Book Review – “More Than Just Making It”

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I was really thrilled to be a part of the launch team for Erin Odom’s book – “More Than Just Making It”. This is one of those books I picked up and had a hard time putting back down.  This is a down-to-earth, heart-warming book that examines realistically finances, public assistance and more.

I love Erin Odom’s conversational style in the book.  I felt like I was sitting with her in one of her homes while having a real conversation.  This book touched my heart as well as provided inspiration and memories of what our lives where like when our children were younger.

And while I planned on writing today about this book.  I felt like I needed to talk more about my own #kissesfromJesus as a result of being part of this launch team.  About a year and a half ago, we moved from Pennsylvania to Texas thanks to the United States military.  We have no real family to speak of in the state.  So when Hurricane Harvey decided to come calling, we were in a dilemma about where to evacuate to for the storm.

Initially, we planned on hunkering down in our home.  But when the storm was upgraded to making landfall as a Category 3 “or higher”, I knew we needed to find somewhere to evacuate to for safety.  Somehow the topic of the storm came up on the book launch Facebook page.  A generous lady offered to open her home to our family in the event we needed to evacuate.  I filed the information away for future consideration.  Once we found out we were under a mandatory evacuation order, I sent a message to this amazing lady and asked if she was serious about allowing our family to evacuate to her home.  She quickly replied that we were more than welcome to come.  So that evening, I had our four children and my mother who all live with my husband and I pack in preparations to leave.

Another giant blessing was when we found out her husband was lactose-intolerant like our oldest son.  On Friday morning as Hurricane Harvey was preparing to making landfall in Texas, our family took to the highways to go to Dallas.  We were blessed with reasonable traffic and reasonably good weather for our travels.

Once in Dallas we were welcomed like honored guests.  Truly our family was blessed to meet Dominique and her husband.  She cooked amazing meals and had wonderful touches that made us feel incredibly welcomed.  We received #KissesfromJesus with this act of kindness.

So if you are looking for a new book to read, I recommend this book.  Trust me, if you read it, you will be blessed.

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Not Being Very Consistent

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It has been a while since I have posted.  Time has just gotten away from me.  I felt like other things needed to take priority over my blogs.  But now it is time to get back to writing.  So this post will hopefully get me back into the swing of writing consistently.  I am privileged to be part of the Home School Review Crew this year.  I am really looking forward to trying out new curriculum choices and sharing with my reads on one of my other blogs Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy on WordPress.

I am really excited about one of our first review assignments regarding a Creative Writing program.  I plan on participating with my children, so some of the activities may wind up here on the blog.

I also plan to spend some time this weekend creating a plan for the next few months of what I want to blog about.  I know I plan on participating in the Blogging A to Z challenge as well as Camp NaNoWriMo in April, so I will be sharing my thoughts and ideas regarding both of those activities here.

I also look forward to sharing thoughts about books I am reading personally as well.  I love to read and have bookcases full to illustrate the point.  So that is just a little about what is going on in our world.  I would love to hear what is going on in your world.

Been a While

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So it has been a while since I have posted here.  Life has been pretty eventful around here.  We have been homeschooling, doing Army Reserve Family Readiness group activities and trying to adapt to living in Texas. Additionally, I applied for and was accepted to the Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Review Crew.  So life is going to get a little bit more active in the coming months.

The first Saturday in December was our Army Reserve Family Readiness Christmas party.  I am the Family Readiness Group leader, so that means my family gets drafted into doing whatever I need to be done.  For this party, it meant setting up tables and chairs along with filling gift bags for the children.  Fortunately, they are good natured about helping me.  Here is some of the decorating including some of the tables.

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Normally, as soon as Thanksgiving is over I like to set up our Christmas tree and begin decorating.  But it seems that with each passing year, we actually get around to it later and later.  This year, I thought it was going to be Thursday before we could set up the tree.  I was sure we needed to buy lights for the tree and my husband agreed with me.  So you can imagine our surprise last night when he opened  a tote of Christmas items and found twelve boxes of brand new Christmas tree lights in it.  Immediately our oldest son was tasked with setting up the tree.  He, in turn, drafted our second oldest to help him.  Here is a picture of them working on it.

