Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, January 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hero

I agree with Lisa Jo.  Writing does make us brave. And terrified. Often simultaneously.
That’s OK. Write anyway.  This is the beginning of the fourth year of a whole community writing brave together on Fridays.  It is my third year.  I sat out the first year.  Here’s how it got started and how to join us. Just remember, the one rule is that you need to read the post of the person who linked up before you. And tenderly unwrap their words and share a note in their comments.  Writing is a gift. Let’s take time to say thank you. Leave a comment for someone by clicking here today.
Today’s prompt is HERO.

Martina McBride does a song called, In My Daughter's Eyes and that is my contribution to the word hero for today.  I truly believe that this is what I am to her.  I may not always be perfect, motherhood did not come with a manual.  What I did....I did because I felt it was right.  I know that she has no doubt that  I am someone who loves her beyond the moon and back.  I sing this at church every Mother's Day and have sung it on Graduation Sunday when all we have graduating only girls. 
In my daughter's eyes,

I am a hero,

 I am strong and wise,

And I know no fear,

 But the truth is plain to see,

 She was sent to rescue me,

 I see who I want to be,

 In my daughter's eyes 

In my daughter's eyes,

 Everyone is equal,

 Darkness turns to light,

 And the world is at peace,

 This miracle god gave to me,

 Gives me strength when I am weak,

 I find reason to believe,

 In my daughter's eyes 

And when she wraps her hand around my finger,

 How it puts a smile in my heart,

 Everything becomes a little clearer,

 I realize what life is all about,

 It's hanging on when your heart is had enough,

 It's giving more when you feel like giving up,

 I've seen the light,

 It's in my daughter's eyes 

In my daughter's eyes,

 I can see the future,

 A reflection of who I am and what will be,

 And though she'll grow and someday leave,

 Maybe raise a family,

 When I'm gone I hope you see,

 How happy she made me,

 For I'll be there,

In My daughter’s eyes
If I were to write about my own hero I would change a few of the words to In My Daddy's Eyes.  He was my hero and he knew it.  He taught me right from wrong, good from bad, how to fish and shoot a gun.  How to play a game without cheating, how to compete....and most importantly how to lose with grace.  He taught me about worship, God, how to be a Christian.  He taught me how to work with ethics, how to have morals, how to love, how to cry, how to be strong.  He was my hero.  He always is a shame that in today's society there are not enough hero's like this to go around.  Wake up stars, athletes....they are not what heroes are made of....they fall far short.  Heroes are the people who spend time with a child and make sure they are raised up in the way they should go....because let me tell you....once we are grown....we don't depart from it. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kruze Is 4 Months Old

Miss Kruze is four months old today and moving right along.  Mommy Magen said her doctors appointment went splendidly.  She is weighing in at 6 pounds 8.5 ounces.  I am telling you that this little miracle has wrapped her tiny little hand around our whole community and she owns us. 
Posing pretty for the camera in her cool head band.  If I were Magen I would do nothing but change her outfits and take pictures.  She has such precious expressions.  Love it!


This one is my favorite.  It looks like she is saying..."there take that!"
This was Kruze during the Super Bowl.  You can tell she wore her little self out cheering on her favorite team!    NOT!  Magen went to visit Kash the other day....before Snowmaggedon and since the day was so pleasant she took Kruze with her. Magen's mom, Karka made the sweetest picture of them visiting.

Magen has really been amazing.  She is one of the best little momma's I have ever known.  Her strength has been quite a witness.  January 28th was Kruzes actual due date.  Magen dressed her up and let her pose for us.  Love it. she could do this every single day and I would be so very happy.  I love just looking at her.
Momma managed to get out for a bit during the snow and leave her mark on the world.  We had some more snow.Is this not the sweetest sight?  A snow angel in the cemetary.


Magen and her precious little ones posing.  Jett is not thrilled and Kruze is just chilling.  Prayers are still being requested.  The family needs healing prayers.  It is hard to bury a child.  Keaton has returned to work and Magen is doing the SAHM thing.  I wish you all could get to know them.  They are remarkable. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snowed In Wednesday Hodge Podge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Joyce's rules are simple.  All you have to do is answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back and link up with all your friends and neighbors. Be sure to add a link to Joyce's post on your blog  by clicking here so people reading know how to play along too. The code for the Hodgepodge button is on her sidebar.

Now for my answers to the questions......hope you are ready.

