Friday, March 22, 2013

Book List 2013


Angels by Billy Graham How can you go wrong reading a book by Billy Graham? I was prompted to read this book after a late night discussion at our family reunion last fall between one of my great aunts and her brother, my great uncle. I have never seen so heated a debate between the two as they discussed angels. I had to go out and do a little research for myself. Let's just say I now know which one was right that night! Not that I would ever say anything to the one who was wrong. This was my first study on angels and I found it inspiring and reassuring. My copy of this book is completely marked up with underling, stars, and exclamation points. Truly a sign of a good book!


A Higher Call by Adam Makos. "An incredible true story of combat and chivalry in the war-torn skies of World War II." I would consider myself a novice history buff with a fascination with WWII. And yet this book gave me a view point of the war that I had never seen before, that of a German fighter pilot. The story begins with civil liberties slowly being taken away. And like watching a horror film where the blond haired girl (they are always blond for some reason) walks out of the cabin late at night by herself to inspect a strange noise, you want to yell "STOP! Don't you see what's coming??? Don't you know where this is heading?" Likewise in this book you watch a society fall prey and a few men cause mayhem and the lives of millions. And this is just the first couple of chapters. There are so many nuggets of German pilot chivalry (and American) I want to share with you but more important is the realization of the difficult situations that pilots on both sides of the war were put into. There choices were not easy but the ones highlighted in this book acted with honor.

In addition to the main chivalrous event in this book was the glimpse into my grandfather's war years. He was stationed at Kimbolton in England just as Charlie Brown (the main American pilot in the book) and likewise was in the 379th Bomb Group and 525th Squadron. For this reason he was chosen to autograph the lithographs made in honor of the heroic event memorialized in this book. Through the book I was able to see things he saw (like waiting for your turn to take off and watching the skies as so many planes took off at once that some of them crashed into each other bursting into flames.) and get a taste of daily war life. The fear, courage, honor, skill, humanness, and grief all become real.


Friendship for Grown-Ups by Lisa Whelchel. I have watched Good Morning America a grand total of 2 times in my career as a stay at home mom but one of those times included an interview with Lisa Whelchel who was promoting this, at the time, newly released book. What she said got my attention, "I've always operated under the mistaken notion that the more perfect I was, the more people would like me and want to connect with me. So I kept a slick, glossy finish on my layer of protection. What I learned was, ultimately, my very shininess acted like Teflon and prevented any kind of lasting bond."  Ouch, I had no idea that Lisa Whelchel had been stalking me! Oh, wait. Never mind she was talking about herself.
This book made me realize I SUCK as a friend. I look at trying to be perfect as helpful and encouraging to my friends. It is not. I also realized that I am TERRIBLE at keeping up with my friends. Last week I read this book and realized I NEVER call my friends because I know how busy they are and I don't want to disturb them. Two days ago I found out that while I was reading about being a terrible friend, one of my best friends was having one of the worst weeks in her life (on top of an already horrific year no less) and was in the hospital. Note to self, call friends more! All I can say is that after reading this book I have a heart of repentance.

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. I found the research presented in this book fascinating! I initially picked it out to read from a parenting standpoint. In reality it's also for teachers, administrators, and anyone who cares about extreme poverty as the book does center around the roughest sect of inner city kids. It's amazing that the schools deemed worse in the US are not neglected as we assume. But rather many have had millions upon millions invested in them through government programs that fail to make a dent lack of successful adults coming out of these schools (government programs that don't work, who knew?). There are also tidbits about why kids from wealthy and middle income families sometimes don't succeed. Tough covers case studies, sociology, and neuroscience in hopes of finding the answer to the age old question of curing poverty. You'll just have to read the book to find out his conclusions and to make your own.

The Inside Tract by Gerald E. Mullin, M.D. and Kathie Madonna Swift, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. This one was read for continuing education hours with a little disappointment. Although it was marketed in an education catalogue for R.D.'s it's really more of a book for the novice. I could see it being useful for a dietitian that specializes in another area who is looking to expand into the GI/allergies/feed sensitivity scene. Still I was able to take away many statistics and interesting facts that will find their way into my counseling sessions and seminars. There was also a section on herbs and GI disorders that will be a great reference in the future as I usually just recommend essential oils and just a few herbal teas. In fact I think my next cont. ed might be an herbal study. It will be a good fit for my practice I think.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This classic really doesn't need a recap from me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2012 Highlights Part 2

Nothing says fall like our annual trip to Centerville!

