30 Days of Thankful 2017 | 15

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Yep, this beauty is being made as I type. And, when it lands in our living room it will be paid for - in cash - because we saved for it! It is hard, yes, to wait. But, man, is it worth it. I am so glad Jeff and I are on the same sheet of music regarding our finances. In this day and age, when marriages struggle because of finances, I am so thankful we have this thing figured out long ago.


52 Weeks of Giving | 47

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Each month our church, Compassion Christian Church, collects various items to meet just some of the needs of our community. This months collection was coats (new or gently used) and blankets for kids in our area. I think they are coordinating with some of the local schools we support in various capacities as well as local ministries our church supports to get the coats and blankets to those kids who need them.

I visited Walmart. Picked out 3 of the heaviest coats they had for girls and 2 of the heaviest coats for boys, all in various sizes (but mostly elementary school aged) and delivered them to the bin at church. It was so much fun, and I am so thankful we can do things like this. 


what I've been reading | november

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Today I'm sharing what I've been reading lately...
 

Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. Sooo good! I'm not a very anxious person but when Lucado digs deep into anxious things I found there are a few things I could use a little work on. Not just for the anxious at heart but the stressed and the concerned and while this is typical Lucado book speak, as always, he speaks words of truth in a relatable, practical, and inspiring way. I don't think there isn't any of his books I haven't learned something, gained wisdom from. 77/100 books read.

Unspoken by Francine Rivers. A novella of historical fiction of the life of Bathsheba, one of the five women in the lineage of Jesus Christ who changed eternity. Rivers shows the unlimited grace of God given Bathsheba as testament and what we can learn from Bathsheba and the mercy of God even today. We have limited information in the Word of God regarding Bathsheba yet I can envision her story being this. 78/100 books read.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. A young adult book that delves into the world of multi-dimension travel. Besides being quite frustrated in wanting the story to resolve, and in some ways it does, but in others we are left hanging, I blazed through A Thousand Pieces in one sitting; my favorite parts are when the protagonist, Marguerite, with the aid of the Firebird, is transported into another dimension, and another, and another...It is an intriguing storyline, unique from anything I've read - definitely held my attention and worth the read. I'm sharing the cover because this fulfills Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge, a book you chose for the cover. Because it is a YA book, I wouldn't normally give it a shot (although this past year I've read quite a few YA books that have begun to change my mind - maybe) so, I definitely chose the book for the cover. I love the abstract painting underlain with two cities, different dimensions? In fact, the entire Firebird series by Claudia Gray has the same abstractness that I love. 79/100 books read.

You and Me Forever by Francis Chan & Lisa Chan. After reading this book if you give it even an ounce of effort you will not walk away unchanged. Case in point: One 'marriage' quotes from the book that rocked me to the core, "The one who wins the argument is usually the one who acts less like Christ." Boom! Because it is about becoming more like Christ, isn't it? An Amazon reviewer summed up my feelings for this book, exactly, "You And Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan is the best kind of bait-and-switch. It looks like a marriage book, and it sounds like a marriage book, but it’s not REALLY a book on marriage. It’s really a book about having the eternal view of every aspect of life, including marriage and parenting. It’s a book about seeking first the Kingdom of God and everything else, including a healthy marriage, flowing from that. And it’s about seeing everything you have, including your marriage, as something to be used for the mission of God in this world.

I estimate only about 25% of this book directly addresses marriage and marriage issues. I’m reluctant to let that cat out of the bag, because the best-case scenario would be someone beginning this book with their guard down, expecting some “tried-and-true marriage tips,” and getting creamed unawares by the Chans’ amazing vision of living a life focused on God and His mission.

This book rocked me like none I’ve read in a long time. It’s unquestionably the best book I’ve read all year, and the best marriage book I’ve ever read—if it indeed qualifies as a marriage book. This book is a manifesto of daily discipleship, in light of eternity. It was simultaneously water for my parched soul, and painful, jolting stab of conviction to my heart.

This is a book for married people, single people, people with kids, and people without them. The American church desperately needs the message of this book.

Francis and Lisa Chan do an excellent job of narrating the book. At first I found the narration a little dry. However, as the book goes on, both of them speak with deep conviction and seriousness, practically pleading with the listener to repent of their small view of God and His mission...Highly, highly recommended.
" - Nick Duffel, on Amazon. 80/100
books read.

