There’s a fine balance between being thankful and being truthful.
Or at least there is for me. And ever since I bought my house last month I’ve been playing a juggling game between the two. See, I am beyond thankful. I’m filled with large amounts of gratitude and thank God daily for my little home. So many people helped make this possible, and I know that moving into my little home was what God had in store for me.
But I also miss my camper. I miss having my own special space where I could reach everything in five steps or less. I miss the uniqueness of my surroundings, and the joy I felt each day at taking care of my under-two-hundred-feet of living space. Everything had a place. I kept everything exactly where it belonged. Life was simple. I was always in control.
A week after moving in to my house last month I unexpectedly had to go out of state for eight days. And during that time my housemate moved in. Then, the day after I got back, my roommate (who I barely knew) moved in. It was a lot to happen all at once, especially since it was the beginning of December which is one of the busiest times where I work, not to mention just a busy time in life in general.
I’m working at learning how to handle change, but it doesn’t always go smoothly like I envision and work towards. Sometimes it’s more like squeezing my eyes shut and jumping out of a plane during a hurricane and hoping I land in one piece. Or at least in big enough pieces that I can be put back together.
Yes, I realize that’s a bit dramatic – but you get the point. Change and I? Well, we’ve become much better acquainted this year and I can’t say that I’m any more fond of Change as I was six months ago. But, I’ve learned that sometimes being fond and being thankful are two different things.
Sometimes (often times) I feel guilty that I miss my camper. I know I have so much to be thankful – and I am thankful. But I’ve also slowly been coming to the conclusion that just because I feel utterly blessed and incredibly thankful for something doesn’t mean that I have to like it better than what I had to give up. I’m a creature of habit. I like routine. I like my own space. I like doing the same thing over and over and over (and over and over and over) again. So having sudden change isn’t easy. But it can be good.
Sometimes I laugh at myself. I laugh at how overwhelming and huge my house seems – coming in at nine-hundred-and-something square feet, it’s not what most people would consider a mansion. I laugh at how much stuff I have to learn. I laugh at how non-handy-man-ish I am. I laugh because laughter is good medicine and if I didn’t laugh then I’d probably cry and we don’t need that.
I’ve been asked so many times how I like my new house and most of the time my response is “I am so thankful for it!” because that’s the truth. I am thankful. And I will continue to be thankful. But thankfulness doesn’t equal easy, and that’s okay. I’m not here on earth for an easy life.
*This post was supposed to be a book review, but obviously that didn’t happen. Ooops.
Who would have thought a book could change your life? Well, me for one. Because ya know, I’m the poster child for bookworms everywhere. And what bookworm hasn’t had their life changed by a book?
Back in February I readBefore I Called You Mineand although I only gave it 3.5 stars the first go-around I thought about it so much that I ended up reviewing it again in August and giving it 4.5 stars. The book is about adoption and prompted me to begin praying about maybe adopting in the future. Logically I knew the first step towards adoption would be to live in a house, because although I could have very happily lived in my little camper for the rest of my life, I didn’t foresee an adoption agency being okay with that.
So in February I began praying about buying a house. You know, sometime in the future. Like two or three years from now. Maybe when I was a bit more mature, had saved a lot more money, and paperwork didn’t competely freak me out any more.
There was one little catch – to say house hunting was the last thing I wanted to do was a misnomer because that implies it was on the list of things I wanted to do – albeit at the bottom. And in reality, it wasn’t even close to being on the list – not one little iota. I’m not sure what my adversion is to house hunting, but I have a strong one. Perhaps it has to do with not liking choices? Or at the sheer magnatude of the decision I’d be making? Or how in the world I’d ever weigh all the pros and cons?
But I had two things going for me. 1) I wasn’t looking to buy a house for several years – I was just praying for the right one at the right time and 2) I have fantastically good friends who do like house hunting. I simply told those friends (Miss Viviann and Hannah) that they could find a house for me to buy and I’d buy it and we’d all be happy. They were thrilled at the prospect, and so I was set.
Then one weekend in September Miss Viviann and Hannah went on vacation. I spend a lot of time with them so I said good-bye to them on Sunday, and they were arriving back home on Tuesday. That meant Monday was the only day they wouldn’t be around. Well, Sunday night/Monday morning I woke up around 2:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I randomly started scrolling through Facebook and the second post I saw was on a group I’m a part of with my co-workers:
Somehow, as soon as I saw this, I knew it was my future home. I was shocked since I hadn’t even been thinking of moving for a couple of years. But God’s timing is far beyond my own, and looking back I can see little indicators that God was preparing me for the new house for quite some time. Lying in bed I felt nervous excitment building as I asked God to prepare the way if it was the house He had in store for me. It took me a couple more hours to fall asleep, and when I finally did I dreamed about the house. I woke up late – barely in time to get to work – but called my mom nearly right away. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Mom, I think I found a house to buy. Here’s a link. There’s an open house in two days, can you and Dad maybe come look at it with me? Mom: I’m sorry honey, we have plans for then. Me: That’s fine- Mom: The house looks amazing though, so I just cleared my day and we’ll jump in the car and drive the four hours to look at the house today. Me: Wow.
So I contacted the seller (who I know, although not exceedingly well) and asked if we could look at the house. He wasn’t available to show it to us, but gave me the key code and answered a few questions I had about it.
Then I went to work and began my tasks for the day although it was really hard to stay focused. When my boss came in I told him what was going on and he said I could leave work as early as I needed in order to look at the house. (He’s the best boss ever.) During this time I was really not sure what I was supposed to feel, because I had never even imagined I would buy a house in 2020.
