Five Minute Friday: Intentional

Where has this month gone?

Here we are on another Friday, linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s word is intentional.


It’s ironic that this week’s word is intentional.

I’ve been beating my head against the wall on a blog post that I just can’t pull together.  It’s  about what kids need, ages 0 to 18.

It comes from my desire to be more intentional with grandparenting than I was with parenting, but it’s bigger than that, too.

It’s about what kids need in general.  What they need from the church.  What they need from their parents.  What they’re learning from our culture.  The messages they get from different sources that aren’t helpful.

Advertisers are generally not thinking of kids’ best interests.  The educational system has a lot of pros and cons.

What can we do to be intentional about what kids are really learning?


What I’m Reading, January 2018

Around here, January means crazy Indiana weather and basketball.

We had a good Christmas with our kids.  Pete got a puppy for Christmas.

The stress of December spills over into January, but good things are on the horizon.

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

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

Buy now from Amazon

How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs

I had trouble focusing on this book, but I think it’s indicative of stress in my life, not necessarily any fault of the book.

I liked the fact that he comes from the perspective of a Christian and an academic and even addresses biases people tend to have against those two groups.

Chapter one, Beginning to Think, has the subtitle “Why it wouldn’t be a good idea to think for yourself, even if you could.”

My favorite Chapter was The Age of Lumping and the very telling illustration of the author’s experience with Timothy. The point here is that we’re conditioned to categorize people, but sometimes it works against us.

Buy now from Amazon

The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller

I’ve been wanting to read The  One Thing FOREVER. I think I’ve been on my library’s waitlist for over a year.

Now I know what all the rave reviews are about.  This is a GREAT book!

It addresses the problem of distracted focus and the importance of lasering in on your most important work in order to achieve excellence.

A huge light bulb moment for me reading The One Thing was the idea of chaos derailing you and distracting you from your one thing.

Chapter 17, The Four Thieves of Productivity hit me hard.

The Four Thieves are:

1. Inability to Say “No”
2. Fear of Chaos
3. Poor Health Habits
4. Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals.

Wow. These were so good and right on the money.

Buy now from Amazon

Count to Ten by James Patterson

I picked up Count to Ten at the library because I know James Patterson is a super best selling author and I wanted to study his work.

The story is fast moving.

It has short chapters.

There were quite a few characters with strange names that were hard to keep track of.

That’s one thing that John Grisham does well– starts with only a few characters and adds them slowly.

Interesting plot. It’s a mystery, so the intrigue and unanswered questions moved the story forward.

In my mind, every great novel is a mystery answering the question, 
What happens next?

Another reason I picked up the book is that it is set in India. My parents live in India 8 months out of the year, so I was interested to learn more about life in that country.

Although there were a few tidbits here and there that reminded you of the setting, I didn’t feel like it really explored the culture. I felt like the characters could have been Americans. They didn’t seem to think and act like Indians.

Maybe I was expecting too much.

I just know that it’s possible to live in a country and not really understand the way of thinking of the people around you.

I won’t be picking up another James Patterson soon. Even though language and thematic elements colored only a small percentage of the book, it’s enough to put me off further reading.

Buy now from Amazon

In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence by Kayla Aimee

Highly recommended!

Light-hearted stories that highlight deep truths.  Her daughter is a hoot and she’s got some pretty funny stories herself.

I liked the way scripture informed her decisions and changed her life.

I loved her emphasis on grace. I loved her views on traditional values.

I started following Kayla Aimee’s work after I took her Affiliate course as part of The Genius Bloggers Toolkit. Her course was packed with so much helpful information. I knew when she offered something it was going to be high value.

When I had the chance to be part of the launch team for the book, I jumped at it.

In Bloom is about overcoming insecurity and Kayla tells personal experiences.


I will definitely be hand-selling this one at the store.

What are you reading this month?



Five Minute Friday: Simplify

Well, Christmas officially ended (even though our tree is still up) when we took our college kid to the airport.

Our weather has been crazy– snow, warm days and freezing rain.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew.

Writing five minutes on a word prompt. Today’s word is simplify.