And no trip to Centerville (our family reunion) in complete without playing in the dirt with cousins. Sitting beside Arch is my cousin Justin's son Caden.

The freedom of homeschooling allowed us to arrive a day early to the family reunion. A tradition I feel we will continue even when we are back to out-of-the-home school. The kids had their grandparents, great-grandparents, and great aunts and uncles pretty much to themselves. This was a priceless surprise!
Here Savannah is learning how to huck weave from my Great Aunt Patricia. Savannah could not put it down!

Later that day Savannah wondered into the house (the same house my grandmother and her siblings grew up in) and asked my Great Aunt Patsy if they could make something together. Savannah got to bake a pie in the same kitchen her great great grandmother baked in.

He loves to pose just like his daddy.

Savannah and her cousin Carly.
They look as though they have just conquered the wilderness.

My grandmother and all her sailings with their spouses.
So many are missing.
This was our first reunion since my great Aunt Billie passed away.

Have you read the book Otis?
Archer was convinced that this was the friendly little tractor, Otis from his favorite book.

My mom has been in her new house for a year and a half and Archer was the first grandchild to get his head stuck in the rail. Of course it would be Archer.
He yelled, "Momma, help!"
I replied, "Okay honey, Let me get my camera first."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 Highlights Part 1

2012 was a blur of fun and challenges neither of which allowed for much blogging. I am excited to say that I blogged all the books I read for the year but for the first time in the several years that I have had this blog, little personal experience has been recorded.
Thus, I have posted the highlights from last year which I never took the time to blog about as they happened. Every picture is worth numerous stories and each one deserves a post of their own. Well, maybe next year. For now, these are just the highlights!
Savannah and I on a girls trip to Houston to see the King Tut exhibit. These 2 chicks could live in a museum!
Savannah is Aspen on Buttermilk. She is so much like me. Sports with balls are out of the question but a ball-less sport (my own made up word) has potential. She is eagerly awaiting ski school 2013.

While Savannah was in ski school my sister and I slipped away for a couple of nights over the mountain to visit my grandparents...without kids! We have not had our grandparents to ourselves since we had children. It was just like old times. And speaking of old times, look at that sweet couple up above. They are my grandparents who act like honeymooners! Aren't they awesome?

Granny Smiles, Dawn, and me.

Arch and I at the zoo just the 2 of us playing while Savannah was in school.

Here is Java chillin' in Mark's lap during "Bring Your Pet to School" day. She just laid there in the midst of rabbits, gerbils, and dogs sniffing her. Either she is the most laid back cat ever or at the age of 17 (that's 127 in human years) she has no idea where she is anyway!
My mom's famous words, "I have extra weeks in the condo that need to be used. Let's go to Disney World!" I think she actually says this every 2 months! Needless to say both kids had a blast but we missed Mark being there with us. He needs about 2 months vacation time to keep up with us.

We have taken both kids to a disney park (world or land) as infant (that wasn't really on purpose) and as toddlers. Savannah has also been at age 5 and 7. ALL AGES ARE GREAT. Savannah is now into the rides which is fun for all adults. But Archer was in awe of meeting his favorite characters (Savannah was too at that age) which is fun for adults to watch.

After being at The World for a week we headed to the beach for a week with cousins. Grandma always has to get a jammie shot.

Mark and Arch playing ans singing Country Roads, Archer's favorite.

No lie, this alligator tried to eat me! Savannah ran and I screamed but at the time alligators were Archer's favorite so he never panicked.
This takes us through September. Let's see if I get part 2 up before we ring in the new year!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Guess This Song

As I quizzed Savannah on her state abbreviations and state capitols a sweet little three year old boy echoed our words wanting so badly to participate. And then finally we said one he knew (or at least he thought he knew).

Me: Colorado
Savannah: Denver, CO
Archer: Denver!