It was pouring down rain when I left work, drove through curving, winding roads and got my first glimpse of the house. My parents were stuck in traffic and didn’t arrive for a whole hour after me, which gave me time to walk around the house and begin dreaming. I Facetimed my sister who had just moved to Tennessee and showed her around. I told her that I wished I hadn’t arrived before my parents because up until then I hadn’t cared if I could buy the house or not. But, after an hour of sitting in the stillness by myself, I knew I was going to be really sad if my parents didn’t think it was a good fit for me.
Then my parents arrived. And the next thing I knew we were putting an offer on the house. (When I say “we” what I really mean is that my parent’s were doing the talking for me, but I’m the one who was buying the house.) The seller told us that the faster we could get the offer to him in writing the better because the house had been on the market for less than a day by then, and he’d already gotten several offers. He said he had agreed to show it to one more person that evening, and didn’t feel like he could commit to anything until after they’d seen it, but that he would stop showing it after that person.
I was heading to my adopted parent’s house in Ohio that evening because both my families were meeting up for my 28th birthday party the next day. My parent’s headed back to their house in Ohio, with one of them driving and the other one writing up an email proposal to buy the house. Then they sent it to me and I pulled over at a gas station to send it to the seller and inform him I had an offer in writing sent to him.
Thus started many back and forth conversations via text, email, and phone calls that ended after 11:00 pm that night with me sitting at a gas station on a conference all with my parents and the seller. The seller had gotten five offers on the house that day which was mind-blowing to me. In the end we all agreed that the house was so completely what I was looking for that we’d be willing to pay more than what he asked for it in order to buy it.
I was kinda in shock, kinda terrified, and completely surprised.
I had a hand-shake agreement that I was going to buy a house when twenty-one hours before the possibility of buying a house wasn’t something I was even considering doing for a couple more years. But when I stopped to think about it, all the prayers I’d been praying lined up. God wasn’t surprised, and He’d been slowly preparing me for the last eight months for this step.
The next thing to do was to tell Miss Viviann and Hannah that when they’d been gone for two days on vacation I’d gone and bought the house I’d told them they could pick out for me. I arrived at their house Tuesday night after they got home and was like “Hey, um, I bought a house when you were gone.” They were nearly as surprised as I was, but were happy and supportive nonetheless.
Cue the next six weeks of confusion, paperwork, complicated words I’d never heard before, and realizing that buying a house is a lot of hard work. Thankfully I had people who knew what to do who were willing to help me and I’m immensely grateful to my parents and Miss Viviann for all the work they did to help make buying the house a reality.
The Closing date was set. And it came and went along with a huge amount of stress when we were out of contract and issues had arisen (not between the seller and me, but on the paperwork side of things) that made closing on time impossible. During those days I learned a lot about myself and how I deal with things when they’re outside my control and how I need to learn to lean on God better.
And then the day finally came when we were able to close. November 11th arrived along with a lot of my family who had traveled the four hours to celebrate with me, help me move in, and bring a supply of donuts, cotton candy, and sparkly socks.
Now it’s time for me to go to work, so I’ll have to finish this saga another day. So long for now, my friends!
This is the first blog post I’m writing from my new house.
Oh yeah. That. I bought a house. I’ll tell y’all about it someday. Hopefully. Because you know, it’s kinda a big deal. It’s also a lot of work, so I’m still chugging away at all that. In the meantime though, here’s a review for you to enjoy.
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads Pages: 320 Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Release Date: November 3, 2020 Title: The Right Kind of Fool Fiction
ABOUT THE BOOK
Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he’d obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.
The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal’s absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family’s basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it’s his father he runs to tell–shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn’t his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family’s hearts again.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK
Between when I read the back-cover blurb of this book and when I received it I completely forgot what it was about – other than the fact that it took place in West Virginia relatively close to where I grew up in Ohio. Going into a book blind is one of my favorite things, and I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
The story is in third person and follows the perspectives of all three of the family members (parents and teenage son). The son – Loyal – is the main character. I liked him right away and thought he was brilliantly written. Even though the other characters had depth, the plot was interesting, and the setting was detailed and delightful, Loyal stole the show.
I’ve had several friends who are deaf, and I’ve read several books that include a deaf character, but never one where the deafness is woven into the story so well. Loyal would have been a solidly written character even without exploring how deafness affected his life, but when you add in that element, I was very impressed.
The characters all had issues and things they needed to work on, so they felt very real. Each one of the main characters had a solid plot arc which I always deem important in books.
The plot wasn’t what I considered to be the star of the show, but it was still well-written and felt very true to the era. Nothing that happened surprised me much, but that didn’t detract from the book since the main focus seemed to be on the characters and setting. There was a person murdered in the story (not a spoiler since the back-cover says as much), but there were no gory details.
I read in another review that the reviewer was confused by the setting and era because it didn’t seem consistent, but having grown up near Beverly, West Virginia it was totally something I could imagine. I thought the author capatured the feel of small-town West Virginia very well and immersed the story in a well-researchd setting.
My favorite part of the book was how we got to see the world through Loyal’s eyes, as well as watching him and his father reconnect. Although the pace stayed consistant with the era and setting, I did find it to be a bit slow, hence the 3.5 stars rather than 4 stars.
I would like to read more books by this author in the future.
I’m giving The Right Kind of Fool 3.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy the book from the publishers and wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!
Well, this was supposed to be a list of 1,000 things I was thankful for, but before I knew what was happening I looked down and it was 1,035 things. Because you know what? There is a lot in life to be grateful and praise God for.
It took me two hours and forty-five minutes to compile this list. I wrote it while sitting in my car outside my adopted parent’s (also known as skunk parent’s) house. Papa Skunk has Covid and pneumonia and is in the hospital due to having trouble breathing. Mama Skunk is quarantined at her house so I can’t go inside to be with her, but I didn’t want her to have to be alone so I took some time off work and am staying in my car outside her cabin so she has someone nearby. Thankfully my brother lives nearby so I can sleep as his house.
