homesick

My parents headed back to the warmth of the sunny south, and I am here with my grandparents to help with recovery. The goal is to get grandpa well enough to get back home.

The doctors and hospital here are SO much better than down south, and I am grateful this happened where it did. The cardiologist seemed to be able to get the medicines straightened out that’ve been out of whack since the beginning of this year, when the southern doctors started messing around and changing medicine, and he had that near-death reaction.

This hospital had the ability to use contrast die for a test (I forget which one) to be better able to see everything. Normally this die puts him into anaphylatic shock, so he hasn’t had this done for years. The doctors here know how to prevent this through other medicine, and they discovered a minor (if there’s such a thing in the cardiac world!) problem with one of his heart valves. They are attempting to control this with medicine. This should help the amount of blood the heart is able to push through.

And meanwhile I am thirteen-ish hours away from home and fighting off homesickness. I miss my siblings, and my parents. I miss the church we’ve been attending, and meeting with other believers and joining in worship with them. But it is amazing how the Lord has been preparing me for this current chapter of my life — there’s NO way I would have ever agreed to this if I hadn’t lived with my grandparents for months last year =)

Years ago I read what Frances Ridley Havergals’ mother told her on her deathbed, and I have been praying it ever since. She told her, “Ask the Lord to prepare you for all He is preparing for you.” Think about that for a moment — the Lord has prepared for each of us a place in this world, a place where He will use us for His greater glory. A place where we can show others the truth of Christ’s love, be His hands and His feet in this world. But how can you do this unless you have asked him to prepare you for whatever task He has assigned to you?

This is one thing I have been meditating on during my early morning walks around the lake. It is so peaceful and quiet, and I can think so clearly. Another favourite time to think — or talk on the phone to my family — is as the sun is setting, in all it’s gloriously, undescribable colours that wash over the earth. The unnamable hues of pink and purple and blue bring to mind one of my favourite hymns:

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong
Seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world,
Dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise
Cry, The Lord is in this place.
This is my Father’s world,
From the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world,
Should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring.
God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world.
Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world,
a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

This is our Fathers world, if we only open our eyes to the beauty around us.

driving and praying

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have someone you love so very much in a hospital on the opposite side of the United States than you are, it’s hard. Especially when you’ve been the one with them constantly during hospital stays.

It involves a lot of prayers. A lot of tears. A lot of phone calls. A lot of driving.

We’ve been driving all night, cross country. About thirteen hours through dark country sides, lit up cities; over bridges and over rivers and lakes and streams. We left at 7:00 last night. We have an hour left as I write this.

We watched the sun rise four states away from our home. It was a beautiful sunrise, veiled in misty fog, reminding us that our Lord’s mercies are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness.

If you think of it, pray for us. Pray for my grandfather, who is in the hospital, states away from where we live. Pray for my parents who have shared the responsibility of driving all night. Pray for my mother — it is her father who is laying in that hospital bed. Pray for my grandmother. Pray for the doctors. Pray for alert minds, clear thinking, and peaceful hearts.

Thank you, my friends!

engraved on the heart

Engraved on the Heart by [Johnson, Tara]

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . … and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

I chose to review this book for two reasons: 1) I live in the South, and books written from the southern perspective pretty much always intrigue me; and 2) my interest was piqued by the medical issues in the book.

This book left me with mixed feelings, so I’m going to break it all down in categories — which I seldom ever do. So bear with me on this =)

:::Characters:::
Each of the characters were well developed and relatable. This author truly has a gift, I think. I could sympathize with Kizzie, and with Micah, and with Kizzie’s mother, and her young cousin, and Hiriam, and any of the other characters. I appreciated being brought into the world of Savannah, Georgia, into the midst of the war and the food shortages and the hot-headedness through the characters.

:::Writing/Plot:::
I enjoyed this authors style of writing immensely. It was descriptive without being too detailed, passionate without being too dramatic, and the language used was beautiful and complex. The plot itself was a good idea, and, while I didn’t appreciate all of the nuances, it was okay.

:::Setting:::
The charm of historical Savannah was captured beautifully, and the descriptions given about different places, shops, buildings and streets were charming. I laughed at the many mentions of the legendary southern heat and humidity making the characters hot and sticky and sweaty…..’cause that’s life in the south :D

:::History:::
I already mentioned that I had looked forward to reading this because it was a story set in the south — and I am a confederate at heart, as most of you well know. The history of the few battles mentioned, the food shortages, the balls and dancing and clothing were all accurate, from what I have studied. The medical treatments seemed authentic, as well, and from what I have read — which admittedly isn’t much — everything was treated pretty much how it would have been in the 1860’s.