I mentally cringe when I think of the word “simplify”.

It reminds me of purge and declutter, two things I’m terrible at.

I love the idea of simple living.

But getting there seems impossible.

I think some of it comes down to decision fatigue. Purging and decluttering involves making lots of decisions. I get stuck. I get overwhelmed. I quit.

Attacking paper clutter while a timer is going has helped.

When the timer goes off, I stop. It doesn’t matter if there were decisions I couldn’t make. It doesn’t matter if the job is done. I put in my time and made progress.

Maybe that approach will work in other areas, too.


What you can learn from my blogging fails

I love it when bloggers are transparent and generous.

These qualities vary from person to person, but they are characteristic of many successful bloggers.

And it isn’t always the success stories that are most instructive.

Sometimes it’s the fails.

My biggest fail in the last 6 months is trying to get an email list off the ground.

I’ve made two attempts and fallen flat on my face both times.

What’s the problem?

I get hung up on technical issues that prevent me from moving forward.

I can’t keep up with a regular posting schedule and still add something new.

I miss deadlines and get discouraged.

I don’t take into account busy seasons of the year when I can’t get much accomplished.

I’ve also struggled with finding clarity for my blog and staying focused.

So what can you and I learn from by blogging fails?

Learning what doesn’t work is a win.  

Thomas Edison is famous for realizing that every time he discovered which materials didn’t work to make a light bulb, he was one step closer to discovering what did.

Finding out what doesn’t work is valuable.

It’s not a failure if it’s a learning experience.

Run your own race.

This nugget from Jeff Goins  has been echoing in my head recently.

This is true even if your race has false starts. Even if people can see your fails. Being transparent and humble are both qualities that people admire.

I think comparing our lives to others is a bigger temptation than ever due to prolific social media.

Some blogs gain traction and a following and an income quickly.

Mine has not.

My blogging journey doesn’t look like anyone else’s. I’ve had a hard time getting clarity on why I’m writing and who I’m writing for. Progress has been slower than I’d hoped.

It’s okay if my journey looks different.  It’s okay if progress is slow.

I like reading Victoria from Snail Pace Transformations for this very reason. Slow progress is still progress. Moving forward inch by inch takes a clear vision and tons of perseverance.

Don’t beat yourself up for missing goals.

It’s better than not trying at all.

It’s the man in the arena who will get criticized, not the spectator on the sidelines.

Sometimes failing means you’re trying. Trying is commendable.

Failure is not final. Keep getting up.

It’s hard to keep running after a fall.

But getting up is critical.

You can’t finish the race if you don’t get up.

You can’t run your own race if you don’t get up.

Don’t lose heart.  Don’t stay down.  Slow and steady wins.




Five Minute Friday: Motivate

I’ve missed Five Minute Friday.  It’s good to be back.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.

I’ve fallen off the exercise bandwagon countless times. Also, countless times I’ve started new programs.

So, I didn’t anticipate that this time would be so hard.

Just like a rocket leaving earth’s gravity, getting started takes more momentum than continuing on.

It took a lot of pieces to get a new exercise program off the ground this time.

I needed a strong why to overcome resistance.

I needed help overcoming the technical obstacles.

I needed new shoes.

I needed to work and re-work my schedule (and re-work it again) to pull it off.

I needed a time-bound goal to work for: running a 5K on March 25th.

Motivate has a lot of components. I forgot how complex it was.


Books for Intro to Missions Students

Book List for Intro to World Missions 

When Pete taught Intro to World Missions, I made a book list of recommended books for his class.  Most of these are life long favorites that I recommend repeatedly.

Missionary Biographies

Brucko by Bruce Olson

Nineteen year old Bruce Olson lives with a stone age tribe to bring them the gospel.

Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees by Thomas Hale

Medical missionaries in Nepal. Humorous, well-written stories about culture and personal growth.

On the Far Side of Liglig Mountatin by Thomas Hale

More stories of medical missions in Nepal.

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliott

Five missionaries were martyred in Ecuador while trying to reach a savage tribe.  Written by the widow of one of the martyrs.