I’m on day three and the hours get long when there’s nothing to do but sit and wait, and so I started thinking of things I’m thankful for. Normally I write a list of 1,000 things I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, but I figured why not share the list early this year? Because despite everything – or maybe because of everything – I’ve been overwhelmed over and over again this year with how much I have to be thankful for.
Like a job. And a boss who will let me take time off of said job in order to sit in a quarantined way with my mama. And a mama to sit with in the first place. See what I mean? When you start thinking of all there is to be thankful for, then the list just starts growing.
There’s so much I didn’t include on the list – like wheelbarrows and lawnmowers and butterflies and falling leaves and snow and popcorn and… Well, you get the idea. I had to end the list somewhere though, so I just went with the first thousand things that came to mind – very sporadically I might add. There’s no rhyme or reason to the order they’re in, most certainly not in order of importance because that would be impossible.
Also, I’m sure I forgot to mention some exceedingly important things, so there are sure to be some very obvious things not on the list. And, um, I kinda have had some big things in my life happen recently that I haven’t blogged about yet, and those things might be included in this list. Don’t worry though, I plan on catching up with blogging some day.
Despite the worry and sadness, craziness and stress, the odd times and unknowns, I’m exceedingly thankful. God is good even when times are not, and for that, I’m grateful.
Today I’m thankful for…
people who care about each other
small joys that make the world happier
the chance to be happy
the choice to be thankful
having joy even when things are rough
bluejays and how pretty they are
the brilliant colors of cardinals
being able to see colors
being able to see shapes
being able to feel textures
the cozy feeling of wrapping up in a fuzzy blanket with coffee
food to put in them
the ability to taste
money to buy food
a car to keep me warm
gas that isn’t incredibly expensive
being able to think and reason
an iPad to borrow
that in the midst of changes God is still God
coziness on cold, rainy days
that I can think and reason
the people who I get to interact with on a daily basis
all the friendships I’ve developed this year
that in the midst of Covid God is still in control
a pretty case for my phone
the ability to write
wood to burn
A working chimney
a house of my own
a roommate for said house
a place to live
a place to park my camper
a front porch
fields next door
the Ohio River just down the street
people who help with paperwork
that most of the paperwork is done
dreams coming true
a nice living room
my little nook
that I can call my house a burrow
not having to redo lots of stuff in my house
a wood burner for heat
enough wood for the whole winter
a place to hang pictures
pictures for which to hang
Mom covering the extra window
books for the shelves
people helping me move
people helping me set up my house
a hot water tank
a working water pump
not having to winterize my house
a washer and dryer
a beautiful sink and mirror
keeping my camper close by
that I went through my stuff several years ago and so don’t have as much any more
that I’m learning what is excess and what is helpful to have
that I can cook on a full-size stove
that I have people to cook for
that I can afford to buy healthy food to eat
that I enjoy cooking
that I enjoy most healthy foods
that I can splurge and eat food that isn’t the healthiest but is yummy
for all the new foods I’ve discovered how to cook this year
being able to help my family move
spending good time with siblings
getting to stay with my oldest sister for a month
helping my oldest sister
being able to bless others while I was laid off during the spring
getting to know young nieces and nephews better
having good conversations with older nieces and nephews
making memories with nieces and nephews
red headed woodpeckers
milking goats – and not having my own goat to milk
warm and cozy blankets
people who know how much socks mean to me and give them to me
eating cotton candy late at night with people
being able to see
being able to hear
being able to touch
holding small children
a new nephew
answers to prayer
being able to pray
knowing God listens
serving an all-powerful God
being on the right side of the battle
knowing what the ultimate outcome is
knowing other people who also serve God
knowing that I can make a difference for eternity
the range of emotions I can feel
that I grew up in a family that encouraged emotions, but also truth
that truth doesn’t change
that I can know what truth is
that I can read the Bible
having a Bible
having an audio Bible on my phone
All the apps I can use as tools
that we can learn and grow
that we live in a time and age when we know how things work
learning from history
fiction in general
being able to learn from books
growing up in a family that encouraged reading
the eyesight to read well
glasses lasting for a long time
listening to children
reading to children
having good relationships with nieces and nephews
emails from nieces
Facetiming with nieces
a good relationship with my grandma
visiting my grandma
playing games with Grandma
Grandma’s 90th birthday
growing up with grandparents in my life
being able to count and do math
that even though numbers get mixed up in my brain, I can still work with them
knowing how to spell, hard though it may be at times
growing up in a family that encourages creativity
working on puzzles with Grandma
playing cards with my family
my dad playing an active part in raising us kids
growing up in a big family
having a stay-at-home mom
having parents who cared enough to keep going to doctors until we found out I had Lyme disease as a teenager
being able to fight the Lyme disease
how healthy I am today
that I am continually getting better
that I have so much energy
that I can do work that suites me so well
that my work is so rewarding
that I have so much fun working
how many people I know at work
that I get to do uniforms at work
that there are other people who can take my place when I’m gone
that I can be with my skunk parents right now
