Jandal Weather

We’ve been in Michigan for a week and a half now, and yesterday the rest of Mom’s family arrived for the reunion. All eight siblings, the inlaws, and all 22 grandchildren are here. It’s been a blast. It’s so good to catch up again!

Today, a lot of the younger generation swimming. It’s been a lovely warm day (hence the title!), and now it’s time to get ready for supper. I count myself really blessed!

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The Secret Slipper (Author Interview & Blog Tour)

Today, I’m stopping in again just for a bit to tell you about another book that I loved recently. I actually read The Secret Slipper quite a while ago, but thoroughly enjoyed it, and today I’m bringing the author onto the blog for a quick interview as well! But first…

Tour banner

About the Book

The Secret Slipper coverBeing a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn’t even know is searching for her?

Hello, Amanda! And welcome!

What was your first inspiration for “The Secret Slipper”?
I had finished “Befriending the Beast” (a spin-off of Beauty and the Beast) as a stand-alone when an author friend asked, “Hey, have you ever considered a father/daughter Cinderella story?” And that is exactly where the inspiration started. I prayed about it, and the Lord supplied the full story.

You’ve written quite a few short stories and novellas; which ones are your favorite and least favorite? Why?
“The Secret Slipper” is my favorite. 😉 Really. It has the most intricate plot of anything I’ve written so far. When it comes to short stories, “Coffee Cake Days” would be my favorite, just because it was so close to my heart and personal experiences. As for least favorites…that is a tough question. If I didn’t like it at least a little, I wouldn’t publish it. That being said, Journey of Choice would have been my least favorite if I published it last year. But I’m tweaking it to be better, so hopefully by the time it gets to publication, it won’t fall in that category anymore. 😉

Do you have any pets? Have these ever featured in your stories and/or affected portions of your books?
I’m not a big animal fan. I enjoy having them around and our family has several animals (chickens, German Shepherds, a Siberian Husky, rabbits, a cat). I have animals in my story and some of them have been influenced by animals I’ve hung around, but none in particular.

I know you have a fairly good-sized family. Have you ever included experiences from times with your family in your books? If so, could you please share an example?
“Coffee Cake Days” is one of the stories that most strongly includes my personal experience with my family and an important lesson I’ve learned. I also use my siblings to influence some of my characters—it is commonly assumed that “12 kids” are all alike. Oh my, how very different we are!! It helps to give some character diversity.

What is your favorite part of having the title “author”?
Honestly, my favorite is to connect with readers and other authors. It gives me a great place to form friendships with the common interest of books—and often, the common thread of salvation.

What is the most interesting response you’ve gotten when you’ve told people you write books?
Hmm…probably the assumption that I’m popular.

I’m curious: What stories are you working on right now? Could you please share a little synopsis (or maybe even a favorite quote) from your most recent work-in-progress?
My current WIP is Journey of Choice. I am still figuring out the entire synopsis as the rewrite is changing the first draft about 50%. It is the first Orphan Journeys novel about a teen, Nat, who is brought from the streets of New York against his will, taken in by a family against his will, and eventually, enlisted in the army against his will. With so much in his life that has happened against his choice, will he continue to turn his back on God or turn to Him in time of need?

About Amanda

Amanda Tero Profile PicAmanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again—starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda:
Email (amandaterobooks@gmail.com)  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Blog  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

My Review

Well, I’ve actually already reviewed this book over on the main reviews website. So here’s a portion of it, but I hope you won’t mind if I refer you there to see the full version!

When looking through the books I’ve read lately, I was surprised to see how many of them dealt with tougher issues—the Revolutionary war, identity, and growing up being some of the more recent stories. So I was happy to see a slightly “lighter” story in the mix, The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero! If I remember correctly, near the end of last year the author asked for a few beta-readers, so that is how I got to read this story. This is a fun book, one that I classified after reading as “the kind of book I dream of writing.” (Read the rest here.)

Giveaway!

