Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Books of the Year - 2013

This is late by a couple weeks...or a few. But it's better late than never I hear, so here are my top books from the year 2013.

1. The Desire of Ages, Ellen White

If I could pick just one book to keep and read, apart from the Bible, for the remainder of my days, I would choose this book without hesitation. The Conflict of Ages series hinges upon this book, which focuses on the life of Jesus - the theme of Ellen White's writings. After reading each chapter I would often tell Beth-Anne, "Wow! That was the best chapter ever." This was repeated for much of the book. Jesus. Enough said.

2. The Great Controversy, Ellen White

This is the only way the most epic book series ever could end. Can a more profound book be published outside the Bible? I thought it would be an intense, difficult read but found it rather encouraging and uplifting in a life-changing sort of way. Some books are good and stick around for a while. This book is on a list of its own and will be reflected upon for decades.

3. Joseph, Terri Fivash

Who doesn't love the story of Joseph? Well researched. Well written. It added to the Biblical account without being ridiculously unbiblical. I'll probably read it again in the coming years.

4. We Bought a Zoo, Benjamin Mee

Don't bother with the movie. That was a waste of time and did not follow the book nearly enough. I know, that's typical. So just skip the movie and read the book instead. It had some "interesting" portions I skipped, but the book overall was hilarious, engaging, and memorable. I recommend the audio version because of the British accent. 

5. Singer on the Sand, Norma Youngberg

This book was recommend by Caitlin Meharry. She was a dear friend who challenged me by her simple joy in God while she was alive. Any book she recommends is going to be a great read. Our school got a copy of this book and I read it to my students. I was able to share with Caitlin that I had taken her advice to read it before she passed. This story is amazing, and the students loved it, but the sentiment I have for it is could easily vault it higher on my list.

6. Moose Country, Sam Campbell

Sam's books have an amazing ability to sooth the reader and bring nature into the home. After a stressful or busy day there was nothing so relaxing as reading Moose Country to Beth-Anne just before sleep.

7. I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai

This girl is inspiring! She stood up for education for girls in Pakistan and was shot by the Taliban. Very well written with enough humor sprinkled in to keep the reader entertained, if not inspired.

8. Loony Coon, Sam Campbell

More ridiculously funny than Moose Country, Loony Coon is, yes, calming, but more sensational. It's hard to believe all the antics that happened in this book. Well worth the time to read it. I expect to read this to my kids multiple times as the years go by.

9. Lost in the Barrens, Farley Mowat

I watched this movie as a kid and loved it, but there was something addicting about this book as an adult. It is well worth the time to read if you're a guy. If you choose to read it, make it during the winter months to enhance the experience.

10. Counting on Grace, Elizabeth Winthrop

Historical fiction is fascinating and this book does not disappoint. I learned a great deal about this time period in New England's history. It is good enough, and clean enough, to suggest to my students. Doffing as a child was no easy task during the Industrial Revolution.

Honorable Mentions:

Seal of God
Fire by Jason Vanderlaan
Education by Ellen White
Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Julie of the Wolves
To Kill a Mockingbird

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy All the Day Long

I do not have thick skin. I can't shrug off difficult things like others. I take too much to heart. But I have Jesus. And this is what He showed me this week. Maybe it will help you too.


"Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me, at my Father's throne, Make all my wants and wishes known!
In seasons of distress and grief, My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempters snare, By thy return, sweet hour of prayer."
                     -William W. Walford, Sweet Hour of Prayer

"When children sleep under the scraps stitched into quilts and the clock ticks too loudly through the dark hours and the spiral galaxies spin in space, I lie under the afghan by the fire and read...'The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live.... He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.'"
-Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, quoting Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life

"If received in faith, the trial that seems so bitter and hard to bear will prove a blessing....

God would not have us remain pressed down by dumb sorrow, with sore and breaking hearts. He would have us look up and behold His dear face of love....We may keep the heart stayed upon Him and meditate upon His loving-kindness all the day. He will lift the soul above the daily sorrow and perplexity, into a realm of peace."
-Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing

"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."
-Isaiah, Isaiah

"O soul, are you weary and troubled? 
No light in the darkness you see? 
There's light for a look at the Savior, 
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."
-Helen H. Lemmel, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

"It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is all alive, we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart. We shall be deaf to reproach and blind to scorn and insult....

Happiness drawn from earthly sources is as changeable as varying circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding peace....Christ is the fountain of living water, and happiness drawn from Him can never fail."
-Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing

"The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
-A Psalm of David, Psalm 23

 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace..."
-Paul, Galatians 

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
-Jesus, Matthew


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Prayers of Blessings

Christmas day we were at my grandparents house in New Jersey where we always gather to spend "Christmas" -- whether it is on December 25th or not.  

This Christmas was special because I had asked my grandfather and step-dad to do a prayer of blessing over our baby boy.

So after all the gifts were opened and we had enjoyed lunch (and I went back into pajamas to stay comfortable), we all sat in the family room.

Granddaddy read these sentences from Child Guidance p. 27, "The first child especially should be trained with great care, for he will educate teh rest.  Children grow according to the influence of those who surround them." 

My Granddaddy is a joker and said, "It says the first, so that means more!"  So this is me laughing about the more part.  Let's just make it through the first one!

Then he prayed a blessing over our baby boy--and Matthew and I.

After he prayed Pappa shared about the names of God and how one of the names means that He is the Shepherd who leads us, and that we should know that all of the family will be praying for us, and hopes that we will remember that whatever our needs are at the moment that God will provide.

Then he prayed a blessing over Matthew & I and our baby boy.

I am richly blessed and so is our baby boy.  I love my family.

Baby Gender Reveal for the Students

Matthew and I wanted to share our exciting news of boy or girl with our students in a way that we hoped would be fun for them.  After all, they are family to us and they are just as excited about the baby as anyone else I think.

So we decided on doing silly string.  The caps were taken off the spray bottles, a few students chosen, and whatever color came out would reveal to the students the baby's gender.  Plus they would get to spray us.

The day before the students each voted what they thought the baby would be. :)

A baby boy!

Here is a video of the fun!

Thank you Tima for coming and doing the photography!
Thank you Dawn for doing the video!