What I’m Reading, January 2017



This is the view from my kitchen window, looking at the barn Pete and the kids built.  The picture was taken in January three years ago.  Now the barn is red.  At the moment, we have no snow.

This wasn’t a good month for reading.  But, my daughter graduated from college, we had a good family Christmas and the bookstore’s doing better than last year. So, who can complain?

Linking up again with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

What I’m Reading, plus What I Gave for Christmas:

   Buy now from Amazon

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Newport first builds the case for the importance of deep work, then he expounds on practical steps to accomplish it.  Simply put, what is needed is focus and discipline.

I agree with Newport’s main premise:  we are doing worse work because we’re distracted.  I see it all the time in the low quality of books that are published and the huge vacuums that exist in many genres for high quality work.

Newport is a college professor.  Publishing in scholarly journals is the deep work he needs to accomplish.  I think the principles apply to all writers, and probably all knowledge workers in general.

I think the most profound books are ones that are simple common sense:  ones that people agree with and see the wisdom of, but didn’t take the time to articulate themselves.  It seems so simple.  So obvious.  And, yet, it wasn’t done before.  I would put The Purpose Driven Life in that category as well as Deep Work.

It is the path of least resistance to fritter away our time.  When we are careful about every working minute and rest well away from work, we accomplish so much more.

I was intrigued by the end of the day ritual.  For sure, it is the lingering worries of work that sap your peace and relaxation when you’re away from work.  Learning to wrap things up at the end of the day and be at peace with where you’re leaving them is critical for resting well.

His chapter, “Quit Social Media” is a little misleading, because he doesn’t really advocate that you quit social media.  Some would argue that if you want to write, you have to leverage social media.  But, the irony is that social media is keeping you from doing your best work, because you become a consumer instead of a producer.

The instant gratification is a problem, as well.  The instant distraction, the problem of never being bored.  If you’re never bored, then you never think.  You don’t create to fill the hole of that boredom.  You don’t wonder, daydream, imagine.  That vacuum is filled.

What I Gave For Christmas

  Buy now from Amazon


I gave The Dangerous Book for Boys to my nephew, a fifth grader.  I’ve been in love with this book for several years, just waiting for one of my nephews to get old enough to appreciate it.

It looks like it’s an old-fashioned book, but it’s a fairly recent publication.  It’s got a little bit of everything that boys love.  Stories of extra-ordinary people.  Morse code, stars, tying knots, fishing, building a tree house and famous battles.  All the things that interest males and curiosities that are usually thrown over for video games, computers and all things screens. Little snippets and pieces of scads of interesting things.

  Buy now from Amazon

I gave a niece and a nephew Press Here.  Every page has instructions to the child that result in changes on the next page. I love it because it taps into the imagination of a little person.  Just like Harold and the Purple Crayon.  Just like Frindle.

  Buy now from Amazon

I gave some of my nieces (I have a lot of nieces) the Inspire Bible. It’s a New Living Translation Bible with artwork in the margins to color.  Some pages have blank margins to create your own artwork.

I gave the paperback edition, but there’s several different cover options as well as a large print edition.

What are you reading this month? 



What I’m Reading, December 2016

We got our first real snowfall in Indiana last week, school canceled and everything. December has always been packed, and we have pared down Christmas traditions in our house.   Someday we’ll be able to pick them up again.

Tomorrow my daughter graduates from college.  Eight family members are joining her in California to celebrate.  I’ll take that kind of jam-packed December any time.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for December’s Quick Lit.

  Buy now from Amazon

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler’s work flows so easily.  I think I read somewhere if the author does the hard work, the reader doesn’t have to.

She takes a multi-generational approach in this book and bounces back and forth between time periods. The plot is intriguingly complex. The characters are likeable.  Okay, the daughters in the family are a little flat.  But, in general, you like the rest of them.

Really, it’s the interpersonal family dynamics that are compelling.  Everyone can relate to them, because everyone knows someone like them.

I would have to say that it wasn’t necessarily a moral book, but it didn’t glorify immorality.  The reactions to it were appropriate.  It would be virtually improbable and implausible to have a four generational book without any straying from the straight and narrow.  That is human nature.  How society responds matters.


  Buy now from Amazon

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

It’s hard to say what the book is really about without spoiling the story.  It’s even hard to say who the story is for without spoiling the main plot twist.

All the reviewers do a good job of not spoiling the plot.

“In the end, the book doesn’t just break your heart; it takes your heart and won’t give it back,”  according to one reviewer.

