{More} Books to Love

Lest you think I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been spending my days watching TV and eating bon bons, I have news for you. I’ve been READING BOOKS and eating bon bons! So there. Okay, okay. I don’t even know what bon bons are. But I have been reading. :)

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Banner in the Sky – James Ramsey Ullman

This will be one of Mitchell’s book report books this coming year. Rudi Matt’s father, Josef, died trying to climb the Citadel – the tallest peak in their Swiss village. Rudi is compelled to finish the job for his dad and place his father’s red shirt at the top as a banner in the sky – the symbol of Rudi’s love and admiration for a father he never knew. His struggles to pursue his dream  and the tensions that arise make a great story. The mountain climbing metaphor beautifully applies to life, particularly the Christian life. This book will not disappoint you.

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The Great Gilly Hopkins – Katherine Paterson

This book tore at my heart emotionally to the point I couldn’t put it down. The repeated use of a curse word frustrated me, yet it’s perfectly true that a girl like Gilly would talk that way. Galadriel “Gilly” Hopkins is a foster child looking for love, going from one foster home to another. She dreams about the day her mother will send for her and imagines living a happily-ever-after. I’m having my teenager read it for a book report because it is thought provoking.  It depicts a life that we all should be grateful that we do not have. It has tenderness and love.

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Journey through the Night – Anne de Vries

Anne de Vries was commissioned by the Queen of the Netherlands to write the history of the Dutch Resistance during World War II. He did a fantastic job. You will meet Everett de Boer, an architect, and his family on page one and instantly be swept up in their fight for freedom from their Nazi neighbors. I was moved by the courageous acts of these citizens as they housed divers, (the name for Jews or any of the Allies), distributed anti-Nazi literature, stole ration cards, bombed bridges and more. I asked myself, “If I were called upon to attempt these deeds  for my country today, could I do it?” It’s a sobering thought. But even in this fictional story, the glory for every success, for every act of bravery, is given to God. It’s an exciting history lesson, one you will thoroughly enjoy.

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Phoebe the Spy – Judith Berry Griffin

This short book is perfect for early elementary age children…or, adults in their thirties. It’s the true story of a brave girl who helped save General George Washington’s life during the Revolutionary War. It’s brief, but well written. I give it five stars. Or a thumbs up. Or both!

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The Journal Belongs to Ratchet – Nancy J. Cavanaugh

From the back cover:

If only getting a new life were as easy as getting a new notebook.
But it’s not.

It’s the first day of school for all the kids in the neighborhood. But not for me. I’m homeschooled. That means nothing new. No new book bag, no new clothes, and no friends – old or new. The best I’ve got is this notebook. I’m supposed to use it for my writing assignments, but my dad never checks. Here’s what I’m really going to use it for:

Ratchet’s Top Secret Plan
Project Goal: turn my old, recycled, freakish, friendless, motherless life into something shiny and new.

This year, I’m going make something change.

This book is full of surprises and yet another that my teenager will be reading. It’s pretty easy to believe our lives are hard or even bad. But perhaps we’re looking at it all wrong? Ratchet’s journey is one to which adults and teens will definitely relate – homeschooled or not. :)

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I’m currently in the middle of two other books, and have yet to write about some that I read months ago. I say it too much, but it’s true: So many books, so little time.

Thanks for reading about what I’m reading!

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A Remembrance

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Ten years ago today, my dad walked through Heaven’s gates. He actually saw Christ face to face! I’m not sure what it was like, but I will know someday because of God’s grace. That thought scares me a little, I admit. I cannot imagine with my meager human brain what that moment will be like. I do know it will be thrilling! Today, I feel sorrow mixed with anticipation. I miss Dad everyday, but I am eager that Christ might return today for His children. I’m not hoping to die, but I am comforted that when I do, I shall see Him face to face. Mrs. Carrie Beck said it best in 1898:

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?

Refrain:
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
Death is swallowed up in vict’ry,
And the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face—oh, blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.  — Carrie E. Beck

Jesus Christ who loves me so. What a thought. Will you see Christ face to face someday? Get that settled today.