1. It's been said that one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day?  Do you think that's true? Do you find that an easy exercise most mornings? What's something positive you told yourself this morning? If you missed that boat, what's something positive you could tell yourself tomorrow?  I have an hour commute each morning and afternoon, so on my way in and out I do Hwy 22 Prayers part of the way and then listen to Praise and Worship Music or a motivational CD the other part of the way.  It helps me prepare for my day and get me in a positive zone.  I reverse the practice on the way home and it gets rid of all the negative and I don't come home and lambast Frank with it.  Yep...I believe positives can override negatives.
 2. There will be karaoke at the next party you attend...are you in? Or will you be faking a sore throat?  I am a singer by nature so I am all in.  I am not usually one of the first to jump in.  I know I can sing and I have lots of opportunities to sing.  It is supposed to be fun so I always let others go first....and I may or may not participate depending on the crowd. 

3. January 29th is National Puzzle Day...what's something you've found puzzling lately?
How something as beautiful as snow can be so deadly....especially when it is hiding ice below it's surface.

 4. Jigsaw, crossword, acrostic, logic, sudoku, word search...what's your favorite, and when did you last work one?
I like most of them....but Word Search is my favorite and I did three today.  I have them on my IPad....and keep a book or two of them beside my bed.  I also love jigsaws.  I wish I had had one at the house to eliminate the cabin fever I was suffering from. 
 5. Recently a writer by the name of Amy Glass ruffled feathers with a post she wrote saying she looks down on young women with husbands and kids and she's not sorry. Among other things she says women will be equal with men when we stop saying housework and real work are equally important.  You can read the whole piece by clicking here.What say you? Do you think men and women are equal in the 21st century? Why or why not?
 I agree with Joyce on this one and think "Amy Glass just wanted some traffic on her site and her wish came true. Not sure if this is truly the way she feels, or if it was put out there because she knew it would generate controversy and buzz, and most of all traffic aka revenue. I'm not going to get all riled up about something a self-described feminist blogger says, other than to say this-It is the year two thousand and fourteen. Why do women continue to beat each other up about the way we choose to work and parent?  Are men and women equal? No. Thank goodness!"  Right now I am working full time as a teacher and part time as a preacher.  Frank is only working part time because he is in school.  We chose to go that route.  When he finishes school I am going to retire.

6. What's a product you've noticed in the grocery store that you'd like to try, but haven't yet?
I was watching the commercial last night for the Campbells Slow Cooker Sauces, and thought I might like to try it out.  It is winter and crock pot meals are great for now.  I usually do my own sauces but this really looks interesting.

7. The author,
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was born this week back in 1832 (January 27th). Which character from his celebrated novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, would you most like to meet, and why? Here's a link to the character list if you need help on this one.  This is not one of my favorite novels.  I really have no feelings either way about meeting any one of the characters....this is especially true after seeing the Johnny Depp movie.  

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I have participated in the A-Z Challenge for the past three years and would love for some of you to join in as well.  I was delighted to find out through Joyce that the  A-Z Blog Challenge registration is up and running.  Go here to add your name to the list. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

15 Things I Wish I Had Known About Grief

My sweet friend, Jill, shared the following with my precious, Magen.  You have all been praying for Magen and her family since the end of September when she went into labor at 22 weeks gestation with twin daughters.  You were here with us in December when twin, Kash, went home to be with God, and you were here again when Kruze came home with a motorcycle escort.  It has been a tough walk for this sweet little family and there are many more tough days ahead.  Grief is devastating.  Life moves on around you....but you stand still.  Teryn O'Brien is the author of the fifteen things.  They are powerful.  They apply to anyone who has lost someone they loved.  I had to share this and of course I had my own comments to add.  "The After a year of grief, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also made some mistakes along the way. Today, I jotted down 15 things I wish I’d known about grief when I started my own process.  I pass this onto anyone on the journey.  No, I did not lose a child...but I thought 2009 - 2011 I would lose my mind with grief from losses.  I wish I had had this then....

1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly. (I found that normal changes as time passes.)

2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day. When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day.  (There are special days that can rock you....but even they pass and a new day comes.)

3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling.  (Ok regular months, not Ok monumental months.  My dad died at the beginning of my Fall break.  My mom died at the beginning of my Spring break.  That first Fall break...I did not want to go anywhere....I was afraid someone would die.  I still get nervous when my phone rings when I am on a break.)

4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to laugh, too. Don’t feel guilty for feeling positive emotions even when dealing with loss.  (I remember the first time I laughed.  I felt like I should apologize to my folks.  I also remember the first easy breath I drew.)

5. Take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Eat healthily. Work out. Do the things you love. Remember that you are still living.  (My friends Carolyn, Mary, and Susan stayed after me to eat.  Mary tried to take me to the beach.  Susan....well she stayed at the house....and we painted the my parents bedroom and bathroom, got a new bed spread and curtains and put new things on the wall.  It was so therapuetic.)

