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 went 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!


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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.


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!


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!

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!

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Walnut Day 06

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

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Little brother climbed the tree!

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A tiny portion of the crop.

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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!

Guy/Girl Relationships: An Aha! Moment

These last few days, I’ve been really wondering what a Biblical perspective for guy/girl relationships is. How are we girls supposed to treat guys? Is it possible to be friends with a guy, and yet not have to worry about coming across as romantically interested when all you intend to do is simply be a friend? For me, it hasn’t been that hard to be friends with other girls. Yes, I’m always nervous when I meet new people, and am generally pretty quiet until I get to know them better. But I’ve never really had the chance to be friends with guys, probably at least partly due to the fact that I’m always worried that I’ll come across in a different way than I intend to.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this, and while I’m sure I don’t have the entire answer yet, I think I’ve found the key to the solution.

My problem is that I’ve always imagined friendships with guys with the view of them being possible future marriage partners. Never simply as “friends”.

Guy/Girl Relationships

From what I can see, these are two completely different friendships—the one with my girlfriends is mostly about being a blessing to them, listening when they have struggles, sharing struggles of your own, being together and talking about everything under the sun. However, what I’ve always imagined in a guy’s friendship is mostly stuff centered around romance and marriage. How selfish and pointless is that?

I think what’s happened is that I’ve unconsciously bought into a lie—and I’ll explain that in a moment.

I’ve got an older friend (and I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this!) that made a bad decision in her younger years. She went against the advice of her friends and family, and many years later realized her mistake and tried to correct it. However, from what I read in the Bible, her method of correcting the situation was wrong. That fact aside, she’s since told me that in effect, you should do what you deem is right, no matter what others say. That you should follow your heart no matter what the outcome will be, instead of leading your heart.

From what I’ve heard from modern music, TV, blogs, movies, the internet, and other sources (intentionally or not), I believe this is a modern worldly view. Modern media is pushing the thought that girls’ relationships with guys (and vice versa) can never be simply friendships. It’s okay to have lots of friends in your own gender, but if you cross over into the other gender, that most likely means that you’re interested in dating or going out with them.

The sad thing is, it’s so prevalent that I have unconsciously accepted that as truth. That I can’t have simple friendships with guys without having a “purpose” behind that friendship.

This is not only a lie, but it’s dangerous. And completely unbiblical.

A pertinent verse that comes to mind on this subject is one from 1 Timothy 5:1-2: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethrenThe elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (emphasis mine)

Taken at face value, this literally means we girls should treat younger men as if they were our brothers, and for the guys to treat younger women as if they are their sisters. Note that nothing is said like “but it’s best if you’re only friends with those of your own gender.” The only stipulation is that you treat them “with all purity”. That would apply to both parties, I believe.

For me, this is revolutionary—that it is okay to simply be friends. Of course, we still have to be careful in our friendships. We still have to be aware that others may see and interpret our words and actions differently than we do. But if we keep to treating everyone “with all purity”, in Christ’s love, be sober minded (yes, I’m talking to myself), and continually commit every friendship to the Lord—whether it be within our own gender or not—we should be alright.

Oh, and sober minded? Different definitions could include self-controlled, wise, discreet, or sensible.

Here are two other helpful passages as well:

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” —1 Timothy 4:12–16

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”—Titus 2:4–8

Learning to Love

This month, I’m participating in a study on love, based on 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve had different ideas on the topic over the years—back when I was 5 or 6 and couldn’t write much, the most common phrase in my letters was “God is love”.

Back then, those words were security to me. That is who God is. But my idea of love—God’s love—never went far beyond that. That is who God is, but I never applied it to my life as “God is love, so therefore I should be . . . .”

Learning to Love

Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2-3)

The study so far has been challenging and enlightening. Seeing how without love we are practically useless has made me wonder how love is shown in my life.

  • Am I showing love to my coworker when she offers to do the last little bit of cleaning, that can only be done by one person, and I let her do it? Especially when I know she’s tired and would rather go home to rest?
  • Am I showing love to my brother when he has an exciting experiment and I’m feeling tired and grumpy, so I tell him I’m not interested?
  • Am I showing love to my friend when I tell her of my troubles, but never care to ask her about hers?
  • Am I showing love to my neighbor when she stops by, and since I don’t really like her I take the option to duck out to my room and let Mom talk rather than carry on a conversation?

Truthfully, I have to answer no to all those questions. I’m pretty terrible at showing love. So this next week, I’m challenging myself to do at least one thing each day to show love to someone—whether it’s speak a word of encouragement, do something for someone, or simply listen to my brother’s idea and practice some patience.

This week, I want to be proactive about learning to love those around me. I do love and appreciate a lot of people, but usually that isn’t shown.

Will you join me? Can we have a positive influence on the world and the people around us this next week?

And if this aspect of love is a little easier for you than for some of us, do you have any practical tips for how to actively show our love to others?

Why Purposeful Families are Important

Recently, while reading part of my school work, I came across an interesting quote that reinforced the thought for me that purposeful families are important. By “purposeful”, I mean purposefully teaching children the skills they will need as they grow up—intentionally helping them learn the things that will make or break them as adults.