It took awhile to get into this book and about a fourth of the way through it took a wild left turn.  I felt jaded.  This wasn’t where I wanted to go.

It wasn’t really a book that resonated with me at a deep level.  Certainly not a story to invoke my tears.

But, it explored that question “what if?”,  just like Age of Miracles.

I haven’t read the end yet, so I’m not convinced it will be heartbreaking for me.

However, a good story is a good story is a good story.  It doesn’t matter who it’s written for.

When all’s said and done, every great novel is really a mystery, because every great novel keeps you turning pages to find the answers.

  Buy now from Amazon

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

“The true story of one man’s miraculous survival after a mountaineering mishap high in the Andes of South America.”

I’ve been on the prowl for another great family read aloud, along the lines of Endurance and Unbroken.  Even though Touching the Void and Into Thin Air are incredible true life accounts, I didn’t think the writing was of the same caliber as those two.

There’s a lot of climbing terms and concepts that I didn’t understand and it took a while before the story became compelling.  If I hadn’t known what was coming, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it.  The account is a testimony to the human will to survive.  Although it was only given a passing reference, it’s also a testimony to the prayers of Joe’s mother.

It’s fascinating to me to analyze the decisions you make in the face of death.  What motivates you to keep going when it’s hopeless and what motivates you to give up?

  Buy now from Amazon

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

In 1996, eight mountain climbers lost their lives while attempting to summit Everest.  Jon Krakauer is a journalist and climber who survived and wrote about it.

To me, one of the most interesting dynamics is the role of leadership and teamwork in summiting as well as personal, individual responsibility.

One of the critical factors in the deaths of those on the mountain in 1996 was the enforcement of the turn around time.

Hall, the team leader, had been so strict about that for other teams, but with this one, he wasn’t.  He didn’t communicate clearly whether the turn around time was one o clock or  two clock.  On the actual summit day, people were summiting at 4 and 5 o clock.

No one seemed to know that there was a storm blowing in.

There’s a lot of competing forces at play:  people who spent a lot of money to summit, the commercialization of summiting, magazines that would pay a lot for the story, advertisers looking for heroes.

There’s also different teams that were summiting and the different philosophies of the team leaders.

Should a leader be making decisions that are unquestioned?  Does that actually put his team at greater risk because they don’t follow their own wisdom?  Actually, the genius of Hall’s leadership was to make the decisions ahead of time, not in the heat of the moment.  And the actual breakdown came in not following through with those wise decisions.

The safety net wasn’t there when it needed to be.

The bottom line is, it impossible to erase all the risk.  That’s one factor that makes the challenge so attractive:  there is an element of risk involved.  Defying death is part of the victory.

  Buy now from Amazon

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

I was profoundly disappointed by this book, though it is no fault of the author.  I had an expectation of this author’s work that was incorrectly based, as it turns out.  I had an expectation of the book based on the title, which was also incorrectly based.  So, it didn’t go where I had hoped and thought it would.

The story followed one family over the span of 70 or 80 years.  The things I enjoyed about the first Anne Tyler book I read still applied— snapshots over a long period of time involving the same characters.  Your desire to find out what happens to them keeps you turning pages.  Come to think of it, that’s the way Love Warrior was written–leaving out the boring parts.

What are you reading this month?

What I’m Reading, November 2016


The weather continues unseasonably warm, but we got our first heavy frost last week.  We’re enjoying the lull between soccer season and basketball season.  The bookstore got a facelift with a new paint job.  Still waiting for our new signs to show up.

I thought I only had read a few books for review, but I had forgotten about some.  Some good picks this month.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

magnoliastory Buy now from Amazon

Chip and Joanna Gaines are extraordinarily ordinary people.

The Magnolia Story takes you behind the scenes of HGTV’s star couple.

They are unusual to take so many risks, but very human.  Hard working people with  a strong marriage.  No TV in their lives.  Talented, yes, but, really, it’s the synergy that they bring to the table that catapults them to success.


mr-penumbras   Buy now from Amazon

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore is a fun mix of old books and new technology. The characters are fairly engaging, likeable and relateable.

It did start to slog about a third of the way through, but a new character was introduced and that made a big difference.

The story is not really about a bookstore, it’s about a secret society, so there’s some mystery there that keeps you turning pages.



hamsterprincessBuy now from Amazon

The Hamster Princess is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty.  Cute interpretation.  Not sure if I’ll read any more in the series, but that one was entertaining.  Really not sure which age level it’s aimed at.  I’d guess elementary school girls.  It did have some layered humor, now that I think about it, with all the references to organic cabbage and so on.

tribe Buy now from Amazon

Tribe is fascinating.