6. Don’t shut people out. Don’t cut yourself off from relationships. You will hurt yourself and others.  (This one was tough because it is my best coping mechanism.  My friends and family know this...and they bombarded me with dinner invitations, visits, and I am so glad they did.  They refused to let me curl up and withdraw from life.)

7. No one will respond perfectly to your grief. People–even people you love–will let you down. Friends you thought would be there won’t be there, and people you hardly know will reach out. Be prepared to give others grace. Be prepared to work through hurt and forgiveness at others’ reactions. (My biggest issue here was all the helpful words people offered....when all I really wanted was to be held and remember sweet moments and stories from the past.)

8. God will be there for you perfectly. He will never, ever let you down. He will let you scream, cry, and question. Throw all your emotions at Him. He is near to the brokenhearted. (On my way down Hwy 22 each morning I remember yelling at God, questioning Him, and crying.  I even pulled over a few times and cried til I was sick.  Once I got out and walked to the edge of the woods shouting at him.....and you know....He was there....always....holding me up.)

9. Take time to truly remember the person you lost. Write about him or her, go back to all your memories with them, truly soak in all the good times you had with that person. It will help. (I began some serious blogging during this time.  I have countless things written on tablets, napkins, scraps of paper.  As I remembered something special....I wrote it down immediately.....because I was afraid I would forget it.)

10. Facing the grief is better than running. Don’t hide from the pain. If you do, it will fester and grow and consume you. 

11. You will ask “Why?” more times than you thought possible, but you may never get an answer. What helps is asking, “How? How can I live life more fully to honor my loved one? How can I love better, how can I embrace others, how can I change and grow because of this?”

12. You will try to escape grief by getting busy, busy, busy. You will think that if you don’t think about it, it’ll just go away. This isn’t really true. Take time to process and heal.  (I tried to tackle cleaning out my mom and dad's house at this time(my mom was a hoarder)....and that was so wrong.  All I did was hurt more when I was there....and that eventually turned to anger.  It took walking away from the house to breathe again.)

13. Liquor, sex, drugs, hobbies, work, relationships, etc., will not take the pain away. If you are using anything to try and numb the pain, it will make things worse in the long run. Seek help if you’re dealing with the sorrow in unhealthy ways. (When my parents disappeared....right before my dad died and my mom snapped....Frank and I went to a counselor.  This was something no one should ever have to experience...the disappearance, death, and loss of mental faculties...  I was ill equipped to handle any of it.  I knew if I did not seek some help I would lose my mind.  After counseling....I realized that every thing I was feeling ....was normal.....for grief.  It was just a step into my new normal.)

14. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need people. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.  ( I found it was actually ok....just to hug people and not say a word.)

15. Grief can be beautiful and deep and profound. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk alongside it. You may be surprised at what grief can teach you.  (I have learned through this that I have a great deal to offer others.  My grief and experiences have helped others cope.  I have learned what to do....and not to do.  I have learned what to say and not to say.  I have learned to be quiet and listen to their hearts and read their souls in their eyes.)"


Monday, January 27, 2014

My Favorite Breakfast Things

I love apples.  I love them for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner....just put some apples on my plate and I am a happy camper.  I thought today I would share with you some of my favorite breakfast things...and maybe they will become some of your favorite breakfast things.  Bon Appetite!
Crockpot Apple Oatmeal
2 cups milk (you can sub almond or coconut milk if you prefer)
2 T honey
1 T butter (no substitute)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup dry old-fashioned oats
1 cup apples (peeled and sliced or cubed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional
1/2 cup raisins/craisins (optional)
2 T brown sugar (I omitted this, and it was plenty sweet)
Mix together all ingredients and place in a greased crock pot (or use a liner). Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours. If you have a newer crock pot with a warm setting, use that instead of low, and cook 7-9 hours.  I've looked at similar recipes,and you can add a bit more liquid if you're going to need to leave it longer than the 5 -6 hours, but don't have a warm setting on your crockpot. I've also done this recipe on the stove, but cooked the apples down a bit before adding to the pot. Enjoy!  I promise you that if you like oatmeal....and will make you want to slap your momma. 
Applesauce Bread
This is so simple to make and smells heavenly as it baked!  You probably have all the ingredients already ~ Check it out!
1/2 cup of softened butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups of flour
 1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of applesauce
1 t of pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, first blend together the butter, egg, & sugar.
Then add the flour, baking soda, spices, & salt.
After it starts to from a crumbly dough, pour in the applesauce and mix together.
I used two small loaf pans, pouring mixture evenly into both.
I sprayed my pans with cooking spray first or you could use parchment paper, depending on the dish you choose to bake them in.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Cranberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake

 Serves 6-8 
This batter can be prepared the night before. Don’t store it in the pan you plan on baking it in — store it in tupperware of some sort, then transfer to a greased pan in the morning.