The Secret Slipper Giveaway

U.S. Giveaway: Enter to win the set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper” (ENTER HERE)

International Giveaway: Enter to win the eBook set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper” (ENTER HERE)

Final Tour Stops:

May 31
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings for His glory | Spotlight, Review
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae | Spotlight, Review

June 1
Kellyn @ Reveries Reviews | Review
Victoria @ Victoria Minks Blog | Spotlight, Review
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook | Spotlight

June 2
Hanne @ RockandMinerals4Him | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Erica @ Roxbury Books Blog | Spotlight
Janell @ Views from the Window Friend | Review
Crystal @ Crystal’s Adventures for Christ | Spotlight, Review, Interview

June 3
Alexa @ Verbosity Reviews | Spotlight
Faith @ Chosen Vessels | Review
Melissa @ Clothed with Scarlet | Review, Interview, Giveaway

Thank you for following along! I know blog tour posts can get a bit tedious, but thanks for taking time to read and please check out the posts from other participants over the next few days (for a list of the previous stops on the tour, go here!). And hopefully sometime soon, I can work on normal blogging again. For some reason, though, taking a trip seems to sap a lot of brain energy even before it happens—not sure how that works. Anyway, until next time, keep serving the Lord!

All the Way My Savior Leads (Book Review & Blog Tour!)

Today, I’m participating in the blog tour for All the Way My Savior Leads, a great new story by author Faith Blum! I loved this book, and am looking forward to sharing it with you! (Find out more about the author here.)

I made a mistake last week. I had been planning to read All the Way My Savior Leads, but since I was still smack-dab in the middle of the adventures of two sisters in Suit and Suitability (a retelling of the classic Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, but set in Depression-era Ohio!), I decided to wait a bit and see if I could finish the other book first. This book was just a novella, right?…or so I thought. So when I tapped to open it in my Kindle Sunday morning, I realized differently quite quickly. Thankfully, even though this book is a novel, it’s a shorter one in the range—but I still enjoyed it immensely.

All The Way My Savior Leads Blog Tour

About the Book

Caroline and I walked out the back door and went into the barn. “What are we going to do?” Caroline asked.
“Head out on our own. Saddle Whitey, please.”
Caroline’s mouth gaped open. “They’ll find us.”
“I know.”
Caroline sighed. “What can we do then?”
I shook my head. “We can stick together. Always.”

Tragedy stole everything from him…except her…

Three years ago, an illness orphaned Henry and Caroline Sullivan. The harsh years at the orphanage have forged a strong bond between the pair.

But Henry’s about to age out.

He must choose whether to leave his only family behind in relative safety, or take her with him as he pursues dreams of owning a farm. Henry trusts that God has a plan for him, but little does he know that others have plans for him and his younger sister as well. He will need all his faith to find the right path.

Although this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Note from the author: 50% of my income from this series will go to the World Orphans organization.

My Review

All The Way My Savior Leads Book ReviewI’ve been fascinated by orphan’s stories ever since Mom recorded the Orphan’s Journey Series by Arleta Richardson onto tapes back when I was 5 or 6. I listened to those recordings so many times that I’m sure she got quite tired of hearing her voice over and over, but I loved the books—and still do, although it’s been years since I last listened to it (a great excuse to re-read an old favorite in order to review, I reckon). So I was quite delighted when I found out that this book by Faith Blum was about an orphan. (Seeing as I didn’t even know that much basic info about the story illustrates the fact that I hardly read any description about this book before I requested to review it!)

So, going into a brand new book that I hadn’t read much about was somewhat of a new experience for me right there. I had heard of author Faith Blum before, and looked at her books with the hope that one day I could read them, and I must say…even though this is the second book in the series, and I haven’t read the first book (yet; she kindly gave it to me, though, so that will be remedied soon!), this one was enough to make me want to try other books that she’s written.

I was highly impressed by the story. As far as the plotline goes, I’d consider it average; there wasn’t anything intensely exciting, adventuresome, sad, or even unpredictable about it (although I wouldn’t have predicted some of the things that happened!). In some ways, it was highly predictable—but for some reason, I enjoyed that this time around. To me, this book felt like the kind of story you’d pick up as a cozy read on a chilly winter day or a lazy Sunday afternoon—it didn’t meander pointlessly, but it didn’t just rush from one place to another, either. It had a nice, even flow—so if you’re one for adventurous reads, this probably isn’t for you.