:::What I Didn’t Like:::
For all the things I liked about it, there were several things that irked me as I was reading. The history was….lacking. I kind of felt that one side was given fairly — the north — and the confederates suffered badly. Most people wouldn’t have noticed or cared, but the southern soldiers seemed to be portrayed negatively, the southern women were portrayed as flighty and flirtatious, and the social customs and manners were spoken of in a way that made them seem ridiculous. Granted, the story was about slavery, abolition, and the underground railroad, but it was set in the south and the bulk of the story was told by a southern girl…..so you would think that, with all the upbringing she would have had, she would have merely disagreed with her homeland and her family’s positions on certain issues. Instead, I read a story of a character who seemed to be more of a northern girl who was vacationing down south. Again, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed…..but I did. I also didn’t care for the lack of southern charm. The setting was charming enough, it’s true, but the people themselves, while feeling authentic, lacked the southern charm of yesteryear.

Another thing I didn’t care for was the relationship between Kizzie and Micah. Y’all know that I am a big proponent of working together and building a relationship based on doing things to get to know the other person, rather than feelings. Granted, feelings will come, but I’m not really fond of “feeling-like-I’m-falling-in-love” relationships. I thought, from the description, that these two would be working together to free the slaves, and emotions would follow…..but it was more of a relationship based on feelings, than actually getting to know someone through hard work. Nothing inappropriate, and the reader sees the true character of each through the narration, but I’m not sure the other character really had a chance of seeing the other’s character before being thrown together in the end. If that even makes any sense at all :D

This was a book I would recommend for older readers, due to violence with the bounty hunters and the whole slavery issue. There is a rather violent part involving Kizzie and her brother, and there are two deaths that you “see”. Details aren’t really given, but it happens, nonetheless.

In all, I give this book 3.5 stars, and I would be willing to give this author another go-round =)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn’t required to write a favourable review. All thoughts are my own.

a millennial’s response

This is a bit different than my other blog posts — this is a free lance article I wrote in response to the whole historical monument controversy, so it is written in a more formal and outspoken manner than I normally write. The Linn Park Memorial is a monument that honours the confederate soldiers and sailors of Alabama. I would be interested in your opinion — on both the writing and the content. What do you think about the whole issue at hand? Right, wrong, or indifferent? Any further insight on this?


Once again, we are stirring up a controversial topic, and this time in the heart of the southland. The question is simple: should we, or should we not hide away our historical monuments? Should we allow them to be covered up and hidden away from our view, their history untaught, and unlearned by those of us growing up in the free nation of the United States of America?

As part of the millennial generation, I want to say something which may sound harsh: we were failed. My generation has been failed time and again by those older than us. You taught us history that wasn’t true, you taught us to be passive, to avoid conflict, and to only care about whether we get what we want when we want it. We are the product of what you have formed. And as a millennial, I am going to speak out, very strongly – one voice among thousands of apathetic people who never learned what it meant to believe in something so much, that we were willing to die for it.

I was appalled when I heard that Birmingham had done the unthinkable and had boarded the Linn Park Memorial – a monument that remembers those who died in a war that was ugly, and complicated, and deadly. I had relatives that fought in that war – on both sides of the conflict. I am sure many of you reading this are descendants of those who fought in this Great War. They made sacrifices for something they believed in, and, whether we think them right, wrong, or indifferent, we need to remember those who died in that field of conflict.

I say this to our parents, our grandparents, and our great-grand parents. To our teachers, to our government leaders, to our social workers and activists and civil liberty unions: don’t hide the truth. Our history has been scarred by memories we would rather not discuss. Jim Crowe laws, segregation, racism, annihilation of people because they are different than our idea of “normal”. If you hide this from us, we will never learn. If you hide the ugly, the ugly will happen again. If you ignore the history of our great nation, then we learn nothing about what happened to create this nation.

Racism is rampant in our society because we were never taught the consequences of it. You never allowed us to see what happens in a country divided by racism, by segregation, by Jim Crowe laws. You never taught us to embrace our differences – you hid the truth away, refusing to tell us the truth, refusing to teach us history the way it happened. Because it was ugly, and you would rather forget it. But you lived through it – and if you don’t share the truth with us, the children of this nation, we will live through it again.

We need the monuments that memorialize our nation’s history to be left intact, for one simple reason: so we can ask you about them. You haven’t taught us the truth – you failed us. And we don’t know what to ask because we don’t know what happened. Leave up the memorials, leave them up as a reminder of hard times, of painful times, of times in this nation’s history when we disregarded the worth of people because of the color of their skin. Leave them up, as a reminder to each of you of how you failed my generation who is following in your footsteps. Leave them up, so we can ask you about them. So you can share with us the unadulterated history of this nation.

Every single person in my generation should be infuriated at how our history has been treated. We are the ones who will inherit this nation. We are the ones who will have to manage to teach others what we ourselves haven’t been taught. We are the ones who will have to deal with everything that you hid away from us. We are the ones who will have to reveal hard truths from generations who have gone before us, and we are the ones who will deal with the consequences.