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
 the zest from 1 orange zest
 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
 1 egg, room temperature
 1 tsp. vanilla
 2 cups flour
 2 tsp. baking powder
 1 tsp. kosher salt
 2 cups fresh cranberries or craisins
 ½ cup buttermilk
 1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with orange zest and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the cranberries.
4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes, then check for doneness by touching the top gently or by inserting a toothpick. If necessary, return pan to oven, check every five minutes or so — it took my cake a little bit over 45 minutes to cook. (Note: Baking for as long as 50 minutes might be necessary, especially if you made the batter in advance.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
Store batter in a tupperware overnight, then transfer to prepared pan in the morning:

Overnight Coffee Cake
2 c all – purpose flour

1 c sugar (or Splenda)

½ c firmly packed brown sugar (or Splenda brown sugar)

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

1 t cinnamon

1 c buttermilk

2/3 c butter (melted)

2 lg eggs

½ c firmly packed brown sugar (or Splenda brown sugar)

½ c chopped pecanbs

1 t ground cinnamon

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add buttermilk, butter and eggs.  Beat at low speed until moistened; beat at medium speed 2 minutes.  Spoon batter into a greased floured 13 x 9 x 2 pan.  Combine ½ c brown sugar, pecans and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.  Cover and refrigerate 8 – 12 hours.  Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serve warm.
Note:  Cake may be baked immediately at 350 for 30 minutes.  To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 5 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Run Into The Light

Last night an old friend of mine posted this story on facebook.  I read it, sat there and cried, and felt like I had to share it with others.  It is a remarkable story about a remarkable man.  If you google him you will find that this story is true.  I wish I had this kind of spirit.  I know the story made a difference in how I see things.  I hope it touches you too.

"The old cahoot ran in his boots.
Weren’t too many of anybody who believed he could.
The kids and I read about the old guy one night after supper and the dishwasher’s moaning away, crumbs still across the counter.
How the old guy ran for 544 miles. His name was Cliff Young and he wasn’t so much. He was 61 years old. He was a farmer. Levi grins big.
Mr. Young showed up for the race in his Osh Kosh overalls and with his workboots on, with galoshes over top. In case it rained.
He had no Nike sponsorship.

He had no wife – hadn’t had one ever.
Lived with his mother. Never drank. Never ran in any kind of race before. Never ran a 5 mile race, or a half-marathon, not even a marathon.
But here he was standing in his workboots at the starting line of an ultra-marathon, the most gruelling marathon in the world, a 544 mile marathon.
Try wrapping your head around pounding the concrete with one foot after another for 544 endless, stretching miles. They don’t measure races like that in yards – -but in zip codes.
First thing Cliff did was take out his teeth.
Said his false teeth rattled when he ran.
Said he grew up on a farm with sheep and no four wheelers, no horses, so the only way to round up sheep was on the run. Sometimes the best training for the really big things is just the everyday things.That’s what Cliff said: “Whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go run and round up the sheep.” 2,000 head of sheep. 2,000 acres of land.
“Sometimes I’d have to run those sheep for two or three days. I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”
“Got any backers?” Reporters shoved their microphones around old Cliff like a spike belt.
“No….” Cliff slipped his hands into his overall pockets.
“Then you can’t run.”
Cliff looked down at his boots. Does man need backers or does a man need to believe? What you believe is the biggest backer you’ll ever have.
The other runners, all under a buffed 30 years of age, they take off like pumped shots from that starting line. And scruffy old Cliff staggers forward. He doesn’t run. Shuffles, more like it. Straight back. Arms dangling. Feet awkwardly shuffling along.
Cliff eats dust.
For 18 hours, the racers blow down the road, far down the road, and old Cliff shuffles on behind.
Come the pitch black of night, the runners in their $400 ergonomic Nikes and Adidas, lay down by the roadside, because that’s the plan to win an ultra-marathon, to run 544 straight miles: 18 hours of running, 6 hours of sleeping, rinse and repeat for 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.
The dark falls in. Runners sleep. Cameras get turned off. Reporters go to bed.
And through the black night, one 61-year-old man far behind keeps shuffling on.
And all I can think is:
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
The light shineth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not.
καταλαμβάνω Katalambanō – Comprehend. Understand. Master.
Cliff Young runs on through the night and there is a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not master it.

