"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

23 April 2014

Because He is............

I'm busy.

I'm weary of work and it's only been 3 days since we returned from spring break!

The week so far has been tough on the little boy I assist in school.  Kindergarten this time of year is a busy place....and he has had some very difficult moments in school...........today was quite the day........

and then the after school activities that my teen is involved in means I am driving all over town.......

and cooking dinner at a different time each evening (which I deplore).........and doing laundry late in to the night, or grocery shopping late in the day........and reading for pleasure when I'm waiting in the car...or texting friends while waiting in the car.....or listening to praise and worship music while waiting in the car.....

I'm in the car a lot!

And yet.......I don't feel overwhelmed this week...........

I'm learning to breathe in, breathe out.

To embrace each moment.

To trust the One who gives us breath.................

to keep my eyes on Him and His plans for me.............

To pray while showering, folding clothes, making lunches, wiping down sinks

To continue in my quiet time and my walking for fitness time.......

To continue to press in to the One who brings relief from stress...........

Because He is Truth.......so I walk in Truth........

Because He is the way......so I walk His way..........

He is the One who gives us breath each day and the peace we need in the busyness of life........

because He is Life........

............He is.









20 April 2014

2014 Book Review #15: The Invention of Wings

I was on the library waiting list for this novel for over a month and so was pleasantly surprised when my younger sister Joy said I could borrow her copy.  She likes to buy books...I tend to borrow books from the town library because I love our library and it gives me something to do while I'm waiting for my 15 year old to finish up a ballet class. or two. or three. Seriously, I was  thrilled when I borrowed this book from Joy last week.  I LOVED the author's book The Secret Life of Bees and this one was just as good!!  It did NOT disappoint and I read it in less than a week. Of course it helped that I was on spring break all this past week as well. :)

STORY SUMMARY

This book begins in 1803 and goes until about 1829.  It is historical fiction set in South Carolina.

Sarah Grimke is the 11 year old daughter of a prosperous Charleston family in 1803.  She does not want to be like her sisters and mother...she feels that she has a good intellect and should do something big in the world rather than the typical marriage and birthing children that her mother is training her to do.  She is one of several brothers and sisters and at her 11 year old birthday party, she is given, as a gift, a young slave girl named Hetty ("Handful").  Handful feels like she is suffocating in this household as a slave. Her mother, Charlotte, has been the main seamstress slave for years.  Handful is to be Sarah's handmaid.

For the next 35 years, we see Handful and Sarah's lives intermingle.

Handful will experience much loss and sorrow in the years leading up to the end of the book.  She finds courage and a sense of her self. 

Sarah will experience ostracism from her family and city, betrayal, dashed hopes and dreams, and unrequited love....all before leaving Charleston to find her place in the world alongside her younger sister Angelina (Nina) who is fearless and a very emotionally strong woman.  

Sarah and Angelina are the pioneers of the early abolitionist and women's rights movements.

Will Handful ever taste freedom from being a slave?

Will Sarah and Angelina ever find love?

Will Sarah find her place in the world?

MY THOUGHTS

This was an excellent book. The characters are rich and capture your attention right away.  The mother-daughter relationship between Sarah and her abusive mother is so well written....I find my self despising Sarah's mother....and feeling sorry for her at the same time.  She had no idea how to treat people.


I loved Handful and her spunk.  I loved her mother Charlotte and her strength even during times of horrible abuse.  I loved Sarah yet it was Handful's character that really drew me in to this story.  

I didn't realize until the end when I read the author's notes, that Sarah and Angelina really did live in the 1800s and really did pioneer the abolition movement.  It is sad to me, and the author makes mention of this, that we do not know of these women via our history books.  Women's accomplishments from that era are not often talked about, read about or learned in our educational establishments. It is very interesting to read about them in the author's notes.  The author did fictionalize many parts of the story but she does inform us of the true-life events that actually took place and said she read diaries and journals of Sarah's in her research before writing the novel.

This is an excellent choice to learn more about the evils of slavery in the southern states and to learn about how real women did have an impact on society and the abolition movement as well as general women's rights in the 1800s.  

This book will open up your eyes to the realities and evils of slavery....and will expose you to two young women who made a huge impact here in the northern states to try to abolish slavery in the southern states.  I was cheering them on the entire way.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.



18 April 2014

Spring Break Faves


I can't believe Spring Break is almost over.

What a wonderful week of various activity!  As you read this, I am in the Boston area with Claire  and we are visiting my oldest, Courtney, at college.  We arrived yesterday afternoon and plan on staying until tomorrow.  Easter Sunday we will go to church with Dave and then out to dinner. Dave is back at home in NY due to work. Today we are exploring the village of Rockport, MA on the north shore.  It is so much fun!  and then it's back to school on Monday.  Courtney is heading into prep/exam time and Claire and I are heading into the final quarter of school. Our last day of school/work is June 26th.  I'm rather glad we had a late spring break  this year.....even though we did have an inch of snow surprise us on Tuesday evening!  But....I can still find 5 blessings from the week.  