that I have a family who’s willing to drive to give me stuff
that there are people praying for my skunk papa
that I have people in my life who will embrace my craziness
that I can caw at people at work and they take it in stride
that when I caw at some people at work they bark back
that I have a house I can decorate
that I can put red ribbons places
smelling yummy food
that I still have a job
that my job reopened
that the Museum still has people coming to it
that people get to learn more about God and His amazing-ness
that God is all-powerful
that God cares about me
being able to keep in touch with people through texting
that I have people I want to keep in touch with
that I know how to type
jumping in the Ohio River when it’s cold
having people care about my safety
smooth pens that glide over paper
my dream-come-true trip out west
getting to vlog about the trip out west
that Logan and Johanna came with me
that our parents let us take the RV
that after 19 years of dreaming the trip happened
that there weren’t a lot of restrictions when we went on the trip
that I can always have those memories
that we used Google Maps
that we did all our own cooking
being able to shop along the way
what I learned on the trip
how I grew on the trip
good sibling time
being able to watch online church while far away
having a church I really like
learning to having a new church in Kentucky
moving to Kentucky for good
car seats that are comfortable to sit in
following the Oregon Trail
learning how to spell Oregon after years of trying
how long 3 weeks felt on our trip
not getting bit by rattlesnakes
seeing a rattlesnake
seeing lots of buffalo
all the other wildlife
cool mountain air
playing games with Johanna
French toast in Montana
camping by a big creek
driving across ALL of Montana
how different places look so different
the Badlands of SD
getting to see where Laura Ingalls lived
touching the real school she attended
seeing Mount Rushmore
walking on the Oregon Trail
Riding Lightening on the Oregon Trail
driving through Oregon
driving through Washington
driving the RV, but not for long
having a picnic in the middle of the road
all the new states I got to visit
the dream of someday living out west
dunking in the Ocean when we reached the coast
marking so many things off my dream list
being able to dream in the first place
living in a family that encourages dreaming
that the RV never broke down
getting to finally visit Kaitlyn even if I didn’t surprise her
having friends all over the place
getting to see Tim and Meagan and the kids
that I live in place where it’s easy to breathe
beautiful mountain views
Logan meeting his future wife on the trip
getting to spend time with the Smith’s
long four-wheel rides with the setting sun
how beautiful the sunsets were
being a morning person
spending time with God before others woke up
learning to be more chill
doing the dishes with ease since I was used to heating water
having a bathroom on the move
watercolors that are pretty
the notebook Dad helped me do
Finding out how different various states are
crossing several more states off my list
the Smith girls taking me to Kansas
a keyboard that works
that I was able to go on my dream trip before buying a house
all the travel I´ve gotten to do during my life
the cultures I´ve gotten to see
having a blog, even though I don´t blog much currently
not having any pets currently
knowing I can get a kitten if I want
the ability to make choices that are good
my team at work
little babies on the way
the Creation Museum
the Ark Encounter
being able to visit comfortably
that even when we can’t do much together, we always reconnect easily
Kathryn letting me cook for he
Cody and Lucy
them selling to me
them working with me even when out of contract
people I haven’t seen in ever helping my family move my stuff
trucks and vans
Katie giving me her bed
David and Sarah going with me to pick up the bed
getting my house set up so much
Mom making the sound-bouncy-thing so pretty
cute little rodents
reading books to little children
the ability to smile
I Saw That cards at work
Bruce and Bonnie
the variety in my job
having my own office
having a work computer
how much I love working with my team
being able to help people all day long
all the friendships I´ve developed at work
how much the people at work mean to me
having time at work go so fast
getting to work full-time
having energy to do so much
the War Room
things staying more clean at work
laughter at work
working with people who really care
having a life outside of work
Rebeccah being in my life
coffee at Rebeccah´s
reading books with Rebeccah
having someone who will borrow and read my books
hearing Rebeccah´s opinion of my books
Rebeccah´s perspective and point of view
Rebeccah´s generosity and observations
Rebeccah´s yummy food
Rebeccah being a good balance in my life
Rebeccah pointing out things to me
taco nights at her house
staying up late and talking
getting coffee and going to the park
her being willing to do the driving
game nights with Rebeccah and Allen and family
that Hannah comes along now
Allen´s kindness to all the people who he meets
Allen´s determination to help me have a life
Allen giving gifts
Allen making people feel welcomed
Allen taking care of everyone
Allen showing us how things should be done
texting with Miss Viviann during quarantine
getting to know Hannah
Hannah´s way of helping me understand myself better
the way Hannah listens
Hannah being there when I need someone
Hannah´s sense of humor
Hannah being willing to try crazy things with me
Hannah´s voice of reason
Hannah being a steady presence in
having the Carlson´s house be my second home
all the help Miss Viviann was when I was buying my house
how I can simply be at the Carlson´s
Miss Viviann´s being willing to make phone calls
our deep conversations
the way we relate to each other
her office being a safe place
that she thinks I´m funny
reading in her office
How much I’ve learned from her
the way she checks on me
her welcoming me into her life
her desire to learn and grow
how much she cares for people
that we get to work together
that we like the same kind of foods
hard boiled eggs
CJ´s generosity with music
the way he makes people feel included
his hard work at his job
the way he dreams big
having lunch with Miss Viviann and Hannah
Hannah working at the museum!