Interesting food for thought.

So Tribe talks about some interesting things, some are not intuitive.  One is that people miss war.  They miss the comradrie, the breakdown of natural human barriers, the absence of isolation that comes with war.  There’s actually less mental illness during war.  Possibly because people aren’t focused on themselves, but on a common enemy.

Here’s another thing:  sufferers of PSTD from rape have an easier recovery than war victims.  The author proposes that war victims have a harder time separating the good from the bad in their experiences.  Sleeping in close proximity with a lot of people apparently is better for your mental health than being isolated.  Maybe nursing home are a good idea.

Another thing was the difficult adjustment that servicemen had coming home and re-adjusting to civilian life. Again, there’s that loss.  The loss of living and sleeping in close proximity.  The loss of a common enemy.  The loss of people who understand you and your way of life.  So much of that can be applied to missionaries returning to their passport country.  There’s the loss of the expat community.  There’s the loss of the cause and the common vision of evangelizing a lost people group.  There’s the camaraderie of fighting a common enemy.  There’s even the living and sleeping in close quarters.  There’s a loss of living life together, even under less than ideal living conditions, maybe especially under less than ideal living conditions.

There’s a loss of identity in coming back.  There’s re-negotiating your marriage.  There’s re-negotiating all your relationships.

This type of sociological analysis intrigues me.

I was intrigued by the publisher of Tribe, also:   Twelve.  Apparently they only publish twelve books a year.  This one was a short book, shorter than most, and it is well-written.  I’ll be interested to see what else they’ve published.

acuriousbeginning  Buy now from Amazon

A Curious Beginning doesn’t get five stars for promoting morality, but at least it wasn’t immoral.  Four and a half stars for traditional values.

I bogged down a little in the middle, but I love a book that surprises me: honestly, a curve ball I didn’t expect.

I appreciated the two main characters in the book, even if I didn’t identify with them, I found them entertaining.  There’s also something enticing about a story set in England in the 1800s.  It almost makes me want to look up a little history from that time period.

lovewarrior Buy now from Amazon


Raw. Real. Brutal transparency.

I’m haunted by her story. What a triumph of grace.

Not many memiors are page turners.  Love Warrior is.

It’s not just the honesty and transparency that’s compelling.  It’s the victory of the human spirit.  It’s the journey everyone takes that they are afraid to voice.  It’s the courage that it takes to say those things out loud.  It’s being afraid and doing it anyway.

And the reader, from the safety of their lazy boy, is free to judge or not.  But there’s something holy about a soul laid bare, exposed for the world to see.

She was bulimic and alcoholic that grew up in a loving home.  This book focuses primarily on her marriage and how two broken people try to find themselves and each other.

It’s messed with my mind at many different levels. It’s rare to find such gut-wrenching honesty about life without a spin.

Her hallmark is extraordinary courage.

Heads up for language and some graphic passages.

Postscript:  Since Love Warrior was published, Glennon Doyle Melton’s life has changed.  That has given me more food for thought and I’m hashing through it.

blackstar   Buy now from Amazon

I read SD Smith’s The Black Star of Kingston, mainly because I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of The Green Ember, which is the S.D. Smith book that I really wanted to read.  I was little underwhelmed by the story of a community of rabbits that has power struggles for control of the kingdom and fights enemies and is bravely loyal to king and country.

But, then again, I didn’t ever make it to the end of Watership Downs.

I’m hoping The Green Ember will be better, because I’m always on the lookout for great books to give my nieces and nephews.  I was hoping for a stronger spiritual message in the book.  Maybe I missed it.  There is a good classic conflict between good and evil and more than a glance at traditional values.  Those qualities alone are hard to find. I can live with that.

What are you reading?


The Ties That Bind: Understanding the MK Connection


A classmate of mine is no longer walking this earth.

I feel the loss deeply.

I wonder for the umpteenth time why the bonds between third culture kids are so strong.  After all, it’s been decades since we shared a campus.  Only a small fraction of my life was spent building friendships in that arena.  And, yet, the impact is inexplicably profound.

I’ve pondered it again this week as I have before.   But, this time, I’ve come to some new conclusions.

