my children each month.  We read The Story of Dr. Doolittle, and while I had to force Sarah Beth to listen at the beginning (because she wanted to read it by herself), soon she was begging me to read just one more chapter with the others.
  • Do one service project with my children each month.  I just forgot.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Schedule monthly date nights for John and me.  Our anniversary is in February, and we went shooting one evening.
  • Read a book about being a godly wife.  Not yet.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  We just didn't seem to have the time this month, but we need to get back into this.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Fail.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday's Quote: ETERNAL Rest

I'm still working my way through Richard Baxter's Everlasting Rest, and I thought I would share another couple of quotes with you.  
The last jewel of our crown is, that it will be an everlasting rest. Without this all were comparatively nothing. The very thought of leaving it would embitter all our joys. It would be a hell in heaven, to think of once losing heaven.
Just think, if we could leave or lose Heaven once we had gained it, what would that do to us?  As Baxter says, it would turn Heaven into Hell.  Leaving the glory of Heaven and the wonder of true fellowship with God would be hell.
What kind of men, dost thou think, would Christians be in their lives and duties, if they had still this glory fresh in their thoughts? what frame would their spirits be in, if their thoughts of heaven were lively and believing? Would their hearts be so heavy; their countenances so sad? or would they have need to take up their comforts from below? Would they be so loth to suffer; so afraid to die? or would they not think every day a year till they enjoy it? May the Lord heal our carnal hearts, lest we "enter not into this rest because of unbelief."
If we had the eternal joy of Heaven to look forward to, how would that change our lives?  Because we have that certain hope, how should our lives be changed?  Should we go through lives with dour expressions, or should we be happy and lively because we know what comes next?  Shouldn't our very demeanors be such that people are drawn to us and to our Savior?  Have you heard the saying that some people have just enough Christianity to makes themselves miserable?  Is that how we live? Shouldn't we live differently in light of the joy that is coming to us?

Do you think often of Heaven?  Do you wonder at the wonderful reward that Jesus is preparing for us and how wonderful it will be to have sweet fellowship with Him all of the time with no taint of sin?  How do you think that should affect the way we live now, today?