  • TULIPS!  Nothing says "Happy Spring" than a nice pot of tulips.  Dave surprised me with my Easter gift a week early...he came home on Palm Sunday with this delightful pot.  They are in the family room waiting for the ones in the front yard to open up.  Hopefully the snow from Tuesday evening hasn't killed them!  For now I am enjoying the blessing  of fresh tulips...my very favorite flower!




  • SHOE SALE!  On Sunday, Claire and I went to one of our favorite shoe stores.  And just about every spring and summer shoe were on sale!  These are the ones I chose...and Claire chose a super cute pair of sandals.  The blessing is that they were on sale AND we had fun together!!  We even stopped for iced mocha lattes afterwards because we were so warm.....the temps on Sunday got up to 77(F)!  Whoo hoo!!  A triple blessing:  shoes sale, iced lattes and warm temps!


photo courtesy of hymnary 
  • Palm Sunday Hymn:  our church has a "rule" given by the pastor that there needs to be at least one traditional hymn each worship service. Oh how I love music...especially all the good contemporary worship songs...but I love the classic hymns even more!   This one is one of my very favorites from my childhood and college days.  It is perfect for leading off to Holy Week.  The way our worship band led us was just amazing....I was in awe at the concept of Jesus taking on ALL of our sin.  ALL OF US.  Everyone ever born.  It is truly amazing.  "Oh how marvelous, oh how wonderful, and my song shall ever be...how marvelous, oh how wonderful is my Savior's Love for me"....what a true blessing to be able to  sing this classic song. 


  • NEW DECK FLOWERS! Over this past week, Dave and I have cleaned up the yards, and set up our deck furniture.  We bought 2 pots of purple phlox and I re-potted them into the bigger pots shown above.  The scent is delightful.  They are supposed to bloom all summer long.  I did bring them in Tuesday night as the temps dipped below freezing.  I'll put them out again once the temps stabilizw above 40 degrees!  It's a blessing to have my husband's help with these outdoor projects as it freed up my time to do some much needed spring cleaning in the house. We all had chores to do over the last week and it feels great to have much of the work done.




photo courtesy of Courtney E T 

  • DAUGHTER TIME:  Since Claire and I have been on break all week, we have had lots of time to do things together which doesn't happen while school is going on.  Between her 3 ballet classes a week in the evenings, and youth group, and my small group ministry, and her homework load, plus her 3 clubs afterschool, I feel like we only really see her at dinner time! (not counting the weekends). So this was a good week because she was earning money to use in Boston by helping me do some spring cleaning and she totally re-organized her closet and dresser/desk.  I loved that! We've also had some good talks. And we took part of Monday to go shopping for some new spring/summer clothing.  We had a great time and I treated her to the first soft ice cream (fat free fro yo for me!) of the season at one of our favorite ice cream stands here in town.  What a fun week we've had...it's blessing to have a 15 year old who still likes to hang out with mom :)



That is my week in summary.  I also enjoyed some talks with my husband, our carpets were professionally cleaned and all set for summer entertainment, I had a brunch date with a dear friend from my small group and I enjoyed a lot of reading time!  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter celebrating the Life we have in Jesus our Savior-Redeemer.

If you have some faves from your week, how about sharing them and then linking up with Susanne?


HAPPY EASTER!  HE IS RISEN!!



15 April 2014

Book Review #14: The Shelter Of God's Promises

 
I finally finished this book!

Those of you who know me well, know I love to read...you also know that when it comes to most non-fiction books, I read slower....I tend to either read slower because they are often not as exciting....or...I read slower with non-fiction because I am also taking notes, or highlighting due to learning or wanting to use the material in my small group.  This book was both. I found it a little boring in spots....or maybe it's because the topic is one I've heard all my life or have read about all my life....and also there were parts I was just savoring.  I did quite a bit of high-lighting in this book, too and plan on using some of the material in my small group when appropriate. 

I first heard of Sheila Walsh back in the late 1980s when she was singing.  I think I even have one of her very first tapes....I always loved her accent :) as she is from Scotland.

BOOK SUMMARY/My Thoughts

The book centers around how God is with us......and His promises hold true even when our life situations might not seem like He is there...or if our faith is wavering.

The author brings in Biblical accounts of difficult times and how God keeps us secure during those hard times.  She uses personal experience to explain about growing in our trust of God that will last us a lifetime.

She makes it very clear that God sees us beyond the failures we bring to our lives...beyond our bad or wrong choices, and beyond our doubts and fears.  Lots of Scripture is used in this book.

I loved how Sheila included some of her own personal life story into this book.  The Scriptures she used really resonated with me and I found my self highlighting many parts of the book to go back through and meditate on or take notes on to share with my small group of moms.

Here is one of my favorite things she said in the chapter called "Hope".

"God doesn't want us to pretend our faith or give lip service to His promises.".

That is profound to me.  "God doesn't want us to pretend our faith".  I plan on discussing this in the small group I lead and journaling about this very statement.  She points out that God WANTS us to ask Him questions...and that it is ok.....we have the assurance that He will answer in due time...we  can have confidence in the knowledge of heaven and in Christ.