A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliott

The story of Amy Carmichal, missionary to India who rescued girls from the atrocities of the Hinduism.

And the Word Came with Power by Joann Shetler

Wycliffe Bible Translator in the Philippines explains about culture and spiritual lessons.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

One man’s experiences getting God’s Word into Communist Russia.

Other Biographies

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

A Christian family in Holland hides Jews from the Nazis.  Stories of imprisonment and forgiveness.

Joni by Joni Eareckson

A diving accident at age 17 leaves Joni a quadriplegic.  Her spiritual journey.

The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway

A Christian pastor in China sees God work miracles in the midst of harsh persecution.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Quereshi

Nabeel’s spiritual journey growing up in a devout Muslim home and confronting the realities of Chrisitanity.

Gifted Hands by Ben Carson

A transparent look at the culture of poverty how a single mom paved a way out for her two sons.

Other Helpful Books

5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The five top reasons why teams don’t work and what to do about them.

Reading Personality by Anne Bogel

Short summaries of some popular personality frameworks and how understanding yourself makes life better.

On Being a Missionary by Thomas Hale

Transparent, practical explanation of what missionaries face and common obstacles to overcome.

Margin by Richard Swenson

The importance of not using all your resources and leaving yourself bankrupt.  Includes money, time, emotional and other resources.

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggeriches

What men and women need from their spouses.  Foundational understanding for building a strong marriage.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The five main ways people express love and how to understand which way communicates best to individuals.

Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel

Common pitfalls that leaders fall into.  Helpful as a cautionary tale.

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet

Healthy, effective leadership principles learned and practiced by a sub commander.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Timeless principles for living life well with yourself and others.

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brent Harris

Aimed at teenagers as a challenge to confront the status quo and impact the world by taking the high road.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider

Tsh and her husband took their three children and circled the globe. The book traces their journey as well as Tsh’s reflections on travel, life and personal growth.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

A challenge to live gratefully by systematically noting what you’re thankful for. Written in poetic style.

What are the elements of community?


I’ve been thinking about community versus isolation.

Community is the safety net that keeps us from hitting the ground. It’s the people that we connect to, identify with and a place to belong.

It’s the place where we feel understood and known.

It’s the Cheers Bar–where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.

It’s where you share life. You walk the road together. It’s your tribe. Your home base.

At birth all the communities you belong to are chosen for you.  But, there comes a time in the journey when you accept or reject the communities you inherited and, potentially, seek out new ones.

I believe this process is more complicated for the global nomad.

Maybe because he’s been exposed to a wider variety of communities.

Maybe it’s an identity issue.

Maybe it’s the difficulty of finding a community where he feels at home.

What are the critical elements of community?  What is he looking for?







freedom to choose

a safety net

a network


shared values

The point is, the global nomad might need to actively search for a group where he feels at home.  A place where he belongs, where he can connect and be understood.

The problem is, with a new community, it’s not going to feel familiar and comfortable.

But, you have to jump in anyway and look for common ground.

To know and be known is to be vulnerable.  The risks are real.

But the risks of isolation are even greater.








Five Minute Friday: Different

Our college kid is home!  Thankful to have him here and for a safe airport run in spite of storms blowing in.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.


I’m wondering why humans hate being different.

Is it the fear of ridicule, rejection, judgment?

Kids want to dress the same.  They want to have what their friends have.  They want to achieve the same things or one up the next guy.

We generally don’t like standing out from the crowd if it garners unwanted attention.

What would happen if we embraced our differences?   If we were truly thankful for them?  If we didn’t try to hide them?

How much bolder could we live life?

Maybe it’s a reward worth changing our mindset for.


What I’m Reading, December 2017

One year ago today we were in California for our daughter’s college graduation.

This year is more typical: snow, basketball, busy at the store, getting ready for Christmas. Our out of state college kid is home for Christmas.  That makes mama happy.

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

On to this month’s books–

Buy now from Amazon

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I’m tempted to go back and re-read this book now that I know the ending.

The plot was slow moving until all the pieces starting falling into place and it made sense.