My generation needs to read through the history of our nation, and learn from those who lived it. Go search the libraries and archives and the internet for original documents from the mid-eighteen hundreds and see what it is that has been hidden from us. We need to read through diaries of our great-great-great-great grandparents, we need to read through the accounts of the generals of those great battles, and we need to read through the accounts of those who lived through this fearsome conflict. We need to learn what it looks like to live life passionately, regardless of the consequences. We need to stand on the same foundation as our forefathers did so many years ago, when they first penned the words which shall forever be immortalized in our land: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

We need to ignore the mantra that has been pounded into us about being passive and we need to wake up. This history is mine. It’s yours. It belongs to us, and we need to start thinking about the generations coming up after us, instead of our own selfish want to ignore the hard truths of this nation. We need to guard it with a passion, even the tumultuous times. We need to guard it as a precious inheritance, and pass it down to the next generation intact, with nothing taken from it.

randomness

I have thought about posting something like this for a while now…..but have always chickened out. But I’ve enjoyed reading these sorts of posts from others, so here goes nothing =)  Here’s 22 things that I am assuming you don’t know about me. If you are a close friend, or someone who has been following this blog for awhile, you will already know most of these…….but if you aren’t or haven’t……well, then, you have no idea……:D

So here goes nothing!

1. I absolutely HATE spiders. I don’t just hate them —  I am absolutely TERRIFIED of them, and loathe them with a passion. Practically anything that has more than four legs will cause me to utterly embarrass myself, because I will…..for lack of a better word, squeal…..very loudly and high pitched. Normally for one of the boys. As a matter of fact, one of my brothers can distinguish a “spider” scream from my other ones, and always comes prepared. Thank goodness for brothers who will kill those squishy, squiggly, nasty critters!

2. This one surprises a lot of people who have experienced my reaction to spiders, roaches, beetles, and other six or eight legged creatures, but I am not afraid of snakes or mice. I have actually chased a little green garden snake trying to catch it –I had no idea how fast those things were.

3. I don’t like my food to touch. Contrary to popular opinion, I do NOT use a divided plate, as some people like to tease me about (=P), and there are certain combinations that I do pile up on top of each other. Basically, if it’s something that’s going to make everything else soggy and nasty, it’s going in a separate bowl. Like apple sauce. Or coleslaw. Or a salad with dressing. If it’s something like gravy, it’s going on top of the biscuit. Along with eggs and cheese and sausage. Cheese sauce is going on top of the chips. And I really surprised my grandparents when I piled up corned beef, cooked carrots, potatoes, and sauerkraut once.

4. As much as I love to write, and as many notebooks and journals I have filled, and as many blog posts I have written, I absolutely can’t stand grammar. Not. at. all. I don’t really understand the workings behind it. My younger siblings all know if they need math help, they can come to me. But with grammar, I’m sending them to the one sister I have who actually enjoyed learning all those changing rules =)

5. I would love to live out on several acres one of these days, with enough room for a milk cow or two, meat cattle, chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys, sheep, pigs, bees for honey, large gardens, apple and peach and fig trees, plenty of flowers, berry vines, a wide porch that wraps around the entire house, and several children running around and playing. A little haven in the midst of an uncertain world, as I imagine it in my dreams.

6. I’m highly competitive. I enjoy challenges, and I enjoy trying to beat everybody else at a game. If I don’t win the first time, I always want to try again, no matter how terrible I was at whatever it was that I was doing =)

7. I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe. And it gets worse the older I get. I don’t drink after siblings, I don’t eat after them, and I most definitely don’t want anyone serving food with fingers (think of cheese or lettuce :D). In a family who passes drinks around like candy, I’m not quite sure how I ended up this way — probably because I’m so practical. Or from excessive reading…..

8. And speaking of reading, when we go to a museum, I am generally left behind. Simply because I have this tendency to actually read the signs around the exhibit, instead of just looking at the exhibit itself :-)

9. One of my favourite things to do with friends is to gather around with instruments and play. And sing. I’m working at doing both together — it’s admittedly easier to sing while playing piano, and virtually impossible to sing with a violin tucked under my chin :D I have two things I look forward to every year. The fall party at our home, where we gather and sing with instruments, and the caroling party Momma lets my sisters and I organize and host each year, where we gather together and go sing around the neighborhood.

10. I am extremely introverted. The Myers-Briggs personality test was something I took for fun — and the results matched so perfectly, I was surprised. It claimed that I was 90% introverted. But see number 6 about being competitive. I looked at the results and challenged myself to die to my wants and desires to glorify Christ. Does it get easier? Well…..somewhat. I’d still rather be in a corner by myself, but It is easier to deny that and go talk to that person who seems to be a bit lonesome.

11. I am always taking pictures — mainly because if I am behind the camera, I’m not in front of it. This has led to everybody around me seeing how many pictures they can take of me when I least suspect it….which probably has something to do with disliking any pictures of myself. Some of the angles they go to to get the pictures……NOT flattering, in the least :D

12. My least favourite subject in school was creative writing. I could stare at an empty page for hours, waiting for it to write itself. My least favourite writing prompt was one everyone else had no trouble writing: “What would a snowman do in July?” I had three words, while everyone else had hundreds. “It would melt.” That’s all I could think of — and it took hours to get a proper story out of it.

