Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy weaves together the stories of Sarah, abolitionist John Brown's daughter, and Eden, a woman from current times who struggles with infertility.  As Sarah deals with her father's hanging for the raid on Harper's Ferry, she continues his work helping escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.  On the other hand, Eden wonders whether her marriage will last through infertility, or even if it's worth trying.  While she considers her options, she discovers some interesting things about her house that lead her to learn of Sarah's story.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.  Honestly, I was surprised at the end to find that Sarah Brown was a real person and the events told in this book really happened, although a lot was fictionalized because we have no way to know what she felt about things.  Also, I appreciated both romance stories, as Eden falls back in love with her husband and Sarah, well, I won't tell you what happens with Sarah because it might spoil it for you.

So, yes, I recommend this book, especially if you would like to learn more about the Underground Railroad and Sarah Brown.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: How to Keep Plastic Wrap from Sticking

Recently,  I made a cake for our church's potluck dinner.  After icing it, I put the lid on it, but try as I might, the lid would not go all the way down.  I took it off...and peeled half of the icing off with it.  *Sigh*  So I scraped off the icing and put it back on the cake.

Now I had to figure out what to do?  I needed to put some kind of top on it, but I knew that plastic wrap would do the same thing.  So I had to figure some way to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the icing, but toothpicks would go right through it.  What would be small enough and light enough?  Finally, I thought about little medicine cups, you know, the ones that come with liquid medications.  What a great idea, I thought.

And you know what?  Those little medicine cups worked wonderfully.  They were small enough and light enough not to hurt the cake, but tall enough to keep the plastic wrap from touching (and sticking) to it.  I actually had a couple of people tell me what a good idea this was, and I thought I would pass it on to you, in case you've had the same problem.

Have you had this problem before?  How do you keep your lids from sticking to the icing?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Monday's Quote: What is the Best Way to Spend Your Time?

I started reading Your Sacred Yes:  Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and Joy by Susie Larson last week, and I've been enjoying it.  It's helping me think about the choices I make, whether they are things that I want to do, or whether they are things that I feel God wants me to do.
When we--without thinking too much about it--give away our time to things un-appointed by God, we will not have the grace to sustain them.  Consequently, we put ourselves at risk of the enemy's schemes.  We may forge ahead with energy and enthusiasm, but, under our own strength, we're not strong enough to keep our own footing.  Especially when we live out from under God's best will for us.  (p.21)
When we try to do things that God has not chosen for us to do, we don't necessarily have the energy that we need to do them.  And we rob those things that He has appointed for us to do.  For example, if I choose to volunteer at the pregnancy center, but it means neglecting my children and husband, I have chosen something good, but not the best.  God can find someone else to help out at the center, but only I can take care of my family.

Do you evaluate your choices in light of what God would have you do?  I think it's something that we should routinely do.  What do you think?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Finished Object Friday: A Baby Blanket

I made this blanket for one of my friends who is having a baby girl next month.  I made a blanket from the same pattern several years ago for a different friend, but I love the pattern so much that I wanted to make it again.  I was glad for a good reason!  It's a light, airy blanket that seems to fit the summer months well.

The pattern comes from Crochet Today! the March/April 2009 issue, but the magazine is now out of print which makes me sad.  :(  But at least, I have a copy of this issue so I can make this blanket whenever I want to!  :)

What project have you worked on recently?

Thankful Thursday: Summer Vacation

Sometimes you just need a matter where you are!

While last week was our first week of summer vacation, we were so busy with camp that we didn't feel like we were on vacation.  So this week feels more restful and stress-free since we didn't have much planned.  As a matter of fact, Monday morning as I was planning my day, I realized that I had all kinds of time since we were not going to do least, not very much.  ;)

A few other things for which I'm thankful:
  • we went out for supper last Saturday night with friends and really had a good time with them
  • Tropical Storm Bill did not drop nearly as much rain on us as predicted which was wonderful because the rivers around us are full
  • electricity!  We lost power for over seven hours on Tuesday, and we were so glad to get it back.
  • electricity!  It blinked a few times Wednesday morning, but it kept coming back on!
  • John was home all day Tuesday, and it was great to have him around
  • my first CC information meeting is tonight...I'll be glad to have it over!  ;)
For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday's Quote: Why Does God Love You?

Here's another quote from The Sovereignty of God by Arthur W. Pink; this one deals with why God loves His chosen:
When we say that God is Sovereign in the exercise of His love, we mean that He loves whom He chooses.  God does not love everybody; if He did, He would love the Devil.  Why does not God love the Devil?  Because there is nothing in him to love; because there is nothing in him to attract the heart of God.  Nor is there anything to attract God's love in any of the fallen sons of Adam, for all of them are, by nature, "children of wrath"  (Eph. 2:3).  If then there is nothing in any member of the human race to attract God's love, and if, notwithstanding, He does love some, then it necessarily follows that the cause of His love must be found in Himself, which is only another way of saying that the exercise of God's love towards the fallen sons of men is according to His own good pleasure.
Isn't that humbling?  God doesn't love us because of anything that we've done or anything that we are; He loves us because He loves us.  Isn't that wonderful!  If we haven't done anything to earn His love, we can't do anything to lose it.  How comforting!

What do you think about this quote?  Do you find it humbling, comforting, or both?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thankful Thursday: A Week of Camp

Our summer started this week, and my two older children have art camp this week.  Since they have camp at different times (Daniel in the morning and Sarah Beth in the afternoon), we're spending a lot of time in the car.  But it's worth it since both children are having so much fun.  Other than camp, however, we're not getting much done at home because we're just not there long enough.