From goodreads–

“Winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal. Miranda is an ordinary sixth grader, until she starts receiving mysterious messages from somebody who knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late. For ages approx 9-14.”

Buy now from Amazon

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A Chinese boy and Japanese girl are assigned to kitchen duty at their all white public school.  This is the forties and anti-Japanese sentiment is high.  Their friendship transcends prejudice.

Sweet story that takes an inside look at Asian cultures functioning in the U.S.

I liked it, even though the story was slow moving and a little predictable.

Five stars for being wholesome.  Recommended for all ages.

Buy now from Amazon

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Echo tells the stories of four different children growing up in four different times and places.

They all have a love for music.

To be perfectly frank, I was underwhelmed by this book. It just left me feeling kind of flat. I could see the common thread woven throughout so it felt predictable.

None of the sequences were long enough to really identify with the characters, so it was more about plot than characters.

It’s a long book, but not necessarily a long read.

Buy now from Amazon

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

A fascinating read.

I don’t agree with everything as I have some different philosophies of life than the author does.

The books focuses on how people sabotage their own success when they hit the upper limit of what they believe they deserve in life.  There might be something to that.

I also think he’s on to something with the zone of incompetence, the zone of competence, the zone of excellence and the zone of genius.

Good mental fodder.

Buy now from Amazon

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Staner

Michael outlines seven simple questions to use while coaching.

His context is managers coaching their employees, but I think the principles are transferable to other situations.

His emphasis is on listening better, giving less advice and helping people solve their own problems.

Though simple, the questions are profound.  They build on each other and are designed to get to the heart of the matter in a short amount of time.

Insightful.  Actionable.

What are you reading this month?

Breaking Free From the Poverty Culture: Four True Stories

I started this post thinking I had found four books that painted a realistic picture of the poverty culture.

What I didn’t realize was how much they have in common.

They are all overcomer stories.

They are all about boys who grew up with single mothers.

They outline a path of what it takes to beat the odds.

They are also well-written.

These stories stand out because they are unusual. Most boys in similar circumstances are not able to break the poverty cycle in their lives.

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

Buy now from Amazon

Hillbilly Elegy is masterfully written.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduate from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

Buy now from Amazon

Ben Carson and his brother grew up in a single parent home in Detroit.

Ben credits his mother for the impact on his life that resulted in all of them breaking out of the poverty culture.

She valued education, discipline, the importance of reading and making wise decisions in the use of her resources.

In turn, Ben came to see poverty as a temporary state.  He could see the way out.  He developed a vision for his life.  He eventually attained some of life’s greatest successes as a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Buy now from Amazon

An inspiring story, well told.

“The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.” This is another book that makes me philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate? Now that is a good question that I’ve been wrestling with a lot.  Who’s in control of my life, me or God?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing he latched onto when he saw a healthy family in action was the idea of everyone sitting down at a dining room table to eat together, to talk and share life.  That was missing in his home.  It just goes to prove that building a culture—even a family culture— has to do with what you value and believe, not about money.

Everything was not idyllic in Laura and Maurice’s relationship for the next thirty years.  This is real life and when is life always smooth sailing?


Buy now from Amazon

Note: Heads up for language.

I didn’t really understand apartheid until I read this book.

Seeing how it played out in people’s lives is sobering.

Trevor Noah has a white father and a black mother.  In South Africa, it was illegal for his father and mother to procreate.  His very existance was against the law, hence the title, Born a Crime.

It’s mind-blowing to think about the world and the life that Trevor Noah was born into. It’s a cautionary tale, especially for those who have a vote in their government’s laws and leaders.

I liked Noah’s personal and relatable writing style as well as the occasional political commentary.


Four boys growing up in poverty with single mothers. What did it take for them to break free?
Self-awareness? A caring adult? Purpose in life? A belief that things could be different?

I see four common factors.

  1. The involvement of a caring adult. In some cases it was their mother, sometimes it was someone else.

2.   The importance of staying in school and finishing.

3.  The belief that things could be different.

4.  A vision for their lives.