how quickly friendships develop in the right atmosphere
that this year had the right atmosphere
that I really have people who mean a lot to me
that I can count on the people in my life
that I can do things that bless those in my life
late nights of talking
being welcome in other people´s houses
Johanna taking pictures
Johanna´s love for others
Johanna in general
All I´ve learned from Johanna
how trendy Johanna is
Johanna´s health getting better
Mariah living her dream
Mariah having such cute children
Mariah making the most of life
Mariah being able to have people over to her house
Mariah´s clean style
Leo´s coffee business
Leo taking good care of his family
Leo caring about others
good talks with Mariah and Leo
cuddling Charlette and Charles
getting to see Charles when he was just a day old
how darling the Charlies are
that the Charlies can grow up surrounded by so much love
Her new baby
Regaining her health
the sweet way she handles children´s shenanigans
her calm spirit
her joy in the Lord
how he provides for his family
how he leads his family
how she´s getting her heath back
how good she is at being a big sister
her joy in the Lord
her sewing abilities
her cheerful personality
the way she embraces life
her happiness with little things
how she likes to write
that we have so much in common
her artful ways
the way her parents encourage her art
his mature way
how he likes working with his hands
his ability to work hard
his love for others
his soft heart
his fun grin
his joy at living
the friendship we have
how she sees so seriously
her desire to be a help
the person she´s going to grow up to be
how she enjoys life
her jump in feet first personality
how she likes the outdoors
the mischievousness in her eyes
how he gets included
the way he explains things
his soft heart
his excitement for life
the way she tells stories
how she acts so grown up, but so little at the same time
all the times she made me laugh
her big sisterish actions
that she´s such a happy child
her pleasant personality
her contentment in life
her being in the family
that he was born
that he has his whole life ahead of him
that God has a plan for his life
that he´s got a good name
his love for his family
his love for God
his sense of adventure
how she´s a good mom
how she cares for others
her steady way
her patience with her children
how shés such a Howe
her love for others
her outgoing personality
his sweet heart
the way he feels deeply
how he will help others in life
how she relates to others
her quiet personality
how she balances out others in her family
how spunky and creative she is
her thoughtful way
how he´s so cute
his place in our family
the plans God has for him
all he´s learning
that he went out West with me
that this year his dreams came true
his way of loving well
him sharing his house with people
the friendships he has
how he´s learning and growing
that he moved my camper
that I get a new sister
that shés so kind
how much we all already like her
that shés going to fit into our family so well
how much help he always is
that he winterized my camper
his help around the house
that when I need help I know I can call him first
his love for others
how good of a dad he is
how cute he and Sarah are together
that I get to have her in my life
our FaceTime coffee chats
that we can stay close even while we live far away
how we can share with each other
that she can come visit me, and I can visit her
how creative she is
how pretty her art is
that even as an adult and busy mom she hasn´t lost her curiosity and wonder
how kind and sweet she is
her loving personality
how smart she is
how she cares so well for others
how amazing she is at being a big sister
the way she notices and helps
how she´s grown so much
the way she puts her thoughts into words
that she likes books and quietness
how content she is to do her own thing quietly
what Ive been able to learn by watching her
that we only live two hours away from each other now
that even though we are both busy we make it a point to stay in each other’s lives
that she loves well
that she´s living her life and digging roots deep
all the influence she´s had on my life
that she finds joy in little things
his generous nature
the way he takes care of his wife
his steadying presence
his eagerness to be a part of the family activities
his kindness and thoughtfulness
that he´s my buddy
all I´ve gotten to learn from him
how he seeks God´s wisdom
all he does for others
how kind and sweet he is
how he´s such a hard worker
how dedicated he is to his school
the cool things he tells me about
playing games with him
him adding so much to my life
how shés willing to do so much to help her family
all the caring she´s done over the years
that she´s doing so well after her wreck last year
the huge help she was with me buying a house and moving
how supportive she is
her shopping for household stuff for me and with me
her knowledge of sewing
how she raised us kids
having coffee with her
all the good memories I have of growing up
the way he´s taught all of us to be generous
how he´s played such a huge part in all of our lives
how good he is at quality time
how he´s helped us live our dreams
that he gives such good advice
how he loves God
how he teaches each of us to have relationship with God
the value both my parents put on spending time reading the Bible and praying daily
how my parents have invested so much in my health
getting to video chat with Hosanna
how well Hosanna knows me
Hosanna making me laugh
the way Hosanna and I relate to each other
her job with children
how well she knows how to take care of babies
all the growing up we´ve done together
the way she makes my life better whenever I see her
that I can be included in her life
that we´ve known each other for so long
all the inside jokes we girls have
all we´ve experienced together
the way he´s not afraid to be real
his way of helping others grow
how he wants to grow
his steadiness at being a friend
him helping me have a credit score
him always being so supportive and excited about life changes
the way his life is changing and flourishing
how we can work on goals together
how we´ve helped each other stay focused in life
the creativity we share
how both our lives have changed a lot
That we can support each other as we chase our dreams
that we have dreams
that we live in a country where we can have dreams
that goal setting is something we both have in our nature
all the years with Grandpa
that Grandpa isn´t suffering any more
that we all got a chance to say goodbye to Grandpa last year
Alaska and how I still want to go there some day
that he can be in the hospital
that he´s getting better
that he has people caring for him and people praying
how well she´s feeling
that I can be here with her
that she is trusting in God and not letting things pull her down
that she loves so well
that her life makes a difference
how Papa and Mama do so much for me
Dave and Becky
all my children´s church children
Chapman´s Coffee House
getting to work there for a day
How much I get to walk at my current job
how I get to know so many people at my job
the interactions I get to have with my coworkers
how I get to meet people from all over the world
the way we get to share God´s truth with people from so many backgrounds
How good of a leader Roger is
that I can work directly for Roger
that Roger really cares about the people at the Museum and wants to help them live life well
the balance Roger provides
that I get to work with Alex
how Alex does such a good job in growing each of us
the leadership qualities I’ve learned from Alex
the way our team has grown so close this year
the friendships I’ve developed while working
how time goes so fast at work
the books I’ve read this year
that I can still review books, despite how much my life has changed
Roseanna M. White
Sarah Loudin Thomas
learning from other people’s perspectives
finding out about my personality and how I can harness the good and change the bad
that I don’t have to go house hunting
that God provided the perfect house for me so I never had to go house hunting
how God’s timing work
That God puts people in my life at the right time
that I can be a blessing to others because of the gifts God has given me
That I can drive
that I now know how to drive through traffic
what I’ve been able to learn online
the Youtube videos I made this year and how fun they were
that I get to learn and grow each day
good roads to travel on
living in this era, even though the olden days would have been cool
how good this year has been despite everything
that my friendship with the Carlson’s and Rebeccah has florished
the Bible Study girls
Kayla and Connor asking me to be their flower girl
Connor and Kayla getting married soon
getting huggers as gifts
that I had pets growing up
that I have such good memories of my childhood (not only are they happy, but also that they’re clear)
for adventures – little though they may be
driving around to look at barns
learning to understand people
that crazy though I am, I still have people who understand me
It’s Saturday. Normally my “Saturday” is any random day during the week since I work a lot of weekend days at my job, but this week I really DO have Saturday off.