A few things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • camp!
  • how much fun my children are having.
  • the nice compliments I've gotten on my children's talent and how they pay attention.  While I'm glad that they have some talent, I'm very pleased that they are paying attention and doing what they are supposed to be doing.
  • the nice, sunny weather.  It's not quite hot yet, although it is unpleasantly warm.  ;)
  • I have my director's training done for CC...
  • and my training for Information Meetings
  • that CC does so much training so that we feel ready for the tasks set us
  • being able to start getting things ready for our campus next year
  • that my Support Manager was able to get us into a CC Practicum (more training!) that didn't officially have room
  • my tomato plants are doing wonderfully.  I can't wait for those ripe tomatoes!
For what are you thankful this week?  Are your children doing any camp this summer?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Review: The Wood's Edge by Lori Benton

When Reginald's newborn son dies while his wife sleeps, he trades the dead body for the living newborn son of a sleeping Indian woman with newborn twin sons.  This book follows both families during the time in America before the Revolutionary War.  The Indian family misses their living son and try to find him, while Reginald hides the truth.  When the truth finally comes out, things don't turn out the way the characters think they might.

I chose this book because I thought it would be more than just a romance novel, but it degenerates into that.  The story ends up focusing on Anna, the adopted daughter of Reginald, and Two Hawks, the Indian twin, and how they fall in love.  I had hoped that it would focus more on Reginald himself and his marriage and family and how they deal with the switched child and the truth.  

I had a few problems with this book.  The love story between Anna and Two Hawks didn't seem right.  I'm sure there were mixed couples like this back then, but the author makes it seem like it wasn't a big deal, that Anna wouldn't mind giving up living in a town with her family and friends to move in with an Indian tribe.  The author also has obviously not given birth to any children.  The way she dealt with postpartum issues (and I won't say anymore than that) makes it clear that she has no experience in these matters.

However, other than that, the book seems thoroughly researched, and I enjoyed learning more about the Indian tribes in New England.  And the Christian aspects were excellent, as the characters learn to trust God and then to forgive those who have wronged them.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my kindle copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday's Quote: The Sovereignty of God

I started reading The Sovereignty of God by Arthur W. Pink last week, and it's full of such good truth that it's a joy to read.  I wonder, though, if we truly understand what God's sovereignty means, both to us and to Him.
Were we to announce from the average pulpit that the subject of our discourse would be the Sovereignty of God, it would sound very much as though we had borrowed a phrase from one of the dead languages.  Alas!  that it should be so.  Alas!  that the doctrine which is the key to history, the interpreter of Providence, the warp and woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Christian theology should be so sadly neglected and so little understood.....To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will.... 
To argue that God is "trying His best" to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent.  To throw the blame, as many do, upon the Devil, does not remove the difficulty, for if Satan is defeating the purpose of God, then Satan is Almighty and God is no longer the Supreme Being.
If God is truly sovereign, then we have to realize that nothing we can do, nothing that anyone can do, is able to thwart His will.  It also makes me wonder if I really want to have any control since I don't know everything like He does.  Not knowing everything could would lead to bad decisions, so I think know that I will leave everything in His infinitely capable hands.

I find God's sovereignty comforting, don't you?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Cinderella!

I took Sarah Beth and Rachel to see Rogers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella on Saturday, and we have a wonderful time.  Rachel was so engrossed that she didn't even smile, while Sarah Beth got into it and laughed and smiled the whole time.  I enjoyed it, too, especially since they had such a good time.

This week I am thankful for:
  • a wonderful time at Cinderella!
  • a safe trip up to Houston and back.
  • God holding the rain off until we were out of Houston.
  • today is our last day of school for the year!  Hooray!
  • the kids' willingness to help weed a flowerbed.
  • John coming home earlier a couple of nights this week.  It's so nice to have him home more!
  • plans made to see some friends for supper soon.
  • bright, sunny weather...even though it makes it a little warm outside.
For what are you thankful this week?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

May Review of Goals

Once again, I did okay on my goals.  I certainly could do worse...but I also could do much better.  Oh, well!  I'll just keep plugging away!

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I did not read anything from my "to read" list, but I did read several other books.
  • Walk on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  Other than the week we visited my family in Georgia, I did well with this.
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Fail.
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.  My children and I spent some time with friends while we were in Georgia.
  • Have one fun day in school a month.  Nope.
  • Take my children on one field trip a month.  Does taking Sarah Beth and Rachel to see Rogers' and Hammerstein's Cinderella count?  ;)
  • Teach my children to do more around the house.  Working on this!
  • Read a book about motherhood.  Not yet.
  • Read a chapter book with my children.  This goal fell by the wayside during May, but with summer reading starting (and school ending), we should get back into this.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Schedule monthly date nights for John and me.   We went out with friends one evening.
  • Read a book about being a godly wife.  I read A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  We have fallen off the bandwagon, so to speak, and need to get back on.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  While we didn't do this in May, I'm excited that we started back this week!
How are you doing with your yearly goals?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday's Quote: Listening -- A Generous Gift

While I read In the Company of Others by Jan Karon, I came across this quote.  Father Tim and his wife Cynthia are talking about some of the reasons they love each other, and she says,
You listen.  Really listening to someone is a very tender and generous gift.  (p. 88)
I wonder how much our relationships with others would benefit if we listened, really listened when they spoke, instead of trying to figure out what they're going to say next, how we're going to respond, or what topic to pick next.  Think about how much you appreciate it when someone stops what they're doing and obviously pays attention to what you are saying, listening attentively.  Then think about how your husband, children, and friends would enjoy your listening to them.  How could our relationships not grow deeper and closer?

I don't know about you, but my listening skills need some work, especially with my children.  Thinking about what a "generous gift" my listening could be should inspire me.

Do you listen well?  Or do you think you need to work on it?