Monday, November 10, 2014

Taking a Break

I'm sure that you've noticed that I haven't been posting much on my blog lately, and I'm sorry for that.  I want to blog more, but I just don't have the time...because there are other things I need to do or that I would rather do.  Things such as spending time with my children or even doing a little knitting or reading.  My other problem with blogging right now is that I just don't have much to say, and I'm sure you've noticed that, too.

So I'm going to take a break from blogging.  I will still be around reading blogs and commenting as I have been, but I'm not going to force myself to post anything new.  There will be posts occasionally, since I have a couple of books to review and some other things about which I would like to post.  But I'm feeling a mite overwhelmed right now, and something needs to give, and that something is blogging.

I hope you understand.  I'm sure that most of my readers do.  I hope to be back more regularly in the new year, but I'm not making any promises.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin

Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin contains many beautiful knit designs which the author uses to teach new skills to readers.  The book is divided into five chapters, and each chapter tackles a new technique with increasingly more difficult patterns to knit as each chapter progresses.  From knitting with lace weight yarn to knitting with beads, there are many new, inventive, and fun designs in this book.

I enjoyed reading this book and learning about knitting skills that I don't have.  I appreciated how each chapter started with simple, relatively easy patterns and progressed to more difficult ones so the reader can practice her new skills.  Many of the patterns in this book are beautiful, but I have to admit that I don't expect to knit any of them any time soon.  Nelkin's style is so different from my own.  But there are a couple of patterns that I will keep in the back of my mind because I do think they might be nice to try one day.  

If you're looking for new knitting techniques to try, you should take a look at this book!

I want to thank Blogging for Books for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October Review of Goals

October was a busy month with my mother being here for a visit, but that was a good thing!  We enjoyed having her even if it took a couple of days to recover after she left.  ;)  She's always going and going, and we're not used to that.

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I didn't read anything from my book list, but I did read a few other books.
  • Continue walking on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  I fell off the treadmill, so to speak.  (Not literally!)
  • Look for a job.  I had a phone interview with Target, and the district manager said that I would hear from the store manager...but I haven't yet.  
  • Go through every room in the house, one a month, to clean out unwanted and unneeded items.  I'm sick of the clutter!   We took every, single thing out of Sarah Beth's and Rachel's room so we could paint, and then put it all back in.  Surely that counts?  ;)
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Done!
Goals as a Mother:
  • Do something (like a playdate) with someone (and her children) once a month, whether it's having someone over for lunch, going to someone else's house, or heading out for a field trip together.  We met some friends at the zoo.
  • Continue having one fun day in school a month.  I didn't even think about this.
  • Continue taking my children on one field trip a month.  We visited the Houston Space Center and Dewberry Farm, along with the zoo which I've already mentioned.
  • Do a service project with my children every month.  Fail.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house, like mopping and folding clothes.  What a great way to build their self-esteem.   I haven't been as consistent at this as I should have been.  
Goals as a Wife:
  • Continue monthly date nights for John and me.  It didn't work out this month.
  • Do something weekly to make John feel special.  (I got this goal from Tracey at Girls to Grow.)  I keep forgetting.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  We had friends over.
  • Start having Game Night once a month.  Fail.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  It's been a hard month for this, too.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Monday, November 3, 2014

October Reading

I haven't had much time this month for serious reading, at least that's my excuse for not reading anything from my reading list.  I have had some time for novels and such, and I've read some good ones this month, but I need to buckle down or I won't finish my reading list for this year.  Here's what I read in October:
  • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin.  A wonderful, Biblically-accurate retelling of the prophet Ezra's return to Jerusalem.  You can read my full review here.
  • The MiniFarming Guide to Composting by Brett L. Markham.  I skimmed this book; I wasn't real interested in reading a whole lot about composting, but I was a little interested.
  • North!  Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson.  The second in the Wingfeather Saga, I listened to the first one on the way to the beach this summer.  It continues the story of the two princes and a princess who had to flee their home when it was overrun by the Fangs of Dang.  In this book, they make the hazardous journey up North where they hope they will be safe.  This series seems great for young adult boys (and girls), and I can't wait to introduce my children to it when they're older.
  • A Light in the Window by Jan Karon.  I started rereading this series about Father Tim a month or so ago, and this is the second in the series.  If you haven't read any of it, you should!
  • These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon.  This book is the third in the Father Tim series.
What have you read lately?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Reformation Day!!