13. I enjoy riding on the four wheeler. I absolutely love it. Not through the mud, but I enjoy racing around the yard.

14. I have this unfounded fear of bedbugs. And lice. When I travel, I pretty much always bring a pillow with me, and at least one blanket. The covers are stripped of the bed, just to make sure. And yes, all my siblings (and parents) will laugh at this, even though they expect it.

15. When we go on a hike, I am generally the last one in the line. Mainly because I’m taking pictures. See #11 =P

16. Speaking of pictures, I took over 4500 in a 12 day trip to Michigan last year. And about three of those days we were traveling in the car…..so, yeah, I enjoy taking pictures.

17. We recently began attending a different church, and apparently those poor people had been praying for a pianist. They got me (that’s why they’re so poor!). I had actually never played for a congregation before playing for them a couple Sundays ago (shh! don’t tell ;D), and I wasn’t scared until I played the first note, and they all joined in. I had one of those moments of WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?! The most I had played for anyone was the couple of times I had filled in for the children’s choir that I had organized at our old church, where we would practice for several weeks, and I knew how they would sing, and they knew how I would play, and we could talk everything out ’til we got it just right.

18. I love doing laundry in the summer, because it involves hanging the clothes on the line. Absolutely nothing smells better than freshly washed sheets that have been line dried. Fresh and crisp, warm from the sun, smelling faintly like laundry detergent and summer breezes and the suns rays…oh, the bliss!

19. I like my dishwater impeccably clean. I rinse every. single. dish. before it goes into the water. There’s no way dishes can get clean when there are food bits floating around in there =) (See #6 about being a germ-a-phobe =P)

20. I am a staunch confederate. While I don’t agree with all the positions the southern states took on certain issues, and I can admit there were problems, I still think they were amazingly brave to stand loyal to what they believed was right, and to defend their states rights with their very lives.

21. I have this dream that I will one day own a grand piano. Or a baby grand — they are SO much fun to play! I just have to figure out a way to convince my parents that we have room in the house for one….=)

22. I don’t like crock pots. I am just a little wary of them, after the whole “I-tried-to-amputate-my-finger-with-a-crock-pot” incident a year and a half ago. For those who don’t know, I was washing dishes with Dad on Christmas Eve in 2016 and the ceramic liner shattered in my hands. Momma and the gang went on with the plans to go to my grandparents home, and Dad, a sister, and myself went to the ER, where they  stitched me all up. I’ll tell ya, it wasn’t comforting at all to have the triage nurse come out, take one look at my finger, and hustle me back there  after she had told us there were two finger injuries and only one room. Come March, when I was still having issues with that finger, I really thought I’d never be able to play the piano or violin again. But the Lord was gracious, and it’s right as rain now. And here’s another fun fact — even with all these siblings of mine, including five brothers, I was only the second person to have stitches and the first was a younger sister about 13 years ago =)

And there ya have it :D

 

finding christmas joy

Finding Christmas Joy - tour banner.jpg

Here’s another book I have been privileged to read from author Amanda Tero — I love reading her books, and this one was no exception!

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About the Book

Melonie Brown just wants to get away from all of the pain and heartache that this year has brought upon her, and Starlight Lodge seems like the perfect place to do so. With no plans beyond a Christmas escape, she drives out to the lodge. Can she bottle up the peace and joy that she finds in this special place to help her face the challenges she may have in the upcoming year?

Available on Amazon (paperback and Kindle): Finding Christmas Joy

Add to your Goodreads shelf: Finding Christmas Joy

What I Thought…..
I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoy Amanda’s books, the first couple of pages of this one were not my cup of tea. Then as I read farther into it, I realized how much she had packed into this little book. I ended up really enjoying it, and the message behind it. And honestly, I didn’t enjoy it for a very good reason — the character of Melonie was so well written that you couldn’t help but feel bad for her — At the same time wanting to shake her and hug her close =)
I enjoyed Patricia’ character too — she was so open, and so honest, and knew just what to say to Melonie.  The little girls in the story were so sweet, too. They reminded me of my own “baby” sister :D
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This is going on my list of Christmas books for the year — so yes, I’d read it again.

Giveaway for Finding Christmas Joy

Amanda Tero is giving away a copy of Finding Christmas Joy with one of her piano CD’s! You’ll be able to enjoy the music of the season as well as a story that brings you the happiness of the season. (Note: there are two giveaways: one for physical copies for residents of USA, and another for international residents)

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UNITED STATES GIVEAWAY

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

(electronic copies of both)

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

And here are all the places that this book will be visiting:

July 28, 2018
With a Joyful Noise
Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
Read Another Page
Honey Rock Hills

 July 30, 2018
July 31, 2018

rambling on

So, earlier this year there was a large(ish) gap between posts. And I promised to let you in to what I was busy with during that time. And as of right now, it’s been a couple of weeks since posting anything. Now, those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I don’t often – like almost never — post life updates. But sometimes it’s nice, so here goes nothing =) Forgive me if I seem to ramble down rabbit trails…….