The darkness doesn’t understand the light, doesn’t comprehend the light, doesn’t get the light, doesn’t overcome the light, doesn’t master the light.
Darkness doesn’t have anything on light, on hope, on faith.
The darkness that sucks at the prodigal kid doesn’t have anything on the light of his mother’s prayers.
The black of pornography that threatens at the edges doesn’t master the blazing light of Jesus at the center.
The pit of depression that plunges deep doesn’t go deeper than the love of your Jesus and there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.
That low lying storm cloud that hangs over you can’t master the light of Christ that raises you.
Darkness can’t drive out darkness. Only light can do that” Martin Luther King had said it, had lived it.
Only words of Light can drive out worlds of dark.
Only deeds of Light can drive out depths of dark.
Only lives of Light can drive out lies of dark.

Darkness can never travel as fast as Light. No matter how bad things get, no matter how black the dark seeps in, no matter the depths of the night — the dark can never travel as fast as Light. The Light is always there first, waiting to shatter the dark.
You can always hold His Word like a ball of light right there your hand, right up there next to your warming heart.
You can always count on it: Jesus is bendable Light, warmth around every unexpected corner.
Cliff Young runs on through the dark — because he didn’t know you were supposed to stop.
The accepted way professional runners approached the race was to run 18 hours, sleep 6, for7 days straight. But Cliff Young didn’t know that. He didn’t know the accepted way. He only knew what he did regularly back home, the way he had always done it: You run through the dark.
Turns out when Cliff Young said he gathered sheep around his farm for three days, he meant he’d run across 2,000 acres of farmland for three days straight without stopping or sleeping, without the dark ever stopping him. You gathered sheep by running through the dark.
So along the endless stretches of highway, a tiny shadow of an old man shuffled along, one foot after another, right through the heat, right through the night. Cliff gained ground.
Cliff gained ground because he didn’t lose ground to the dark. Cliff gained ground because he ran through the dark.
And somewhere at the outset of the night, Cliff Young in his overalls, he shuffled passed the toned runners half his age. And by the morning light, teethless Cliff Young who wasn’t young at all, he was a tiny shadow — far, far ahead of the professional athletes.
For five days, fifteen hours, and four minutes straight, Cliff Young ran, never once stopping for the dark – never stopping until the old sheep farmer crossed the finish line – First. He crossed the finish line first. Beating a world record. By two. whole. days.
The second place runner crossed the finish line 9 hours after old Cliff.
And when they handed old Cliff Young his $10,000 prize , he said he hadn’t known there was a prize. Said he’d run for the wonder of it. Said that all the other runners had worked hard too. So Cliff Young waited at the finish line and handed each of the runners an equal share of the 10K.
And then the old cahoot in boots walked a way without a penny for the race but with all the hearts of whole world.
While others run fast, you can just shuffle with perseverance.
While others impress, you can simply press on.
While others stop for the dark, you can run through the dark.

The race is won by those who keep running through the dark.
Could be the year to pull a Cliff Young. 
When those reporters asked Old Cliff that afterward, what had kept him running through the nights, Cliff had said, “I imagined I was outrunning a storm to gather up my sheep.”
And I sit there in the thickening dark.
With the One who mastered the dark and overcame the storm to gather His sheep and now there is a Light Who shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.
And you can see them out the front window, far away to the west, out on there the highway —
the lights all going on through the dark."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Miracle of Hope

About The Book:  How far can God's mercy reach? Lindie Wyse is pregnant out of wedlock and thinks an arranged marriage is the only way to preserve her future. Josiah Plank is certain he'll never love again, but he needs someone to care for his eight-year-old daughter, Hannah. The two take on their arrangement tentatively at first but soon realize they are each in for more than they imagined.  Lindie experiences a breakthrough with Hannah when she recognizes Hannah's special gifts, but a risky pregnancy and serious health issues threaten to demolish the foundation Josiah and Lindie are building. Will their growing love survive despite their struggles, or will their hearts become as cold as the northern winter?

About The Author:  Ruth Reid  is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.

My Thoughts About The Book:  Ruth Reid is an excellent author and quite a wordsmith.  For an Amish story this book was different than what I expected it to be.  The shame Lindie experiences was heartbreaking.  The fact that this young Amish woman could be brutalized as she was, shamed by her own kind, and terrified for her family in a community that is supposed to be peaceful almost made me put the book down without ever reading it.  I am so glad I did not.  The power of love, the hope of a future, and the love of family is what this book is about.  The grace factor flows throughout the story as Lindie takes on the roll of wife, mother, and member of a new community.  I have read several of Ruth Reid's books and loved them all.  I believe this is my favorite.  The characters come to life on the page and I could not put the book down once I started reading it.  I felt as if I too lived in this Amish community and personally knew the characters.  If you love a good Amish story this book is for you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing, Litfuse Publicity Group, and Net  I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*  Thanks guys for allowing me to review this book.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Visit

This morning, Friday morning, as I looked at Lisa Jo's prompt for Five Minute Friday I found myself excited about her opening statement.  I too believe that writing is like the old friend you can always count on to tell you the truth. One thing I have learned about writing is that you don’t need a computer or a special blank book. If you are like me you can simply tear a corner off that old grocery list and write down a legacy of what you loved today. You can count gifts. You can leave notes to yourself. You can weep quietly in ink and then ball it up and throw it out like so much letting go. Writing waits. Writing listens. Writing teaches. On Fridays we write together. On one shared prompt. And we take comfort in each others’ words. Familiar and different at the same time. If this is your first time – click here for how to join us and to link up.  The rules are simple. 
Write, link, respond to at least the person before you.  The word for today is Visit.  Are you ready to begin?