Why Purposeful Families are Important

Photo courtesy of Pixabay/Bessi | License: CC0 1.0

Here’s the quote:

“Families that have lost their knowledge of God’s dictated authority channels will not raise their children with the sense of honoring others that they should have. Children that grow up without learning to honor authorities will not know how to honor and follow church leaders or government authorities, and subsequently the nation will have many troubles in trying to retain order within its borders.” (That’s the quote in my own words. It originated in The Westminster Shorter Catechism: For Study Classes.)

To think that it all starts in the home—in the family—that discipline affects all areas of life, not only just disappointing parents if the children aren’t taught right, but also causing problems for the church and the nation besides!

All goes to prove how seriously I, as an older sister, should take my responsibility toward my younger siblings. Yes, I need to be fun and be a good friend, but when it comes to teaching them that they need to respect my wishes, I need to learn to not give in so much.

Do you ever have a problem with not being firm enough? Please tell me—it’d be a comfort to know I’m not the only one!


I just heard about this book, and thought I’d pass the word along. I’ve read two of Elisha Press’ books (including the prequel to this one—it was very good!), and really appreciate the values that are presented through them.

Flight School BookWin a Copy of “Flight School,” a 12-to-adult Christian Novel by Jason McIntire

Do you like Christian novels—especially ones with substance? Do you like free things? Head over to Elisha Press, and enter to win a copy of the latest release from Jason McIntire: Flight School: One Summer, Many Choices. It’s a sequel to The Sparrow Found A House, which starts the story of the newly-blended and newly-homeschooling Rivera-Sparrows. The kids are back in the new release, which follows them to the start of their adult lives. Flight School is full of interesting characters, realistic situations, and biblical truth. Don’t miss it! You can order the book on Amazon right now—$2.99 for the Kindle version, or $9.99 for the 256-page print edition.

I’m thinking now that it might be a good idea to re-read their books, so I can include them in this website. The McIntire’s have written books that are very worthwhile to read. (By the way—you can read several of Elisha Press’ books for free. Go here to check that out!)

The Legacy We Leave

Amy Carmichael was a remarkable woman. From the age of eighteen and on, after receiving a clear call to go work for the Lord, she devoted her life to bringing Christ to all those she met. She especially felt called to the poor, uncared for women in the countries she lived in throughout her lifetime.

From her mid twenties and on, she struggled with sickness—sometimes laying her so low she could not rise from her bed for weeks on end. Yet even in those “lowest of the low” times, she did all she could to enlighten the Western world to the great needs of those around her, and she still continued to do her best to love, care for, and help all the needy who called her “mother”. She always pressed on in her work, even when her body was failing her. She allowed nothing to get her down.

Amy left a legacy that has come down to us over the years: Perseverance. And yet, as I see the life I’m leading, I have to ask myself: When I’m on my deathbed, perhaps saying the last goodbye to my grandchildren, what will they remember me for?

Will they remember me as a happy, interested friend, or as a sober, aloof figure called “family”? Will I be remembered as pushy? Greedy? Unthoughtful? Wasteful?

Amy is remembered for giving her all—can I ever hope to attain to any level of that ideal?

Not that we want to glorify her in anyway—no. I believe that without Jesus she never would have done half the amount she did do. But she did leave us a beautiful illustration of what happens when Jesus fills all, does all, and we allow ourselves to be simply His servants.

May we ever remember that we are leaving our fingerprints on the lives of others—and ask the Lord to help us leave the best legacy we can for those who will come after.

You Aren’t a Failure

(A letter to my mom. I hope you other mothers out there will also be encouraged. You’re winners, too.)

Dear Mom,

I know you’ve said before—many, many times—that you sometimes feel like you’re a complete failure. I’m sorry. I know I’m probably one of the ones that made you feel like that the most.

Even though I’m not a mother, I know it must be tough at times—especially when I, as the oldest, am grumpy. I know the others copy my example, and I try to have a good attitude. I’m sorry for the days that aren’t so good. And for all the days I complain to you.

You Aren’t a Failure

Photo courtesy of Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures | License: CC0 1.0

I’d like to encourage you, though—don’t give up! You are making a difference, even if you can’t see it right now. We’re learning. We’re growing.

Each day you show us more of what it means to be like Jesus—yes, even through your exasperated sighs. Even though you’re annoyed—and yes, even a little cross when we break one of your jars—we know that underneath you still love us. A lot.

That love can only come from Jesus, because I can’t see any other way you’d ever be able to put up with us.

We love you, Mom. Yes, we hardly ever say it, but we do love you—and couldn’t imagine our lives without you.

Even if the laundry is still in that huge stack in the corner, we have plenty of clean clothes to wear.

Even though you still have no idea what we’re eating tonight, you somehow always manage to find something delicious to fill us with.

Even though we don’t want to do our schoolwork (I’m sorry, I still hate spelling), in later years we’ll be thankful for all that hard work and sweat you poured into each of us.