The first thing that has been keeping me busy was this new medicine the doctors gave my grandfather. I think I actually probably surprised some people — the floor doctor included — when I very……umm……passionately explained why going BACK on the medicine that put him in the ICU for nearly a week was a bad idea. And since the hospital and the staff are pretty familiar sights by now, they didn’t know I had that in me. Actually, truth be told, I didn’t even realize I could get so worked up with almost strangers :D Anyways, I was blessed to be able to get plenty of time with them both before they fled the summer heat for cooler northern temperatures. We all miss them terribly, actually, and are waiting for them to head back this way in a couple of months =)

At the beginning of this year, I decided to start on a year long project for my hope chest. I fell in love with the Beekeeper’s Quilt when I saw it a couple years ago, and decided to give it a try this year. Being a bit…..frugal, since my sister hates the word “cheap” =)…….I wasn’t spending money on a pattern that I would have to tweak, from what everyone was saying online. So I figured out a version that works for me.  It ended up being the perfect project for bringing places — like the hospital. Once I got the hang of the technique, it’s a good “mindless” project, that is easy to put down when I need to stop, even in the middle of a row. I have about a hundred of the little hexipuffs done now; I estimate that I need about three hundred total. I am hoping to be able to sew it up during the winter months.

My stash of yarn is thanking me for using up all the odds and ends that I had laying about — I have been knitting/crocheting for more than ten years, and apparently I have never thrown out any length of yarn that was long enough to wind into a ball…..which is ending up to be a good thing, actually :D

While at the hospital with Grandpa, springtime came to stay. The trees and plants around our home burst into things of beauty. I absolutely love springtime, even if it does make me sneeze. Seeing everything that has laid dormant all winter suddenly bursting into bloom always amazes me and shows me the creative mind of our great Creator.

Peach Blossoms

Snowdrops

We — meaning the boys and Dad — managed to butcher the turkeys and chickens. I’ll spare you a picture of them hard at work, and share this one instead =)  It’s been nice to have fresh meat!

The garden was planted next, with much sweat and sunburns and happiness. I love being outside in the garden, and the boys have been a great help this year. These pictures were taken in the beginning of June, and we have since filled in all the beds. And. thankfully, all the plants are doing well. I have been working with a younger sister to can beans and we have been baking up a storm with zucchini — bread and muffins and chocolate cupcakes =) We have been filling the freezer, and we are about to have a bumper crop of cucumbers coming in, Lord willing, that we’ll turn into pickles and relishes and basically yumminess in a jar =) I had one goal in mind for the garden, one word that pretty much summed up the ultimate goal: “Pretty”. Normally I have a word like “fruitful”, but I really wanted a pretty place that was peaceful for strolling through.

Speaking of fruitful, the blackberry vines have been producing a lot.  We are at the end of the season for blackberries now, or nearly there, but I managed to get enough berries from our own vines to make a good 9 pints of jam. That’s roughly eighteen cups of berries, so I’m happy. And we have a few more that I need to make into jam. Or maybe I’ll just leave them frozen to top yogurt or something…..but I am so thankful for that abundance!

Dad and the boys also robbed the beehives, so we have plenty of fresh honey. And those of us who have no projects going have been faithful to cracking the pecans, so we have been enjoying fresh pecans on everything =)

I have mentioned a few times that I have started decorating sugar cookies, with an attempt to turn it into a small cottage industry. I’ve actually had a couple orders for them already, and my sister has completed the logo for me. It comes in handy to have an artist/graphic designer in the family! We were talking about it, and she created it in a single day. I am so thankful for her skills, and am looking forward to seeing what opportunities the Lord provides for this :D

Cookies for a “cowgirl” themed baby shower……

Baby Cuteness……

 

A friend’s wedding……

 

A nautical themed birthday…….

 

Baccalaureate service for my sister…..

Fourth of July Celebration

Right now the plan is to research craft shows and farmers markets and see what the Lord has in store. Good thing is we have other things we can market as well, and we are all excited about this endeavor!

And I think that pretty much sums it up =) About the only other thing happening around here is a fox that is feasting on the poultry. And we think it may have gotten a few kittens and our smaller cats — the neighbors have kittens disappearing, too. It has actually gotten so comfortable on our little homestead that it has ventured on the land in the early mornings with the boys outside feeding everything……

I must say, I love the summer season. It is a time of busyness for our family, but everyday, normal busyness, which is somewhat relaxing, I think. It seems like time slows down in the summer, but in reality, I am most likely the one who slows down. I tend to make more time in summer to slow down and enjoy the little things — the same things things that are there most of the year but go unnoticed. And I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with the southern heat or the legendary southern humidity =) It’s just…..I’m not sure. It’s a beautiful time, that’s for sure.

kiera

“Kiera is looking forward to her eighteenth birthday. The official end of school, a party with her best friend, and chocolate cake. A sudden military draft, no possible exemptions, had never crossed her mind. 

Kiera is terrified! Getting drafted would mean leaving her family, her little friend Jade—life as she knows it. 