As far as the characters, I think Hope was my favorite. She was cute, had endured a tremendous amount, and yet still dared to love where she felt free to do so. I really enjoyed little Jimmy, too—he was hilarious when he wasn’t being naughty! The main character felt pretty “perfect” (one fact that did annoy me at times), although it wasn’t overt AND it was told in first-person point of view so that is a lot more understandable.

The Christian element to the story was both fairly well-done and annoying. The title song for the book cropped up about 4-6 times, and personally I found that a bit much—almost as if the author was trying to make a point about the title of the novel. Probably not, and it did normally fit the circumstances, but after about the third time I was getting annoyed. As far as the other parts of the story, the faith is talked about at times, but usually in a very normal setting. There was one point where the gospel message was presented to a boy, and it felt somewhat long-winded, but other than that it was fine.

I laughed out loud several times while reading. Thankfully, one of the places is fairly easy to quote; I loved the way she described this:

Tommy, Edward, and Jeremiah spun around, and I think I saw at least one jaw bounce off the floor.

In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It wasn’t super-exciting, but it pulled me in this afternoon (so much so that when I needed to do a job for Mom I had to repeat the instructions about three times to be sure I got it!), and to me that’s a big win there. I also don’t remember noticing any typos or other errors—which is a big pet peeve of mine toward self-published authors! In all, if you’re looking for a cozy, not-too-long historical fiction, this might be a good fit for you.

Thanks, Miss Blum, for giving me a copy of this book to review!

Other Notes

For May 26-31 only, get both books in the Orphans of the West series for just $0.99 each! They are both available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and more. Buy now: Savior, Like a Shepherd and All the Way My Savior Leads

There’s a giveaway! Go here to enter and also see links to the other blogs participating in this tour. 🙂

Remaining tour stops:

May 30
Frances Hoelsma—Book Spotlight

May 31
Rachel Rossano’s Words—Guest Post: How I Pick Hymns
Written Rest—Review

June 1
Bookish Orchestrations—Giveaway Winner

When You Can Sing Again

Last Wednesday, nearly a week ago, we were invited to the home of a local friend for an impromptu singing. If you happen to know our family in real life, you’ve probably found out that we love to sing—so it wasn’t likely that we would be missing this chance! It was a lovely evening of praise to our Lord and Maker, and I think we all came away feeling refreshed. One song we sang that night, though, touched the deep chords of my heart.

It is the last song I remember singing with Seth.

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We had been at a concert put on by all the families of our homeschool group, and as our family has done for the past 5-7 concerts we’ve attended, we sang a couple songs together and shared a short poem. The songs and poem all spoke of loss, but beyond that—of hope after loss. I had invited a dear friend of ours, a recent widow, to the concert, hoping that our words—however trite they might come across—would be encouraging and helpful to her in her grief.

I had no idea then that the very words which I was hoping would be an encouragement to her would become a lifeline of a memory, a grounding pillar to me, exactly a week and a half later.

It’s bittersweet to look back on now, knowing that my last memories of singing with him were singing together about the Lord’s healing and help in the middle of struggles we don’t understand. It was—is—powerful to think on.

After the funeral, when life is supposed to return to normal, I remember noticing my singing had stopped. Dried up. Daily chores that had often found me humming favorite melodies were now unusually silent. My heart was just too heavy—overwhelmed—to attempt to even consider finding something.

During those days, I could only cling to the Lord and my family. Together, we discussed our fears, shared our pain, and prayed…a lot. All we had then were God’s promises to cling to, and they became enough. Every time whys surfaced, every time the grief got too hard to bear, He was there to bear it. He took it. And I could sleep each night in peace, knowing that the Lord was there with us in the mess.

Then, one day a week or two later, I caught myself singing again. It’s then I knew I could hope. If that part of me could come back, a new normal could follow.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, what trials are burdening your heart and bringing pain-filled tears to your eyes. But dear friend, may I encourage you to look up? Even if your heart and throat cannot express yourself the way you’ve always known, do know that the Comforter is right there for you. He loves you. You! You might not feel able to grasp that right now, but that’s okay. Cling onto one more day, one more moment. The One who created the universe knows what you’re going through, and He does care.

