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Book Review ~ Courage for the Unknown Season (Navigating What's Next with Confidence and Hope) - by Jan Silvious

I agreed to review this book, in all honesty, simply because the title and subtitle grabbed my attention and did not let go. In light of the fact that I have been faced with two heart conditions that have been pushing me toward heart failure, a book about having courage for the unknown season and navigating whatever comes next with confidence and hope, this book practically demanded that I read it. And I am blessed that I did.

Jan Silvious is a gifted writer. Reading this book is much like listening to a caring friend share her thoughts on your circumstances. She offers wisdom, wit, and Biblical encouragement as she deals with the weighty issues of life. While the book is primarily aimed at those who are aging, it was ridiculously fitting for me in my current situation. Every - Single - Chapter spoke to me at some point of my need. Every - Single - Chapter.

If you are the child of an aging parent, this is a great read. If you are aging yourself, you must get a copy of this book and r…

Book Review ~ Life-Changing Miracles (Real-Life Stories of Unforgettable Encounters with God) - compiled by James Stuart Bell

The book Life-Changing Miracles is a compilation of 37 short real-life stories that each displays an aspect of God's miraculous care in our modern day. Written by the people who experienced the miracles, these narratives move from the seemingly normal to the undeniably supernatural. (And by supernatural, I mean miraculous feats and acts performed solely by the Lord God Almighty)

Each story is short enough that you could sit down and read half the book in one sitting, or possibly include one each morning as part of your morning devotional time each day. Even reading one or two before bed at night would be a great way to work through this book.

As I have been facing serious issues with my heart (in a nutshell, heart failure) I found several of the things shared in this book encouraging and comforting. Whether a reminder to persist in prayer for healing or acknowledging that God often has plans very different than my own, Life-Changing Miracles was a pleasant book to read through. I…

A Tiny Tidbit of Encouraging Advice

Once upon a time there was a busy homeschooling mother who had to plan out her school days in 15-minute increments....

Now there is a far less busy homeschooling mother who no longer plans out school days beyond updating her calendar with her last child's dual enrollment college class schedule.

And it happened in the blink of an eye.

If you are just beginning to homeschool ~ perhaps even starting mid-year in January ~ then it is very important for you to know that the busy-ness you are facing will come to it's end far more quickly than you can imagine. And if you are nearing the end of your homeschooling journey, be sure to take time to remember what it was like during those hectic days early on because, who knows, some sweet mama may need a little bit of encouragement from one who has gone before her.

In this quiet pause between Christmas and the New Year, try to think of some way to encourage another mom, whether she homeschools or not. (And if you read my blog but are not a…

The Sacred Slow by Alicia Britt Chole ~ a book review ~

I received the book The Sacred Slow to review from Thomas Nelson Publishers, and I thought I had a pretty good idea what this book was about. I was completely wrong.

The book seems, at first glance, very similar to a personal devotional. There is a brief reading, Scripture references, and some thoughts to personalize and think about. But upon further study, I found that "personalizing & thinking about" each day's topic was just the tip of the iceberg. There is oh-so-much more going on beneath the surface.

Let me say two things about The Sacred Slow:

          #1 ~ The concept of slowing down & taking an actual Sabbath rest is missing almost entirely among Westernized Christians and this book deals with that lack directly and effectively. There is actual application contained herein.

          #2 ~ The was this author draws out of you what is deep inside your inner man - and deeply impacts the way you relate to God. This "drawing out" involves a series …

First Halves Don't Win Football Games

Job 23:10 reads like this: "He knows the way that I take..."


Is this verse a reality for you right now, in whatever spot life may have landed you? Are you confident in the certainty that the Lord knows the way that you take? That He knows exactly where you are at this precise moment and that He knows exactly how you got here?

Can you trust the Living God to manage the path of your life and believe that He has His eye on you right now? Do you know that He knows the way that you take today?

Life does not play out the way most of us wanted it to. Rarely do we get what we planned to get out of our short number of days on this big, blue spinning ball called Earth. But, nevertheless, for those who know Jesus, the long walk of our short life is not walked alone. Not only does He know the way that we take, He walks that way alongside of us.

It's a wonderful thing to walk the path of life hand in hand with Jesus. Don't think you have to do this on your own; you don't. Gra…

Frederick Buechner Books ~ A Double Review

So, prior to this book review I had not heard of the author Frederick Buechner - this despite the fact that I am a book-a-holic and the additional fact that Mr. Buechner has authored more than 30 books. No idea how I missed him entirely...

For this review, I received not one, but two works by this author. I chose to dive into A Crazy, Holy Grace (The Healing Power of Pain and Memory) first because the subtitle was intriguing. After all, who wants to heal by way of pain and memory? Or, worse yet, via the combo of painful memories? Yeah, no...most of us will take a hard pass on that option.



In many ways, this book tells the unique story of the writer's life and delves into some terribly difficult childhood experiences and his emotions - or more accurately, his lack thereof. I think many people would relate well to this scenario. Childhood trauma often deals us such a blow in such a formative time of life that we find ourselves ill-equipped to feel what we ought to be feeling. If you…

Battleground Goals

Warren Wiersbe has said that sooner or later, every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground. He is spot on.

And for the homeschooling mother, we have one very intense battlefield.

Our enemies are, of course, on the outside. From the checkout lady at the Piggly Wiggly to our distant third-cousin (twice removed on our father's side), we know people are going to question us in regard to homeschooling. (Why, just last night at a banquet where my husband presented five awards, a very kind woman at our table asked me the never-ending question about....socialization. It's like the Dorothy and Toto jokes for those of us who live in Kansas ~ I sometimes was to say, in a voice rich with sarcasm, "You know, I have never heard that one before....!!") Those battlefields, we know how to prep for those.

But what about our own internal battlefields? What about those nagging fears that every mother has, but the homeschooling mom has on steroids?…

Bible Promises to Live By for Women ~ Katherine J. Butler (book review)

THIS.
This is my ideal when it comes to book reviews. 
Pretty cover? Check.
Solidly Biblical content? Check.
Dealing with prayer? Check.
Oh yes, this is my absolute favorite type of book to review.
Bible Promises to Live By for Women (by Katherine J. Butler) is truly a work of art. Concise but powerfully written insights fall just before a couple of pages of applicable Bible verses, all sorted neatly by topic. Perfect for reading from start to finish, praying through one topic a day. Also perfect for grabbing in the face of an urgent need, flipping to the area of concern, and praying in the right now. This books is truly wonderful.
I believe it would be a blessing for any mom this Christmas - it would be a great stocking stuffer for your teen and older daughters - it would make an excellent "thank you" for any woman you know who serves in any area of ministry. 
I love - love - love this book. It has secured it's spot on my bookshelf alongside books on prayer I often grab…

Homeschool Goals

#Goals

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, in the social media sense, then you have most likely seen hashtag/Goals floating around. Millennials seem to love throwing this term around. To be honest, it's not a bad concept. We all have goals, right? 


So I was thinking about this idea of goals, and how using the hashtag almost sort of puts those goals "out there" for the whole world to see. It's like a unique form of accountability, in a way. If everyone knows your #Goals, then it stands to reason that everyone can check in with you about how those goals are coming along.


Several years ago, when I was relatively new to this whole homeschool thing, I wrote out a list of goals for us. I typed it up in a fun font, cleaned it up and centered it, printed it out and taped it to the kitchen wall (also known as the homeschool classroom). There is was for several years, right at my eye level in the room where I spent the majority of my waking hour…

The Master's Mind ~ The Art of Reshaping Your Thoughts by Lance Hahn (book review)

Great book.

I could actually complete this review with just those two words. I like this book that much.

I am not a self-help proponent, primarily because it simply does not work. So know that this book is definitely not one of those books and if one of those books is what you are looking for, you should probably keep looking. Lance Hahn's book "The Master's Mind" is a God-help kind of book. A book that points you to the Word of God and to Jesus and urges you to live daily in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.

The author covers so many topics in this written work, I would leave several out if I tried to list them all. He is thorough about the warfare happening for our minds, for our every thought. He wants the reader to realize what is really transpiring spiritually and how it directly impacts daily life - because there is a kernel of truth to the saying, "I think, therefore I am." What we think ~ about ourselves, about others, and most importantly about God ~…

Moms Need Friends Too...Right??

Socialization.


The one word homeschoolers dread hearing the most!

Why is it that people so readily assume that, if you homeschool, you and your children must have so much trouble making friends? interacting in social settings? holding a normal conversation? living life as a human being on this planet?

As women who home educate our children, we deal with this whole "socialization" thing on a multitude of levels.

When we first decide to homeschool, we may lose some old friends who just don't get why we are doing this. As we continue to homeschool, we may lose some friends because our time is allocated more toward our kiddos education and less toward normal "friendship-y" sorts of things. If we ~ GASP! ~ dare to continue to homeschool into the high school years, we again face the prospect of losing some friends who homeschooled in the younger years but feel high school is a bridge too far, for whatever reason (some of those reasons are legitimate - this is not an …

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? (book review)

So, I received the book "When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?" by Jennifer Grant from Handlebar Press. I get a fair number of books to review & as a conservative Christian, I receive books written from that perspective...*mostly.





This book certainly had some poignant segments - things about life as a middle-aged woman that really hit home. Many, many things Jennifer described are things I have experienced. And many of those things came as a surprise to me, much in the way they seemed to surprise her. How can these events come as surprises when they happen to so many of us? Shouldn't we know exactly what to expect if it is the exact same thing so many tens of thousands have experienced? Somehow, the answer is no. Even those events that are the same are not the same at all. It's a bizarre truth, indeed, that not everything that is the same is the same at all.

As a Christian woman who considers her personal relationship with Jesus the most important part of her life,…

Homework for the Homeschool Mom

As the homeschool mama, I am the one doing the assigning and not usually the one receiving the assigning. I am sure you feel the exact same way. But today I am giving you, the mother who is (most likely) primarily in charge of her children's education, a homework assignment. And I really hope you will take the time to complete it!

The first part of your homework assignment is simple:

          Grab your Bible, turn to Matthew 25:14-30, and read it.

Re-read, highlight, underline or take notes on any portion(s) of this passage that stand out to you. Be an active reader. Read this while thinking about your own life. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about this passage.

Then, read it one more time.

Finally, the "hard" part of the assignment....

Sit quietly before the Lord, pen and paper in hand, and write what He speaks to your heart about this passage. Ask Him to show you where you are rightly using what He has given you for His glory and His purposes. And, on the more di…

Not A Post I Ever Wanted to Write...

Okay, here goes nothing.

I have a serious heart condition. Or, more accurately, I have a couple of serious heart conditions that are somewhat conflicting and have made my treatment, shall we say, a bit tricky. Add to that some dissension between my cardiologist and my electrophysiologist regarding my treatment, and it becomes dicier still. And the cherry on top is that medication, even at it's lowest dose, is deadly for me (the mildest meds at half the lowest dose lower my resting heart rate to 30 beats per minute - a full dose would likely stop my heart, according to my doctors). So, meds are out.

And the beginning of my journey from Wichita, Kansas to Cleveland, Ohio, to pursue treatment at the Cleveland Heart Clinic is my next step. It's going to be " 'spensive" to quote Lucille Ball. So some of my family members (two of my aunts and my hubby, to be exact) have teamed up & started a YouCaring page to help raise the necessary funds.

I seriously dislike shar…

Old Age in Your Young Age

An old saying goes something like this:

“For the foolish, old age is like winter; for the wise, it is a harvest.”



Read that one more time and ponder it for a moment.

What truth does that speak to your mind, to your heart, homeschooling mother? What do you hear the Lord saying to you? How can you live today so that you will have a harvest in your old age?

It will always be far easier to be in a bit of a foul mood on any given day ~ this day! Far easier to gripe a little here and moan a little there. The hard, right choice to make is to live learning from today so that you reap that harvest when you are gray and wrinkly. But you cannot make hard, right choices if you do not decide in advance to make those hard, right choices. Being joyful in your day to day life as a busy mom requires that you yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him produce fruit that is worth harvesting. This cannot be manufactured in your own strength. Nothing worth anything can.

It’s so easy to live today so that tomorrow …

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald (Revised & Updated)

The book Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald is a classic among Christians, referenced from the pulpit on a regular basis and often found on the bookshelves of believers. And now, it has been revised and updated. I pretty much jumped at the chance to review this book.




Fifteen chapters. A preface and an epilogue. Even a study guide to make this accessible for a small group. That's the skeleton of this book - but what about what's on the inside?

There's a lot inside. A whole lot.

The first chapter or two were a bit s-l-o-w for my liking. I had heard so much about this book over the years that I was chomping at the bit, ready for the heavy stuff. The author lays a nice foundation for the rest of the book in the early chapters, which is exactly what a good author does. I just wanted to skip ahead, but I didn't. And I am glad that I didn't, because I see now that the book moves at a pace that can draw in even the most disorganized mess of a person, allowing …

About Flattery...

So, I read this quote a few days ago and it really struck a cord:


"Flattery is not communication; it is manipulation."


Um, wow.

When I flatter someone, why? Why do I do it? What is the point? What end result am I hoping to achieve? Just, why?

I don't think I have a good answer. Sometimes, I suppose, I sort of sincerely mean what I am saying (when I compliment or congratulate someone - which is different than when I flatter them). But most of the time I use flattery as a means to an end. Isn't that basically using people?  Oh good grief, that's awful! It makes my stomach turn! But there it is in all it's hideousness. Ick.

Communication brings to mind meaningful, two-way conversation that is relaxed and full of intentional listening on the part of all conversing. It's genuine. It happens when people care deeply about one another and want to make that known more than they want their opinion to be known. It's powerful because it's so darn real.

I wa…

The Wisdom of God by A.W. Tozer

I have recently been reading through the book "The Wisdom of God - Letting His Truth and Goodness Direct Your Steps" by A.W. Tozer. True to form, Tozer delivers a whole lotta punch in each and every chapter. It's heady, weighty stuff, this book; it's meat and potatoes of the spiritual sort.

In short, do not read this book if you are looking for soft serve, cuz this ain't that.









This book is comprised of 23 chapters, none of which is very long. They are short, but pack a powerful punch. Each chapter has enough to say that you feel as if you have read far more than a few pages. The core of the subject matter is the Lord's wisdom; the applications of this topic spread far and wide. There is far more to this than I had previously thought, and it has proven that my own studies of wisdom as laid out in the Bible have been scant at best. It's an education in wisdom. And of course, as with any type of education, there is homework. Said homework being the applicati…

Verses to Embolden Your Faith

This post is short & sweet ~ just a handful of Bible verses that will, hopefully, bless you today.


1 Peter 1:13a - So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your desires. You didn't know any better then.

          1 Samuel 12:7 - Now stand here quietly as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you...

          Isaiah 41:10 - Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

          John 14:27b - Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

          Exodus 2:23b - They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.

          Psalm 40:17c - O my God, do not delay.

          2 Corinthians 13:11 - Live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

          Jeremiah 31:9a & b - Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will l…

Adrift in Chaos?

Homeschooling is hard. Attempting to live out the guidelines in Proverbs 31 is hard. Parenting is hard. Marriage is often hard.The catchy phrase, "The struggle is real," adequately describes many aspects of the life of a mom who homeschools.

But has the struggle become chaos? Do you feel completely adrift in that chaos?

Friend, chaos and a sense of being adrift in a sea of overwhelming burdens and hardship is not the Lord's will for you. I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, I know this to be true.

You are His beloved. He has not spoken chaos over your life.

My son graduated from Wheaton College, and for this blog post I am going to directly quote one of the school's most famous female alumni - Elisabeth Elliot.


"Either we are adrift in chaos or we are individuals, created, loved, upheld and placed purposefully, exactly where we are. Can you believe that? Can you trust God for that?"



Are your days longer than 24 hours - flying by yet dragging on and on?…

Women Who Move Mountains (praying with confidence, boldness, and grace) by Sue Detweiller

Over the last 6 years or so, I have reviewed quite a few books. Far more than I can remember off the top of my head, and too many to bother taking the time to try and count them all. I have read some duds and found some real treasures. The book I am reviewing today is a gem. It is a terrific book.
Women Who Move Mountains, by Sue Detweiller, isn't just another book about prayer. It's something more akin to a life-guide wrapped inside an in-depth personal Bible study. It's not just a book you read ~ it is a book that you pray through as you let God's Word be applied to the deepest parts of your life and the neediest aspects of your life. 
The book's layout is unique: each chapter of reading material is immediately followed by a chapter of study material and questions that cement the content from the prior chapter. The reading material is not difficult, but it certainly is not easy reading. And the questions are not "fluff". On the contrary, they are heart p…

Invest in July - Reap in September

If you're like me, you don't homeschool year-round. I like to end our homeschool year some time in May and start up again in late August. That, however, is our actual academic schedule. I am always thinking about homeschooling ~ combing through our curriculum bookshelves, updating transcripts, reading books to encourage me as a homeschool mom...you get the idea.

As a long-term homeschooler ~ as in 20 years! ~ I can tell you that the time spent focused on your homeschool in July pays big dividends come September. First off, mom won't feel nearly so overwhelmed when facing the advent of the new academic year. Second, your kids will have a far better school year if they know everything is ready to go before the year begins. Third, your home will run more efficiently if you are totally prepared for the school year (by totally prepared, I mean caught up on laundry, have all the library books you need, meals are planned, all supplies have been purchased, etc). And your husband w…

Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest (Revised & Updated) - by Barbara Rainey & Susan Yates

So, this particular book review carries a special kind of weight for me and hit me squarely between the eyes with it's subject matter. I am about to become an empty-nester and I have absolutely no idea how this can possibly be true. My times they are a-changing. And I don't know that I like the changing of the times, to be honest.

Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest is easy to read, well thought out, informative and, if not exactly essential for a woman in my situation, then by all means a wise option as I wrap up my current season of life. After all, I have been a full-time homeschool mom for almost 25 years. I probably need to seek out some counsel as I prepare to transition to...well...to whatever is next for me.

The book has 12 chapters, divided into three sections, and includes an epilogue as well as four appendixes and a small group or book club study guide. Like I said, it's well thought out and informative. The chapters stay true to their intended topic…