4 Things I’m Thankful For (Photo Challenge day 4)

After signing off about 11:12 last night, I decided that I’d try to get today’s post up in a little better time. Not only should it send properly in the email tonight (yesterday’s posted too late for that to happen then), but I should be able to get to bed earlier. Yes, should, not will–even if I am completely ready for bed at 9:30 it often ends up being 10 at least before I settle down. Don’t know why.

Anyway, today I thought it would be fun to do a “thankful” post. Now, I realize all of the posts in the challenge so far are basically thankful posts…but today, I wanted to share a few of the things that I’m particularly thankful for right now.

1 and 2. Light and new growth

Light and new growth

My original intention was to do a picture of “light”, but that seemed a bit pointless and then I noticed the new leaves just starting to grow on a tree in our yard! I love spring buds! Well, it is a month early this year, which actually isn’t that good, but there’s something refreshing and beautiful about fresh growth like this. And, of course, you can’t beat spring green—just about the prettiest color of green you can get!

3. Our animals, but especially our kitten

Our kitten

I like all of our different animals for a variety of reasons, most of them for what they give me (eggs, milk, meat, etc.), but I love our kitten. He’s got a great character except for the times he wants to play-fight, and loves curling up on your lap for a head scratch or a nap. He’s pretty fun to have around!

4. Flowers—even in the winter!


I don’t know what kind of bush this is, but it’s right outside the laundry window. Adds such a cheery look to that side of the house, especially on rainy or chilly days! Of course, I love flowers at all times of the year, but in the winter it’s even more special.

5. Siblings

Book reading

Book reading 2

Playing in water

She poured the cat’s water from the yellow dish into the stainless cat dish, and then dumped the stainless dish—this is why her dress was all wet, Mom!

Technically, this doesn’t count because I already said yesterday that I’m thankful for them…but when they were so engrossed in their books this morning, I couldn’t help but take a couple pictures. I love these guys!

I’ve been working on getting more reviews up on the site today. I had them almost ready, just needed to get a few more things together. We’re currently on a streak of the latest movies that I’ve watched—and this will be the most movies I’ve ever put up in one row! Last time I did 4, the time before that 2, but this time we’ll have 9 in a row (the numbers keep doubling)! I doubt next time I’ll do 16 or 18 at once—that’s just a little much. I already have a couple more ready to watch or review, though…. On the line of thankfulness, I’m thankful for good movies to watch and be able to share with others!

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” —Psalm 117

Psalm 117 is one of my favorite psalms. Isn’t it special that the shortest and the longest chapters of the Bible have to deal with praising the Lord and and walking according to His Word? He is so good to us!

What are you thankful for today?

P.S. One more thing I’m thankful for today: For a keyboard that copies and pastes correctly. My old keyboard worked perfectly except that the CTRL+C command rarely worked on the first try (control worked fine on its own, and C worked fine on its own…they just didn’t work together very well), which meant I ended up hitting it 3-6 times in order to do a simple copy. I recently got a new one in the hopes that it would work right, and it does! Now to retrain my fingers to only hit CTRL+C once….

Bicycles and Siblings (Photo Challenge day 3)

Today, several of my brothers went to a friend’s birthday party. This afternoon while they waited to go pick the boys up again, my two youngest brothers were outside playing so I got to snap a few pictures of them. I love looking back at pictures like this—moments in time. Even if they aren’t the best quality, they’re things that “will never be quite the same again” (to quote one of my favorite songs, We Have This Moment).

Let's go!

It's noisy out here....

These guys are growing up so fast. It’s so fun to watch them grow up, but sad, too. It’s sad that soon they’ll be too old to ask for a goodnight hug and kiss from me—nothing melts a big sister’s heart more than that! These guys are so precious.

Future mechanic?

Future mechanic? He’s trying to figure out why there’s a string in an odd place in the back.

You know, as I think of how fast the years have gone past since these guys were such little things, I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown as well in my faith. How much more Jesus means to me than He did back then.

Wanting out

THIS is why our windows don’t stay clean! And it’s also why it’s worth it to have dirty windows.


She wants out to play with her big brothers!

Road's too small

I found one my size!

Let's do this together!

Practicing for the real thing.

Just as we children love each other, God loves us. And just as they were waiting to leave to pick up our brothers, we’re all waiting for Jesus to come back.

Keep on keeping on while you wait. Don’t pause in the race to rest. I was listening to Pilgrim’s Progress today on my walk, and came across the place where the three men—Simple, Sloth, and Presumption—lay sleeping, and how they wouldn’t listen to Christian’s concern for them….don’t sleep in your Christian life! Keep on seeking Jesus, and walk the walk He’s laid out for you.

Toys! (Photo Challenge day 2)

Little sister came out to my room this morning as everyone else was doing school. She doesn’t do it often these days—it’s currently winter, and although the weather belies that fact, it is chilly outside most of the time so she doesn’t have many chances to escape the house. However, today it was warm enough to have the doors open and out she came!

Toys 01

She doesn’t say much, but today she announced something similar to “Toys!” and proceeded to dump the contents of the cardboard box I use as a toybox on the floor. Usually she asks me to get it out for her, and generally only pulls a few things out before rediscovering the books and forgetting about the other animals and blocks. However, she played for forty-five minutes or so, both discussing the different books with me and playing with the animals. She seemed to enjoy herself.

Toys 02

And as I watched her from time to time, examining the nuances of the different books or playing with the different animals, I had to think how we really ought to be like that, too—appreciating the beauties of the world around us, even if it just comes from a common toybox. Being content with what we have, with what we’ve been promised in Christ. Not wishing to have any more now than our King wishes us to have right now (see the section on Passion and Patience in Pilgrim’s Progress).

Job 12:7-10 is a beautiful passage on the subject: “But ask now the beasts [or the little children?], and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

He cares for us! Isn’t that just wonderful?

Week 30: Last of July and Photo Challenge

The sun was shining brilliantly through my half-window this morning as I sat on my maroon-colored bedspread reading from Isaiah. It’s such a treat these days to have the sunshine, and even though we’ve had much more of that than cloudy days this winter, I still love the sun and its warmth. The call came for breakfast, so I blew my candles out and watched the smoke weave its way upward—sometimes thin, sometimes thick curls that can be seen but never touched, smelled but only enjoyed when the light hits it just right as it was this morning. It was a beautiful sight. And yes, I got into breakfast a little late because I stopped to enjoy the sight of the smoke. It truly was gorgeous; I’ve never seen it last as long as it did this morning!

The light is long gone now, swallowed by the clouds that occasionally spit a little rain but for the most part make it chilly and as such more pleasant to stay inside this evening than be out. As I sit again at my blue fold-up table this evening, looking over my last week and praying for wisdom for the week to come, music playing quietly in the background, I can’t help but think how privileged I am. That I can take time to enjoy things like candle smoke twisting in the morning sunlight, that I can even plan my week! So many don’t have this privilege, so many in poorer situations must fight day after day to just get a little food on the table. Many—like my Dad—work incredibly long hours, never complaining, while I sit at home and can use my time just about any way I please. I’m incredibly blessed. And I don’t want to ever forget that, sunshine or not.

Colossians 3:1-3

One thing I decided this morning was that this week I want to do a photo challenge again. I did one back in January, and that was pretty fun, and I want to do it again. This evening as it was getting dark I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures yet today! Well, my chosen subject for this week was “daily life”, and as I looked at my desk I realized I had a piece of my daily life in front of me: One of my memory verses. I copied it out onto some note paper a week or two ago, as a reminder to focus on the Lord alone, and it’s proven to be a great reminder over the days since then. I love verse two, especially.

Last week’s to-do list:

  1. Schedule book/movie reviews through the end of the month
  2. Read one book
  3. Set up some settings with Amazon and AbeBooks (done Thursday; this was something that’s taken me quite a while to do, but it’s a relief to have it done!)
  4. Do bookkeeping (done Wednesday)
  5. Respond to the emails that I haven’t replied to yet (done Tuesday and Wednesday)
  6. Finish an interview (done Tuesday)
  7. Do 45 min. of science and last day of history
Jonah 2:9

A reminder I keep in my planning folder; a verse I found one day while studying Jonah.

This week’s to-do list:

  1. Schedule reviews through the 31st
  2. Read The Destiny of a Galaxy
  3. Watch the DVD Fly Away Home (borrowed, so I ought to get it back)
  4. Read up/do practice tests for getting my learner’s driver license (it’s about time…)
  5. Sign up for another affiliate program
  6. Work through the website to-do list (mostly simple changes, but ones that I’ve been putting off for a while)
  7. Do some baking Friday!

What are your plans for the coming week? Enjoy the sunlight and more than that, keep looking to the Light of the world, Jesus!

Playing Hookey (and This Week’s Plans)

(Before I start, I thought you might like to know that Mom is currently running a giveaway for two books from one of our favorite authors! Details here.)

I realized yesterday afternoon as we were winding our way up the curves this side of a nearby river that I had completely spaced doing my normal “Sunday” post on my goals for the week. I had fun Sunday afternoon, during the time that I normally do my planning…I played two different board games with my siblings and we watched part of a movie together! In the end it really isn’t a problem, except that after a day in the city I wasn’t feeling particularly up to trying to figure out what I want (or need) to do this week. So it falls to Tuesday evening to tell you of this week’s goals.

As far as last week, I think I got almost everything done. Thankfully, I hadn’t planned much, and even though we were gone only 3 1/2 days in the end, it was still good to be able to relax and prepare to face the world again.

Last week’s list:

  1. Finish preparing this week’s newsletter (done Saturday)
  2. Do a little sewing (done Monday)
  3. Reply to/take care of K and S’ emails (S’ done Saturday; the other had to wait until this week because of the technical difficulties involved)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter (done Saturday)

This week’s list:

  1. Schedule book/movie reviews through the end of the month
  2. Read one book
  3. Set up some settings with Amazon and AbeBooks
  4. Do bookkeeping (keep forgetting to do this!)
  5. Respond to the emails that I haven’t replied to yet
  6. Finish an interview
  7. Do 45 min. of science and last day of history for the “school” work I’m currently working on

I think that’s it. Have a great week, folks, and keep your eyes on Jesus!

Planning: Second Week of July

Well, it’s already quite late, and I need to head off to bed but before I do so I wanted to do a quick recap of last week’s plans. This next week is going to be pretty busy, so I’m not planning to do much at all. And besides a few basics (like sending the newsletter), I’m probably not going to be online much either.

But as for last week’s plans…I went off the rails a bit last week! Instead of working like I probably should have done, I decided to watch a couple borrowed movies instead (ones that need to be returned, but I want to review first). Besides that, we had visitors one day, which cut into my time a little. It was wonderful to have them here, though—well worth the “lost” time! Also, I realized Friday that I hadn’t even looked at my plans all week. Hmm…wonder if the old adage “out of sight out of mind” had anything to do with not much being done? Must remember to look each day next time!

Last week’s list:

  1. Schedule book reviews through the 24th (done Saturday)
  2. Edit reviews doc 6 (done Thursday)
  3. Upload the four reviews that weren’t ready before now (two done Saturday; the other two need to wait because they aren’t quite ready yet)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter (done Saturday)
  5. Prepare next week’s newsletter (begun Saturday, but ran out of time to finish)
  6. Do bookkeeping
  7. Set up affiliate program payments
  8. Do some much-needed sewing!

This week’s list:

  1. Finish preparing this week’s newsletter
  2. Do a little sewing (has to be done Monday)
  3. Reply to/take care of K and S’ emails (need to remember to do this next Saturday when I’ll have a little time)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter

Okay, that’s all I think I need to remember later this week.

Have a great week, and keep serving Jesus!

My Plans for the First Week of July

As I sat at my blue collapsible table this evening, one wing propped open to give me a nice area to spread everything out on, I sipped my coffee and reviewed last month. There were a good number of things I got done in June, several that I didn’t even start, and a couple that were absolutely fun to do. The things that I didn’t touch were ones I really want to get done—need to do—but also ones that have grown to gigantic proportion in my mind so I haven’t even started tackling them. I want to work at them this month. At least get started on those hard things.

Most of the time, though, I get so focused on the urgent that I forget what’s really important—what I really ought to be doing. Finding the balance, between what needs to happen and what should happen is hard. I’m tired of just barely scraping by on my jobs. Tired of doing the absolute minimum for my commitments, making it look like I’m doing okay when underneath I really suspect I’m blowing most of my time. This month, I want to be different. So I’m dedicating it—rededicating it—to the Lord. Asking Him to use me and use my time to His glory. I want to be a tool. And this is the only way I know how to be a tool.

This doesn’t mean I won’t outline what needs to be done. This means that I’m saying “Here, Lord, this is what I believe I need to be doing now—should I do it? Or do You have something more important for me to focus on at the moment?”

Okay. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but that’s what I’ve been thinking over this evening.

Reading Sacred Allegories

From my phone this week: Little brother enjoys coming out to my room sometimes, and often picks up the copy of Sacred Allegories that a friend gave us. He loves the detailed pictures in it!

Last week’s to-do list:

  1. Reply to emails in inbox (done Monday, except there’s one in the inbox now that I want to respond to ASAP)
  2. Edit doc 22 (done Tuesday)
  3. Upload reviews in doc 22 (done Wednesday and Thursday)
  4. Catch up on writing reviews (done Wednesday)
  5. Spend 2 ½ hours on new theme (this is one of those monsters I haven’t conquered yet…but I want to!)
  6. Send weekly newsletter (done Saturday)
  7. Finish I Needed a Neighbour (done Saturday)
  8. Spend 15 min. researching I Am Not Skilled to Understand (yeah…another “monster”. I don’t know why.)

This week’s list:

  1. Schedule book reviews through the 24th (already up to the 13th, but I need to get a bit further ahead)
  2. Edit reviews doc 6
  3. Upload the four reviews that weren’t ready before now (several were just published recently or will be published soon, and I don’t like posting the reviews until the books are actually available)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter
  5. Prepare next week’s newsletter (next week might be a bit hit-and-miss because of other plans, so I want to be ready in advance)
  6. Do bookkeeping
  7. Set up affiliate program payments (for some reason, I’ve never finished this…I don’t know why)
  8. Do some much-needed sewing!

Well, this week looks set to be an interesting one. We’re expecting some visitors who just “happened” to come across us online while searching for long-lost relatives (we sort-of know the relatives; they live about 7-9 hours south of us and we’ve met the family twice), and they want to meet us. We’re looking forward to that!

What are your plans for the coming week?

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.

Week 26 Plans

Well, this week is bringing June to a close already! With the end of June comes the end of a couple challenges I’ve been running for myself (well, not really challenges as such; more like trying to do things a different way to see if I get different results).

The first “challenge” would be the weekly newsletter I’ve been sending instead of the usual monthly one. I’ve really enjoyed doing that! For some reason, it feels a whole lot easier and more personal than the monthly one—even though it takes longer to put together. I’m planning to continue that on this next month at least, and perhaps will make it a semi-permanent feature.

The other “challenge” would be these weekly goal posts. It’s been good to have a clear goal in mind the past four weeks, even though I haven’t managed to complete everything every week. I’m planning to continue this on through July, too.

Overall, I’ve had a great month. God has been so good to us! Our washer broke down a couple weeks ago, but it just so happened (one of those “only God” things?) that it was still under warranty! We were able to get a gift card for the amount we had spent on it, and soon after we got the gift card we were able to find a new washer. Then this past weekend, we’ve had a friend come to visit and more friends came for dinner one evening before the Creation meeting I mentioned last week. Overall, it’s been a great weekend—nice to catch up with everyone and enjoy a little fellowship.

I neglected to get a single picture from the weekend (maybe I was too busy socializing?)—sorry about that! So we’ll just have to have a picture-less post.

But on to last week’s goals, since that is actually the reason why I’m writing this evening!

Last week’s list:

  1. Proofread doc 4 (realized that this has already been done; started on doc 22)
  2. Send this week’s newsletter (finished Friday)
  3. Plan what I’ll bake Friday (finished Monday)
  4. Make a list of needed ingredients for baking (finished Monday)
  5. Bake stuff on Friday! (finished Friday)
  6. Schedule book reviews for this week (finished Thursday)
  7. Schedule book reviews for next week (almost finished Thursday; just have two days to go)
  8. Edit/post walnut picking pictures (finished and posted Thursday)
  9. Decide on hymn (finished Wednesday; chose I Am Not Skilled to Understand)

This week’s list:

  1. Reply to emails in inbox
  2. Edit doc 22
  3. Upload reviews in doc 22
  4. Catch up on writing reviews (I’m behind! I’ve been writing too many other things!)
  5. Spend 2 ½ hours on new theme
  6. Send weekly newsletter (maybe I’ll remember it earlier if it’s on the to-do list?)
  7. Finish I Needed a Neighbour (it’s short, which means I should get through it fast…right?)
  8. Spend 15 min. researching I Am Not Skilled to Understand (hopefully, eventually, I can write a “story behind the story” on this one…one day!)

Well, another week is here. And I believe—with a little extra time seeking the Lord’s guidance and taking time to meditate on the Word—that it will be a good week. Oh, and it’s only 9:30, which means I can indulge in a story before I go to sleep and still be asleep by 10 pm! Now how’s that for the perfect ending to a great Sunday?

What about you? How has your weekend been? What are you planning to try to accomplish this week?

Goodbye for Now

I’ve been debating whether or not to share this, but I’ve decided I will. Death eventually happens to all of us—as Ray Comfort likes to say, ten out of ten people die. Over the last few months, two good friends of ours, both older Christians, have gone on to glory. Here are my goodbyes to them.

The following was written the evening we heard of Barry’s passing on.

I knew, when the phone call came in at 9:45 that evening, what it would be—even before Mom hung up and told me the news. The time had come to say goodbye. It hurts. We’ve seen it coming for years, and yet the pain is still there. Saying goodbye to someone dear is one of the hardest things any of us can ever do.

He’s been a close friend—surrogate Grandfather—for almost six years now. We’ve grown to love him, he us, and although we’ve had many differences over the years I think it’s probably always been obvious that he brought things up out of love and concern for our spiritual well being.

Goodbye for Now 01

Picture taken in September 2010. Barry loved all things trains, and made several steam engines of his own. Here, he is showing one of them to us.

I will always lovingly remember his example, his unwavering truthfulness, and his commitment to Jesus. I’m going to miss his messages to us, his sincerity, and the reverence he paid to the Lord. Not just me; we’ll all miss him a lot. It’s going to be hard to go to church and know that he’ll never come through those doors again, briefcase in hand, ready to share his most recent findings in Ephesians. Or Hebrews, or Genesis—whatever portion of scripture has recently captivated his attention.

At the same time, I am so happy for him. He no longer has to endure the intense pain from his many illnesses, no longer has to go through surgeries or see specialists he doesn’t want to see. No longer does he have to worry about his health and feeble body. He has gone to rest, a soldier of the cross to the very end.

There are some things I wish I could have said to him, some things I’m glad I told him. As a brother in the Lord, a teacher of the flock, and grandfather to more than just his family, he will be missed by many.

Goodbye, Barry. I’ll see you on the other shore.

Goodbye for Now 02

My sermon notes from the last message Barry shared. Looking back, it was incredible to realize what his last testimony to his church family contained. He was so happy then, even though he had been so sick. God was definitely with him the last few days and weeks he had on this earth.

My goodbye to another friend, Daryl.

It came as a shock that he was sick. We had seen him not too long before, healthy, happy, trusting his Lord. He had come up one Sunday morning to worship with us, and we had had a sweet time of fellowship—the kind that only can come between fellow believers. That day, we practiced the John 13 admonition to “wash one another’s feet”, something that I had never had the privilege to participate in although I was familiar with it from the believers we worshiped with in the States. It was a precious bonding day.

Now he was sick, and no one knew if he’d pull out of it or not. Then came the news that the family had to move, but thankfully they didn’t have to go far. Dad and my brothers went to help him butcher a few sheep, and when they came back we were saddened to learn how much worse his condition had gotten since our last meeting.

Soon, he was even worse. We visited briefly a couple times. The last time we saw him was a week and a half before he died. He was still the caring, loving man we had always known. Despite his condition and the fact that he was getting quite tired, he asked my brothers what they had been creating the last while. He still cared about our lives—even when his body was giving out. We prayed together one last time, although none of us knew then that it would be the last. We all hoped and prayed fervently that he would be healed. He had become a good friend to all of us.

Not long after, we heard that he had gone to glory. A terrible blow to the family, and one that rippled through all of us as well. He touched many lives. He gave himself tirelessly to point everyone to Jesus, even when he was sick. He will be missed—even by those of us who haven’t known him very long. He was a prayer warrior—a faith warrior—to the end.

Goodbye, Daryl. You will be sorely missed, but your legacy, your faith, your example, will not be forgotten by us.