The Texting Book Story – A Guest Post

When I signed up to review Where Dandelions Grow, I also had the option of Lydia guest posting on my blog. Today, I’m excited to share with you a part of the backstory for the book—who the real people are. This was something I was curious about, as I saw a mention of this “texting book” in the story, so I’m interested to hear a little more about how this story came about today!

Welcome, Lydia!

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Only the bestest of cousins could inspire a story like Where Dandelion Grow, and my cousins happen to be the inspiration.

Alexa and Aubrey are close in age to my sister, Helena, and I, and we did everything together. Right after I turned eighteen, Helena and I got an opportunity to go help some missionaries in South America—only we’d be leaving in two weeks and we’d be gone for two months, including missing out on the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Texting Book Story

The town where Lydia and Helena stayed.

When we told Alexa and Aubrey they rearranged their schedule so they could come and spend a couple days with us before we left. We lived out in the country and their cell phones didn’t work out at our place. All throughout the visit, the girls kept scribbling stuff in a notebook that they were carrying around. When Helena and I asked about it, they told us it was their “texting book” and since they couldn’t text from our place they were just jotting down all the texts they wanted to send, so they could do it later when they had service.

We obviously knew they were joking, but it wasn’t until later that we found out what the book was really for. They’d written us a note for each and every day that we were going to be gone. That way, whenever we felt homesick, we could just open the book and read a delightful memory, joke, story, or piece of encouragement from them.

That was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. I read and re-read the book many times while being gone—especially on the holidays when I was missing home the most. The book helped keep homesickness at bay and made me feel loved. Each time I read the “texting book” it was like getting a hug from my cousins. I still keep that book tucked away in a special place and pull it out from time to time.

At the end of Where Dandelions Grow I’ve included some of the special entries Alexa and Aubrey put into the “Texting Book.” I’ll forever be thankful they took the time to do that, and in a way, inspired Where Dandelions Grow through their kindness.

Lydia's Author PictureAbout the Author:

Lydia Howe (aka Aidyl Ewoh) is a twenty-something adventurous author who is partial to hiking in the mountains of Asia and South America, building life-size models of dinosaurs, taking road trips across Europe, visiting friends in Africa, growing up in a barn and everything in-between. She currently works in a coffee shop during the day and concocts stories by night. Find her online at her blogYoutubeFacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Google+.

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Read my review of Where Dandelions Grow here.

Where Dandelions Grow: My Review

It’s one of those brilliant blue spring days outside. My brothers are mowing—I hadn’t realized how long the grass had grown in the last couple weeks since the last mowing! The mound of clippings beside the greenhouse is pretty tall now.

The spring daffodils are pretty much done now, and the apple trees are in full bloom. They’re the last of the fruit trees to bloom, if I remember right. The dandelions are also just starting to bloom. Another week or so, and there will be hundreds of them all over the yard and down the roadsides. So pretty!

Mowing

And speaking of dandelions, I’m excited to share with you a new book I’ve had the privilege of reading recently: Where Dandelions Grow! It’s written by one of my favorite bloggers, Lydia Howe, and it released today!

Note: Some of the links today may be affiliate links. Your purchase through these links will not cost you any extra, but will help keep this blog going.

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up the story for the first time, but I knew I really appreciated what the author blogged about, and I had great hopes for a good book. I wasn’t disappointed. This book blew me away in some aspects, and overall, I loved the story.

Where Dandelions Grow by Lydia HoweDestiny isn’t quite sure what to expect when she decides to go against her mom’s wishes and go back to her roots—back to Swallow Ridge, where she was born. And had lived, until she was ten, when for some inexplicable reason the family up and moved away. She didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to her three best friends—her cousins. Now, she’s heading back, hoping against hope to be able to track her family down and find answers to the questions she’s been silently asking all these years. She’d also really like to prove that for once her mom is wrong: That she can write a book, and that she can do it well. Will her move prove fruitless in the end? Will she ever be able to figure out what happened so many years ago—and even if she can, is there any way she or her cousins can help to bring healing to their fractured relationships? And how is she even supposed to start looking, when all she knows are first names?

I loved the fact that while this is a young adult novel, it didn’t have the stereotypical triangle of love interests—or any romance in it at all, for that matter. That fact both shocked and delighted me, not because I don’t like romance, but not having it in the story (especially since in this case it wasn’t needed) was a refreshing change. The story also wasn’t fantastical fiction (is there such a thing? the characters certainly didn’t attempt to do things that under normal conditions would be impossible), rather, it felt fairly believable and the characters were delightfully relatable. I read the book in close to one sitting, and thoroughly enjoyed the pacing—it wasn’t too fast, but fast enough to keep me interested. In all, if you’re looking for a clean book—not necessarily hold-onto-your-seat fiction, but gripping enough to keep going—with a good theme, I’d recommend checking out Where Dandelions Grow.