I love the word visit.  It evokes wonderful memories in my mind.  I am fortunate that I grew up in the era I grew up in and in the neighborhood I grew up in.  It was a golden time.  Some of my earliest memories took place when we lived on Georgia Avenue.  I can remember us visiting with our landlady, Ethyl.  She lived above us and when my mom and I would visit her should would serve my mom coffee in English porcelain tea cups.  I think that started my fascination with tea cups that have flowers on them with silver or gold edging.  It is amazing what a visit can develop.  I remember visiting another older couple who lived a few doors down that I loved to go and see.  She would always serve me hot tea in a porcelain tea cup and Bridge mix.  She also taught me how to play bridge, pinnochle, gin.  I could not have been more than 3 at the time.  When I was five we moved to El Prado and I can remember visiting with Mama Jones (one of my friend's grandmothers) as a child and being served sweet tea and fried chicken tea party style.  She would feed us, spend time with us, play cards with us, treat us like equals and I adored the time spent visiting with her.  Right next door was Dobbie.  She was an 80 year old who still drove, took care of her 90 year old sister Bartie, and loved to be visited by children.  She would always have a cookie jar filled with wonderful treats.  I spent hours on her couch listening to her tales of her own childhood.  Susan's mom raised orchids....amazing ones.....and I loved to tag along with my mom when she went to visit Frances.  Her yard was beautiful.  My mom's best friend, Valerie, lived two doors down and visiting with them meant spending time with Carol and her sister Honey Bun.  Every year we would come to see my grandparents in Alabama.  While we were here we would visit with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and long time friends of my parents.  There were always certain aunts and uncles I loved visiting with a lot.  These were the ones who had a pool, kids my age, a skating rink, or played music.  But visiting people is not all that the word is about.  Visiting can involve just a place.  I love to visit Washington, DC.  I especially love the war monuments.  When I visit the Vietnam, Korean, and WWII monuments and touch their walls I feel the past shooting through my fingers.  I feel the spirits of the men who fought and died for my freedom.  I have visited many places in my life and found a nugget to take with me in each place when I left.  I am going to be 60 in a couple of months and I still love to visit.  We now live in a small community called Rock Mills, AL and belong to a group of Porch People.  We visit each other a lot and there is nothing better than sitting out on one of the porches....watching life pass by with good friends.  You don't have to have a fancy porcelain tea cup....a red Solo cut with some tea (the table wine of the South), a good conversation, some good storytelling, (and some music), and a porch.....and you have got yourself a good visit!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Perfect Score Project

About The Book:  The Perfect Score Project is an indispensable guide to acing the SAT – as well as the affecting story of a single mom’s quest to light a fire under her teenage son.  It all began as an attempt by Debbie Stier to help her high-school age son, Ethan, who would shortly be studying for the SAT. Aware that Ethan was a typical teenager (i.e., completely uninterested in any test) and that a mind-boggling menu of test-prep options existed, she decided – on his behalf -- to sample as many as she could to create the perfect SAT test-prep recipe.  Debbie’s quest turned out to be an exercise in both hilarity and heartbreak as she took the SAT seven times in one year and in-between “went to school” on standardized testing. Here, she reveals why the SAT has become so important, the cottage industries it has spawned, what really works in preparing for the test and what is a waste of time.  Both a toolbox of fresh tips and an amusing snapshot of parental love and wisdom colliding with teenage apathy, The Perfect Score Project rivets. In the book Debbie does it all: wrestles with Kaplan and Princeton Review, enrolls in Kumon, navigates, meets regularly with a premier grammar coach, takes a battery of intelligence tests, and even cadges free lessons from the world’s most prestigious (and expensive) test prep company.  Along the way she answers the questions that plague every test-prep rookie, including: “When do I start?”...”Do the brand-name test prep services really deliver?”...”Which should I go with: a tutor, an SAT class, or self study?”...”Does test location really matter?” … “How do I find the right tutor?”…How do SAT scores affect merit aid?”... and “What’s the one thing I need to know?”  The Perfect Score Project’s combination of charm, authority, and unexpected poignancy makes it one of the most compulsively readable guides to SAT test prep ever – and a book that will make you think hard about what really matters.