I started off the day languidly – I spent the night at a friend’s house, woke up around 7:00, listened to a devotional with her then headed back to my camper. After having my own devotions (and trying to warm up my 32 degree camper) I cleaned my camper, made plans with my sister, and then sat down to blog.
What does your Saturday look like?
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads Pages: 368 Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Release Date: June 2, 2020 Title: A Gilded Lady Fiction
ABOUT THE BOOK
Caroline Delacroix is at the pinnacle of Washington high society in her role as secretary to the first lady of the United States. But beneath the facade of her beauty, glamorous wardrobe, and dazzling personality, she’s hiding a terrible secret. If she cannot untangle a web of foreign espionage, her brother will face execution for treason.
Nathaniel Trask is the newly appointed head of the president’s Secret Service team. He is immediately suspicious of Caroline despite his overwhelming attraction to her quick wit and undeniable charm. Desperate to keep the president protected, Nathaniel must battle to keep his focus fully on his job as the threat to the president rises.
Amid the glamorous pageantry of Gilded Age Washington, DC, Caroline and Nathaniel will face adventure, danger, and heartbreak in a race against time that will span the continent and the depth of human emotion.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK
I read this book back in March and promptly forgot that I had received it for review. (I get a lot of ebooks from library apps like Overdrive and Hoopla, and thought this was one of those books.) I realized recently that A Gilded Ladywas for review, so I get to treat y’all with my thoughts regarding this story which makes me happy because I enjoyed it immensely.
History is something I’ve always found fascinating, but I have huge gaps in what periods of history I’m familiar with. Obviously, I studied President McKinley at some point during school, but it wasn’t until I started reading this story that I realized how little I knew about his life. In fact, other than the fact that he was president, I couldn’t have told you anything else.
As usual, while reading a historical fiction book I didn’t do any research regarding the period of history because I didn’t want spoilers. Therefore, I was basically on the edge of my seat at times, trying to figure out what was going to happen next and how everything would end. I was caught off guard a lot with this book. If you’re familiar with the president (like I should have been) then you know the basics of the story, but if you’re not, then there are several plot twists that I didn’t see coming. The book was fantastic, the plot moved along at the perfect pace, the characters were fleshed-out, and the writing was superb.
Generally, I have a pretty good memory for what annoyed me in a book, even months after reading it. But, in this case, I don’t recall anything negative. I know I didn’t like the main character very much because I felt like she went about solving her problem in the wrong way, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book because the character was still so complex and multi-layered and captivating.
Learning about Ida McKinley was exceedingly interesting. I had no clue that one of our First Ladies had such a personality, and reading about all the ways the main character covered for her to help keep everything running smoothly was both funny and eye-opening.
Having the main male character be the head of the Secret Service – right when the Secret Service was beginning – was so cool. I learned so much while reading from his perspective. I also enjoyed him as a character and could relate to him a lot more than I could to the main female character.
This book was so engaging and interesting that as soon as I finished it I read the first book in the series (this is the second). The third book doesn’t release until early in 2021, but I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out.
Since it’s been a while since I read this book I don’t remember if it had any questionable content, but as far as the story and writing goes I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of my next re-reads.
I’m giving A Gilded Lady 4 out of 5 stars. NetGalley gave me an ebook copy so I could review it for y’all. I wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thanks, NetGalley!
It’s 6:03 and I have three of the four burners on my stove powering on high – because that’s what happens when you aren’t quite sure how long to cook things in your crockpot and the split pea and rice soup you made last night and intended to share today turns to a syurpy goop.
Yesterday was a cool, gray, autumn day – the kind of day that is perfect for curling up with a book and hot drink. Or, in my case to run around in the drizzle taking umbrellas to guests who were caught in the wetness at the museum where I work.
At one point I was standing by the gate under a big umbrella when a couple of teenage kids walked up. The boy and I engaged in a moment of conversation about the weather and he commented about how wet he was. Then as he walked past me I saw that the backpack he was wearing had a sports drink in the mesh pocket. The drink was on it’s side and the lid must not have been on correctly because it was gushing liquid down his back. I quickly called his attention to the fact, and he was completely surprised as he remedied the situation. The amusing part of the whole situation is that I don’t think he realized – even after closing the lid – that the drink was all over his back.
The interaction stayed with me all day. The boy and I had been talking about how wet it was – referring to the rain, something neither of us could control. Yet in reality, the main reason the boy was getting soaked with due to something completely within his power to stop.
And it made me wonder how often do I do that? How often do I simply write something off as being natural and not within my ability to influence when I really could have a say in the matter? So much of what we do is driven by habits we subconsciously have put in place in our lives. What could I be changing to make my life better, more impactful, more in-line with who God created me to be?
The boy yesterday couldn’t see his drink spilling all over his back, but from my perspective it was so obvious. What am I missing because I’m not asking other people to share their perspective and wisdom with me? What am I allowing in my life because I’m set in my ways and not open to changing?
In Proverbs 11:14 it says that In a multitude of counselors there is safety. I want to make sure that my life is characterized by allowing other people to let me know where I need to learn and grow. I want to be the kind of person who not only responds humbly when corrected, but who actually goes and asks for feedback from people who know me best, or work with me often.
It’s 6:21 now and the lunch on my stove has finished cooking. I have a couple sips of coffee left, my house in need of a two minute straightening, and then I’m off to work. Have a blessed day, y’all!
People! YAY! I get to share another book review with y’all – but unlike the last few where I felt slightly lackadaisical, this book is a for-sure winner for me.