Me: Mississippi
Savannah: Jackson, MS
Archer: Jackson!

Me: Texas
Savannah: Austin, TX
Archer: Austin!

Me: West Virgina
Archer: (interrupting with great confidence and excitement) Blue Ridge Mountains!!!

Now, here is the riddle. From this reply can you guess what Archer's favorite song is. Kathy, I know you know this song (that's your hint too!). There is also a clue in one of the other states listed above.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book List for 2012 Part 2

To see my reading list from the first half of the year click here.

I had no idea that 3 months have passed since I posted last! I suppose it's time to wrap up my list of books read for the year.

Gladys Aylward, The Adventure of a Lifetime by Janet and Geoff Benge. This is the true story of a missionary who went to China after WWI and was there during WWII. She is Kisses From Katie on steroids! Seriously, this woman rocks. Of course Katie is young and the full story of her life has yet to unfold. Mrs. Aylward's life however was made into a movie starring Ingred Bergman.

The Reason for God, Belief in an Age of Scepticism by Timothy Keller Just when I thought I had had enough of apologetics, I picked up this book. I half expected it to regurgitate what I have already read in numerous other books but that was not the case. Many of the texts I have read on this subject concentrate on hard science, archeology, and antiquities. This book however addresses the difficult questions that skeptics ask such as, "How could a loving God allow bad things to happen?" and "What's the deal with the whole cross thing? Why did God decide Jesus had to die? Couldn't he just forgive us and move on?" Every sceptic and christian should read this book! I HIGHLY recommend it.

Laura Bush, Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush I was curious to see what this Texas native had to say about life in the white house, politics, and her husband's presidency. When she began with her childhood in west Texas I soon forgot I was reading a political book. She is close in age to my mother-in-law who grew up in a small west Texas town centered around the oil industry and has since passed away. Strangely, it felt good just to read her beginnings as if I were reading Linda's. But post-college their stories take different routes! Once we hit the White House years I was overwhelmed. The time spent in that house seems to be marked by tragedy and travel. And the travel just shows you all those in the world who are suffering and need help. I cannot imagine the burden every presidential family must feel during the time they serve. It's as if the whole world lays injustices at your feet and begs for mercy. I found myself googling charities and looking for ways I could help with every turn of page.

There were other books I read this fall but not many. We traveled quite a bit and traveling with kiddo does not allow for time to sit in read. There are so many more on my list to read and so little time to do so! Now, if I listed all the children's book I read we would have an awesome list!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

True Truth by Art Lindsley. This is a very interesting book on apologetics in a post modernism world. I was shocked to realize how much post modernism effects my own thinking though I didn't know before the source of these ideas. These ideas have inundated our culture.

The Mercy by Beverly Lewis. This was may break from the heavy reading I have been doing. If I don't get a little fluff fiction in every now and then my head will explode! I can always count on the Amish for a sweet, light-hearted, inspirational read. The Mercy is the third book in The Rose Trilogy.

The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer. Wow. This one took me a couple of months to read mainly because I needed breaks. The text was very interesting but I could only read, "...and they stormed the city killing 10,000 that day and bashing the infants heads against rocks," so many times before you feel like the sky is falling and you must go tell the king. And in the middle ages those conquering and those being conquered changes by the minute calling for a new time of killing and infant bashing. Don't get me wrong, this book was FASCINATING and I highly recommend it but the information is overwhelming. In hind sight I wish I had jotted down on the bottom of every page the death tolls. It has to be astonishing and makes me feel very lucky to like in our current time. But at the same time it makes me realize how rare peace is (yes I know we have troops overseas but we are not currently under siege being starved to death dying by the thousands every day.) and that we should feel fortunate to have experienced it at all. This unique time of the development of Islam and Christianity in the middle ages also makes this one a must read to shed light on current events. But I suppose history always sheds light on current events and helps us to know where people are coming from in their intentions.

