finding christmas joy

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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?

four years down the road

I was reading a blog post the other day, that referenced an article written by someone that I used to look up to. When I looked up the full article, to make sure I was understanding what had been implied, I was shocked. “Surely,” I thought, “This lady can’t be serious about this!” But she was.

Coupled with reading that, and realizing that this year is the fourth year I have been out of formal education — the fourth year that I would have been in college and likely would have graduated this year — I figured I would write down my thoughts. And answer a few questions that seem to be prevalent in people I talk to, and dispute a couple of rumors floating around cyber space about those of us who choose an alternative path.

As you know, four years ago this June, I “officially” became a soldier in the ranks of “stay-at-home-daughterhood”; a pioneer trailblazer for different alternatives to life after school. I had several people wonder what I was doing. Why I was doing it. I had some people who silently wondered, some who blatantly questioned, some who vehemently opposed. I’ll be honest — it wasn’t easy. Challenging the social norm isn’t. But then, the easy things are rarely ever the most rewarding, are they?

I had objections thrown at me from different angles: “How will you ever get married?” (That’s one expensive husband!) “What about the college experience?” (Umm…yep. I’m safely at home, not worried about what might happen without a father or brothers around.) “What about finding yourself?” (I already know what I am — a sinner in need of a great Saviour.) “What if your father dies? And your husband? How will you support yourself?” (I’ll follow the Lord’s leading in that instance — and you don’t “need” a degree to make money.) “What do you plan to do all day? Sit on the couch and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas?” (Yes this was seriously a question. And no, I’m not — I’ll do whatever work the Lord gives my hands to do.) 

The opposition, as you can tell, was varied.

The best advice I was ever given was from a dear friend. She told me to always answer people who ask with confidence, not expecting them to question my decision. It really does work — it makes people think that I *know* what I am doing, besides just throwing away the years I should spend being indoctrinated educated. And guess what? I find that if I am open and forthright, not mumbling that I am not in college while shuffling my feet, but articulating it clearly, people usually don’t respond with a polite question about not being smart enough to pass the exams, because I was “home schooled, after all.” (and yes, that’s a true answer I have recieved.)

Contrary to popular opinion, I have not stayed home because I was forced to. I actually wanted to, because I had prayed about it and because I was sure that this life was God’s best for my life.

I didn’t stay home because I was doing what all my friends did — I know very few other girls who have stayed home during this season in their lives, and most of them live hours away.

I have not been kept in perpetual childhood because I have stayed at home — I have had months on end of being away from my parents, of interacting with near strangers, and of being in discussions with people who clearly don’t agree with what I am saying.

I have not been kept from making my own decisions — I have had to make decisions at the drop of a dime, without any parents being around to ask an opinion of.

I have learned to be an adult, to think for myself, and to live with other people, from the safety of home. I have had to deal with mistakes, clean up  my own messes, and learn to interact with others when I don’t agree with them at all.

As a young lady, I feel that some of the most formative years — some of the most important years — in my life are right now. These times as I am learning to be an adult, and making decisions I have never had to make before. It drives me crazy that so many parents are willing to hold their children’s hand until they turn eighteen, and suddenly, they aren’t there for them anymore. I have actually heard a parent refuse to offer counsel when asked. When we children were younger, our parents were right there, holding our hands. They held us up as we learned to walk. First with both hands, keeping our balance. Then they took baby steps with us, and then they held only one hand while we toddled around. Finally they let go of both hands, but hovered over us just in case we fell down. Eventually we were allowed to toddle around on our own, but the minute we cried out for mommy or daddy, they were right there, lifting us up, drying our tears, and making everything right again. And now, all these years down the road, we are seldom in need of our parents hands to steady us as we walk. We didn’t even need them hovering around, watching us walk at three or four years old, because we learned.

Now, it is unrealistic to think that our parents can make everything right again — trust me, they can’t. But they can help us by offering counsel and advice and praying with us and for us. They can be right there, ready to offer advice when we make a mess, hand us a broom and dustpan and set us to sweeping up the mess.