This is the third book in The Codebreaker Series, and if you feel inclined you can read the reviews for the first two books here and here. (I really like this series, just so you know.) If you’ve read any of these books – or the Shadows Over London series – you should let me know in the comments so we can chat!
And now, for the review:
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads Pages: 384 Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Release Date: September 8, 2020 Title: A Portrait of Loyalty Fiction
ABOUT THE BOOK
Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.
Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.
After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK
This is the third and final book in the series, so I went into it with excitement as I’d been awaiting the story for a long time. I’m pretty picky with my series endings, and they quite often disappoint me, so I was a little bit nervous to pick up the book and dive in. Recently I’ve not been in a readerly mood, so most of the books I’ve read in the last few months have fallen short of my expectations, so I was also a little worried.
Then I started reading. And, Roseanna M. White did it again – she wrote a book that was delightful, fully immersive, had complex characters, and a plot that kept me wanting to read.
Due to life being really busy I had to read the book throughout a couple of weeks, but it’s the kind of story I could have easily swallowed in one sitting. Every time I picked the book up I was sucked back into the story, eagerly anticipating what would happen next.
Although the storyline was very interesting, it wasn’t exceedingly fast, which means I was able to get to know the characters and really delve into the time period, instead of just wanting to flip pages as fast as possible. The plot covered the topic of propaganda and (essentially) photoshopping photographs which is something I didn’t realize was happening back during the first World War. That was interesting to read about, and the author did a great job explaining it in an easy-to-understand way that also just blended into the story.
The characters were ones I enjoyed reading about. I especially enjoyed watching Lily (the main female character) and her sister, Ivy, interacting. I’m one of five sisters and reading a book that correctly portrays a good sister relationship makes me happy. Their bond was so deep and even amid war, they were able to find joy and laughter together.
While we get to watch Lily and her sister’s relationship, we also get that with Zivon (the main male character) and his brother. (Which is funny because I didn’t realize until just now how the stories parallel each other.) Zivon spends a good portion of the book trying to find his brother – who he’s not even sure is still alive – and we get to see how much he loves his brother.
Another side of this book was getting to read from the point-of-view of two not-so-great characters. We got to know them a lot better than we normally get to see this author’s “villains” and I enjoyed that and the character arc that they went through.
I liked it a whole lot. I lent the book to a friend literally as soon as I finished it so that she can read it and I can have someone to discuss the story with.
You’ll get more out of the story if you read the series in order, but I do think this book could be a standalone if you wanted to read it that way.
I’m giving A Portrait of Loyalty 4.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy A Portrait of Loyalty from the publishers. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me this book!
Reading nonfiction is something I find to be very important in my life. This year, even when I took a break from most of my reading, I’ve still picked up a nonfiction book nearly every day and spent a couple of minutes learning from the pages.
This is my most recent nonfiction read. It was interesting, opening my eyes to a world that I’m very unfamiliar with.
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads Pages: 256 Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Release Date: May 5, 2020 Title: Shifting Shadows Nonfiction
ABOUT THE BOOK
Herman Mendoza built his kingdom in Queens, New York. He made a fortune selling cocaine with his brothers up and down the Eastern Seaboard. He had apartments around the city for his mistresses and a home in the Poconos for his beautiful nuclear family. But when he and his brothers were busted in a large-scale crackdown, his kingdom crumbled. Ready to kill himself rather than live behind bars, Herman instead came face-to-face with the all-consuming love of God. He would never be the same.
Today, Herman shares his story at every opportunity, knowing that it may play a part in someone else’s journey into a relationship with Jesus. An engaging and fast-paced read, Shifting Shadows offers hope to those in despair, and shows all of us the lengths to which God will go to bring a troubled soul home. Also available in Spanish as Sombras cambiantes.
About the Author
Herman Mendoza (www.hermanmendoza.com) speaks nationally and internationally more than 100 times a year on college campuses, in churches, at Christian conferences, and in prisons–with his ministry spanning four continents. He is an associate pastor at Promise Ministries International and is the director of Powerhouse Kids Ministry in New York City. Mendoza lives on Long Island in New York with his wife, Alexandra. Their three children, Samantha, Adam, and Penelope, share in their ministry.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK
The author did a great job of telling about his life without making it seem glamorous or going into too much detail. I appreciate the balance that he struck, and how I got a clear view of where he came from and the enormous change that took place in his life, but without getting bogged down in the lifestyle he lived.
I really felt like I got to know the author. He didn’t try and make his life look good or justify what he did and how horrible of a human he was. He got involved with drugs and gangs when he was just a kid, and his life spiraled out of control from there. From juvie, to eventually becoming a big-time New York drug lord, and then finally finding God while in prison, his story kept my interest and made me want to know what would happen next.
This book was a good reminder that God is at work all over the world and in various situations and that no one is too far past God’s love and forgiveness. It was also encouraging to see how the author allowed God to totally change and redeem his life. It was obvious that the author and his brother were a fantastic team, and to see them go from being drug lords together to serving God in prison together was neat. The author’s story was inspiring and a good reminder to not stop praying for people, even when it feels hopeless.
This book talks a lot about bad things – violence, drugs, unfaithfulness, alcohol, crime, running from the police, etc… But it does so in a way that is vague and doesn’t glorify that lifestyle.
I’m giving Shifting Shadows 3 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book to review on my blog.
This year I haven’t done well with keeping up with the books I choose to review for publishers. I have a pile of them that I received this spring and summer and was so excited about, but then….but then life happened.
Right around the time this book arrived, I moved back to Kentucky, started working again (but with a lot of regulations), my health dipped, my grandfather died, and I didn’t hardly read for several months.
But now I’ve finally I found some balance in my world and here I am with another review. Enjoy!