That song that we sang last Wednesday, the one we sang as a family? I’m thankful I can still sing it today. And it’s become even more precious than it was back then. Here’s our family’s version of it—admittedly not that great, but that’s okay too.

Blessings on your day, friend!

Have you ever been in a place where you just couldn’t sing? How did the Lord help you out of that?

When Real Life Hurts

I never thought, that morning in early October 2016, how quickly my life could be tossed into a tailspin. I had no clue then how much pain and loss can be crammed into a few minutes—a few seconds—in a day. I also had no clue as to how much the Lord’s presence could be felt even when you’re facing your worst nightmare.

Raindrops on flowers

I had no idea. And in many, many ways, I’m glad I didn’t. But as I’ve thought back on the day my oldest brother committed suicide, I’m often struck not with the ugliness and agony of that day (although that was most definitely there), but more with the love—the love that can only come from Jesus—that flowed to, over, and around us in that time.

It still makes me want to cry when I think about it. His love is beyond explanation.

I didn’t—don’t—want to write about this detail in our family’s history. It’s ugly. It’s awful. But at the same time, as month after month slides by, I’m coming to realize that not talking about a thing (surprise!) doesn’t make it just disappear. This is what happened. And as I’ve been pondering and praying about what to blog about, this is the detail that I keep coming back to:

God is good, even when life is a horrific mess.

Just recently, I was reminded of those beautiful verses in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 that go like this:

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

God’s comfort toward us was shown in a very mighty way over the months following my brother’s death. While I don’t want to “glorify” his death in any way, or “rub it in your face”, so to speak, I do think I’m going to talk about it sometimes from here on out. Because I know this is something—as ugly as it is—that I have learned a lot from, and if my experiences can be helpful to just one person, if these painful moments can help to comfort you in what you’re going through, I’ll count my time more than worthwhile.

I don’t know a lot. But I do know one thing: God is good. And I’d like to share just a little of that with you over the next while.

Have you been through some tough stuff in your life? Did you experience the Lord’s nearness in that? What did He teach you in that time?

Fearless and Full of Faith

A month or so ago, I was memorizing the last of a memory verses list that I had created a year or more previously. I came to Daniel 3:17-18, and as I began working on the passage I was struck with the beauty in it.

Imagine the scene:

Court retainers line the smooth walls of the throne room, their eyes keenly intent on the three young men standing before the great king Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, conqueror of much of the known world. The king’s eyes flash as he stares down each unrepentant man by turn, his voice a low rumble of angry thunder as he bends toward them. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that you do not serve my gods, or worship the golden image that I have set up?”

The young men don’t waver for a second. Not once does their gaze shift to each other, and yet they remain silent. Waiting. The court tenses, each man knowing the fate of these foolish leaders if they don’t follow the king’s command.

“I will give you one more chance,” Nebuchadnezzar continues, his voice growing harsher with each word, “to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will immediately be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.” He pauses for a second, his gaze shifting from one uplifted face to the next. His final words cut through the room, a defiant challenge to those listening. “What god can save you from my power then?”

The throne room is silent. The king still leans forward, his threatening, keen gaze on the three men—administrators of the province of Babylon—standing before him.

Slowly, one sandaled foot raises and settles without a sound, another follows. A young man looks down at the tiles below his feet for a moment, takes a deep breath, and as he raises his eyes to meet those of the king, his shoulders draw back—not in pride, but in power.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.”

The court gasps at his boldness, their attention riveted on the young speaker standing just one pace beyond his fellows. Many glance at the unmoving face of the king, then back to the firm yet hopeful countenance of the bright-eyed youth as he continues, “But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

An explosion of furious words blasts through the air, shattering the breathless silence.

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This statement…it’s powerful.

I don’t think I’d ever considered faith in the light I saw it in that morning while reviewing memory verses. These three young men—dear friends of Daniel—had complete trust in God.