With love,

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Photos of Matthew

Matthew turned four two weeks ago and due to the busy-ness of life then, I didn’t get to share these photos. I wanted to share them now. He is such a joy to our lives!

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Matthew before church three weeks ago.

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At the spray park on Ft. Sill.

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Terry snapped this one after church one Sunday afternoon. Afternoon services are hard on a little guy. ;)

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He liked his new puzzle from Lauri Toys. (It’s really for pre-school, but don’t tell him.) :)

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 Laci loves her little brother.

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He got this toy disk gun from a kids’ meal. He fell asleep one afternoon holding it.

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Here are a few photos from his birthday party. We had planned a big celebration thinking that Terry’s brother, Joel, and his family, as well as my mom would be with us. Well, the Lord had other plans! The day before the party, Joel called to say that they couldn’t come. Then, my mother’s flight from Dallas to Lawton was cancelled and she had to wait five hours to *maybe* catch the next flight that night. I know the Lord heard our prayers because she did get that last flight (she was ninth on the standby list!). She arrived at 11:30 that night. We had to go ahead and have our party without her, but we were so excited when she finally arrived!

 

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Matthew got a Jake and the Neverland Pirates cake! (And birthday ribbon!)

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Matthew got blocks, puzzles and skates for his birthday, but the skates were too small. We headed back to Target and returned them. He used the money to buy a sword a shield since there were no skates in his size.

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He received cards and cash from so many friends and loved ones. He spent some of it on another sword.

Apparently, you can’t have too many swords.

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*Everyone* enjoyed helping him build and play with his puzzles.

Matthew loves to play with swords and guns (shocker). He enjoys watching Woody Woodpecker and Power Rangers (he wants to be the black power ranger, in case you were curious). He likes playdough, coloring with markers (the entire picture must be the same color), helping fold laundry, buying groceries, building with blocks or just about anything I’m doing at the moment. He likes playing with his brother’s 3DS, mostly Mario Brothers.  He will burst out with, “I love you, Mom!” for no reason at all. When I ask him to do something, he often salutes and/or says, “On it.”

He was named after my dad and I hope Dad would be happy to be with him if he could be. I sure am thankful that I get to spend my days with Matthew Ron.

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Matthew is Four

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord. ~ Psalm 113:9

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My darling little boy is growing up into an adorable little pre-schooler. Since my oldest daughter is almost 15, I know first hand how quickly the time seems to pass. However, I am working everyday at savoring the moments God gives me with my family. This summer I fully intended to become “super blogger” and write blog posts galore. But, God had other plans for my summer days. I have not written as faithfully as I had hoped, but I’ve spent a lot of time reading, walking with my husband, driving my children to various activities and more! In short, I haven’t written about life because I’ve been too busy living it.

I did want to take a moment here to wish my youngest a happy birthday. He came to me this morning with his hair sticking up, squinting his eyes and put his arms around my neck. He exclaimed, “I love you, Mom!” I said, “I love you!” He said, “I love you MORE!” This is how he greets me most mornings. It’s hard to have a frown after that kind of start to the day. He says the cutest things and makes astute observations for a little guy. Sometimes, the things he says actually convict me, because he’s repeating something he heard from me (ouch). Sometimes, he makes me shake my head in amazement. Sometimes, I just laugh. I can always count on him for an interesting conversation, no matter what.

Matthew came into my life when things were not going well. Our church family wanted to disown us, our finances were not great, and Laci had a seizure. But on July 14, 2010, none of that heartache mattered. God sent me a priceless gift: a blond-headed little boy. He was a comfort to me on lonely nights when tears flowed freely. I could rock him, smelling the baby lotion on his skin, and feel blessed in the midst of so much turmoil.

I just want to thank the Lord for sending us Matthew. Each of our children brings something unique and wonderful to our lives, but Matthew was God’s special gift to lonely Pastor’s wife. My heart overflows.

With love,

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Books to Warm Your Heart

One of the many things I’d planned to do on the blog this summer was to write several book reviews and host a book giveaway. I know that the summer is not over, but it’s rapidly passing. I cannot believe that June has almost bid adieu. I have several tasks beckoning me to come hither and brand new books calling me to sit with them, but I have set aside everything in order to get back on track with my blogging. That’s not a sacrifice, because if I could, I would write all. day. long.