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny. As I am only on the fourth book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, it is inevitable that at least one book in the series will be read each month over the next few months. I am enjoying this series immensely, and look forward each book to the next. With a different setting A Rule Against Murder takes us to a mountainous resort where the Gamache's are vacationing for their wedding anniversary and where, of course, murder rules the day. Another "Spot" on book. Now, let me go count my sums. 81/100 books read.

Hallelujah Anyway, Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Something of a memoir - of sorts. But not really. Maybe testimonies? Whatever it is supposed to be, I struggled through the first half of the book begging myself to finish but I could not find the mercy. The chapters were full of - fluff - is about all I can call it and, maybe, one line or so at the end of the chapter and coming out of nowhere, a sort of fill in the blanks of how mercy applied to the chapter. This book was: all. over. the. place. I felt like I was drowning while I was reading it. That's a horrible feeling. It was totally disjointed. Ms. Lamott is definitely not someone I would go to for spiritual guidance. 82/100 books read. 

High Heat by Richard Castle. Interesting story (at least to me). Jeff and I finished watching the television show Castle this year. We never saw it on television, but I purchased Season 1 to check it out and we were hooked. In that first season you hear about the novels, the Nicki Heat novels, the character (on the show) Richard Castle writes. For some reason I missed that the show was based on those novels (although the names are changed in the show). High Heat is a later book in the series and probably about Season 8 on the show. This was a very quick read and moved along without any lag. Not a lot of character developing as I imagine (or hope) it is done in earlier novels. I enjoyed the book enough to pick up the first three in the series and see how it goes. 83/100 books read.

A Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Oh, Louise Penny! I love your books! Another brilliant, rich, complex story - of murder. I fall harder for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache with each novel, as well as, his trusty sidekick Jean Guy Beauvoir, and the numerous cast of characters in the quaint, secluded town of Three Pines, Canada. Imagine every good thing you can say about a murder mystery then apply it to A Brutal Telling and - well - all of Penny's novels thus far. 84/100 books read.

The Visitor's Guide to the Afterlife by Annie Pigeon. A co-worker, who I've known for many years handed me this little book. And, honestly, I only read it because he said his belated wife, who was a closer friend, had read it. I knew from the title and because my friend and I don't have similar tastes in reading material, it would be like young Tantor's saying from the Disney movie, Tarzan, "...It looks questionable to me!" It is a tad [and I use the term loosely] questionable and sarcastic, but it is a clever-humor take on heaven. Some form of spiritual and biblical awareness is necessary so as not to take the guide seriously or believable and to catch much of the humor. 85/100 books read.

Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer. This is a beautifully illustrated story of the camel carrying the gifts of the three wise men to Bethlehem. I bought 24 Christmas books for my oldest daughter's kids, but also to give them a new tradition: a Christmas book Advent, unwrapping a book a day and reading it aloud. This one, and the following two, were in the stack of books I wrapped in brown paper packaging or snowflake paper wrapping, tied each with a string, and tagged with a day of December. A sweet story. 86/100 books read.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. A 1986 Caldecott Medal Winner. Although I think it's popularity peaked when the book was made into a movie, starring Tom Hanks. When I began reading the story, I didn't realize it was such a short story. Some of the books pages were illustrated quite beautifully, while I was unimpressed with other pages, the story, however, was sweet. 87/100 books read.

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck. Yes, that Pearl S. Buck. Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck wrote this beautiful and heartwarming story about the gift of love. When love is given and love is received. It will be a favorite Christmas book of mine for a long time to come. 88/100 books read.


30 Days of Thankful 2017 | 12

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I mentioned above that I don't think I would have continued to scrapbook if I hadn't found digital scrapbooking. While I have quite a few scrapbooks filled with traditional scrapbooking pages, I stressed so much over one page and it would take me days to finish. But, digitally, I can make a page in under an hour, sometimes less. Sure, sometimes longer, but I haven't stressed once.

I love this hobby, this recording our family memories. And I'm grateful for it.


stories 2017 | Costume Fun

Costume-Fun

One, maybe two, more pages from Halloween. This page is Wyatt. I know. You can't tell who it is, right? It looks like the red Power Ranger, for sure. Truly, I say, it is Wyatt! He loves everything Power Rangers. I love when costumes are wearable for more than just Halloween. Then, it seems like you get your monies worth.

Digitally, this is a new technique page. I turned the photo black and white and and 're-colored' Wyatt and his red power ranger costume. It is a simple technique. I layered a black and white over the colored then, erased out the area I wanted to return to color. I love this technique and hope to use it again.