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Then today, my oldest continued with the task, by putting the lights on the tree. Here are some pictures of him at work.

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I just love white lights on a Christmas tree.  More importantly, I love sitting in the evening or first thing in the morning and watching the tree lights and admiring the ornaments.  Each year, I have continued a tradition that my mom started when I was growing up.  I buy each child their own ornament.  Plus, I buy a new one for us.  That way when the children move out, they will have a collection of ornaments to use on their tree and my tree will not look so bare.

We have decided this will be the last year for our tree.  It has been a loved and faithful member of the family.  We have had the tree for almost as long as our oldest son has been part of our family, which means it is almost 20 years old.  We have loved putting it up each year, but it is time to say good-bye.  That is a hard thing to do, however, because we are having a hard time finding a new tree that is unlit.  So I will keep you up to date on our artificial tree hunting adventures.  So far, Lowes and Walmart and Big Lots have let us down in this area.  Plus, I am not keen on the idea of ordering online when I can not see what the tree will actually look like.

So how are your holiday preparations going?  I would love to hear from you.

November 2, 2016

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Today is the second day of what should have been NaBloPoMo, but it does not seem to be running as normal this year. In previous years, there was a place to sign up, a place to enter the daily posts and a place to connect. When I looked around BlogHer last week for this information, it was nowhere that I could find it. Oh yes, there was always a button to place on the blog to indicate participation. So I find myself somewhat at a loss. But today, I have a writing assignment to complete. My writing assignment is for a blog that I contribute to on a monthly basis. I had already done one entry for this month, but they asked for extra posts so I said I would write one for them.

I am going to try to participate in having a grateful heart this November.

Some things I am grateful for:
1) My family – and especially my husband
2) Having a house to live in
3) Having a safe vehicle to drive
4) That Jesus died for my sins and is my Lord and Savior
5) Good friends
6) My mom
7) My Bible
8) My appreciation for books, because it means I am never without something to do.

Life is whatever we make it out to be. We can choose to find happiness, peace, and love or we can choose to look for the ugliness around us.

 

20 Years ago Today

13528123_910655249080671_2644836525209392490_oTwenty years ago today, our oldest son was born.  This child has kept me on my toes, made me laugh and made me glad I am a mom.  Through the years, he has entertained our family.  On Friday, June 28, 1996, Dennis and I arrived at the hospital around 6:30 am for our scheduled induction.  He was born at around 5:40 that evening.  He was a dream baby in some ways.  He truly is a blessing directly from God to our family.  Oh and it would not be fair to talk about Jacob’s birth without mentioning my birthing coach – Dennis’ sister-in-law Lisa.  She was truly amazing at all the births (she coached me for all four).   I am not sure I could have gotten through the labor and delivery without her.  Stay tuned in October, when all three others were born to read about their lives.

However, this grape ape would only fall asleep some nights by his dad holding Jacob with his head in Dad’s had and the rest of him laying supported by Daddy’s arm.  From one end of our single wide mobile home to the other end of the home Dennis would constantly walk bouncing Jacob the entire time.  The two had/have an incredible bond.

Two weeks to the day after he was born, he lived through his first hurricane.  A few months later, he lived through his second.

This baby became a toddler who loved to be with his daddy.  One day, Daddy took him to the garden to dig potatoes.  However, I think all he really did was throw dirt over himself.

Then our second son came along.  The two were inseparable, and quite good at being instigators.  At the tender ages of about four and two, these two were able to put our minivan in gear (Jacob steered) and Joseph was down on the floor board pushing the pedals.  Somehow the two managed to get the van in gear and drive it into our fence (a much better outcome than  what could have happened – them driving the van into our mobile home.

The young boy grew and started school.  On his first day, I took him and picked him up (along with his siblings).  My young son looked at me that afternoon and told me, he did not want me to take him and pick him up; instead he wanted to ride the school bus.

He continued to grow.  When he entered fourth grade, he started Cub Scouts.  The following year we were forced into a situation that resulted in us homeschooling Jacob that year and then bringing all four children home the following year.    He really came into his own through homeschooling.

Then he crossed over into Boy Scouts and just sort of took things as they came.  In November 2008, we moved from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.  Right before we moved, his brother crossed to Boy Scouts.  Joseph had drive and determination, which helped motivate Jacob.