This post was originally published October 31, 2012.

Today we celebrate Reformation Day, the day the Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg.  On Sunday when we celebrated Reformation Sunday, there was a short explanation in the bulletin of exactly what the Reformation is.  I hope my church doesn't mind if I post it here.
On October 31, 1517, a German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his theological convictions (The 95 Theses) to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg.  Luther's intent was to foster debate and reform regarding the church's practices, so that they might align with the principles of Scripture.  This act helped spark a revival in the Church and a reformation in Western culture.  This movement became known as the Protestant Reformation. 
The spiritual heritage of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches is traced back to this era.  On the Sunday prior to this anniversary we celebrate Reformation Sunday.  Today Reformed Churches and Christians seek to follow the five mottos of the Reformation:  1) Sola Scriptura -- Scripture Alone, 2) Solo Christo -- Christ Alone, 3) Sola Gratia -- Grace Alone, 4)  Sola Fide -- Faith Alone, 5) Soli Deo Gloria -- Glory to God Alone.
We heard a sermon on the five Solas, and it was a wonderful reminder.  In case you enjoy these types of reminders like I do, I thought I would expound a little bit on these battle cries of the Reformation with some help from the notes I took from the sermon.
  • Sola Scriptura -- Scripture Alone.  The Bible alone is the final and absolute source of knowledge about God, our sinful condition, and how those two things can be reconciled.  We take for granted the fact that we have the Bible in our own language, but men died in order to procure that for us.  (John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale)
  • Solo Christo -- Christ Alone.  Our salvation is of Christ, and Christ alone.  As John 14:6 says, Jesus is the only way to God.  
  • Sola Gratia -- Grace Alone.  We are saved by Christ alone through grace alone.  Just as we had no choice in being born to our earthly parents, we had no choice in being adopted into God's family.  According to Ephesians 2:5, while we were dead in our sins, God made us alive.
  • Sola Fide -- Faith Alone.  We are saved by Christ alone through grace alone by faith alone.  That's all there is to it.  Such a simple idea and yet so hard to grasp.
  • Soli Deo Gloria -- Glory to God Alone.  Why did the reformers endure so much?  Why were they willing to die for these beliefs?  To bring glory to God and only to God.
Do you celebrate Reformation Day?  How so?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Wonderful Visit with My Mother

I'm sorry that I haven't been around my blog much recently, and when I finally did sit down to write something, it was all book reviews.  But my mother has been visiting, and honestly, I wanted to spend the time with her instead of writing blog posts.  But I had all of those books that I needed to write reviews for, and I wanted to get them out of the way.  (I still have one left, but it can wait until next week.)

While my mother was here, we got so much done.  She worked me hard, but it was worth it to get some things done that needed to be done.  My mother loves to be busy all day long; me...not so much. ;)  We also had a wonderful time.  Since we homeschool, my children were able to spend all day long with her, and we really enjoyed it.

So this week I'm thankful for many things:
  • my mother who flies out to visit us regularly
  • her honesty:  she told me that we had to paint the girls' room because she couldn't sleep in it any longer since the color was so dark
  • how much time she spent with me and with my children
  • all of the work she did while we painted, getting ready and cleaning up
  • the fun we all had while she was here
  • how well she gets along with my husband
  • my father who lets her visit us so often
My mother left yesterday after a nice, long visit, so I look forward to getting back into our routine today.  

For what are you thankful this week?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

This sequel to Return to Me in which the first group of Jews return to Jerusalem after being scattered throughout the Babylonian empire, takes place when the second group return under King Xerxes.  Ezra sees many Jews giving up their heritage and adopting pagan ways, and he especially does not want that for his children.  He wants them to grow up in Jerusalem, segregated from unwanted, God-hating people, so he takes this request to the king who grants it.  When they resettle in Jerusalem, however, Ezra's troubles are not over as he has to deal with lax attitudes and practices of the earlier settlers.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first one in the series.  Austin seems always to have some moral woven throughout her novels, and this book deals with balancing God's law and His justice.  Ezra has to explore both as he deals with the situations that come up in his life.  Austin, also, touches on how God uses suffering to further His goals and bring glory to Himself.  Learning these important concepts is necessary, but having them woven through a novel such as this one really brings the lessons home.

I haven't read a book by Lynn Austin that I wouldn't recommend highly, and this one is no different!

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.