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 title:

(Note that both titles are available for Kindle at significantly lower prices.)

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!

Friday, January 22, 2016

My One Word for 2016: Wisdom

"I need wisdom."

Wisdom?  I'd asked a sister in Christ, who was terminally ill, how I could pray for her, and that was her reply.

"I need wisdom."

She didn't ask me to pray for supernatural healing, for relief from pain, for endurance, for a lessening of medication side effects.  She asked me to pray for wisdom.

That was a few years ago--she has since gone home to the Lord--but it still sticks in my mind.

Lately I've been finding myself praying for wisdom, too.  Seems as though I need it in so many areas of my life.  That's why I'm choosing Wisdom as my One Word for 2016.

A lot of times I need wisdom to keep from putting my foot in my mouth!  As I've been feeling better and become more confident, I've started to speak up more.  Now I need to seek wisdom to know when to speak and when to Just. Keep. Quiet.

I need wisdom to know how to handle various situations with an 18-year-old son.  Having an adult child is a whole new ball game.

I need wisdom to have the right words to speak the truth in love, especially in delicate situations.

So I'm depending on God's promise in the words of James 1:5-7 (emphasis added):
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
I believe!  As I have been asking the Lord--often several times a day--for wisdom, He has been faithful to give it.  So my focus for this year is to keep praying with the faith that He will provide all that I need.

Do you have One Word--or a theme--for 2016?

photo credit: Wisdom (62/365) via photopin