The pyschological explanation is that we all met during impressionable, vulnerable years when our identities were in formation. We all experienced two or more cultures and were trying to decide which culture we personally identified with.  “Who am I?”  just became more complicated.  And here we are surrounded by a group facing this same challenge.

Most of us were not living in our passport country and far from extended family.  Into that vacuum emerges a third culture.  A group of expats on the same journey.  Kindred spirits who knew what it was like to be transplanted.  To be dropped into an island of English speakers surrounded by foreign languages, food and ways.  In this context, we struggle to answer the questions: Who am I?  Which culture will I choose?  Who are my people? Where is my tribe?  Where do I belong and how do I get there?

Those same fundamental questions we were all facing and answering, mostly oblivious to the process, but mindful that we were not alone.

The spiritual explanation took me by surprise.  I woke up one morning with verses from Mark 10 on my mind.  “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel, who will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age  (houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields– and with them  persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”

The bonds are strong, the connection is deep because Jesus promised to provide family to those who had given up family.  He hard-wired the bonds to be stronger than passing friendships.  Many in that expat community were missionaries.  They had made sacrifices for the sake of the gospel.  Jesus promised to recompense those sacrifices.  Not only in the life to come, but in this life as well.  Inexplicable.

Related posts:

When Your Family Tree is Grafted

The Itch I Couldn’t Reach

What I’m Reading, October 2016


The weather in Indiana has been unseasonably warm for October.  Not that I’m complaining.  Cold weather is not my thing.  Soccer season has wrapped up.  Camping is over for the year.  I’m working fewer hours now at the bookstore, which is good for my sanity and good for my reading life.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

4disciplinesof-execution   Buy now from Amazon

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

I liked the emphasis on trying to move forward in the midst of the whirlwind.  This resonates with me.  There’s so much daily pressure.  Lots of details that must be tended to every day and some that fall through the cracks.  To move forward, you have to resist all that pressure and focus on the things that move you forward.  Those are your priorities.  Even when there’s so much else to do.

The book deals with how to achieve your “wildly important goals” through lag measures and lead measures.  It took me awhile to understand the main concepts, but I they were helpful once I understood.

To be honest, I didn’t make it to the end of the book, but I will revisit it.


undoingofsaintsilvanus Buy now from Amazon

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

I wasn’t expecting a novel by Beth Moore to start out with a dead body.  But, it works.  She calls this project “novel” in every sense of the word, because it is her debut into fiction.

The story centers around Jillian Slater, and the dead body belongs to her father.  From the front dust cover  “She hadn’t seen her or her grandmother, the ice queen— in almost twenty years.  Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.”

I had to push myself to finish because the story started to slog in the middle.  Although Jillian as a main character lacked some emotional development, there was a strong plot and the story was redemptive.  I didn’t expect any less.

rulesofcivilty  Buy now from Amazon

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

I loved the setting of this novel, one that was unfamiliar to me—New York in the thirties and forties.  There’s something about New York that captures the imagination. When I visited as a child, two things made an impression on me: the streets were dirty and the unusual dress and hair styles of the Hasidic Jews. Still, the allure of New York transcends reality.

Katy Kontent is a working girl, but she runs in circles with the wealthy of New York.  But, life doesn’t go as planned and people aren’t always who you believe they are.

The novel is well-written and compelling.  The morality leaves much to be desired.  I can’t quite identify the intrigue is in this novel.  It certainly includes unexpected twists.  It’s a tribute to the complexity of human nature, and especially human love and romance.

elizabethismissing  Buy now from Amazon

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Loved the unique premise of this book. It’s told from the viewpoint of an older woman whose wandering, forgetful mind is sliding into dementia.  It flashes back to her childhood. The greater portion of the book focuses on the events of Elizabeth’s early years.  It’s interesting as she’s losing her grip on remembering details, she still remembers the feeling of loss.

To me, that rings true.  The human psyche is a wonderful and marvelous thing.  It never ceases to amaze me.

The pain of dementia is offset by the complexity and sweetness of family relationships.

thehidingplace  Buy now from Amazon

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Ten Booms built a secret room in their house to hide Jews during the Hitler’s occupation of Holland. They were discovered and arrested by the Germans.

I didn’t see it in the past, but the real hero of the story is Casper Ten Boom, Corrie’s father.  He taught his children the truth.  He led his family to believe the Word of God and live it out in practical, every day life.  They did what was in their power to combat evil.