For the Temple by G.A. Henty. This historical fiction author is new to me but considering he wrote in the 1800's he is not really new at all. I found the story about a heroic Jewish man trying to save the temple from Roman destruction provided new insight into this time period (79AD/CE). This was not a historical figure I had heard of before but apparently is well documented. Although I do not know how historically accurate Henty's writing is. Most modern historical fiction writers will include and epilogue to let the reader know what is fact and where in the story they took liberties. Unfortunately Henty did not do this. He has written dozens of other books about historic heros from ancient times until his own modern time and every time period in between. I look forward to exploring his writing more. I did see online that he has been criticized for using racial slurs. I did not come across this in that book and I can't help but wonder if he was only writing in a politically correct way for his time period and not our own. I was surprised to find that he was considered controversial and I don't think it would be fair to judge one for not having the foresight to see what would be the political dynamic 200 years into the future. But, I am not expert and I have read only one of his works. In the future I will keep my eyes open as I read (obviously I always do this. Haha.) Oh, by the way this is another one of those where 10,000 people die on every page. Now that this book is finished I am in search of major fluff fiction!

August 29, 2012

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers. It's a light but interesting read about a group of 2nd generation Scottish settlers in America during the 1800's. Delightful.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers by Tracy Hogg. This was more for the 9-18 month old rather than an almost 3 year old. There was much about baby proofing and learning to walk which is a stage we have long passed. There were a few nuggets that I captured from this book however it would have been more beneficial if I had read it a couple of years ago (which is when someone recommended it to me! Oh, well. So much to read, so little time.)

Educating The Whole Hearted Child by Clay Clarkson. I am thankful that my friend Kathy recommended this book to me which I read cover to cover. However, it overwhelmed me! I have spent the last several weeks reading homeschooling books, curriculum, catalogues, discussion boards and websites. I was really trying to just nail down the basic nuts and bolts of homeschooling and then add in the details as we go. And this book if full of details, wonderful details. It's been helpful but shelved at this point until I catch my breath a bit and can pull it out and add more details into our homeschool life.

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Obviously I read this one once again in light of school beginning. It's funny to me how people say that classical education is overwhelming yet I came away from reading this book thinking for the first time, "I can totally do this!" Suddenly homeschooling seemed doable. Oh, well. To each his own. This just must be my style I guess.

The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel. Wow. He never disappoints in his research. This book was fascinating! He always seems to combine my favorite things; God, history, science, archeology, culture, and research. But to be honest I had never heard of many of these "cases against Christ." Now I understand so much more about where an atheist or agnostic is coming from. I know not everyone is a research nerd like me but I think you should research the faith you choose to build your life around. And if you are an atheist you are putting a lot of faith into the idea that there is no God out there when science and history prove otherwise.


Monday, September 17, 2012

How is that homeschooling thing going?

Everywhere I go this is the question I am asked lately. It's probably the most logical question one could ask at a time when I am starting my first year ever of homeschooling. This is a question I should expect to be asked and have an answer prepared. And yet, I've got nothing!

How is it going? I haven't a clue!

Let's preface this conversation with a little background information about myself. I like to be knowledgeable about what I am doing. Reading and research dominates my free time on a wide range of subjects from nutrition/health, religion, history, finances, and other more bizarre topics. Homeschooling has been no different and the stack of well-worn homeschooling how-to's, curricula, and philosophy books proves I've done my homework.

Unfortunately no amount of book knowledge replaces the value of experience and experience is what I lack. Although numerous friends homeschool I am not in there house day after day to see what it really looks like. And my personal school experiences have been outside of the home. Therefor I haven't a clue as to "how we are doing." I have no ruler on which to measure our experience by.

This is where the veterans come in and say, "It looks different at every house. You just have to find out what works for you and your family." Drats! This is similar to the advice I give my clients who initially seek nutrition counseling and ask, "Can't you just give me the written diet you give everyone else that will cure all my problems and make me healthy?" No such diet exists! Everyone's body has different needs, various past medical histories, and personal preferences. Numerous times I have told overwhelmed newbies that they will have to learn to listen to their bodies and together we will figure out the details of the diet. "You just have to find out what works for you and your family," I tell them. And now I see their frustration.

But being frustrated over a truth makes it no less true. It's easy for me as the expert to see the wisdom in my advice but the novice wants the knowledge handed over in a neat little package. The package that they are seeking is experience and it comes in neither form of neat or tidy. Nor can it come from a book.