Note: I received this book for free from the author, in exchange for my honest review.

Now for a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

Where Dandelions Grow Quote 01

Where Dandelions Grow Quote 02

There’s a giveaway going—enter here!

And join in the fun over at Lydia’s blog here.

(Psst…Where Dandelions Grow is still $.99 as of this writing right now. I’m not sure what the “normal” price will be, but I believe it will be going up after a while.)

Top Ten Books on My To-Read List

A week or two ago, I set about trying to make a list of all the books I’ve been given for review or borrowed over the past four months. I was prepared for a decent-sized list, but I admit I did have to gulp a little when I saw the full extent of it. I’m a little more behind than I thought. However, since making this list, I can see progress! My hope is that by November, I’ll be mostly through this stack. There are thirty-two books altogether there so far, with fourteen of them being physical copies and the other eighteen being ebooks, mostly “e-review” copies, which means most of them were given to me in exchange for my honest review (and, obviously, the authors hope that I’ll get it done in good time!).

Top 10 To-Reads

My want-to-read list, however, isn’t just contained on this page. If I would write out all of those, I’d easily have somewhere between 1 and 500 books written down!

However, the top ten books I’m looking forward to reading over the next couple months are as follows:

Note: Some links are affiliate links. Your purchases through these links will not cost you any more, but will help support this site—thank you!

#1. Love Lifted Me by MarJanita Geigley. Borrowed from my aunt’s shelf, this is a story of two people from tough pasts finding the Lord. I love salvation stories, and I think I’ll love this!

#2. Savior, Like a Shepherd by Faith Blum. I read the sequel, All the Way My Savior Leads, and participated in the blog tour back in May. When I was sent the latter book, Faith kindly included Savior as well, and I can’t wait to read it. I really enjoyed All the Way!

#3. Such a Tease by Chautona Havig. I read the prequel to this story, Sweet on You, back when it was released—and got this one to read and review at this one’s release, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Seeing as it’s written by one of my favorite authors, and I loved Sweet on You, I can’t wait to read this as well!

#4 and #5. None So Blind and Will Not See by Chautona Havig. I’ve been eyeing the first book in the Sight Unseen series for months now, and just this last month the second book was released! Which is so exciting, but now I’ve got two stories to read instead of one (yay!). Next time I’m ready to lose my afternoon to reading, I’m planning on picking one of these up.

#6. The Last Jew of Rotterdam by Ernest Cassutto. World War II story? Jews? Hope in the midst of despair? Yes, please! Another book borrowed from my aunt, I can’t wait to dive into it!

#7. They’re Rugby Boys, Don’t You Know? by Natalie Vellacott. I’ve been following this author’s blog for a while, and wanting to read her books, and I was absolutely delighted when she contacted me one day after I added several to my Goodreads want-to-read list, asking if I’d like to read them. What? YES, PLEASE! Can’t wait to pick these up!

#8. Dreams and Devotion by Sarah Holman. Although this hasn’t been my most favorite series by Holman, I do enjoy getting to read her books, which are generally very clean and family-friendly. According to my brother, who happened to read this before me this time, it’s very good.

#9. Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. I’m really wanting to improve my writing, especially in the plotting/outlining area. To that end, I’ve started reading this book, and also bought the workbook to go along with it. Although I’ve only made it part-way through the second chapter so far, it’s excellent!

#10. The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Content Creation by Karen Banes. I’m always looking for ways to better my knowledge of writing, online basics, etc., and I’ve sort-of followed along with Karen Banes for quite a while. I can’t say I’ve learned a lot from her (yet!), but I’m looking forward to what I can learn from this book!

And a bonus: #11. Where Dandelions Grow by Lydia Howe. Okay; I admit—I just finished reading this book Monday. But before that, it was at the top of my list. This book was so good. A young adult book without a romantic element, a family story without being too ridiculous or tedious, and a Christian story with a fairly good Christian element without feeling preachy or too “fluffy”—one character, especially, was excellent this way. Overall, I loved it. Can’t wait to share my thoughts about it at the end of the month when the book releases!

Although it’s hard to choose what my top books are, these are the ones that I believe I’m most looking forward to at the moment. Five fiction, three biographies or biographical-type books, and two non-fictions. The non-fiction titles will probably be the hardest for me to get through, but I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn from them. And if I mix them up with the other books, it’ll definitely be doable!