This book has impacted me for decades.  I remember going through hard times and thinking “If Corrie Ten Boom can survive, I can survive.”

tellyourtime  Buy now from Amazon

Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

Such a great book!  I learned so much on her blog and through her e-book.  I’m kind of excited about e-books now that I know some of the inside story.

I think there dollar, 50 page e-books are the way to go.  It breaks down a lot of the barriers people have about buying books and reading books— too much money, too much time.

Amy calls it her unique selling proposition to sell a short book on time management.  (Maybe someone should sell a cheap book on money management?  Of course, you can find lots of free stuff on the internet.)

I learned from her blog why she turned down a traditional book publisher.  The book publisher wanted it 7 times longer, to justify the cost of printing and selling the book.

Of course, that defeated her purpose.  Which goes to prove a lot of books are “stuffed with fluff” (to quote Pooh) in order to make them long enough to print as a traditional book.

Tell Your Time is concise and practical.  She implements and tweaks principles from two of my favorite books, Margin by Richard Swenson and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stepehen Covey.

thekeeperofthebees  Buy it now from Amazon

The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter

Gene Stratton Porter is one of my all time favorite authors.  A guest on the Read Aloud Revival called this her favorite Porter book. I liked it well enough, but don’t think it’s better than Girl of the Limberlost or Freckles.

She does a good job with plot, keeping you guessing while you’re turning pages.  Five stars for wholesomeness.  If anything, this one erred on the side of preachy.  It’s so interesting to see what things have changed in the last 100 years, and which have not.  Baby care certainly has.

The Bee Keeper centers on a wounded soldier who has escaped a government hospital and throws his fate to God.  There’s some things that could be considered coincidence in the story, and some that’s predictable, but overall, satisfying.  Stranger things have happened in real life and God does work in mysterious ways.



What I’m Reading, September 2016


September means soccer for our family.  The weather’s been great for sitting in the bleachers, a nice relief after some sweltering days.   I haven’t brought any books to a soccer game yet, but they sure showed up at basketball games last year.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for September’s Quick Lit.

theageofmiracles   Buy now on Amazon

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I believe that all great fiction rings true.  Even the ones with the most preposterous premises.

The Age of Miracles tells the story of a family dealing with the slowing of the earth’s rotation.  Every day is longer, every night is longer.  All the implications, all the choices, all the consequences.

Even though the premise is preposterous, the story still rings true.  Why?  Because it shows the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of cataclysm.  It shows the importance of deep relationship in the face of crisis.  It shows the inevitability of coming of age, in spite of whether or not the earth turns.

I liked the main characters.  That helped a lot.

I liked the traditional values portrayed in the story.  Which goes to show, you CAN have a great story without a moral slide.

oneandonlyivan   Buy now on Amazon

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This book was recommended by Sarah Wright of the Orthodox Mama as one of her favorite Newbery Award Winner books.

I didn’t realize until after I was finished that the book was based on a true account of a Silverback that was captured as a baby and grew up in captivity without any others of his kind around.  It was a cute story and I finished it, so that says something.

I’m not sure I can put my finger on what kept me turning pages on this one.

I’m not much of an animal lover. In general, I prefer the ones on the printed page to living, breathing ones.  A mouse in a book can be adorable (I loved Mrs. Frisby).  Living? Not so much.

thetellingroom  Buy now from Amazon

The Telling Room:  A Tale of Love, Revenge, Betrayal and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti

This book sits in a genre by itself.  Is it memoir?  Is it biography?  It could even be classified as a business parable.  That is part of it’s charm.  The story itself drew the author in like a tar baby and wouldn’t let him go until he became an integral part of the story himself.

I’ve come to the conclusion lately that every great book is a mystery.  Maybe not every book answers “Who dunnit?” but at least,  “What’s going to happen?”  “How does it end?”

This book has it in spades.  “How does it end?”  keeps you turning pages.  And, if the ending was a teeny bit of a let down for you as it was for me, it doesn’t much diminish the journey it took to get there.

And what is the story?  Well, it does center around the world’s greatest piece of cheese.  Maybe not the most expensive cheese ever, but, without a doubt, the most compelling cheese ever.  It’s the story of the creator of the cheese. His family, his friends, his environs.  Yes, the love, revenge and betrayal are all there, too, but I won’t spoil the story by explaining how.