A surprising offer from Brennan Stewart just might be the answer to her prayers, but an even worse trial leaves her with one question…

If God truly loves her, why did this tragedy happen?”

This. book. Y’all, it was so good — amazingly good! It was so good I stayed up late to finish it — after a day of working outside in the 90+ degree heat :D

This book follows the story of a young girl named Kiera, of her family, of her brothers, and of her friends. The setting is one generation in the future, which feels so right for this book. Kate Willis followed the trends that we see today in our culture and enlarged on them, so there are no drastic changes to wrap your mind around. The technology is basically the same — Self driving cars that can be switched to be manually driven. Technology, in the form of devices, still plays a hugely big role in peoples lives, as we, of course, would expect it to do. Girls are expected to fight in the military, right alongside the guys. Speech isn’t so very free, opinions must not be controversial, and sermons must not be preachy. In short, it felt so. believably. real.

Into that culture there is an eighteen year old girl just teetering on the brink of adulthood. There is an adorable two year old girl that depends on her, and there is Destiny and Aric and Thorne and Brennan. And we are along for the ride as we watch how they grow and the lessons they learn.

The main lesson in this book is about true love. Not romantic, gushy love, but steady-despite-all-faults kinda love. The next lesson is about trusting God in the hard-to-trust times, and remembering to look at the sparrow. After reading this book, I seriously doubt I will look at a birds nest in the same way again :D The next lesson, and probably most poignant, is doing what is right, even when all around you are doing whatever they want. And to do it confidently, resting in God; to do it joyfully, regardless of the consequences; to boldly declare the truth of God’s Word, even when it means that you are in serious trouble.

The characters were each well written — you could practically hear Jade’s cute two year old talk from the pages. You could imagine the interactions between Brennan and his  daughter and his wife, you could hear the levity of Destiny and her zeal for life. There were times I laughed at how ridiculous she was :D At the end of the book, you could feel the sorrow right along with everybody else.

I appreciated several things about this book — the very pro-life message in it, the way Scripture wove itself into the very fabric of the story, the struggles of imperfect people trying to attain to Christ likeness.Ms. Kate Willis has a talent, as is very clearly seen through her writing.

I do hope that she will honour her readers with a sequel in the future, (please, please, please!!! We need to know what happens…..) and I am absolutely looking forward to reading anything else she writes with pleasure!

This book is available from Amazon today — I wouldn’t wait a moment before getting a copy to read. Unless, of course, you want to enter the giveaway, and see what happens….. =)

Yep, that’s right. There’s a giveaway with this tour!

If you want to follow along with the tour, you can visit Kate at her home on the web, Once Upon An Ordinary for a day by day road map of destinations she and her book will be stopping at =)

Kate Willis has been homeschooled her whole life in a loving family that values the Gospel of Jesus Christ, creativity, and thoughtful conversations. She is inspired by red shoes, a good story, little children, and chai tea. It is her desire to serve God in the home having a family of her own in the future. She is the author of The Treasure Hunt, The Twin Arrows, Kiera, and two short stories Enjoy the Poodle Skirt and Red Boots.
*I received a copy of this book from the author to review on this blog.
I was under no obligation to enjoy the book*

quest for leviathan blog tour

Are sea monsters a real thing? What about fire-breathing dragons?

According to the Bible, there is a fire breathing sea creature who really existed: the leviathan. Amanda Tero brings this dragon to life in her newest short story, “Quest for Leviathan.” Join Anath and his crew of ninety-nine rowers as they face the waves of the Mediterranean Sea and the power of Leviathan.

About the Story

Leviathan took the life of his father. Anath has spent three years preparing for the voyage that will end the threat of Leviathan. Yet as the Valor launches into the depths of the Mediterranean, an inward quest also begins, taking Anath to depths he is not willing to face.

Purchase an e-copy on Amazon or order a paperback.
Add to your Goodreads shelf.

My Thoughts
From the time I heard of this book, I was anxious to read it. The one home school study that I recall as being the most fun and informative was the study we did about dragons — Leviathan being one of them. And as I read this little gem, I desperately wished it had been written ten years earlier — this would have been the perfect short story to read in an afternoon to come along the study and reinforce it in our little minds!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was well written, the plot was well developed, and the research and history that was included was amazing, since there isn’t a lot known about this time in history. The information was woven seamlessly into an intriguing tale, one that kept the little brother I read it out loud to on the edge of his seat =)
The message of the story wasn’t preachy, but it was definitely there, and I appreciated that. I appreciated Joed’s wisdom, and the lesson Anath learns is one we could all do with remembering. But my absolute favourite part of this book was how Ms. Tero skillfully wove so much scripture into the story. There are so many references, integrated into the framework of the book that it was a blessing to read.
My favourite quote pretty much sums up the book: “If we were to understand all of the ways of God and His workings, then we would be above mortal man, and God would not be God.”
I give this book five stars, and most definitely would recommend it for even the youngest of readers. It would make a fantastic read aloud to younger children who can’t read, and it keeps even the older ones entertained. I need to get myself a real copy so I can share it with others, since I tend to pass on books that I really like :D
Giveaway!