I am the novice in this story. I've read the books, formed a plan but I still lack the experience. And in my frustration I question if I am spending too much time with my student or not enough. Are we spending too much time on curricula and not enough on Real Books? Or are we wasting our days away reading too many Real books and neglecting the curriculum? Should I be able to maintain my household chores easily? Is my two-year-old getting enough attention while I am busy with my student? What if we are done with school early in the day? Did I not plan enough work? Does this mean we are slackers? What if we are not done with school until after 3? Shouldn't homeschoolers be done with school early in the day? Am I overworking her? We are having fun but are we having too much fun and not doing enough work? Or are we not having enough fun?

Who in the world knows! But I suppose we will figure out what works for us over time. At least that's what they tell me. For now, I know who in the world knows. God knows. So although my fellow homeschoolers will not relinquish all their secrets and answer my mounting questions I know One who will show us where we need to be. My questions will go to Him. His grace is sufficient for me an my little homeschooler.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The truth is...

I heard a discussion at church the other day that there was difficulty in finding people to work our AWANA program. "People don't want to volunteer their time because they think the kids aren't really learning anything. They may memorize the verses but they don't know what they mean. And they probably don't even remember them after they walk out of our church doors. The kids only remember the verses long enough to get credit for them," it has been said. Someone even mentioned the good old days of GA's and RA's (Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors).

Brainstorming in my head turned into a stroll down memory lane to my own GA years. I didn't get all of my patches by 6th grade because I failed to memorize all those verses. My memory cannot recall all the verses I did memorize with the exception of one or two. A memory that is clear as day in my head is of me looking at the "Be-attitudes" that I was suppose to memorize and thinking, "Oh, crap." However, I don't actually remember if I got over that, "oh crap" moment and memorized them.

Was the program a failure?

Past the memories of the legalistic parts of the program my memories get a bit meatier. Camps at Mount Lebanon where older teenagers and even college students took time out of their oh-so-cool schedule to mentor us come to mind. And how about, "Love in Any Language,"? That was the theme song ONE year (not every year) of camp and to this day if one of my fellow HRBC childhood friends begin to sing the song we all chime in. I think I even remember some of the hand motions. (We actually did this at Rachel's baby shower where all of her post-childhood friends stared oddly at us.)

But deeper than "Love In Any Language," I remember missions (I just got goose bumps as I typed the word! That's an important memory right there.). Missionaries who shared their amazing stories of salvation and God's provision, their books I read over and over again, and famous missionaries we studied about but never met who had a depth of passion I could not fathom. The impact was HUGE! GA's gave me a heart for missions that has ached inside me for decades. I've begged God to call me to far off lands to do "mission work" but in recent years I am realizing that the mission field is all around me. That realization too is fed by my roots in GA's.

Bringing it back to AWANAs I can tell you that I have sat amazed and watched as High School girls have told me stories of using scripture memorized years ago in AWANAs at our local schools. Debates happen with atheists, agnostics, and kids who just don't know what they believe. And time and time again our girls have been bold enough in apologetics to back their beliefs in scripture. Sometimes it's a verse they have memorized and other times they pull their bible out of their back pack and search a bit for it. But they know it is in there.

At the age of eight we probably don't have the full understanding of bible verses but it plants a seed. And as kids experience grace, trust, mercy, bad decisions, and good ones they will begin to understand the depth of those words they memorized. This part can't be taught.

I'm not writing here to campaign for one children's program over another. I'm only trying to remind myself of the truth that our "work for the Lord is not in vain" 1 Corinthians 15:58. Many times I have wondered if I am ever making a difference in the ministries I participate in. There are days when God feeds me with people telling me I have made an eternal difference in their life but that doesn't happen every day. There are seasons when I put forth so much effort with NO FEEDBACK. Has this ministry had an impact on anyone? Is it worth it?

The truth is...we won't know this side of heaven. One can never know what is going on in someone elses heart. So we press on and stay the course (and follow all those other wise "Paul sayings) because we can rest in the truth that our work is not in vain.