If you’re looking for a story that eloquently captures the bittersweetness of human nature, this book is for you.

andthegoodnewsis  Buy now from Amazon

The Good News Is  by Dana Perino

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the first few chapters of this book, when Dana traces her lineage back several generations, but eventually, the pieces fell together and the story took off.  The book basically answers the question, “How do you become the White House Press Secretary?”  In Dana’s case, it wasn’t something she set her cap for at an early age.  It arrived one step at a time, basically by being bored with all her other jobs, including a short stint as a stay-at-home wife.

bluelikejazz  Buy from Amazon

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Blue Like Jazz is reminiscent of an Anne Lamott memoir.  They’re both off the charts in honesty, transparency and authenticity.  We identify with those inner insecurities that we can’t even admit to ourselves, much less to others, committing them to black and white and hurling them to the world.

I’ve read Donald Miller’s memoir several times. I have also read Scary Close, which is somewhat of a sequel, but it doesn’t have the same punch as Blue Like Jazz.  Growing up fatherless is an underlying theme of Blue Like Jazz.  By the time Scary Close was written, Miller has resolved many of his emotional issues and experienced a lot of healing.  So, it’s not driven by the same pain.

I believe writing in itself is therapeutic.  As is sharing your story.  I heard Miller recently talk about the desire people have to be heard and seen and known.  He’s been there, done that and now has no more need to be seen and heard and known.  He’s heading a successful company now called StoryBrand that helps businesses tell their story .


miraclesfromheaven  Buy now from Amazon

Miracles From Heaven by Christy Wilson Beam

The true story of Annabel Beam is captivating.  We saw the movie first and it was so compelling I had to read the book to see what was true.  I was initially disappointed that some aspects of the story were changed in the movie.  The real story was even more amazing, but understandably did not transfer well to film.

That being said, one little phrase stuck with me and rattled around in my head,  “mama bear”.  Aside from the miraculous intervention of God, this is the element that stuck with me.  Because I see that element in some moms I know— every day heroes who rouse that mama bear when the welfare of their cub is at stake.  Mama bear is a good thing.  The courage it takes to stand up to whatever is threatening our children is just as miraculous as the the direct intervention of God himself.  God placed the maternal instinct in moms that plays out every single minute all across the planet.

Miracles From Heaven tells the story of Annabel Beam— her incurable, life-threatening disease and the 30 foot head first fall that didn’t kill or injure her.  The Beams are a family of faith.  But faith isn’t the hero of the story.  God is.  Science cannot explain what happened to Annabel.  Whatever you believe, there is no natural explanation for what unfolded.


undoingofsaintsilvanus  Buy now from Amazon

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

I’ve just started this book, so I’ll revisit it again next month, but so far, I’m impressed.  This is Beth Moore’s first novel.  She is best known for writing Bible study workbooks.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you a small percentage of your purchase goes to support  this site.)

What are you reading?




What I’m Reading, August 2016


Busy month around here. My college kids are off for another semester.  Soccer season is in full swing for my youngest. First day of school and all that jazz.  I was able to get two bushels of peaches in the freezer, but not many pages turned lately.


Seabiscuit Buy now from Amazon


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is one my all time favorite books.  Seabiscuit wasn’t nearly as inspiring, but still a good read.

I feel sorry for the the life of a jockey.  This was my first time to get an inside look to what that’s like.  Loved the historical backdrop so vividly painted.

TheAlchemist Buy now from Amazon

The Alchemist

I found this parable to be intriguing.  More of a life philosophy than novel, there was a lot of great food for thought.  Why do we keep pursuing our dreams?  How do we keep going after loss?  What is true treasure in life?  What is worth the sacrifice?

The story is about a young man trying to make his way in life and wrestling with all of life’s big questions: love, loss, meaningful work and what really matters. Five stars.


The Nest

Well, I abandoned The Nest half way through.  I should’ve known when I saw the word “dysfunctional”.  I was intrigued by the premise of the book: a huge inheritance with strings attached and adult children clamoring for a payout. I liked the complexity of the plot with lots of characters and lots of backstory.  Even though it was more graphic than I prefer, I stuck with it until the immorality, especially the homosexual couples, finally got to me.

It’s hit home to me recently how rare traditional values are in our society.  I didn’t go to public school for most of my growing up years.  My kids have been fortunate enough to have not gone at all.  So, I’ve been out of touch with main stream American culture.  Traditional values are scarcer than I realized.

I’m wondering if I’m going to have to give up present day novels altogether and stick to reading the classics that still portray traditional morality.  I’ve heard that Beth Moore is releasing her first novel this fall.  I’ll have to check it out.  Some great writers don’t cross genres very well, but I know her stuff will be wholesome.