What books are on your to-read list right now?

Ante Up!: A New Book by Chautona Havig!

About two months ago, Christian author Chautona Havig released an interesting mystery named Sweet on You. Now, not too much later, she’s completed another book named Ante Up!. This one is the fourth in a series called the Aggie’s Inheritance series, about a young woman who inherited her eight nieces and nephews after her sister and brother-in-law died in a tragic accident.

I’m reviewing the story today, but a more in-depth review will be posted on the website on Friday, so keep an eye out for that in this week’s newsletter!

Ante Up! by Chautona Havig

This is another great story by Chautona Havig! I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while, so it was great to finally be able to read it now. Aggie’s family is growing in this story; it’s been four years since the last book and now besides her eight nieces and nephews she’s preparing to welcome her second baby! However, things aren’t exactly going as planned. After dealing with vandalism soon after returning from a trip, there are new complications in the pregnancy. Can she keep her faith, despite the apparent setbacks? Vannie and Laird are getting older too, and have struggles of their own to navigate. Can the family hold together—and Aggie keep her eyes on the Lord—during this difficult time?

This was a challenging book for me to read. Seeing Aggie go from a happy, content Christian to an angry, empty shell wasn’t easy. Thankfully, there IS hope even when all odds seem against you, and Mrs. Havig did an excellent job bringing that out. (I was really relieved when Aggie finally realized the aforementioned truth—the ending was satisfying, although I want more!) I was captivated the entire way through, even though the overarching theme is such a difficult subject. I came away feeling very encouraged. Can’t wait for the next book!

Note: This book does contain a lot of stuff about pregnancy in it, so it isn’t suitable for men or children.

My Goals for This Week

Planning has always been a sore point for me. I love the idea; love the feel of paper under my fingers and seeing plans take shape before me. I can easily spend hours reading productivity blogs about how one could go about making a plan for what you want to do in a year, broken down into quarters, months, weeks, and finally days. I love it, I really do.

Yet, this morning, as I was mulling over the words from Proverbs: “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule…” (12:24), I realized how very lazy I have been about my work lately. How little I’ve accomplished, and how much I’ve let the important things slip.

I’ve discovered—over, and over, and over again, that I don’t do well with no plan at all. The weird thing is, I rarely finish everything I plan for a week, but maybe knowing that I want to do it spurs me on to at least try to meet my expectations. It is discouraging when I realize that what I planned to do four weeks ago is still there to be done this week, but somehow it is also reassuring that somewhere I’m still fighting to continue making progress.

Morning Beauty 01

I’ve never quite known how to combat the endless chain of planning and then after a few weeks feeling discouraged because I didn’t manage to even hit the mark on my own expectations—let alone meeting the perceived (more likely imagined) expectations other people have for me! In some ways, it’s a harsh, never-ending rat-race.

Then I looked out the window at the foot of my bed and saw the rising sun coming through the trees, lighting them with a golden glow, and was reminded that each day is a new day. Yes, we—our work—suffers when we don’t do it, but the Lord is gracious and gives us a fresh, golden start. Every. single. day. Even when we don’t see it. He gives us a chance to try again—and it’s up to us to take that chance and use it to its full potential.

So for this next month, I’m going to fill out one of Productive Flourishing’s weekly planner, and scan a copy (one for the past week, one for the coming one) to post on the blog each week. I don’t need to do this, but I want to be accountable to myself. I’m going to do this.

Morning Beauty 02

After praying about this month and this week, here are my plans for what I need/want to get done this week. Next week, I’ll show this one again (with the accomplished stuff marked off), and next week’s plans.

Week Planner

This week, I want to focus on learning from the Lord. From that, I want to do my work to serve Him and His people better. More opportunities seem to come up daily to serve. I just pray that I can be faithful to this calling, and be able to support those around me in their callings as well.

Why It’s Important to Choose Your Books Wisely—I’m Guest Posting!

Why you should know what your child is reading

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Kendra Stamy, author of the blog A Proverbs 31 Wife, asked me to write a guest post for her. This was a difficult post to write, because I know some of the things I talk about could potentially be very controversial. At the same time, as Mom kept reminding me, these are the kinds of things that need to be shared. After lots of prayer and writing and rewriting, it’s now live. If you’re interested to hear my thoughts on why it’s important to know what your child reads (or why it’s important to choose wisely yourself!), go here.