Soon the two were picking up each new rank at the same time.  After all, as the song goes, “Anything you can do, I can do better.”  This was their philosophy.  Although I believe Jacob was less competitive than Joseph by nature.  He just was not about to let Joseph outshine him.

He also became a Young Marine and did a fairly good job at that.

In July of 2012, both boys reached the rank of Eagle Scout.  They had their boards of review the same night.  So technically they achieved Eagle the same date.  We did a combined Eagle ceremony for them, which was a tremendous success.  We had an amazing turnout.  My inlaws drove to PA, with two of Dennis’ aunts to celebrate with us.  My father-in-law even cooked a hog for everyone.   The aunts and my mother-in-law helped with cooking everything else.  It was a wonderful day, although slightly bittersweet – since we had just moved a couple of weeks earlier from western PA to central PA.  We came back just for the Eagle ceremony.

Today, we are in Texas and Jacob is starting his work as a Youth Pastor and will be pursuing college classes starting in the fall.  I love him dearly.

So I just wanted to share a little with you.  I have to say life is never boring with my JacobP.  He is a true joy that God has blessed me to call son.

Unexpected Opportunities

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Back in October of 2015, we found out we were going to be moving from Pennsylvania to Texas courtesy of the Army Reserves.  My husband and I knew we wanted to find a church as soon as possible.  So once we arrived in Texas in March, finding a church became one of our priorities.  The first church we visited was a church that overwhelmed some members of the family.  For us coming from a small church background, there were just too many people.  Everyone was friendly, but the congregation was too large for us.

I was able to reach out to a member of the local homeschooling community for the second time to find other suggestions.  One of the members sent me a list of a list of three possibilities.  I poured over the websites trying to get some idea of what the different churches believed.  Finally, my husband and I talked about what church to visit.  We made our decision knowing we had different options if this one did not work out.  We walked through the doors and immediately felt welcome.  My daughter found a kindred spirit in the pastor’s daughter.  My youngest son made friends with several young men at the church.  Most importantly, our oldest son who plans on becoming a Youth Pastor and is preparing to start college courses for this endeavor found an opportunity to serve as a youth pastor.  The current youth pastor has accepted a pastorate at a church out of state, and they will be leaving later this month.  So in the meantime, my son has begun working with the current youth pastor to prepare.  Last night he had his first solo event at our home. He had some of the teenagers of the church come to sing, pray and do a devotional.  All in all, it went very well.

On Sunday, many of the regular members of the Praise and Worship band were absent, so my oldest son played bass guitar, and I led the singing.  I have to say it was quite the experience.  I usually sing either acapella (no instruments – just voices) or with a piano that plays both the melody and backup parts. However, the melody was only led by me.  But I listened to my call to use one of the gifts that God provided for me.  It is amazing to see how God works.  I thoroughly believe God led us to our current assignment and to this particular church.

Have you ever felt a calling or done what you know what is right in God’s eyes.  I would love to hear from you.

#write365

Reset and Reflect

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So for the past few days, I have been focusing on my family and spending time with them.  Now that Memorial Day is past and Dennis is back to work, it is time to work on getting into a better routine of writing.

I have four children that I am blessed to be called “Mom, Mother, Mom-a-tron” and other miscellaneous spin-offs depending on the mood of said children.  I love them with all my heart.  They are a tremendous blessing to me.  As I watched news about a child, an animal at the zoo, and a mother unfold over the weekend, I recognized that by the grace of God, I could have been the mother in the headlines.  As our oldest turned two, I waited expectantly for the birth of our second son and I waited for the expected “terrible twos” to arrive.  However, we skipped that phase.  Instead, my son waited until closer to four years old to enter that phase.  My son, and in fact all of my children,  are stubborn individuals with a mind of their own.  I could not and would not expect less from them.  They come from a long line of people who had minds of their own.