Buy now from Amazon

Inspire Bible

This is the most gorgeous Bible I have ever seen.  I love the trim design.  Honestly, pictures don’t  capture the beauty of this Bible.

I have not jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon, but this Bible might change my mind.

What have you been reading lately?

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of you purchase will go to support this site.)

What I’ve Learned, July 2016: Night and Day, Change is Hard


Morning Tasks and Evening Tasks Make a Difference of Night and Day

In the ongoing drama to manage my life, it’s recently become clear to me the difference been morning tasks and evening tasks.

Really, managing my life isn’t a matter of managing my time.  It’s a matter of managing my energy.  It’s even more complicated than that, though.  It also has to do with managing my will power and my finite decision making ability.

Case in point:  processing mail at home.  At the end of the work day, my energy, my will power and my decision making ability were all depleted.  I couldn’t face sorting through the mail every evening so it would stack up, day after day.

Not until I switched that to a morning task–one that took 3 minutes or less daily, was I able to get on top of the paper clutter piled up in my kitchen that resulted from incoming mail. It made a night and day difference.  Ha.

Pairing that three minutes with a task I did every morning–cooking breakfast–meant I had a mental trigger every morning that reminded me it was time to process mail.  I found turning the heat down under my eggs down and setting the stove timer for three minutes worked well.  In three minutes or less I could pitch the junk, file the kids’ mail and prepare bills for payment.

Granted, I’m in a stage in my life when I’m not fixing breakfast for the family any more.  It’s every man for himself at our house at breakfast time.  I also fix eggs for my breakfast almost every morning.  This plan would still work with oatmeal in the microwave.


I could beat myself up for not figuring this out till I was 49, but I’ll give myself a break.  During the time we lived in Mexico, we didn’t have regular mail delivery.  There was lots of other stuff to adjust to, but daily mail processing wasn’t included.

That’s more than you wanted to know about my routines, but I’ve found other people’s experience helps me.  Maybe you’ll find this helpful.  I love figuring myself and my life out and making things work better.

On the flip side, exercising consistently in the evening is working for me.  I’m shocked.  I figured the depleted will power would work against me.  I don’t know if it’s the summer schedule or what, but it’s actually working.  Go figure.


Change is an Uphill Climb

Every time I try to implement change in my life, I learn something whether I succeed or fail.  Here’s a few insights I’ve gained recently:

  • Disappointments are closely tied to expectations.
  • It’s hard to set realistic goals.
  • Sixty six times in a row to establish a habit.  Not 21.
  • Trying to implement too much at once causes loss of focus.
  • Gaining insight into yourself is always a win
  • Don’t forget to reward yourself.  (I do, a lot)penguins
  • Celebrate the small wins.
  • When you’re making progress in one area, don’t beat yourself up for areas you can’t concentrate on.
  • Setting yourself up to win is critical.  Understand what your obstacles are.  Work to get the people around you on board.
  • Be patient.  There’s lots of time to implement slow change.
  • Don’t lose heart.  This is one of my hubby’s theme songs.  He doesn’t get discouraged very often and he repeatedly reminds others not to lose heart.

I’m about to launch into the umpteenth “life improvement plan” .

Gonna take my own advice to heart.

What I’m Reading July 2016


High temps and high humidity in northern Indiana this month.  Summer is sailing by too quickly. Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for July reads.

Linchpin   Buy it now from Amazon

Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin could be classified as a business book, but the big idea is: what are you doing to make yourself indispensable to your organization?

I find when I read Seth Godin, he’s saying what no one else is saying.  I guess that’s what makes him a thought leader.  Although he doesn’t reference his personal life much in this book, I have found from other sources an enviable simplicity and rhythm to his life.  Which might explain his propensity to profound and novel insights.

In my life, it’s hard to find quiet.  It’s hard to find time to think.  It’s hard to find time and quiet together to think, process and write.  I look forward to a day when my schedule will allow more of it.

Howtowritecopy   Buy it now from Amazon

How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards

This slim book is a quick read.  I’m ready to start over and take better notes (or just highlight it till it bleeds yellow) and put the principles into practice.

I can think of a couple different ways to use it for the bookstore.  Next, I’ll do some brainstorming for making it work for the blog.

Thanks to Michael Hyatt for recommending it.  So glad I picked it up.



Before the Fall by Noah Fawley

I liked the premise of this story:  why did the plane go down?  Although, for me, it dragged in the middle, that question kept me going till the end.