About the Author:  Debbie Stier is the author of the forthcoming book, The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT. A veteran of the book publishing industry, she was responsible for publicizing dozens of iconic books ranging from The Notebook to Marley and Me. Frequently covered by the media, including MediaBistro, New York Observor and New York Magazine, Debbie regularly speaks on topic pertaining to social media and technology as well as, most recently, standardized testing. She lives with her son and daughter in New York City, but you can find her writing daily advice about education and SAT test prep at

My Thoughts On The Book: The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier is a wonderful book.  It is only 281 pages that are broken down into 20 chapters filled with SAT prep information wrapped in the true story of a mom who tries to get her son to do his very best and not settle.   As a high school teacher, who teaches students who take the SAT it was a story that grabbed me from the start.  It is an imformative, yet easy to read book.   I loved the boxes in each chapter that contained nuggets to enable the test takers, and their coaches to do their best.  Any high school parent with students planning to go to college should read this book.  I donated my copy to our school library.  The advice given was very helpful and some of the things she offered up I had never really thought of.  Our school uses classrooms for testing on a large scale, but using full-sized desks and chairs and not the desks we have was eye opening.  In the state of Alabama proctors and test administrators go through training and can lose their teaching licenses if they do not adhere to the test rules.  We take testing seriously here.  I agree with Debbie in that good scores mean money for college.  There was some offensive language in the book, but for the most part the subject matter of the book was a real eye opener.  If you have a child in high school, or teach high school aged students who is going to be taking the SAT or ACT this book is a must.  I think every high school library should have a copy in it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.* Thank you for allowing me to participate in this review.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Wednesday Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! It is cold here.  This morning I left the house in 15 degree weather.  The temperature dropped 3 degrees before I got to work.  It is miserable. If you would like to join in and play with us all you have to do is add your link at the bottom of Joyce's post by clicking here and then go a-visiting. Here are my answers to this week's questions-

1. It was decided on Sunday the Denver Broncos will meet the Seattle Seahawks in this year's Superbowl. So, when was the last time you bowled? Not where you thought this question was going is it? Do you like to bowl? Are you any good?
I bowled in a league up until this year.  I have not had a ball in my hand since last Spring.  I am not a bad bowler.  I have had good nights....really good nights.....and I don't want to talk about it nights.  I enjoy bowling but it was just too far to go on a week night.

2. Should sports stars be role models?
I don't think so.  It bothers me that kids look up to people like A Rod (in trouble for drugging), T.O. (who is a real piece of work)...why can't kids just look up to regular firefighters, policemen, teachers, nurses.....and make them role models. 

3. January is National Oatmeal month...are you a fan? How do you like your oats?
I'm a huge fan, and I like mine with sliced bananas, or applesauce, or apples,  or craisins/raisins, with brown sugar and a pat of butter. YUMMO!   I will eat oatmeal three meals a day.  I love it!

4. What is one book on your reading list for 2014?
I review books and therefore I have a really long list of books to read in 2014. I review on Amazon and Goodreads as well as for several other publishers. I am starting a Beth Moore Bible study with some of the ladies from the church AND reading the Raggamuffin Bible.  Loving it.  I just finished reading Rachel Hatchers, A Promise Kept.  It was really good and really touched home.

5. What would you like your future self to say to your present self?
"I knew you could do it, even when you didn't."

6. When scrolling through the TV guide, what is one movie title that makes you want to stop, grab the popcorn, and watch for a while?
NCIS marathons, any Hallmark movie, Steel Magnolias, Sweet Home Alabama, The Notebook(or any other Nicholas Sparks book made movie). 
7. What are two style trends you hope never come back into fashion?
Big 80's hair with the wing looking sides/bangs.  Leisure suits.....gross!

8. Insert your own random thought here.  My dad was an amazing cook.  He could cook anything and anything he cooked tasted better than what my mom would fix.  (Sorry mom).  One of his best recipes was Pineapple casserole and when he took it to a church function there was never any left. 

1 cup sugar (you can use Splenda)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated New-York or extra sharp cheddar
2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks, drained, and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved
 1 cup cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium-size casserole dish with butter. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  In another medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice, stirring with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Promise Kept

About The Book: God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.  What had become of His promise?  Tony Kavanagh had been Allison's dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.  The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she'd misunderstood.
Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma's attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.  As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma's life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?  Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption, A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher's emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers---in His own time and His own ways.