These years I am living right now are the years that I have heard so many lament over. The years when so many abortions occur because temptations are rampant and parents are a ghost of the past. When so many are injured by drivers who are inebriated, or injure others because they themselves are inebriated. When temptations get the best of us, when we make terrible decisions that will haunt us for the rest of our lives, when we make huge mistakes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can utilize the gift we have been given by God — our parents. They have lived these years before — we never have. They have experience — we have fictional expectations. And they can help guide us through these years.

Back to the point about learning to walk: we won’t always need our parents by our side forever. Trust me on that one, too. Eventually we will marry and move out; and even before that time, we won’t need them hovering over us and making all our decisions for us. Because, yes, the goal is for us to learn how to think and make decisions for ourselves. But the goal is also for us to learn how to make sound decisions by ourselves, decisions that will bring glory to Christ, decisions that won’t be detrimental to our souls. In a few years, we will learn to walk on our own as an adult in this world — but until then, we NEED our parents.

And since this is rather long, I’ll end here and post a part two to this post next week…..

radiant hearts

Several of you may remember that I participated in a blog tour for a magazine for girls and young ladies (you can find that post HERE) — well, I have enjoyed both issues that have been published and asked if I could interview the sweet young lady behind the magazine. And she graciously agreed =)

I first “met” Leona through her blog where she reviews books (Great Books for God’s Girls), and was excited when I heard of the magazine she was publishing. There have only been two issues of the magazine out so far, but both topics have been so very, very convicting. The first was on the topic of humility, the current issue is on biblical daughterhood. I truly believe this is an amazing resource for girls of all ages — we have girls in our home ranging from 6 years to 21 years, and those who have read it have enjoyed it :D

*My questions will be in bold, Leona’s answers will be in regular type*

~ Can you tell us a little about Radiant Hearts Magazine? How did you come with the name?
Radiant Hearts Magazine is aimed at ages 12-25, although I believe that articles are convicting and encouraging to all. The magazine is published in February, May, August, and November. Everyone can view this magazine in .pdf form. Included in the magazine are the following things (and more!):
  • articles written by Christian young ladies and women
  • book/movie reviews and recommendations
  • recipes for delicious food
  • “Story Behind the Hymn”
  • pictures of girls serving the Lord, and
  • encouraging notes from girls just like yourself!
I actually came up with the name quite randomly. I had a list, and I went around my family and had everyone vote. The one that we decided on, though, I didn’t like very much. I decided to brainstorm again, and this is what I came up with! I got the “Radiant” part of the name from the More Radiance blog, which I really like.
~ Was there something in particular that inspired you to start this magazine?
I had started to receive the King’s Blooming Rose magazine, and I really liked it, for it always convicted me and I came away encouraged (I’m sad to hear that it is now going out of print at the end of the year). I thought that it would be a good idea to do a similar thing, since only one of my friends had heard of KBR.
~ Is there anything that makes working on the magazine easier for you? Tea, candles, chocolate. music….? What is your schedule like when you are working on getting an issue out?
I love listening to music while I work, although I sometimes get distracted by it. :) I have found the Rains Family’s music to be a great resource. My schedule… I work on it whenever I have a spare moment; with the first issue, I waited until the last minute to get everything finished, and that was not a good idea as it left me stressed. Now, I start to work on the cover, at least, a couple months before the magazine is scheduled to come out, so that I have plenty of time.
~ What are some things you enjoy doing when you aren’t working on getting the magazine out?
Playing piano, violin, and organ is one of my favorite ways to spend time. I also enjoy playing around with photography and spending time with my family and church family.
~ How do you decide on the theme for each issue? How did you decide on the theme of daughterhood for this issue?
I honestly don’t have a formula for deciding on a theme; I simply think about it, and ask my mom for input. A lot of RHM’s readers are daughters, and I personally have been working on being a good daughter, so I thought that Biblical Daughterhood would be a good theme for May’s issue. :)
~ I know you also enjoy reading and have a blog dedicated to book reviews –can you share a couple books that have been particularly encouraging to you as a daughter?
The Family Daughter, by Sarah L. Bryant is an amazing book about being a daughter. It is very challenging, and I highly recommend it. (You can find a full review of it in the current issue.) I have read it several times, and I’m currently trying to buy more copies to give to my friends. :)
~ What are some things the Lord is teaching you through this magazine?
He is teaching me that I need to have the right priorities. Even though RHM is a great ministry, and I believe the Lord is blessing it, I need to make sure that there are not things that I need to do with my family before working on it. I am also convicted by the issues: I know I need to work on being more humble (from the first issue), and on being a better daughter (from the second issue).
~ In what direction do you feel the Lord to be leading RHM in the future? 
Sometimes it is hard for me to discern what plans are my own and which are the Lord’s. With that said, some things that I would like to be able to do include making it into a print magazine (I would prefer to read a print magazine over an online one, personally) and buying a custom domain for the website so that I don’t have to worry about bad ads popping up (we currently have a free WordPress.com website and they put ads on that I can’t control). I’m planning on waiting at least a year before making any of those moves, though, because I’m not certain that God wants us to do that.
~ Are there any parting thoughts you would like to share with us?
Dear friend, our plans are so much smaller than the Lord’s. I shared some goals above, but I believe that God has something bigger planned. He can make something out of nothing. Let Him take control of your life! He has a better plan than you can imagine, if you are willing to follow Him. <3
Thanks for interviewing me, Kaitlyn! I hope that you learned something new about RHM. :)
Thank YOU Leona, for answering all my questions! To read the magazine, you can visit Radiant Hearts Magazine and click on the “current issue” tab up top. There is also an option to read past issues. And for any of you who enjoy writing RHM welcomes submissions — here are the guidlines! They are also looking for photography they can use in the issues =)
 Leona Ruth is a teenage young lady. Leona asked Jesus to be her Savior at a young age, and is striving to serve Him with all that she does. She loves reading, and has a blog where she posts book reviews: Great Books for God’s Girls. Some of her other hobbies are graphic designing, photography, baking, playing violin, piano, and organ, and writing.

chocolate ink

Remember those posts I was excited about? The ones that I mentioned last time I posted? This is one of them :D An interview with the owner of Chocolate Ink Designs, who also happens to be my sister. I’ve actually mentioned this company a time or two before, but I’ve never taken the time to thoroughly explain what it is…..so I’ll let my sister do the talking, and just ask questions. My questions are in bold, her answers are in regular type.

So without further ado, let’s welcome the mastermind of Chocolate Ink to Maidens for Modesty!

Can you tell everyone a bit more about yourself? What do you like to do when you’re not drawing?
I’m a 19 year old sweet tea drinker, puppy cuddler, font snob, dreamer, & child of the One True King. A list of my favorite things would have to include summer, skylines, sunsets, dancing, cheeseburgers, Converse, thunderstorms, t-shirts, and rare visit’s to the beach. When I’m not drawing you could probably find me reading a political suspense novel, baking in the kitchen, or out enjoying the sunshine. I love making people smile, spending time with my family, laughing with my friends, and living for my King.
What types of things do you enjoy drawing? What are some projects you are working now, or have worked on  recently?
I always enjoy the opportunity to try my hand at drawing new things – the only ones I don’t necessarily enjoy are landscapes and animals. My personal favorites are the silhouette/initial pieces that I create for every new couple we know – I love “tangling” and the silhouettes always carry so much personality. In addition to my note cards, I’ve also created custom greeting cards, designed tote bags and t-shirts (that’s another favorite!), executed chalk art for events and restaurants, created signs for local businesses and beach houses, done signage for weddings and programs for events. Last December, a local magazine included me in their Christmas gift guide edition, so that was a new experience.

When did you first realize that a drawing could convey something special/important, in a different way than words could?
I’m not sure there was an exact time when I figured this out. But if you think about it, art is so universal! Not only is it everywhere in the world around us (thanks to the Great Artist of the universe), but everyone, regardless of nationality, language, age, or anything else, can understand it. It’s not like words that have to be read – you look at art and immediately, you understand the meaning. It has this instant impact. Art can also make you think, feel, and imagine, with just one glance. It makes you appreciate the beauty in the world (well, most art does, anyways) and can convey an idea, emotion, or setting on so many engaging levels and in so many forms, varieties, and styles.
What inspired you to start Chocolate Ink Designs? How did you come up with the name?
My parents were actually my main cheerleaders when it came to starting up an actual business, as well as the many friends and family members who have encouraged and supported me along the way. I’ve been drawing for forever, and some of my earliest memories include my Mom encouraging us girls to create masterpieces to hang on her “art wall.” When I graduated from my home education, Mom and Dad encouraged me to create a “cottage industry” using the gifts that the Lord has given me. I was a little apprehensive at first and, to be honest, didn’t think that it would end up working out. My parents were willing to push me though, and one day my Dad called from his trip into town with Mom to tell me that he had gotten me a job.
“What?”
“Yeah,” Dad said. “I got you a job.”
Turns out, the restaurant they had visited for breakfast had just installed an 8’x4′ chalkboard as part of a remodel. Dad asked the manager what they were planning on doing with all that blank slate, and the manager replied that they were wanting to get a local artist to design something for it, but that they hadn’t found anyone yet.
“My daughter can do it,” Dad offered. “She’s an artist.”
{I love my Dad}
You have to realize, though, that up to this point, I had done NOTHING professionally with my art. I drew birthday cards for people at church. And that was it. And now, I had to come up with 3 designs (with no guidelines or suggestions) to work in chalk (which I had never done) on a giant board in a busy restaurant (i.e., in front of people). Talk about jumping right in! It took me about a week to get up the nerve to go back in with my parents and talk to the manager. I was so nervous to open my portfolio in front of him. I remember praying all the way across town, “Just please let him be shorter than me!” I don’t know why I thought that extra height might add to my confidence – but imagine my relief when the manager walked out and I had a good 3 or 4 inches on him! In the end, it was an amazing experience. It showed me that there were other people out there who saw beauty in my work – and it also strengthened my faith as I learned how to apply Philippians 4:6 in a real life situation :) To me, that chalkboard was the beginning of Chocolate Ink Designs (the name of which comes from the fact that I work mainly in pen and ink, as well as acknowledging the number one super-food that never fails to get my creative juices flowing – and yes, that’s chocolate).
Does drawing energize or exhaust you?
Definitely energizes me! Design and art are my happy zones, so I find that creating also helps me clear my mind. Focusing on an unfolding project enables me to isolate my attention and frees my mind up to wander with the lines. The only time that drawing exhausts me is when I have to stay up late working on a project in order to reach a deadline. I try to stay on top of my paper stacks, but drawing is one of those things that you absolutely do NOT work on unless you’re feeling inspired. I’m a famous procrastinator around our home (not exactly a good trait, I know), so that doesn’t help either.
What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a drawing, if any?
I normally start by hopping on the computer and just studying different images and views of the object. Even though my work isn’t hyper-realistic, this still helps me to form a mental image of what the actual subject looks like. For instance, one of the largest projects I ever worked on was an 8 foot cedar plank that I was supposed to be transforming into a giant hand lettered blue marlin for a beach house sign.
Well.