The characters weren’t particularly endearing.  The language and crude references were definitely a minus, tempting me to throw it off altogether.

But, I preserved, and the question was answered.

There were a few redeeming elements, but overall, I can’t recommend this book.

EveryoneBraveisForgiven   Buy it now from Amazon

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Just when you think you’ve read every possible WWII story, another one emerges.  Beautifully written.  Inspired by the author’s grandparents, but in no way based on their story.

It’s always fun to be surprised by a plot twist, and this book did it to me.  I thought I knew where it was going, but no.  A better story than I anticipated.

Although this doesn’t classify as a wholesome book, at least it didn’t belabor the immorality.


Before we Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I found this story to be engaging, once I got into the middle of it.  The brief peek at Indian culture, both in the US and India, was instructive.

Which made the immoral content more disappointing three quarters of the way in.

I abandoned another book this month after only a few pages when it became clear that the story existed to normalize the homosexual lifestyle.  Worse yet, it was a book written for kids.  I hate to see our culture in moral freefall and hate to think of innocent minds swallowing those premises.

I know it’s not politically correct to say those things, which is why I’m so thankful for the freedom of the press in this country, to be able to say what isn’t popular and what doesn’t fit into reigning agendas.

ReadyPlayerOne   Buy now from Amazon

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline tells a great story.  Part dystopian, part gamer geek, part Charlie Bucket looking for the golden ticket, part coming of age, part 80s trivia.  Cline has a lot to offer.

The book is set in 2044.  It’s always interesting to see how people envision the future. Cline has a great imagination.  Pair that with engaging characters and some unpredictable plot twists, and you have a winner.

Although there were a couple elements that I wasn’t happy with, over all this was a great read.

UndomesticGoddess   Buy it now from Amazon

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Entertaining, breezy read.

I enjoyed all but about 4 pages of it.  The story centered around a high powered British lawyer and some unexpected twists of fate in her life.  Interesting look at British class structure.  Fun story.


Ifyoucankeepit   Buy now from Amazon

If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas

INCREDIBLE book!  So needed!  So important. A must read for every citizen.

If you are the tiniest bit patriotic, this book is for you. If you are discouraged about what’s happening in this country, this book is for you. If you need some encouragement about the future based on the past, this book is for you.

One of the most fascinating aspects to me was the impact George Whitefield had on the colonies and how those prevailing premises shaped our founding principles and documents and national identity. Why does “all men are created equal” echo in our heads today, but continues to be an unknown concept in countries across the globe?

I’ve been so sad watching the country that I love disintegrate. It’s so hard to see our freedoms eroded.  It’s tempting to despair.  But this book has given me hope for the future — ironically, by looking at the past.  Following the hand of God in the history of our nation gives me hope as the  domestic scene grows darker.

Even though I believe that all great civilizations come to an end and ours is already on the downhill slide, I also believe that God is in control.

I believe so strongly in the right and privilege of every citizen to vote.  But I was at a loss about whether my vote will matter in November.  No longer.  I will vote.  Even in the face of a disastrous outcome.

My God is on His throne.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)


I’m looking for wholesome, brilliantly written novels to read.

Which ones do you love?



What Difference Does It Make Now?


Yesterday I was angry.

Today I’m sad.

I’m sad for all the deceived masses that are ignorant of the freedoms they are losing.  I’m sad for the the Judeo-Christian values that are disappearing.  I’m sad that honor and integrity are no longer hallmarks of the leaders of this country.  I’m sad that voters no longer think that character counts.

I’m sad for my kids and (hopefully future) grandkids and the future of tyranny and oppression that they will know in their lifetime.

I’m sad for the people who made sacrifices for the freedoms that we enjoy and those that have squandered those freedoms by entitlement, privilege and neglect.

There were a minority in Hitler’s Germany who came to see him for who he was.  There were some brave citizens who tried unsuccessfully to oppose him.   Meanwhile, the masses were deceived.  Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

The founders of our country saw the pitfalls and injustices from the rule of governments throughout history.  They endeavored to establish a rule that would avoid these oppressive, dictatorial regimes.  Safeguards and checkpoints were established to diffuse power.  Freedom of the press was established to provide accountability for those in office.  The right to bear arms allowed the average citizen to protect not only what was his, but also to protect himself from an oppressive government.

I’m sad for young people who do not understand communism, socialism, capitalism and what difference it makes for them in every day life.  I’m sad for people who are immune to the suffering inflicted around the world by evil and oppressive governments.

I love my country.  This is why I’m sad.