Even though we don’t always take your advice (yes, I’m thinking of that time I decided to make that huge Purim meal and didn’t have enough time), we still value your input.

Thank you for being the encyclopedia and dictionary for the family. That discussion on the gestation period of donkeys and whales was fascinating.

Thank you, too, for being a good example of stewardship—even when those apples and blackberries look like a lot of work.

Also, thank you so much for encouraging me to read and enjoy stories from little up—I still have fond memories of reading books before nap time. And exploring Grandma’s Attic together.

Above all, thank you for being a good example—even on those days when you’re feeling less than perky. I hope some of that can rub off on us children one day.

You’ve done a lot to mold us children into the people we are today, and I’ll be forever thankful. Thank you for your creative spirit, your humor, and your down-to-earth practicality. I wish the world had more people like you.

Thank you, Mom. You aren’t a failure — at all. You’re a winner who should have a crown.

Thank you for everything.


Five Healthy Ways to Develop Relationships

It’s hard to develop relationships with the little ones. As a big sister, there are times when I have little ones around me and they are—simply—getting in the way. Admit it—you probably have times like that, too. Then we’re expected to remember that we were once that age? Really, how hard does the job have to be?

When I was around seven years old, my then recently-married aunt and uncle came to spend a few days with us. At the time, my uncle’s family was living on our farm as well, and so when they came, our two families plus our visitors took a trip north to some sand dunes bordering several near-by lakes.

Five Ways to Develop Healthy Relationships

Courtesy of Pixabay/Unsplash | License: CC0 1.0

There were many fascinating things about the dunes, but one of the things I remember clearly was after we walked over the dunes to where they touched one of the lakes.

We played along the shore for a little while, but it was time to head back for lunch. My aunt and uncle took off before me, along with a few cousins. By the time I realized they were going and I was left behind, they were already quite a distance away. Dad and some of the other adults were still at the beach, but I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my aunt—who I had rarely seen, since she had been living with another aunt before her marriage.

I took off running after them, slipping and almost falling in the soft sand, calling for them to stop and wait for me. They didn’t seem to hear, and I got desperate. Eventually, I realized my floundering was useless, and I had to go back with my dad instead of spending the time with my aunt that I knew my cousins were enjoying.

It was traumatic, as a little girl, to realize I was being left behind . . . left out. I don’t think that it actually hurt me in the end, but it is something that I’ll always remember about that visit.

I understand that we can’t always incorporate the little guys into our lives. Sometimes, we have to tell them “Sorry, but I’m busy right now.” Even when they sweetly offer to make us an (imaginary) cup of chai. Whenever possible, though, I believe we should try to get them involved in what we’re doing.

Recently, I was reading a great book named Elsie Dinsmore. While I was enjoying the story, I noticed several fascinating things in the events depicted in the story—things that directly impact how we develop relationships with little children.

There were three things, in particular, that stuck out to me.

(But I’ll put in an extra two, because they’re also very important.)

  1. If you correct someone, never leave them in disgrace or questioning whether you still love them or not. Horace Dinsmore—Elsie’s father—is always correcting her. While she willingly complies to all his wishes that do not violate her conscience, he sometimes makes her wonder if, under all his sternness, he really loves her at all. Through his actions, he makes himself almost a tyrant in her life—even though she loves him dearly.
  2. Hear the other side of the story before you make any decisions. Several times, Mr. Dinsmore is very displeased with things Elsie has done—whether out of ignorance or other people just making it look like she’s done wrong, when she’s actually in the right. Several times, he makes harsh decisions and punishments without hearing the whole story.
  3. Make your decisions based on what the Bible says, not on your wants. Dinsmore is not a Christian, so many of his decisions are made without the wisdom of the Bible. If he had allowed Biblical standards to rule in his life, his relationship with Elsie would have been much better—and happier—for both of them.
  4. Don’t leave them out. Sometimes, you have to stay behind and help them, even though it means you might miss out on something. It’s a hard decision, but almost always—in the end—it is the best. It’s better to look back and say “I did miss that, but look at the relationship building I had there!” than to say, “I wish . . . .”
  5. Play along. For most of us as children, imagination was a huge part of our daily life. We made up our own friends, imagined our own families, lived our own imaginary lives. And when the “grown-ups” joined in, it only increased the fun. Don’t hinder the games they try to play with you—whether they’re “cooking” you a meal, “chasing” your cows into the field, or “hunting” for you, try to play along and encourage them—they’ll find it a lot more fun, and you’ll enjoy it, too!

Taking time for the little ones is often hard to do. It takes much patience and understanding, but eventually it is attainable. Look back to your childhood, and see how much it meant to you for an adult to leave the adult world and be a bit of a child again. There were special memories made, weren’t there? Take that experience and apply it to the little ones around you today—they’ll love you for it, and you will get beautiful memories in return.

Even if all they want to do is make you a cup of chai out of dead poplar leaves, let them. They’ll love you for your participation.

Question: What is one way you took time to develop relationships with the children in your life today? If you haven’t yet, what are some ways you could?