I’d never even drawn a fish (much less one that was 8’x2′), so I ran a quick google search and compiled different images that ranged from photographs to hand sketches from all different angles. It always helps to familiarize yourself with the subject – I know when I’ve done enough research when I’m sick of looking at so much of the same thing :) Once I have my inspiration in hand, I sit down with a piece of graph paper and toy around with different layout ideas. If  hand lettering is going to play a role, I also try to figure in my fonts and lay them out as well. When color is involved, I create little miniatures of the project and try different color combinations on them to see which looks best. (Disclaimer: sometimes some of these neat, individual steps only take place in my head. This is especially prone to happen when I feel super inspired or excited about a project.) When I have my blueprint all figured out, then I go at it!
What do you want people to take away from your creations?
I want to encourage people with my designs – I love hand lettering Scripture in a way that makes it easy to incorporate as part of your home decor (Deuteronomy 6:9). Some of my art is just for fun and whimsy’s sake – that’s the stuff that I want to make people smile and add some sunshine to their day. I also enjoy creating “keepsake” pieces to help people commemorate something special in their lives in a way that will be valued for years to come.
What would you say is an interesting drawing quirk that you have?
Um. I guess I do have a few of those. I sometimes talk to myself while I’m drawing-which sounds really weird, I know ( {*embarrassed smile*} – I have a stack of some of my favorite CD’s sitting on my desk that I sing along with to try to curb that habit, though); and I canNOT bring myself to begin a project until I’ve carefully measured and drawn a 1/2 cm border all the way around my page. I don’t know when I formed this habit, but I can’t seem to break it – there have even been days when it seems as though all the rulers in the house are missing so I simply postpone the project. No way I’m starting until I have my margins drawn!
In what direction do you feel the Lord to be leading Chocolate Ink Designs in the future?
This year, I will be focusing on getting lots more designs up in my Etsy shop and trying to get my products in more local businesses. I also want to look into doing some fundraisers for prolife ministries and outreaches around the country (y’all can pray for me on that one – and if you know of any good opportunities, let me know!). The sanctity of life is something that is very close to my heart, and I would LOVE  for the Lord to open doors for my art and designs to be used in that direction! 
What is the best advice you have been given as an artist? Is there any advice you could leave us with today?
Don’t conform. Don’t give up. I used to get frustrated with myself because my art doesn’t look exactly like ______________ (fill in the blank). There are gobs of talented people out there who seem to have such a knack for what they do and it seems to come so easy to them. And then I’d look at my art and become discouraged. One of my art teachers once encouraged me to find my niche and go with it – not to try to emulate anyone in particular, but instead, to study different styles then use that knowledge to further develop my own. One day, I met a “professional designer” (meaning that she had a degree and worked in a brick and mortar company under this title), who told me to never loose my individuality. I listened as she lamented the fact that everyone who goes to art/design college comes out as the same cookie-cutter type creators who follow the same trends. She told me that the worst thing someone who has a natural eye for and enjoyment of art/design can do is go to college for it. So stay with your style. Develop and refine it, but never try to redefine it. You’ll just end up frustrated with yourself and your work. Embrace your natural talents and style and practice practice practice. If drawing is something you enjoy, doodle all the time. Keep your eyes open and look for inspiration in the ordinary around you – sometimes, you’ll have to close your eyes to really see it. There are enough people in the world who try to find all the ugly things – make it a point to find the beautiful. Because once you open your eyes, it really is everywhere.
Thank you Bethaney, for joining us today!
Bethaney is a 19 year old big sister, artist/designer, and child of the King. She enjoys laughing, drinking iced sweet tea, and long car rides with the windows down and music up. She loves the smell of dirt, dreams of skylines at night, and lives a wildly blessed life with her family of 13 in the sunny South.

Surviving Uncle Hitler

So, after an unintended, unplanned hiatus from the blogging world, I am back with a book review =) Some posts just take priority over other posts, and this is one of them. Sometime in the near future, I will post something about what has been keeping me busy. And then there are a couple of posts I am REALLY excited about coming soon, so….

Surviving 'Uncle Hitler': Journey of a German GirlDorothea Wollin was just a young girl when American bombs demolished her German town. Uprooted overnight, she and her family found themselves on a journey of survival across Europe.

“Many people bury their memories so they don’t have to deal with the pain. For whatever reason, my mother buried hers. I was hard-pressed to get any stories from her. She was not one who shared easily. However, one night was different. It was many years after the war, in 1987, and I was visiting my family in Germany. I felt there were things Mother and I needed to talk about, and I pressed for discussion. I was pleasantly surprised when she stayed up until the wee hours sharing memories.”

When American bombs demolished her German town, Dorothea Wollin and her family found themselves on a journey of survival across Europe.

This is a true story of a little girl’s quest for meaning in a dark world that led to faith in Christ, and to a freedom greater than that of country or politics.

“What I want most for my story to convey is that the Lord led me through the trials and tribulations of my life in order that I could find meaning, joy, and peace. Because I am approaching the end of my life, I want to inspire my readers to question their own choices, priorities and values in order to find peace with the Lord and joy in their hearts.” — Dorothea Wollin Null

This is my story

You may have guessed from the several books I have reviewed that I enjoy books about World War II — it happens to be one of my favourite times in American History. In fact, it comes right after the War Between the States, which is my first historical love :D

This book piqued my interest when I realized it was written by a German girl in Germany who wasn’t a Jew. So many books I have read about the war in Germany have been about Jews. This was about a normal, everyday girl who lived in Germany. And I have to tell you, this book was eye opening to read.

The narrative about life in Germany during the war was fascinating, but even more interesting was Mrs. Null’s narrative about life before the war, leading up to it. The implementation of Hitler’s regime, the creation of the Third Reich, the propaganda spread by the government — it was interesting to read.

I must say, the style of writing took a bit of getting used to…and the format was a bit different than other books. But overall, the information contained inside covered all those flaws, and I was soon drawn into the story.

I would absolutely recommend this book to others, but I would caution parents to read it before very young children. There are details of the war that are told that aren’t too gory, but still….things like starvation, death, and bombs, to name a few, were just a matter of childhood growing up in Germany, and so are written about as such.

All in all, I would give this book four stars, and I would lend it out to others — my father has already mentioned wanting to read it :D

I recieved a complimentary copy of this book through Book Crash in return for an honest review.
I was not required to enjoy this book.

judah’s wife

Judah's Wife #2 - By: Angela Hunt

A story of the courageous Maccabees told through the eyes of Judah’s wife Leah.

Having grown up with a cruel father, Leah yearns for a future of peace, safety, and protection. When she marries Judah Maccabee a strong and gentle man, she feels she can rest. The king issues a decree requiring all Jews to conform to Greek laws, customs, and religion. Devout Jews surrender their lives under torture than disobey the Law of Moses to worship Greek gods. Judah’s father dies because he won’t surrender to the king’s laws. Before he dies, he commands Judah to continue the fight. Leah struggles with her husband’s decision.

Quite honestly, I have procrastinated in writing this review for a while now. I thought it would be an interesting book about a time in history that I don’t know much about — which it was, in parts. But the rest of the story line just wasn’t all that great.

The story starts with Leah in her fathers house. Obviously form the back cover I knew that there was abuse issues. They were handled tactfully, and I appreciated that. The history aspect was told amazingly — the battles were described well and I did learn a lot about the history of the Jews through reading it. The faith Judah Maccabeus exhibited was encouraging to read about, and the way he rose up to be a leader was inspiring.

I didn’t much appreciate the other aspects of this book, though. There was one part right after Leah and Judah’s marriage that I skipped — I am not for sure how far the author was taking the reader, ’cause I stopped at the beginning of the description. The way Leah doesn’t trust her husband, based on her father’s abuse, was slightly annoying at times. Yes, her father wasn’t kind — but she knew Judah, and he wasn’t a thing like her father. Yes there would maybe be trust issues…..but I felt as if it was a bit over done. This could just be me, though. In one part of the book she goes from basically hating Judah being at war in one book to asking to go with him in the next chapter, with not much detail given as to why there was a change of heart…again, this could just be me.

The redeeming quality of the book was the last third of it, when Leah trusted her husband and was encouraging the other women — it was nice to read. And the battle scenes were really well done, as I mentioned before.

I have read a couple other books by Angela Smith, and have enjoyed them — this one just wasn’t for me.

*I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*