I’m sure, as they stood there meeting the gaze of this king who could order their death at any moment, that there was some unease in their hearts. Any human facing death is bound to have a little (or maybe not, maybe I’ve always assumed that that’s a fact of life?). But they had such faith in the Lord that they weren’t overly concerned about it. They didn’t even mention death in their reply to the king! Their strength came from the Lord, and they knew it—and weren’t overly worried about other people knowing about it either.

This is true fearless faith.

Unswerving, unbending trust in the LORD, the Creator of the world and the Upholder of all things…including their lives.

As I was mulling over this beautiful fearless faith, I had to think of some of the other Bible stories that have to do with faith. Not too much later after memorizing these verses, my brothers and I listened to a dramatized audio version of David and Goliath from Your Story Hour. (By the way, I love how Your Story Hour shares Biblical stories! As a child, I often was quite bored with the same stories over and over, but they have a way of presenting them in a whole new light—I highly recommend looking into them if you want a fresh perspective for you or your children!)

Consider 1 Samuel 17:45-47:

“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”

Notice all the confident verbs (I think that’s what they are…correct me if I’m wrong!) in the passage. Again, David had no doubt that God would deliver Goliath into his hand; it was just a matter of going out and conquering him, which he saw as no challenge.

And of course there are plenty of other examples in the Bible too:

  • Abraham and Isaac (“God will provide Himself a lamb” Gen. 22:8)
  • Caleb (“give me this mountain” Josh 14:12)
  • Jonathan and his armor bearer (“there is no restraint to the Lord” 1 Sam. 14:6)
  • Jehoshaphat (“our eyes are upon thee” 2 Chron. 32:7)
  • Ezra (“The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him” Ezra 9:22)
  • Job (“I know that my redeemer liveth” Job 19:25)
  • Paul in the shipwreck (“I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” Acts 27:25)

I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that I’ve remembered or been referenced to in my study.

I looked this subject up in my Thompson Chain-Reference, and the label they gave was “victorious faith”. That’s what these people had—victorious, fearless faith. Wow.

So I ask myself this evening: Do I have this unwavering, unrelenting faith in God?

Could I stand firm, even if I knew I faced certain death, and proclaim boldly that God is who He says He is and He will do what is best—whether to glorify Himself in taking me home to glory, or perform a miracle? That’s a tough call! I hope I can say yes, but I don’t know. Sometimes my faith seems to be quite weak!

How about you? Do you have this kind of faith? What would you do in a situation like the three young men were facing? Do you know of any other Biblical stories that would fit on this list? Has anything special popped out to you in your memorization time lately?

Fog

This morning was one of those gorgeous mornings where the fog laid thin skeins of white around the tops of trees and houses, softening tones and exuding an aura of tranquility. I remember about a year ago, two years into the drought, how I stepped outside early one chilly morning and was surprised to feel moisture on my face. It was fog! It caught me by surprise, because we rarely got moisture of any kind in the air, but feeling the slight dampness was quite refreshing.

Now, three years after the drought began, I’m thankful to say that we’ve had rain this past month—several inches, quite a bit more than what we’ve gotten the last years combined! I’m optimistically hopeful that the drought has broken, but we’ll see. For now, I’m thankful for every drop of either rain or sunshine that we receive.

Fog

Have you ever noticed on foggy mornings that you can see things you don’t normally see? It seems strange—because, after all, the fog is hiding a lot of things from view, but it’s true. One thing I’ve noticed lately are spider webs. I run into them on a very frequent basis, but often can’t see them. When they’re studded with thousands of little gems, though, sparkling beautifully especially when the sun is just peeking through the clouds, they’re absolutely gorgeous. Spiders are living out a beautiful example of following our Creator’s plan and using the gifts they have. In doing so they not only bring glory to Him by following the guidelines He gave them in making intricate works of “art”, if you will (something that even man has to marvel at!), but also create very useful food-catching homes.

Amazing, isn’t it, how complex the Lord has made our world?

Rose

This morning as I was taking off for work, I noticed the flowers on the faithful old rose bush out by our gate. They wore a few dew-drops too, and served to be another pretty reminder to me to bloom right where I’m planted. I might not be big, or important, or have a whole lot of knowledge—but I can be the best me possible and serve the Lord with everything I’ve got right here and now, and in that way glorify Him. Just like the spider. Or the rose.

And speaking of which—I need to go help my brothers shuck corn. Guess “blooming where I’m planted” involves being faithful in the needed everyday work too! 🙂

What has your daily life taught you lately?

Our Purim Meal

Does your family celebrate any particular Jewish holidays? For the most part, our family have not celebrated any of them (aside from, perhaps, a commemorative meal at Passover time with other church friends or something like that). However, several years ago I made a Purim meal as a school assignment. I enjoyed the experience, although one memorable thing from that day was Mom’s mention of me having “too many pans on the fire”—a first for that particular expression for me!

Challah Bread

Either later that year or the next year, we celebrated Hanukkah together as a family for the first time. Again, it wasn’t anything fancy—basically just lighting the candles was the extent to which our “celebrating” went. But it was fun to remember the story and know that around the world there were other people commemorating the several-thousand-year-old holiday along with us.

This year, I marked on the calendar when Purim was going to be, more out of interest than anything else. When I saw last week, then, that it would fall on the next Sunday, I thought it would be fun to do a little something for the occasion. Monday became our day to celebrate, since I had the entire day free. It was fun to dig up the recipes I used four years ago, and put them to use again! I think I was a bit more organized this time, although we did end up eating a little late and I didn’t get the kreplach done. Oh well. It was a fun evening anyway, and having slightly different food for a change was also quite enjoyable!

Challah bread

Our menu for the night:

  1. Challah Bread (a traditional Jewish braided bread glazed with egg and I added some poppy seeds; a favorite around here. I’ve made it several times and it always disappears quickly!)
  2. Chickpea and Noodle Soup with Persian Herbs (should have put more salt and pepper in it—but it turned out delicious anyway)
  3. Roast Turkey
  4. Tomato and Onion Toss with Herbs (our family’s variant on a recipe I found online)
  5. Hamentashen (a triangular cookie with filling in the middle; I used apple butter and plum jam)

Tomato and Onion Toss with Herbs

One neat thing that coincided beautifully with Purim is that as a family, we finished reading the book of Esther just a day or two the holiday. What are the chances of that happening? But it did, and having gone step-by-step through the story together, this meal had a lot more meaning to us (well, to me at least!) as I thought of the beautiful story of courage and faith behind it. Only God could bring all that together!

Chickpea and Noodle Soup with Persian Herbs

Roast Turkey

Hamentashen

I’m not sure which was my favorite part of the meal to make—it would probably be either the Challah bread or the Hamentashen. I loved playing with the dough when braiding it for the Challah (and would like to try doing a five-strand braid next time!). I also loved shaping the Hamentashen. And one thing I learned—you can’t squish the corners of the Hamentashen too much. As you can see in the above picture, they come apart some in baking. Even if they might not be perfect, they did taste good!

Have you ever celebrated Purim or any other Jewish holiday? If you did, what kinds of food did you have with it? If not, do you plan to try it sometime—even if just for the experience?

Task Management and Bullet Journaling

One thing I’ve been working on lately is figuring out how to best manage my to-do list. I often have a lot of different projects going all at once, and along with that often a lot of little tasks. Keeping track of everything—and knowing what to do when—is something I definitely haven’t gotten down to a fine art yet.

Daily log

Sometimes, I have to wonder if a lot of the struggle is mostly found in the fact that I’m in an in-between stage—not a child anymore, not really a young teenager anymore, almost an adult but not really that, either. As I’ve put it to some of my friends before, “Adulting it is hard.” Sigh. (And yes, all of you people with many years and much more experience than me, feel free to chime in with any advice you may have!)

What I’ve been doing lately as far as task management is collect everything in Todoist, then work through it each day as I can. I love Todoist because I can paste in multiple jobs at once, and if I type them up right, the inline parsing setting will automatically assign dates and priority levels (1-4) to the different tasks. It’s slick, easy, and remembers the stuff I need to remember.

Often through the days, though, working with Todoist involves transferring jobs to my “daily log” notebook—a fun gift from my aunt!—which I love, because seeing something written down and completed on paper is just that much more satisfying. It’s also helpful in the fact that if I want to find out when I last did something in particular, it isn’t hard to skim back through my previous entries.

Daily log

However, this means that in effect I have two systems running at once. While it works, I would like to figure out how to do this faster—or eliminate one or the other to make things go smoother.

Lately, I’ve come across a system called bullet journaling. And although I haven’t looked into it much, I do know a lot of productivity gurus out there use it. However, I’m not sure the time spent (at least at this stage) would be worthwhile to figure out how to do it. One thing I have discovered, much to my surprise, is how much of a “thing” this is! Search “bullet journal” on Pinterest, and you’ll find pages and pages of pins. Look on Youtube, and it’s easy to find 10 – 30 minute videos.

So while I’m curious about how some people do it, at this stage I’m choosing to use what I have. I wonder if Paul’s admonition to be “content in all things” would apply here?

What do you use for keeping track of tasks? How do you streamline things so you get things done rather than always trying to make the process work better for you? Have you ever heard of bullet journaling before—and if you have, do you have any experience with it?

Snippets of My Life

“It needs to be something profound,” my brain argued. “If I can’t make a good contribution to someone’s life, then it isn’t worthwhile.”

“But you haven’t posted in weeks,” my more logical side contended. “Not posting at all is just as bad—if not worse—than posting something that may or may not be encouraging.”

Chocolate
I made some dark chocolate yesterday from cocao butter, cocoa powder, a bit of salt, stevia, and vanilla essence. It’s turned out delicious!

Sigh. The struggle is real, folks. But today, I thought I’d drop in and say hello and give a quick update on life. Outside, one of my brothers along with a few other helpers are currently scraping paint off the side of my sleep out in preparation for painting. This guy…he’s dedicated. I’m thankful. That job is one that I’ve wanted to do for years, but never taken the time for (partly because I knew it was going to be a huge job, and partly because I can’t stand painting). But he’s getting it done! Two walls are already completed, so there’s only two left to do. Definitely a blessing there!

We’ve had a family living with us for over a month now. That’s been an incredible blessing, giving us a lot more fellowship than we’ve had in a good long while. They’re currently waiting for their visas to come through so they can find a job and live here on more of a permanent basis, but for now we’re just appreciating the fact that God has brought them into our lives.

This morning I worked on uploading more books. I always try to stay at least a little ahead, but this week caught up with me and Tuesday didn’t have a review. I made up for that yesterday, and have now completed the project.

Uploading Reviews

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I’m planning to do a bit more promotion work for a book that launched last Saturday—the first in a collection of Jane Austen re-writes! This one was a retelling of Emma. That’s one of the books that I haven’t read, but would love to sometime. Jane Eyre is at the top of my classics list right now, though—I loved that story, and am hoping to reread it since it was so good. Maybe Emma can be next? Here’s a quote from the book, Emmeline, that I really loved:

Emmeline Quote

Such encouraging words. Yes, as I’ve discovered and rediscovered lately, prayer can be the most essential thing a person can have in their life.

I’ve been working on making Bible memory work a more consistent thing in my life lately. I’ve always done some, but I’d really like to make it an everyday occurrence. Lately, I’ve just been finishing up Luke 12:22–31. What a convicting passage! Usually, I don’t worry too much about clothing or food (another way I count myself incredibly blessed—or else cursed, if the comfort of that materialism has taken my focus away from the Lord), but I do tend to worry about other things. Reading through this passage lately has reminded me again of how much my worries are no big deal to the Lord. Simple or hard, ALL things are possible through Him, and I can trust that He has and will accomplish His bigger plan in my life. I just need to take it to Him.

“And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” —Luke 12:25–28, emphasis mine

I especially find the part about “doing that thing which is least” annoying—of course I can’t grow a foot taller just by thinking about it! Jesus calls this a “least” thing, though, so only imagine what could be done with our Father watching out for us. Wow. My faith appears pretty small when I think of things that way.

What’s kept you busy these last few weeks? What has the Lord been teaching you lately?