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads Pages: 368 Publisher: Bethany House Publishers Release Date: May 5, 2020 Title: A Mosaic of Wings Fiction
ABOUT THE BOOK
It’s 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she’s graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father’s footsteps by getting her master’s degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father’s legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.
India isn’t what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India–and of Owen–fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.
In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices–between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK
The title and cover of the book do a good job of conveying what the story is about – a languid and flitting story that delves deep into the minute details and focuses on the little things.
If the story was a song, it would be a piano instrumental piece. If the story was a painting, it would be a sun-dappled peaceful stream scene. If the story was a day, it would be a Sunday afternoon right in the heart of Summer.
Nothing was wrong with this book, but it wasn’t what I was in the mood for during this time in my life, which is unfortunate. Therefore, I’m going to go for the three pros and three cons approach for this review.
The book explored a subject that I don’t know a lot about, and I’ve only read one other author who delves into the world of entomology (the study of insects) in her stories. The book was well-researched and the characters stayed very true to what I would imagine an entomologist to be like. I was impressed by the level of detail the author went into without making the book boring
The main characters were varied and well-written. I liked Owen a lot – he was sweet, kind, and I could imagine having a friend like him in real life. Although I didn’t like Nora (more about that in the cons section) she still was well-written, had a good character arc, and had many details making her feel complete
The setting was beautiful – every time I read I felt like I was out in the wilderness. I could nearly feel the heat, and watch the bugs, and reach out to touch the butterflies. This book was filled with nature and that was peaceful
Nora, the main character, wasn’t someone I liked. I know this is completely subjective, but I couldn’t relate to her and – sadly – found her annoying. Except in regard to one person, she always had to have her own way. She was headstrong and rude. I get why she was that way. And she was well written. I just didn’t like her
The writing was too flowery for my tastes. Some people would really like the style, just not me. There were also a lot of similes and metaphors that didn’t completely make sense to me
I really liked Owen, the main male character, but there were times when the way Nora related to him bothered me. It felt like she was too focused on how he looked, and little romantic scenes would be thrown in at times that didn’t make sense
Snippets From the Story
These were sentences I marked as I was reading because I felt like they did a good job of showing the pace and writing style of the book:
She felt the languid pace of her new home seep into her pores and thicken her blood so that it traveled through her veins as unhurried as the Indian people who lived life without any clocks.
Page 133 of Mosaic of Wings
They studied the ponderous movements of a green beetle and watched a brilliant blue flycatcher eat a dragonfly and tripped over moss-covered rocks that made stepping-stones across transparent creeks.
Page 144 of Mosaic of Wings
Dryness filled her mouth, and her heart – which had spent the previous six years sheltered beneath barely-there veneer of phlegmatic constraint – twisted so violently, she though the pain must rival being stung by a thousand ants.
Page 154 of Mosaic of Wings
The trail wended up Mount Nebo, and soon they stood overlooking the mist-enshrouded trees surrounding Kodaikanal. The waxing moon, pregnant with the desire for completion, poured its ghostly light over the houses trailing down the hill.
Page 258 of Mosaic of Wings
I didn’t have anything morally wrong with the contents of this book, except there was a feminist bend to the story that I don’t agree with.
There are, however, a few things that are dealt with in the book that wouldn’t be suitable for young readers.
The book talks about child prostitution and abuse in the Indian temples (it doesn’t go into detail). The main character’s father dies before the story and she deals with that throughout the whole book. The main character has a hostile and manipulative relationship with her step-father. There are a few mentions of gambling, a child born out of wedlock, a suicide (mentioned, no details), and a few scenes with slight violence. There are also multiple times that the two main characters sneak out to look at bugs together in the middle of the night.
I’m giving Mosaic of Wings 3 out of 5 stars. I’m thankful to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book to review.
Before I called You Mine was one of those books that I went into without a lot of expectations. I read and reviewed it in February, and although I only gave the book 3.5 out of 5 stars, I’ve thought about the book on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis. And that means something has to change.
In this case, my rating is what’s changing, and it’s changing to 4.5 stars. Why not a solid 5? Well, there were still aspects of the story that annoyed me, but that’s totally a preference thing – not something the author did wrong. And therefore, for this review, we’ll be focusing on the parts that I did like.
And yes, you heard that correctly – I’m writing a second “review” for the book. The book meant so much to me and I enjoyed the e-copy so much that I requested the physical copy from the publisher so I could take pictures and share them with you and talk about the book again. To make the review unique, I’m going to go completely from memory, rather than going back and referring to the book as I often do while writing reviews. If you want to get my just-finished-reading-thoughts, check out my earlier review here.
Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Title: Before I Called You Mine Fiction
In a nutshell, this book is about a woman – Lauren – who’s dream in life has always been to be a mom – something I can very much relate to. The problem for Lauren is that although she wants to get married, it’s not happening, and therefore her dream of having kids isn’t happening either. So she decides to adopt.
Throughout the story, we follow Lauren as she walks through the journey of adoption. Lauren is well-written and I felt through her so intensely as she experienced her joys and heartaches. She works as a teacher and surrounds herself with children, pouring all of her love into them as she awaits having a child of her own.
Lauren has a chaotic relationship with her family and the way she did – and didn’t – interact with them made her feel so much more real, layered, flawed, and relatable. There’s also a fair portion of the book designated to a romance, but that’s not the part that stuck out to me in the story, so we won’t go into that today.
I was completely unsurprised to find out that the author has adopted a child of her own, because I’m not sure how else the book could have been so well written. The story felt real, with highs and lows and a kaleidoscope of feelings. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to adopt, but it’s something I’ve been praying about, and a lot more since I read this book.
If you’re interested in adoption, then this is a book you should pick up and read. Well done, Nicole Deese! (And thank you, Bethany House Publishers, for sending me a copy to review.)