Reading, Art, and Guilt — a Guest Post

Twice in the past two months I have had an “ah-ha!” moment. Both times, I suddenly had an answer to something that I had been feeling guilty about for years.

I was reading by the time I was three years old. When I was a baby, someone gave my mom a book, something about “Teach Your Baby to Read.” I was the first baby, so she had time, and she made flashcards to put on objects all over the house. I can’t remember not being able to read, and I’m guessing maybe she eventually regretted teaching me that young, as I quickly developed an addiction to reading! I remember being excited to start first grade, but then being very disappointed because the first day of first grade the reading lesson was simply, “God.” I was reading whole books by then! I spent hours and hours reading thousands of books as I grew up, and put that love of books to good use when I started a bookstore in my late teens. However, after I got married, little by little I started feeling guilty for loving to read, and guilty for taking time to read when there were other things to do, as there always are. Comments some people made such as, “I only ever read the Bible and ___________(church paper),” or, “Reading is a waste of time for me,” added to that feeling of guilt. I still read, because I can’t make myself stop reading, but always with a slight feeling of guilt.

Reading, Art, and Guilt

One of my son’s art projects.

Last year, my daughter came in from her bedroom one morning saying that she felt like the Lord had given her an idea. She wondered what I thought of a website devoted to book reviews. She would include warnings with the reviews of anything that parents might want to know about the book before giving it to their child, and build a search function to help parents find books about a particular area they were studying. After we all prayed about it, she built the website, and soon I started writing some reviews for her of books I read to myself or aloud to the other children. Still, I felt somewhat guilty about loving to read!

A couple of months ago, a couple of my children and I went to a book fair. As usual, we came away with a large stack of books, including a few that we already owned. We had to stop at a friend’s house to drop something off on our way home, and offered her the duplicate books. She was happy to take them, thanking me for the recommendations for her children, since she has a hard time knowing if a book will be worth reading or not. I was thinking about that little exchange after we left her house, and suddenly the thought came to me that part of my ministry to other people is to be able to recommend books for them and their children! God gave me the gift of being able to read exceptionally fast, and therefore I am able to read a lot more books than most people, which means I can help people by pointing them to the books they need! What a revelation. I still have to be careful not to let myself read when there are other jobs that really need doing (after all, I have a husband and eight children who like to eat three meals a day), but I no longer feel guilty about reading while I rock the baby.

My other revelation came just a few weeks ago. I have been homeschooling our children for 11 or 12 years now. Somewhere around 10 years ago, I picked up an art course at a book fair, and decided that we would do art classes—doesn’t everyone do art classes? Don’t children need to learn art? I decided that once a week, while the youngest two (I think) napped, I would do an art lessons with the three oldest children. We did—a grand total of three lessons! After that, until I ended up selling the art course when we moved overseas six years ago, I kept intending to get back to it, but life was constantly in the way. Anyway, I have very little interest in art or crafts of any kind. There was always a guilty feeling in the back of my mind, though, that my children were missing out because I was not making time to teach them any drawing or modeling or any kind of crafts.

A few weeks ago, my middle sons spent two days holed up in their workshop every spare minute, building something. When I finally got to see it, I was astounded. Those boys had cut a large circle out of a piece of plywood, and painted a railroad track around the edge. They painted roads and fields on the board, and built tiny houses. They unwrapped copper wire from the motor of a defunct washing machine, and built fences by drilling holes through twigs that they glued into holes they drilled in the board. They strung telegraph wires around the track the same way. They glued tiny trees into place, and made stick figures out of copper wire to put in various places. They even made little wooden cars and a train engine. What is all that, but art? And I had nothing to do with it! I don’t have to teach art to my children! If they are interested, they will learn by themselves. All I have to do is give them free time and allow them to use the materials and tools they find and want to use.

Believe it or not, a great weight has lifted from my mind since I realized these two simple things. Guilt has a way of dragging us down, and other people’s expectations can make moms feel very guilty. At least, that is the effect on me. When I don’t do or believe the same as the people I am around, I tend to feel guilty about that, as if I am wrong—but guess what! God didn’t make us all the same! I have a unique ministry—and so do you. It would have been nice not to have to wait so long to find mine, but I am thankful to not feel guilty anymore about reading and art!

Emma-BioEmma Filbrun is a stay-at-home homeschooling mother of eight children, and in between chasing toddlers and keeping the tribe fed you can usually find her reading a story to several of the children or directing operations from her rocking chair (where her baby puts mommy time high on the agenda). She shares the mishaps and adventures of a large family on her blog, Lots of Helpers.