We can have the assurance that God really is REAL during our times of crisis or trials.

Each chapter centers around a different topic such as Provision, Peace, Confidence (about learning to see God's plan in the pain), Love, Grace, Hope, Strength (when you feel life crashing down around you), More (knowing that there is something better...I LOVED this chapter!) and Home (about our future).

There are study notes in the back of the book which are great as you can also do this book for a Bible study/Small group discussion.

I loved this book and highly recommend it.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.




Spring Photo Challenge: Days 17-24

I'm participating in Peggy's Four Seasons Photo Challenge.

I try to post the previous weeks photos on Saturday or Sunday.  I'm running late for April 6-13th (days 17-24 of Spring).

Here are my photos from last week:


Day 17 (6 APRIL)




reading corner/drinks corner of the deck


Day 18 (7 April)


the spring/summer welcome mat is ready!!

Day 19 (8 April)

the book I've been waiting for......I enjoyed it
on the chaise in the next day's photo..............

Day 20 (9 April)

the backyard in the late afternoon sunshine
Day 21 (10 April)


spring shoe sales!

Day 22 (11 April)



tasting and splurging on the new Pizza Hut Chicken, Tomato, Bacon Garlic Parm Pizza!

Day 23 (12 April)


"Happy Spring/Easter" from my husband!!

Day 24 (13 April)




the eating area of the deck is now ready!

Are you participating in the Spring Photo Challenge?  if yes, leave me a comment and I'll come by to visit your pics!!





13 April 2014

By Faith or By Sight?

We are about half -way through our Bible Study for the Got Teens?! small group that I lead in my home.

It has been an excellent study so far!  (see sidebar for book details).

Here are the notes for Lesson 5 which centered around balancing faith with sight.

I began the group by asking which game(s) they used to play as children, in the dark...and why did you like it (or not)?

Answers were Manhunt, Hide and Seek, Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Two of us liked that there was a sense of adventure...of risk....one person said she didn't play games in the dark nor would she have liked it as she would have been scared.

This was a great lead in to the thoughts expressed in the study...sometimes we have to just trust and walk by faith....with no seen things.....and other times we can see evidence of God at work.


  • We can use creation..the world around us, the universe, as evidence of God's work.  Creation is a perfect example of  "things seen".  
  • Question 2 had us exploring Psalm 145:4



photo courtesy of spiritual memoirs blog

It is our job as moms to share with our teens (and younger children) the things of God...the mighty works He has done for us......from Creation to the unseen things like Hope, Peace, Joy.

Non-believers might not agree that God created the heavens and the earth, so our actions and words will need to point them to God's Love. They will also get a glimpse of God based on how we, as Believers, face our trials and the "storms of life".

  • Discussion of #3 centered around things we cannot see....things we need to have faith for.  I gave the example of something God created that we can't see:  Wind.  We cannot see the wind but we can know its effects on us or the earth...we can see the results of wind...we can feel the wind.  It is no accident that God uses the word "wind" to describe the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2).  We can't see the Holy Spirit but we can see the fruit from trusting in Him....we can see the results of the Holy Spirit's working in us, our teens, our spouse, our families.....the church as a whole....



  • This lead in to discussing question 5 which centered around Hebrews 11:1....I have this verse memorized in the King James Version but here it is in simple language:

photo courtesy of blossom art via deviant art
HOPE is the power behind faith.

We can't see hope yet without it we can get discouraged or bitter.

Faith is having a confidence...a trust...in things we cannot see....in God....a knowing that He works ALL THINGS for good.  It might be a horrible situation we are in or someone we care about is in, but there will always be some purpose to it. We might not know what that purpose is while still on this earth in our humanness, but we can have the CONFIDENCE of knowing that God holds us.  And Jesus prays for us!!  He makes intercession to the Father on our behalf.  That is good news!

  • #6 centered around the fact that we do walk by faith and not by sight.  We discussed in depth about how getting to that complete trust in Christ comes from RESTING IN HIM.  That intimacy that we need to draw closer to Jesus and thus, trust in Him more.  This question is an example of how one lesson in the study builds on another.  Unless you have a good grasp of what it means to fully rest in Him, and unless you are consistently practicing the Presence of God...fully resting in Him....you will have difficulty fully trusting in Him and hearing from Him.  We need to be in Him to hear His plans and purposes for our lives.
I then wrapped up our discussion with question 7 and with 2 of us sharing about  the Scriptures found in the Dig Deeper section.


  • Psalm 31:4 is summed up like this:

photo via pinterest

This is a declarative statement!!

We can have confidence and say with all of our heart, mind, and soul that we are trusting in God.  That He is our God!!

and...we need to be telling others about our God...about His marvelous works, both seen and unseen.

Let's strike the balance....let's have the faith to pursue the things we cannot see and speak about the things that we CAN see.

Isaiah 65:24 says that before we even call on God, He hears us.  And He knows.  Sometimes all we need to pray is "God".  He knows.  


Are you walking by faith and sight??  






as with all Small Group Notes under that label, you do have permission to copy this post.