As a parent, I tried to watch them diligently.  I tried to always keep an eye on them and worked to keep them safe.  Our children have never been to a zoo because I really had no desire to go to one.  But, our children went to the ocean and had plenty of opportunities for adventures and unexpected consequences.  However, we were blessed to never deal with unfortunate consequences.  Several years ago, we returned to North Carolina from Pennsylvania for my in-laws’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.  While we were there, we went to the beach.  We had barely exited the van when my daughter took off running across the sand barrier to the other side where the ocean was.  My husband and I followed as quickly as we could.  Her brothers were close by her side.  As she made it onto the sand, we saw her shoes go flying.  She was excited to see the water.  It would have been very easy for her to head into the water before we made it to her side.  Fortunately, she was old enough to know better and she did not enter the water.  But at four years old, she would not have had that restraint.

It is easy to cast blame and to judge other parents, but that is not what God calls on us to do.  We need to recognize that all sin is sin and there is no variation in varieties of sin.  All sin causes our God’s heart to break.  He has so much he wants to give us and wants for us.  We need to be open to receiving those gifts.  We need to have our hearts and minds open to those blessings.  Rather than judging each other, we need to walk with one another in love and understanding.  Jesus Christ died for our sins – every sin that has been or is being, or will be committed.  We need to accept the gift of forgiveness and love His death on the cross provides.  So I pray we remember what Jesus dying on the cross really means.  My heart breaks for the fear I know this mother must have felt.  Let us walk in love rather than judgment.

So what is going on where you are today?  I would love to hear from you.

#Write365

“Y” is for Youth and Yesterdays

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Today is the next to the last installment of the Blogging A to Z challenge for April 2016.  So that makes the letter of the day “Y”.  “Y” for me represents youth, yesterday’s, and yelling.

Oh to still have the exuberance and energy of youth.  I watch my children and notice the amount of energy they have and wish I could keep up with them.  There is never a dull moment with them around.

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“Y” is also for yesterday.  It is nice to have memories to look back on through the years.  I love looking back and seeing how our children have grown and changed.  The thoughts and ideas they have amaze me at times.  The “yesterday”, when I watched my husband baptize our oldest two,  brings tears of joy and happiness to mind.  Watching our oldest participate last year in the CHAP homeschool graduation brings back memories of so many “yesterdays” when he did this or that or was first born.  These memories of yesterday will stay with me.

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So what does “y” bring to mind for you?  I would love to hear from you.

#Write365

 

“X” is for X-rays

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So today is another installment of the #BloggingAtoZ challenge, and the letter for today is “x”.  “X” for me brings to mind memories of x-rays.  Through the years, I have experienced a number of x-rays – both as a patient as well as either the spouse or mother of a patient.  One of my sister-in-laws works as an x-ray technician.  Some x-rays are not too bad.  Others like when I had to have my knees x-rayed for my arthritis are down-right painful.  The positions are awkward, the amount of time to maintain the position is painful and still others are just irritating to have done (like dental x-rays).

I have had normal x-rays, ultrasounds, CAT scan and MRIS, including an esophageal ultrasound of my heart.  While they are all different, they each come with their own set of challenges.

So what does “x” bring to mind for you?  I would love to hear from you.

“V” is for Victoria

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So it is another day of the #BloggingAtoZ challenge, and the letter for today is “V”.  For me, “V” reminds me of Victoria, our new hometown.  Back in October, we received notification that we would be moving to Victoria, Texas with a report date in February.  We kept waiting for our orders to come, but there was no funding to move us.  Some of our family were rally excited about the move – especially since it meant warm weather and being near beaches.  Others in the family were not so thrilled.  I know I am going to miss the Amish markets we used to buy our produce at locally. Plus, I am going to miss the grocery stores that carried a variety of lactose-free foods for our oldest.  But, Victoria has some charms of its own.

I love that for the first time in about nine years; we live in one story.  Our home, while not as big as our last home, offers many features that make it desirable.  In Victoria, we have many restaurants our oldest can eat at safely.  Also, we have a Sam’s Club right in town.  In about 15 minutes we can get almost anywhere, we need to go.  Plus, we are about 2 hours from San Antonio and Corpus Christi, which both have a lot to offer.


In Victoria, we have tw colleges, a number of churches, a ballet company and numerous activities to participate in along with a river.  So all in all, I think once we get unpacked and settle in we will enjoy our new community.

So what does “v” bring to mind for you?