Today I wanted to share some books that have delighted me this summer. I try to stay ahead of my children’s reading, but that hasn’t gone too well. I hate to read science fiction or fantasy, which my older ones love. Terry and I have set some guidelines for their reading, and so far, they have kept them. I know this because they’ve turned in books to me, unfinished, because they have fallen short of those guidelines. While I don’t read sci-fi or fantasy, I  am always seeking out books for them that I’ve heard are good, or that I’ve enjoyed myself. I offer a few of these to you today. These are sure to put a smile on your face. Yes, they are children’s books, but with books, the saying “Age doesn’t matter.” is actually true.

128048Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

I had seen this title several times on book lists and  library shelves, but assumed it was a tale of adventure at sea- which is not my thing. How wrong was I! It does have its share of seafaring adventure, but it also has much more! It’s a biography of the young man who wrote what is commonly known as “The Navigator’s Bible”. The American Practical Navigator, by Nathaniel Bowditch, has saved countless lives due to the accurate calculations which he painstakingly worked. He had a very difficult childhood, but rose above it all to become a pioneer on the high seas. This book will encourage your child to work hard and overcome obstacles and to always hope for the best.

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One Morning in Maine

Would you like to have clam chowder for lunch? If so, I have the book for you!

I have read several books by Robert McCloskey, but this one was new to me. I have always been fascinated with New England, so I picked it up to read to my younger ones. It’s a delightful little story, but  Mr. McCloskey’s signature drawings set it apart. They make you feel as though you’re actually visiting the sea shore, the wooded hills and eating clam chowder for lunch.

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Freaky Friday

This book had us laughing on page one! It’s a crazy story with no basis in reality, but it’s a hoot. I read this book aloud to the children and was bit surprised that there were a few curse words and several crude words, which I skipped or changed as I went along. The main character, Annabel, is a rather rebellious young girl who dislikes herself, her brother and disrespects her mother. Through this one “freaky Friday”, she comes to appreciate her mother and her younger brother for the first time. She also comes to see she a bit of her own value, too. Just be prepared to alter the language or warn your young readers about it ahead of time.

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Miracles on Maple Hill

Nine year old Marly needs a miracle. Her father has come home from the war (WWII) after being imprisoned and assumed dead. It’s not the happy homecoming that Marly thought it would be, though. The war has changed her father. When her family gets the opportunity to move to Maple Hill – a house owned by Marly’s deceased grandmother – Marly is given hope. It is there that she and her brother, Joe, get to meet Mr. Chris, Harry the Hermit and see the miracles that occur on Maple Hill every day. But will she get the miracle she needs most of all, a healthy daddy? Read and find out!

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Peppermints in the Parlor

There’s something fishy going on at Sugar Hill Hall. Emily Luccock is supposed to move in with her Aunt and Uncle Twice after her parents’ death, but she is shocked to learn that it’s been taken over by the evil Mrs. Meeching. Why is the house full of old people staring at a bowl of delicious peppermints, but are never allowed to taste any?  And what happened to Uncle Twice? One mystery seems to lead to another, but  Emily is determined to get answers, no matter the cost! Join her for the adventure and have some laughs along the way.  Barbara Brooks Wallace has written several books of this type, but I have only read this one. We plan to read more of her books in the future.

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It’s amazing how that, even though I only read these books a few months ago (or even more recently than that!), some of the names and other details have escaped me. I suppose I’m always reading with one eye on the “next great book”. I know, shame on me. I should slow down and enjoy the stories more. I’ll work harder on that in the future. Anyway, I hope this meager information is helpful to someone. :)

Happy reading!

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The Holiness of God {A Book Review}

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A friend in our church recommended this book to me. I was a little afraid of tackling it just based on the title: The Holiness of God. I felt unworthy to even attempt to wrap my weak, human brain around it. God is holy, so holy that we cannot see Him in this flesh and live! Despite my fear, I decided I’d open it up and see what Dr. Sproul had to say. It only took one page. I was hooked.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not a Presbyterian, as is Dr. Sproul. I am a Baptist. It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) that I do not agree with him on everything. However, the topic of God’s holiness is one with which all born again believers can agree. And I am certain you do not need to be a Baptist to go to be born again. Every believer will be blessed by this book.

Why was I blessed?

First of all, Mr. Sproul is a great writer. He engages all of the senses in a work of non-fiction, which is unusual. He explains his points using normal, everyday English. His book is written more as a conversation than as a lecture. I liked that.

Secondly, I learned several things that had baffled me in the past. I have read Jeremiah and Isaiah many times, but I have never fully understood them. Dr. Sproul helped me to organize some of the events of these books in my brain. He helped me make connections and see how things fit together.

Thirdly, Dr. Sproul painted an interesting portrait of Martin Luther. As a product of the Christian School movement of the 1980’s, I had read about Martin Luther, but only as a figure in history. I got the impression that Baptists weren’t supposed to “dwell” on the likes of Luther, Hess or Calvin. Therefore, I didn’t know about Luther’s childhood, his struggles with Catholicism, his attempts at finding God, (only to learn that God had found him), and his stand against the Catholic church . I felt that the light was being shined upon parts of history that had always been dark, cobweb-covered corners to me. How helpful light is! I believe it’s a shame that Luther didn’t find the Baptists of his era, which were then called Anabaptists, and join them. Regardless, he did the best he could at fighting the sins of the Church of Rome and I admire his courage.

Lastly, I love the way Dr. Sproul helps us realize how daunting the holiness of God is, but also, how beautiful Christ is! Christ the Lord – the One who bridges the gap for us, enabling us to stand boldly in prayer before the throne of this great and holy God we serve. I came away with a renewed reverence for my Heavenly Father, a fresh look at how vile I am, and a more passionate love for the Savior who claimed me for His own.

This review is not as clear on the screen as it is in my head. It’s so hard to put into words the work of the Spirit upon the soul. I cannot begin to do it justice. Please read this book and let the holiness of God change your life.

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Fun on Fort Sill

I’ve had a list of summer activities to do with our family and so far, we’re checking several of them off! A friend of mine told us about some parks located on Fort Sill and I couldn’t wait to show them to the family. I’ve been wanting to see the grave of Geronimo, so last Monday we were able to combine play-time with site-seeing. (And I got to check something off my list. I just love doing that.)  It was lovely weather with temps in the 70’s that morning. Of course, on a military installation, most activities are for our service men and women, but some things are open to all.

We had a fun day spending time together and learning a bit of US history, too!

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First stop was Geronimo’s grave. I’m not familiar with our native American history, so we did a quick Google search on our phones so we could tell the kids more about this man and the other Apache Indians buried in this cemetery.

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Matt was interested in the little gifts left at the graves.  It sort of looks like he’s counting it!

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Next stop was a park. They liked this little fire truck. (How cute!)

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Leslie made it to the top!

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We liked this park because of the playground for the little ones, the grassy area for the older ones to play soccer, and the gorgeous trees everywhere for me. (I miss the big, leafy trees back home.)

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We thought we’d go through the museums on post, but they are closed on Mondays. They had lots of big equipment outside on display though, so we took a self guided tour of all of it. We must have started going through it all backwards, because we didn’t see the sign that said “Please do not climb on guns” until we were done. Oops. Please forgive us.

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This one is my favorite! I love how the kids are lined up and how the clouds look.

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Not all of the tanks or guns had signs to say what they were. The gun above can shoot 900 miles away. For perspective, they could fire it from here and hit a target in Ohio. Or Arizona. Wow!

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We ended the day with this statue to the artillery man. Being on post gave us a greater appreciation for our soldiers, especially during these turbulent times. We can often hear the effects of the work on Fort Sill (read: explosions), but this day, we got to see  some of the faces behind the bombs. It was a bit startling  to see a sign that read, “Caution, Howitzer Crossing”.

I’m so thankful for our military men and women. May God bless them and keep them.

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