Amanda is giving away TWO print copies of “Quest for Leviathan” to one winner — one for you, and one for your friend!

 
Interview
Amanda graciously let me question her about her writing habits and this book — here are the answers. My questions will in bold and her answers will be in normal font.
Was there something particular which inspired you to write this book?
I was actually reading through the book of Job, not even searching for a story, when the thought crossed my mind, “A boy whose father was killed by Leviathan. He is angry at L, and he is angry at God—yet just like Job needed to realize the power of God, so does he.”

What was your favourite scene to write?
Ooh, I definitely had a favorite scene, and that was when Anath actually faces Leviathan! I loved exploring Job 41 and then portraying Leviathan on the pages of my fictional story. Not to mention a sea-battle between man and monster! The confrontation between the two was definitely my favorite!

What kind of research did you do for this story, and how long did you spend researching before beginning to write?
Researching for this story was one of the hardest parts. There is very little material from such an early era, so I had to do a lot of guesswork. For example, the trireme probably wasn’t the exact vessel used that early on, but it was the best I could find. So, I did a bit of research on the trireme, the Mediterranean Sea and its storms, and, of course, the Leviathan (the latter I used Job 41 as my primarily resource). Since it was a short story, I researched as I wrote. It was probably 50/50 with the time it took to write the story and the time it took to research.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My sisters and I always toyed with writing things—from “secret mailbox letters” to silly poems about each other to skits. The most vivid memory I have of my writing actually meaning something was when I wrote my first complete story (I may have been ten?). My heart was completely wrapped around the misery of two orphans that I had conjured up. After completing that story, I knew that writing was going to be a part of my life and not just a fleeting interest.
Is there something that makes writing easier for you? (tea, chocolate, music, candles etc…..)
Chocolate for sure! Sometimes music, depending on my mood—since I’m a musician, sometimes I need total silence in order to concentrate (because yes, I will stop to analyze the music I’m listening to if I’m not careful).
What is one important thing that you would want readers to take away from what you have written?
The main quote that the entire story wraps around is, “If we were to understand all of the ways of God and His workings, then we would be above mortal man, and God would not be God.” Not only do I want my readers to be reminded of the power of God, I also wish to remind them of Him as a personal Savior, and not just a big scary judge—because, while He is Judge, He also is loving and merciful.

About the Author

Amanda Tero's profile photoAmanda Tero began her love for words at a young age —reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Connect with Amanda 

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com
Website: http://amandatero.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amandateroauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero

Blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmabdaTero
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

Blog Tour Stops
June 8 – With a Joyful Noise (Release Day Post)Resting Life (Spotlight//Review)The World of the Writer (Review)Authoring Arrowheads (Review)Purely by Faith Review (Review//Interview)June 9 – Victoria’s Book Nook (Spotlight//Review//Giveaway)Bekah’s Books (Spotlight//Review//Interview)June 11 – Clothed with Scarlet (Spotlight//Review//Giveaway)Reveries Reviews (Review)

June 12 – Chosen Vessels (Spotlight//Review)

My Purple Pen (Review)

Read Another Page (Review)

June 13 – Once Upon an Ordinary (Review)

Maidens for Modesty (Review//Interview//Giveaway)

Yahweh Sisters (Review)

June 14 – Honey Rock Hills (Review)

Life of Heritage Corner (Spotlight//Review//Interview//Giveaway)

Kaylee’s Kind of Writes (Review//Interview)

June 15 – The Red-Hooded Writer (Review)

Blossoms and Blessings (Spotlight//Review//Interview//Giveaway)

Lit Aflame (Review//Interview)

June 16 – The Left-Handed Typist (Review)

Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review//Interview//Giveaway)

June 18 – Great Books for God’s Girls (Review//Interview)

Peculiar Miss Darcy (Character Interview)

June 19 – Done in Love (Spotlight//Review//Interview//Giveaway)

Creating Romance (Spotlight//Review//Giveaway)

June 20 – Keturah’s Korner (Review//Interview)

Rock and Minerals 4 Him (Spotlight//Review//Giveaway)

June 21 – A Baker’s Perspective (Review//Giveaway//Character Spotlight)

Christian Author: A.M. Heath (Review//Interview)

June 22 – Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections (Review)

Views from the Window Friend (Review)

Hunting for Truth (Spotlight//Review//Giveaway)

June 23 – Reading on the Edge (Spotlight)

Summer Snowflakes (Review//Giveaway)

June 25 – With a Joyful Noise (Giveaway Winner Announced)

*I recieved a complimentary copy of this story from the author in exchange for a review.
All thoughts are my own. I was not required to enjoy this book*

 

four years down the road — part two

So, why didn’t I go to college? This is actually quite a popular question, with only one question being asked more frequently: “What are you actually doing?”

I touched on the why a bit in my last post (part one, which you can read HERE), but I’d like to get a bit more specific than simply answering the “why not’s”  I can answer this rather simply: it just wasn’t the Lord’s best for my life. This decision, surprisingly, had nothing to do with my parents telling me what I was going to do, forbidding college, or refusing to allow me to mature :D It was actually something that I studied out, reading Scriptures, and committed to prayer, for many years before my actual graduation.

I won’t go into many details about how the Lord changed my ideas (I went into plenty of detail HERE), but in short I went from being a selfish, headstrong, stubborn girl who was insistent that I was going to live my life the way I wanted to, to submitting my life into the Lord’s hands for Him to mold into what He wanted to make me.

I didn’t go to college because I felt as if college was over-rated. It seemed to me then — and still does, today — that we as Americans, and especially as Christians, don’t fully think through this decision. Almost everybody else graduates from high school and goes on to college, so we just go with the flow. I didn’t want to be part of the “norm” — there really wasn’t any reason for it. I want to be a stay at home wife, one day, Lord willing, and a stay at home mother, if the Lord blesses me with children of my own. There isn’t a college degree for this; the best way to learn is through experience. What better place to get a hands-on education of caring for children, cooking meals, cleaning house, and balancing a myriad of other duties than to stay at home and help my mother?

I didn’t go to college because I didn’t want to be exposed to so much sin. Even Christian colleges have a sin problem — when you get a bunch of sinners together in the same place, with no parents, no accountability, freedom to do what you want when you want…..well, you pretty much have a recipe for disaster right there. Mix into it the factor that you have guys and girls running around together, and you are going to wake up one day and realize that you have serious regrets. Even at Christian colleges things can spiral out of control extremely quickly — I have heard so very many stories about this.

Couple that with the knowledge gleaned, the humanistic books, the evolution and Darwinism and communism and all the other “isms” — and I wanted no part of it. There wasn’t a reason to immerse myself in such studies.

Now, with that being said, there is absolutely a time and a place for college. Absolutely. I can assure you, I will not use a doctor who doesn’t have a degree in medicine, and I don’t know many people who would. I don’t want a dentist working on my teeth who doesn’t have a piece of paper letting me know that he graduated with enough learning to be trusted. I could go on, but I think you get my point. If you are assured that God is calling you to do something, and you will need a degree to get it done, than go for it! For me, personally, there was no reason for it. For someone else, there might be.

I am not assured that there is a clear command in Scripture about “thou shalt not go to college” — and therefore, I don’t think it sinful. It’s not an option I personally want to pursue because it wouldn’t be beneficial in the long run for me. 

As I stated earlier, the most popular question I am asked is what I am doing. If I am not in college, how am I spending my time?

This one is alway a bit more complicated to answer.

There are a myriad of reasons and ways to stay at home after high school. Some girls go get a job, simply crashing at their parents home. Some girls spend all their time volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers. Some are authors. Some are musicians. Some are artists.

Some girls live at home while paying for their keep, some live at home under the support of their fathers.

Which is why this question is so complicated. I always wonder if the person I am talking to wants to know what my day-to-day life looks like, what “big things” I am doing, how I am earning income if I am at home……and the list goes on :D

Daily life varies. Normally somewhere in the week I am doing laundry (Mondays), teaching the little ones (Fridays), helping with math every day of the week (sporadically in the summer), and writing on this blog (Wednesdays, usually). I am normally outside in the garden most mornings when the weather is clear, and beta reading different books and short stories for various authors, as well as trying to stay on top of my reading list. Cooking meals when I get into the kitchen before the other girls is something I enjoy doing, and I try to carve out time for piano playing and studying various aspects of midwifery and doulas.

Mixed in with daily life, I have a ton of other projects going on. Trying to establish a small bakery selling decorated sugar cookies (pictures coming soon!) from home, researching and creating toxin-free, all natural cosmetics (success after many tries!) refurbishing old furniture, celebrating at least one birthday a month from March ’til November, writing various articles for different sources, researching outlets for free lance writing (any suggestions??) and working on another writing project that I have going as I have time. I am also looking into and praying about getting  CNA certification, and am studying towards that end to make any testing and classes easier. This is one of the things I actually told Mama I wanted to do when I first graduated, and through various circumstances I was never able to fully pursue it, although I have gotten hands-on learning from all the various hospital visits and rehab centers I have been in :D Once the nurses find out, most are willing to teach me something. One lady was even going to let me pull staples out of my grandfather after his last operation — if I was sure it wouldn’t have hurt him, I would’ve done it, but since I didn’t know, I lost that chance…=) I am able to spend time with my grandparents often, which I am immensely thankful for. I have had times of working with different political campaigns and grassroots programs, supporting and educating others about different amendments and laws and such that are being created and voted upon.

By God’s grace alone, I will strive to glorify Him in these days at home. I will run and not grow weary, I will praise Him even when I am tired, and I will continue to learn what He would have me to learn.

Apparently I have a lot of thoughts on this topic of not going to college. Sometime in the near future I will post a part three of what I have learned so far…:D

What are your thoughts? Any questions?