Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday's Fave Five - and Farewell For Now

I know, I know:  it's been well over a month since I said I would be back.  I have been thinking and praying about whether to continue blogging.  I'd tentatively decided to stop, and I feel as though the Lord has confirmed that decision more than once.  Just this morning I read a quote from Max Lucado about decisions that feel right and fill us with peace.  This one does.

I'm not saying that I'll never post here again, but for now I have to take a step back to make time to follow where God is leading me.  I truly appreciate all of you, especially those among you who have been so faithful and patient with me.

In Clout, Jenni Catron gives an idea that I really like:
...I created a "what's good" list every morning.  It was usually no more than three to five things that were good in my life at that point, such as a project that I completed at work, a friendship that was thriving, and an opportunity that I was pursuing.  This exercise allowed me to focus on what was happening in my life and where God was using my gifts and influence for good.
The idea is that, instead of reciting a stale list of blessings, the same every time (family, church family, home, and so on), we focus on the gifts in what's happening right now.  It's a perfect fit with Friday's Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.  So after all of that, here's my list:
  1. Our Vacation Bible School took place this week, and I helped in the kitchen a few days.  It was so exciting to hear 100+ children listening to the Gospel and shouting, "Follow Him!"  Less importantly, we tried a new format for snack time, in which one team of campers assembled snacks for all of the campers.  The kids loved it!
  2. Yesterday marked five years since my last day of radiation therapy.  Praise God we've seen no sign that the cancer has recurred!  I'll be on tamoxifen for another week or two, and then it's just follow-up visits with the survivorship doctor.
  3. At VBS earlier this week, I saw a woman I hadn't seen in more than a year.  As we were catching up, she said, "It's so good to see you smiling!"  I thank the Lord, again, that my depression is under control.  She's not the first person who has said that, and I continue to be amazed at the difference that's dramatic enough for friends to comment.
  4. Our church has a weekly email that's similar to what I'd write in a blog post, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to contribute to it.  I love that I can write when I feel inspired and not feel pressured to do it all the time.  I'm thankful for my pastor who encourages me--in many ways, but specifically--to write.
  5. God has opened another door for me to help women grow in faith, which I believe is what He is calling me to do right now.  I don't remember how the conversation started, but a friend and I were talking about discipleship for women.  Within days she discovered another sister in Christ who shares that passion.  The three of us met and talked about ways to do this, then decided to pray about it until the fall season kicks off in mid-September.  It's an exciting opportunity, and these two women are wonderful to work alongside.  I am praying for wisdom to do this in a way that glorifies the Lord!
So that's it.  My indefinite sabbatical is not because things are bad, but because life is good!  I have new and ongoing opportunities to serve the Lord, and I need to "lay down what's good and find what's best" (Jonny Diaz, "Breathe").

Thanks for being here, whether you've been here since the start in April 2009 or today is your first visit!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Taking a Break

In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I have not dropped off the face of the earth.

My intention since last fall has been to wrap up my blog commitments, then take a break from blogging.  It's not depression and it's not a recurrence of cancer (almost five years cancer-free!).  I believe the Lord has been leading me to step back from a few things I've been doing and reprioritize.  It's just that I started doing that without saying anything!

So I don't know where He will lead me, but I'm praying about it.  My One Word for 2016 is Wisdom, and that theme has been right in my face since January!

My plan is to come back in three months (or less) and let you know what's happening.  If you're so inclined, please pray that God's leading will be clear to me--not just about blogging, but about all of my life.  Thanks, and I hope to see you soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Patriots, Redcoats & Spies (Book Review)

Several years ago our homeschool group had a guest speaker:  author Robert J. Skead.  He spoke to the kids about writing, autographed some books, and really encouraged reading as well as writing.  Both students and parents were blessed by his visit.

Recently I found out that he--with his father, Robert A. Skead--has written a couple of new books, which are historical fiction for kids.  The books are set during the American Revolution, on the East Coast.  I had the opportunity to read and review them, at no cost to me.

First in the series is Patriots, Redcoats & Spies.  The main characters are 14-year-old twins, John and Ambrose Clark, who are drawn into delivering a secret message to General George Washington when their father is shot.  As you might expect, travel from Connecticut to New Jersey--for two young teens, in 1777, with hostility between patriots and Brits, patriots and loyalists--is filled with challenges and obstacles.  Not the least of these obstacles is being followed by the man who shot their father.  The reader gets to accompany the twins on their adventures (but without being chased and shot at!).

The second book I read was a sequel, Submarines, Secrets & a Daring Rescue.  In this story John and Ambrose, now 15 years old, are tasked with helping to transport gunpowder to the patriots.  Like the first, this mission requires overcoming many challenges.  They have to man one of the first submarines (you may have heard of the Turtle) and to attempt a prison break to rescue their older brother.

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books!  A few highlights for me:
  • The plots are fast-paced, perfect for kids who like action.
  • The stories are based on fact, but obviously include some creative elements.  I love that the author includes an appendix that separates the facts from the creative changes.
  • Other appendices offer discussion questions, short biographies of several historical figures who appear in the book, a glossary, and the text of the historical letters described.
  • The writing style isn't simplified:  the authors use strong verbs and well-chosen descriptive words.  Every so often you'll encounter a higher-level word for which a younger child might need a definition.  (My personal belief is that this is one way that reading helps kids increase vocabulary.  Here it's present but not so concentrated that it's a distraction.)
  • Both books are free of anything offensive, unless you place occasional references to Providence and God in that category or if, you know, you would have sided with the Brits during the war.
I highly recommend both Patriots, Redcoats & Spies and Submarines, Secrets & a Daring Rescue.  It's hard for me to say, but I'd think they'd be best as read-alouds for kids from age four or five, independent reading for upper elementary and middle school.  I wouldn't give an upper age limit though, because I am ... old enough to have an 18-year-old son ... and I enjoyed the books very much.

For more information on author Robert Skead, click on his name to go to his website.  For more information on the books, and to read samples, click on the titles above or the images below.

Disclosure:  All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.  If you click through and complete a purchase, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Swagbucks Presidents' Day Sale: Double Cash Back for Shopping Online

I'm a Swagbucks Influencer - Start Earning NowAs you certainly know, today is Presidents' Day. To celebrate, Swagbucks is offering Double Cash Back for purchases at some favorite stores.

I've earned quite a bit by shopping through Swagbucks.  (I've redeemed most of my points for dozens of Amazon gift cards, but you have many options.)  If you're not already shopping online through the affiliate link for a nonprofit, why not earn some cash back for yourself?

Participating stores include these:
  • Walmart
  • Staples
  • Groupon
  • Old Navy
  • Kohl's
  • Home Depot
  • Kmart
And that's not a complete list!

If you're not already a Swagbucks member, please consider joining through my link:  Sign up for Swagbucks here.  Thanks!

After you're signed up, click on Shop (or Shop and Earn) to see a list of stores.  Shop responsibly!