Purchase a copy:

Meet the author: Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Learn more about Robin at:
My Thoughts On The Book:   I am a big fan of Robin Hatcher and love reading her books. This particular book really touched a heartstring and made it very special.  I loved the interwoven story of Allison's great aunt, Emma. Both stories illustrate how God works in His own way and His own time. There are no such things as unanswered prayers, they are just not always answered the way we thought they should be, as Allison finds out.  The stories lesson is to keep praying for those you love and be grateful for those who prayed for you and yours. Prayers make a difference. God hears your prayers. This book is a definite addition to my library for a future re-read and a group book study.  I cannot wait to share and discuss this book with my book lover friends. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from, and their Blogging Review program, Thomas Nelson, and Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.* Thank you for allowing me to participate in this review.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What Students Remember Most About Teachers

A friend of mine posted the most amazing thing on her facebook account this morning and as we are starting a new semester...and everything will be fresh....I read it.  It is written to a young teacher down the hall, but as I read it this Old Teacher down the hall got a little attitude adjustment.  The post is from  Thank you Lori Gard for this swift kick in my rear end. 

"Dear Young Teacher Down the Hall,
I saw you as you rushed passed me in the lunch room. Urgent. In a hurry to catch a bite before the final bell would ring calling all the students back inside. I noticed that your eyes showed tension. There were faint creases in your forehead. And I asked you how your day was going and you sighed.
"Oh, fine," you replied.  But I knew it was anything but fine. I noticed that the stress was getting to you. I could tell that the pressure was rising. And I looked at you and made an intentional decision to stop you right then and there. To ask you how things were really going. Was it that I saw in you a glimpse of myself that made me take the moment?  You told me how busy you were, how much there was to do. How little time there was to get it all done. I listened. And then I told you this:I told you to remember that at the end of the day, it's not about the lesson plan. It's not about the fancy stuff we teachers make -- the crafts we do, the stories we read, the papers we laminate. No, that's not really it. That's not what matters most. And as I looked at you there wearing all that worry under all that strain, I said it's about being there for your kids. Because at the end of the day, most students won't remember what amazing lesson plans you've created. They won't remember how organized your bulletin boards are. How straight and neat are the desk rows.  No, they'll not remember that amazing decor you've designed.  But they will remember you.  Your kindness. Your empathy. Your care and concern. They'll remember that you took the time to listen. That you stopped to ask them how they were. How they really were. They'll remember the personal stories you tell about your life: your home, your pets, your kids. They'll remember your laugh. They'll remember that you sat and talked with them while they ate their lunch." They will remember you gave them money to eat lunch....or gave them something from your food stash because they were hungry. "Because at the end of the day, what really matters is YOU. What matters to those kids that sit before you in those little chairs, legs pressed up tight under tables oft too small- what matters to them is you.  You are that difference in their lives.  And when I looked at you then with tears in your eyes, emotions rising to the surface and I told you gently to stop trying so hard- I also reminded you that your own expectations were partly where the stress stemmed. For we who truly care are often far harder on ourselves than our students are willing to be. Because we who truly care are often our own worst enemy. We mentally beat ourselves up for trivial failures. We tell ourselves we're not enough. We compare ourselves to others. We work ourselves to the bone in the hopes of achieving the perfect lesson plan. The most dynamic activities. The most engaging lecture. The brightest, fanciest furnishings.  Because we want our students to think we're the very best at what we do and we believe that this status of excellence is achieved merely by doing. But we forget- and often. Excellence is more readily attained by being.
Being available.
Being kind.
Being compassionate.
Being transparent.
Being real.
Being thoughtful.
Being ourselves.
And of all the students I know who have lauded teachers with the laurels of the highest acclaim, those students have said of those teachers that they cared.  You see, kids can see through to the truth of the matter. And while the flashy stuff can entertain them for a while, it's the steady constance of empathy that keeps them connected to us. It's the relationships we build with them. It's the time we invest. It's all the little ways we stop and show concern. It's the love we share with them: of learning. Of life. And most importantly, of people.And while we continually strive for excellence in our profession as these days of fiscal restraint and heavy top-down demands keep coming at us- relentless and quick. We need to stay the course. For ourselves and for our students. Because it's the human touch that really matters.  It's you, their teacher, that really matters.  So go back to your class and really take a look. See passed the behaviors, the issues and the concerns, pressing as they might be. Look beyond the stack of papers on your desk, the line of emails in your queue. Look further than the classrooms of seasoned teachers down the hall. Look. And you will see that it's there- right inside you. The ability to make an impact. The chance of a lifetime to make a difference in a child's life. And you can do this now. Right where you are, just as you are.  Because all you are right now is all you ever need to be for them today. And who you are tomorrow will depend much on who and what you decide to be today.  It's in you. I know it is.


That Other(Older) Teacher Down the Hall" can follow Lori Gard on Twitter: