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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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?

Boating the Creek and Giveaway Winners Announced

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The giveaway ended yesterday evening, so today I had the priviledge of collecting the results and randomly picking winners! What fun! Thanks again, everyone, for entering and sharing while it was running. The publicity was much appreciated.

LRD 500 Reviews Party

And without more ado, I announce…

  • Kendra S as the winner of the $20 Amazon giftcard,
  • Megan C as the winner of the DVD When Things Seem Impossible,
  • and Deborah F as the winner for the Janet & Geoff Benge book.

All winners have been contacted, and their prizes will be sent off soon. (If you haven’t gotten your email yet, contact me here.)


I wanted to share a few photos from a recent excursion our family took to the ocean. We took a few friends with us, and my brothers spent some time blowing up one of their inflatable boats so they could go boating on a creek out there. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, and all enjoyed themselves immensely!

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My oldest brother took our youngest brother for a ride.

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While some people were out boating, the others worked on building up the “dock” a little.

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Then, since a day isn’t complete without at least one slightly challenging task, my oldest brother decided to create his own water craft: A “Y”-shaped log laid over another large log, the ends of the Y acting as outriggers to keep the raft/boat/whatever-you-call-it level.

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Those who were still out on the boat weren’t sure what to think…

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…especially when he asked to borrow one of their two paddles, as his pole (a washed up branch) wasn’t getting him very far!

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So they ended up making it back to port with one paddle, doing a bit of twirling in the water as they went. And the one on the logs got back in safely, too—amazingly, he didn’t even get wet!

Thus ended a fun afternoon at the creek.

I’m so thankful we can do things like this as a family—being out in God’s beautiful creation enjoying spending time together is a precious, precious thing. I’m so thankful for all my siblings and for the unity we have as a family. We’ve been through a lot together, but we can still smile, laugh, and praise the Lord for His goodness to us. Life isn’t always easy, but trials serve to highlight what a treasure we have in these relationships and the memories we’re making together. I’m so thankful!

Over to you: What have you been doing with your family lately that will leave good memories for years to come?

Christmas Outing

I meant to get this post up several weeks earlier already, but what with one thing and another that didn’t happen. Here it is now, though—late is better than never.

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Christmas has not been a big deal for our family for years. We’ll have a picnic lunch out by the beach somewhere, the boys will go swimming, I’ll have a chance to read something, and Dad and Mom just rest and watch the children. The last two years, we’ve gone to a beach about half an hour north of us where there are rarely if ever any people, and afterward picked cherries. It’s a lovely time to just be together and soak up fresh ocean breezes and sunshine.

Christmas Outing 01

Notice the piles of dirt to the top, far left—there are thousands of little slips (landslides) like that all over the area, all caused by the earthquake. Some of them were very big, closing major roads, and some roads aren’t open yet because they’re so bad!

This year as we were heading off the beach, Mom, another brother, and I, climbed up the cliff-like edge of the beach to get to the train tracks that we have to cross to get back to the van. We wanted to inspect the tracks, because we had seen from a distance that they were significantly moved around in one section as a result of the earthquake.

Christmas Outing 02

I didn’t get very many pictures from that spot, but we soon headed about 5-10 minutes inland, and also saw damage on the tracks there that ran alongside the cherry trees. In these two pictures, you can see how the railway sleepers were lifted out of the gravel they are normally embeded in, either by the bridge rising some or the land on either side of the bridge sinking a little. Also, notice the hole to the middle right of the picture above—the gravel had fallen through down toward the road beneath. The edge of the bridge used to be almost level with the gravel here.

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Little brother posed for a picture. You can see another place where the track sank behind him.

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I headed down the tracks a bit, to see what the bridge looked like from a distance—pretty impressive! This is typical of the railroad line in this area. Lots of little things that will need to be fixed before they can send trains down here again!

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Christmas Outing 06

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In all, it was a gorgeous day to be out exploring earthquake damage and picking cherries. The latter weren’t totally ripe yet (they tasted better a week or two later), but it was still a fun day to be outside.

How was your Christmas? Share below, or if you wrote a blog post, link to it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

And one last thing before I finish—have you entered the giveaway yet? Only four days left! Get your entry in now.

New Book and Interview with Author Sarah Holman!

Hi, everyone! And welcome back after the long silence! I’m learning—slowly—that I’m not that great of a consistent blogger, but when I’m in the mood for it I enjoy it. That makes it slightly difficult for me, since I enjoy a regular routine, but such is life.

Anyway, I have something exciting to share with you today! Well, this evening, rather…it’s past 11 pm now. I’m having my last hot drink for the day, and hope to have this post finished by the time I’m done. That’s not very likely, but I can try!

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The last couple days I’ve had the privilege of pre-reading author Sarah Holman’s latest book Courage and Corruption! This book is the third in the series, a medieval fantasy that has good stories and Christian themes woven throughout. Looks like I haven’t reviewed any of the books in this series for the website yet—that will have to change. These books are worthwhile reading, especially for younger readers.

Oh, and before I go further I do want to let you know by way of disclaimer that I read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also, some links in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made through those links do not cost you any extra, but the small sum I receive from them helps keep this site running. So thank you! And now, onto…

My Review of Courage and Corruption:

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Christopher cannot understand how his father believes he can learn to be a man by being sent off with the women, girls, and younger children to a castle away from the battle scene. With strife between him and his sister as well—neither wanting to take the blame for careless mistakes made out of a lack of responsibility—his life is miserable. Will he ever be able to find true happiness? And what will happen to Taelis, their beautiful country that is about to be split by a civil war as the people try to decide who will next be king?

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In all, I enjoyed this book for the most part. There were a few things I didn’t appreciate so much about it, as I felt some elements might not be realistic (even in a fantasy setting).

I also didn’t totally agree with the theology. This book seems to be stressing accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, which I agree with—Jesus does need to be both Lord and Savior of our lives—but in my personal devotions in Acts right now (and from other scriptures I remember as well), we should actually repent rather than just accept. There’s a big difference, which I won’t go into now, but Acts 2:38 and 1 John 1:9 have some bearing on this. This view is mentioned two different times. This may be an oversight on the author’s part, I don’t know. But I do think it’s worth mentioning.

Despite that, the storyline was good as it taught the need to prove your responsibility in little things before you can be trusted in big things. I’m sure many young readers would find that a worthwhile message to hear. The story itself is also exciting. Lots to do with kings and princes and knight’s children. Recommended for ages 11-14, especially.

Note: There is a battle in the latter part of chapter 27 and again the very first part of chapter 28. It mentions people being wounded and some blood, but not in any detail.

Interview with Sarah Holman:

(I actually interviewed Sarah several months ago, but never got it published. I decided this was a great opportunity to share her insights with you!)

Esther: Thank you for joining us today, Sarah! Could you give us a quick background of who you are and what you do? And just for fun, what’s one thing you do with your family these days that will make memories you’ll cherish years down the road?

Sarah: I was born in Dallas but moved to the Austin area when I was three. I grew up with two book addicts for parents and a love for stories in every form: oral, book, movie, and so on. At age eleven, I was frustrated because I couldn’t find the kind of books I wanted to read, so I decided to write them. When I was seventeen, God laid it on my heart that I should pursue becoming a full-time author. I published my first book in 2012 and continue to write the kind of books I always wanted to read.

I love this question. I think my favorite memories will be of the evenings where we all sat together, just talking. It can be on a serious topic or a being silly. However, just being together makes it worth remembering.

Esther: I love our family’s times of just talking, too! For us, it usually happens around the supper table—and the topics can be all over the place from building trailers to something someone said at church several weeks ago!

I also think it’s neat that you’re writing the books you’d like to read. It can be difficult at times to write for ourselves, as opposed to what we perceive the world at large would like to read. What do you enjoy most about your job as a writer?

Sarah: Ah yes! Don’t you love how scattered family conversations can be?

What I most enjoy? Sitting behind my computer and letting the words of a new story flow through me. There is something amazing about see a fresh story starting to take shape that is always exciting for me.

Esther: That is fun! I love all the adventures and…um…adversities that I can throw at my characters from time to time. Or the ones they spring on me!

But moving on…I’ve always enjoyed the Christian elements in your stories (and I’ve read a good number of them). Do you have a story that was particularly hard to write as far as the faith aspect is concerned? Which book has challenged you the most in your personal journey?

Sarah: Wow! You know how to give a tough question. Just about every book has a message that was close to my heart. The hardest one to write was Kate’s Innocence. It took a long time to develop the story enough that a faith theme emerged. See, I don’t often start with a super clear idea of what it is going to be because I want it to come out naturally.

As for the most challenging personally that is a good story: 2015 was a really hard year for me. There were some awesome parts to it, but overall it left me drained and dealing with a lot of emotions. I took off of almost everything in January of this year and spent it writing. Out of that month, two books in the Tales of Taelis came and both of them reflect my struggles and what God taught me. Courage and Corruption and Dreams and Devotion will be coming out later this year and both of them reflect the struggles within my own heart.

Esther: That seems like a wise way to share faith in books. The one time I tried it, it ended up feeling stilted, but I may have to try again. After all, forcing things like that on fictitious characters could be as bad as on real people! It’s interesting that 2015 was difficult for you—in many ways, that was a hard year for me too. Now you’ve given me even more reason to look forward to the next Taelis books—I really enjoyed the first two!

Relating to the last question…I think we’d agree there are many challenges confronting Christians these days. (Lies propagated through the media and music, moral issues, etc.) Have you specifically addressed any of these challenges in any of your books–intentionally or no?

Sarah: Another good but tough question. Most of the time when we say we need to talk about issues, we have a laundry list of the ills of society. In my own way, I am addressing the issues, but at a heart level. Christians fall for the lies of this world because they are not spending enough time focusing on the truth. If we spend all our time focusing on the evil around us, often we will fall for the lies. If we spend our time on God and His truth, the evil won’t be as appealing.

While I probably will deal with some of the tough issues head on in some upcoming books, for right now I’m doing exactly what I’m called to. I am writing books that deal with the tough issues of the heart like God’s plans for your life (The Destiny of One), the importance of telling the truth (A Different Kind of Courage), where is God when life is hard (Adventures and Adversities), and the power of forgiveness (Brothers and Betrayal) to name a few.

Esther: I love that thought about focusing on truth! So true! I believe you are wise to address those issues first—as the Bible says, “the heart is the wellspring of life”. It’s a pretty important task!

Okay, I think that was the last “hard” question I had for you. In wrapping up, I wanted to ask about your personal writing process a little: You’ve just released Kate’s Capitol, and have several more books in the works right now.  Do you have any particular methods for keeping yourself inspired and motivated—even when doing things like editing, which can be a bit difficult?

Sarah: My biggest key to getting things done is just to keep at it even when I don’t feel like it. I make deadlines and work to keep them (although I haven’t been successful all the time) and even give myself rewards for completing things. My method for keeping inspired? To have several projects going at once. I don’t like editing, so I normally have a project that I am writing at the same time. This keeps me motivated to do the editing so that I can get to the writing.

The main thing that keeps me motivated, is that I know what I know I am doing what God has called me too. There is a huge amount of satisfaction that comes when you are in the middle of God’s plan for you.

Esther: Knowing you’re in the center of God’s plan—a wonderful feeling, I agree! That’s great! Do you have any words of advice for younger or newbie Christian writers? And just for fun, which book out of the ones that you’ve written is your favorite?

Sarah: I have three pieces of advice for new writers. First and most importantly is to make sure that everything you write aligns with your faith. Secondly, don’t write what you think other people want to read, read the kind of books you like. Third, read all the time and of many genres.

My favorite book? Can I say all of them? No? Okay, if I had to pick a favorite out of all of them it would either be A Different Kind of Courage because I love that time in history or The Destiny of a Galaxy because there is so much of my own emotions in that book.

Esther: I love A Different Kind of Courage, too—it’s really good! Thanks for sharing with us today, Sarah! Where can people find you and your books? Any closing thoughts?

Sarah: The easiest place to find my books is Amazon. But you can also find them on audiobooks on Audible and iTunes and paperbacks on Createspace.

In closing, I would just like to say that whatever God has called you to do, do it to His glory. Don’t look to the world or anyone else for your standards our validation, look to the One who made you.

About the Author:

111 Author - closer.JPGSarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

You can find her at her website: www.thedestinyofone.com

Follow the Tour:

November 15
Faith Blum
Lakeside Publication
Claire Banschbach

November 16
Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father

November 17
Learning Resource Directory
Into the Bookcase

November 19
Gods Peculiar Treasure
A Pinch of Faith

And that’s it for this girl tonight. My tea has run dry now, anyway. Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay tuned—I have a post written to tell about the recent earthquake we had and aftermath, and hope to share that in another day or two. Just as soon as I can remember to sit down to upload pictures—providing our internet stays on, of course. It’s been acting up a little since the earthquakes.

Faithful in the Middle of the Storm (a Farewell)

There are some things in life you could never see coming. Some things that you know could—will—come eventually, but ones you never expect until you’re much older. Wiser. More able to cope, or at least accept. But death is no respecter of persons, whether old or young. I just never thought it would come so soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016. 1:00 pm.

The date and time are stamped in my memory forever. That was when we found out that my oldest brother—only sixteen months younger than me—was dead. And more than that, that he appeared to have taken his own life.

Snippets of the day remain, pieces of memory that typify the day our family was turned upside down.

Mountains

Seeing a friend who works as a volunteer on the ambulance trying to get onto the radio, hearing the chatter of who knows how many other ambulance personnel (none of it as serious as our case) from all over this side of the island, trying to break through with the message—“Patient status zero. Call off all other responders.”

The incredible local volunteer fire crew, many of whom we know—some even personally. Many came out to be with us, if only for a little bit in those first dreadful hours.

Looking at the clock and knowing someone ought to call the family in the States, and soon—they’d be going to bed before too long—but knowing that you didn’t want to do it. But someone had to, someone who could still talk, so I volunteered. I hope I never have to deliver such painful news again.

The post on Facebook an hour later, asking for prayer for our family, and the instant almost overwhelming but oh-so-comforting messages that began flooding in. The bittersweet knowledge that many, many people were offering up prayers for us, for our situation—it was humbling. And so, so encouraging.

The nurses, who stayed around with us—just being there—until the police came to talk to several of us for their reports.

The friend who came as soon as she realized what had happened, providing a shoulder for Mom to cry on and just being there for us. Because she loves us. She made time in her day, even though she had a big trip to prepare for. What more could you ask of a dear friend?

One of the many dear friends of my brothers, who also came as soon as he heard…but couldn’t stay to talk, because of other things going on. Who then came back later when things had cleared a bit, and just listened and was here for us.

The many other friends that came that afternoon and evening as soon as they heard, telling us that they were praying for us, talking about now-precious memories, and overall just being a physical visible wall of support for us.

Path

The path ahead looks steep, but there’s One who has already traversed it for us. Glory to His Name!

So many snippets. So many little conversations in the midst of the murky confusion of that first and the following days as we—I—tried to come to terms with the fact that my brother was actually dead. I remember that first night clearly, as I lay down and burst into tears. “Oh, Lord, I’ve lost my brother!” And as that long night drew on, I finally asked Him—the One who knows all better than any of us could—to take it. To use it as He saw fit. And most of all, to help us heal.

Faithful. Many times, at different stages, I’ve wondered what it would be like to go through something really, really hard. I knew that I could praise God in the midst of everything going well; I often took time to do that simply because a heart of gratitude needs an outlet and I was so, so thankful. I knew I could find beauty in normal, everyday life. But I wondered if I could still do the same in the midst of heartbreak. If I could find beauty in the middle of brokenness. Well, I found out—and yes, you can! Our God is so, so faithful. Faithful to heed the tears and inward pleas from hearts torn with grief, faithful to point out simple, small blessings, faithful to be there, to be the solid rock even when the storm is raging. He is faithful.

So as I sit here tonight, just over three weeks past that initial shocking day that has changed our family forever, I’m still thankful. Thankful for the time I had with Seth, thankful for the blessing and sharpening he’s been in my life in the past, thankful for the many little memories I have of our time together. Two things stand out especially—our trip together to the US (almost exactly a year ago), and that time we went out for coffee “just because” only eight weeks ago. Both were firsts for us, and both were memory-making ventures that I will always treasure.

Sheep

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine….” (John 10:14) I love thinking of Jesus as our Shepherd, especially through times like this.

The pain? Yes, it’s still there. I’ve lost my brother, one who was probably my closest playmate in my early years. We did everything together, and still have done a lot of that even up till now. We’ve had to rearrange so many things since he’s gone—the hole in our family, in our hearts, is huge. Just the other morning I was redoing our cleaning roster, and deleting his name in order to move things around felt like deleting a part of something that has always been…and I knew would never come again. But God’s grace and love are still there, still holding us ever closer together. We can ask “why?” and “how?” all we’d like, but in the end although this wasn’t God’s original plan we know He allowed it. And by allowing it, I trust that He has a bigger, better “why” for us—all of us—in the end. We haven’t seen the completed puzzle yet.

For now, it’s taking faith and patience. Yes, we miss Seth. Terribly. But there is One who is supreme, and can—and I believe will—turn even this into something beautiful in His time. God loves us, and although we can’t understand the depth of that very well, I can testify to the fact that that has been revealed over and over throughout this whole ordeal.

Praying friends, all of you who have spent some time offering up prayers for us over this time, thank you. We still covet them—the path to healing is looking very long. Thank you for your support—we feel it. May the Lord richly bless every one of you.

Kowhai flower

The Kowhai tree out in front of my house finally started blooming—only about 2 weeks later than all other trees! Still, I’m thankful. Isn’t our Lord good?

My dear brother Seth, I miss you. You’re now gone, leaving us the chance to see how much you did for us on a daily basis. Not only that, but you’ve left us with an even deeper appreciation for each other. You meant a lot to us in your short sixteen years. I’m going to miss your love of coffee, your willingness to help with just about anything, and your determination even in the midst of difficulty. There’s so much I could say, but I won’t. Just know that I’ll always treasure the memories I have of you. You’re gone now. Gone to the God that we’ve been taught of and loved all our lives. I release you to Him—He loves you so much more than I ever could, and I have hope of seeing you again one day. Farewell, brother. Thank you for the determination you’ve left with me to love the Lord more, and to get to know His Word even better than I have before. Thanks for all you’ve taught me. Love, your oldest sister.

Photo Challenge Finale (days 6 and 7), Snow, and This Week’s Plans

Whew! Busy, busy times. Between a full-on weekend last weekend (often not to bed until 11 or so), getting sick for the good part of last week, and a few other things that needed to be done, I decided to take a break. I’m sure I needed it, but in many ways I always hate taking breaks because it’s often really hard to get started again.

However, this time it hasn’t been that bad to get back in the groove. Yes, I did miss posting the last two posts of the photo challenge, even though I did take pictures each of those days. I finally have time today to get this post up—yay!

Day 6:

Birthday deserts

I even got a chocolate cake in the end—wished on me by a cousin, and given to me by a friend!

It was my birthday! I spent the whole day playing in the kitchen baking different things (pavlova, sugar-free pavlova, and sweet rolls), which was really fun. That evening, several friends came over to help us eat the turkey that had been butchered for the occasion. We had a great time.

Day 7:

Cook-out 01

The boys decided to burn a pile of sticks we had out in the paddock, and someone suggested a cookout for Saturday lunch. So that’s what we did. They got one of Mom’s cast iron skillets, fitted a long pole to the handle, and settled it in the middle of the coals after the fire had burned down. They then proceeded to roast precooked sausages. It was a delicious meal, finished off with a few marshmallows!

Cook-out 02

Cook-out 03

After lunch, most of us headed out to the ocean. Ross, one of the friends who had come Friday, was staying with us for the weekend and we wanted to show him around a bit. Since we were going to be near water, the boys inevitably wanted to bring their boats along. They had a great time for a little while—until it simply got too cold to be on the water any longer!

Boating 01

Boating 02

Boating 03

Boating 04

The two little boys got cold first. They ended up sharing a towel for a bit, until the older one was offered a quick boat ride. Then the youngest sat on my lap in an effort to warm up a little while we waited for the older boys to get ready to leave.

Boating 05

Flowers

Someone had the brilliant idea of giving me a few of the early daffodils right before we left the ocean—I loved it! And it was fun to be able to use my new vase for the first time, too. Lovely spot of color for my desk, especially these last few days as a winter storm has finally brought a little moisture to our part of the country.

And now today, a week later:

We got a little rain the last part of this week, and both yesterday morning and this morning we actually had a little snow on the ground! That doesn’t happen very often, because we’re only 50 meters or so above sea level—we do have a range of hills between us and the sea, but even so we generally only get rain. This morning on the way to church I got to take a couple pictures of the gorgeous hills and mountains surrounding us. There’s nothing like a touch of snow to make everything look bigger and even more beautiful than before!

Snow! 01

Kaikoura mountain range

Snow! 02

Taken as we crossed a river north of us—these are some of the hills between us and the sea.

Since it was snowy and very frosty (so much so, in fact, that early this morning we couldn’t get any of the van doors open—they were frozen shut!), we set off for church half an hour early. There’s a fairly high range of hills between us and church, and we’ve slipped a bit before on black ice, so Dad wanted to take it slow. Praise the Lord, we got through safely with plenty of time left, so we headed out to the ocean for a five-minute stretch break before going back into town for church.

Ocean

It’s been a gorgeous day, and the sun just set about half an hour ago behind the trees and hills to the west. It was one of those golden sunsets, the kind that you have to just stop and take in for a moment or two. God is so good to us!

Plans:

I posted a “planning” post two weeks ago, and although I would have done a new one last weekend, that didn’t work out due to more worthwhile activities. This past week ended up having plenty to keep me occupied with anyway, even without goals to meet, and I learned some valuable lessons through that. Even though it was a more difficult week, God has shown Himself faithful in innumerable ways and I think I’ve learned to rest even more on His guidance. It’s tough at times, but I know He holds the future and in that I can find complete peace. After all, “…the LORD thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (see Deuteronomy 31:6). What a promise!

For the most part, this week will probably be pretty normal, although next weekend is going to be busy. Lord willing, we’ll be attending a conference, so along with all the “normal” weekend stuff, that’ll be added in somewhere too. That means wonderful but FULL days! Even so, I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

To-do list from two weeks ago:

  1. Schedule reviews through the 31st
  2. Read The Destiny of a Galaxy
  3. Watch the DVD Fly Away Home (can’t watch this on my computer, so I’ll have to borrow Mom’s sometime)
  4. Read up/do practice tests for getting my learner’s driver license (nope, but I’m hoping to focus on that this week)
  5. Sign up for another affiliate program
  6. Work through the website to-do list
  7. Do some baking Friday!

This week’s to-do list:

  1. Write reviews of The Destiny of a GalaxySacred AllegoriesCapyboppy, and begin one for Coffee Cake Days (we’ve actaully almost run out of reviews, and I’ve read these lately so I ought to get the reviews written so I can post them!)
  2. Finish watching Ben-Hur and review
  3. Watch Fly Away Home
  4. Read Manuscript for Murder
  5. Upload reviews for the week
  6. Get this week’s newsletter out on time
  7. Study and practice for driving test

Overall, I’ve had a great couple weeks. I hope you have, too! Keep your eyes on Jesus this coming week and glorify His name!

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.

Please?

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?

Walnut Day

Last Saturday, I had just gotten back from my walk and picked up a pen to do some more review editing when my phone rang. It was Dad, asking if I could come with him and the boys to show them where the walnut trees were that my boss had offered to us. Sure! So I grabbed my camera, and soon we were on the way. My only job was to show them the trees, which meant I had enough time to take a few pictures of the workers. (Don’t worry; I did pick up my share of nuts when we went to another friend’s place to get some more!)

Walnut Day 01

While we were waiting to leave, this funny little girl found a ball. She would throw it, then look at me with a huge grin and run to grab and throw it again!

Walnut Day 02

Walnut Day 03

Older brother and youngest brother teamed up for a while, but soon my youngest brother realized picking up walnuts is boring, so he went off to play by himself while most of the rest of us worked.

Walnut Day 04

Little sister was very diligent!

Walnut Day 05

Walnut Day 06

Walnut Day 07

She did stop working to examine some gum tree bark after a while, though.

Walnut Day 08

Little brother climbed the tree!

Walnut Day 09

Walnut Day 10

A tiny portion of the crop.

Walnut Day 11

Walnut Day 12

The sunset last Saturday evening was gorgeous!

You know, while walnut gathering did disrupt my plans for last Saturday, I wouldn’t really have anything different. We had a great time as a family, and we’ll be very thankful for the nuts this winter. We’ve made some good memories. God is so good to us!