Dear Candy Hearts | Little Letters Vol.1



Dear Candy Hearts, I love you.  I love you too much, especially with tea.  This has become a really unhealthy relationship.  I'm thinking of breaking it off on Valentine's Day.

Dear Galentine's Day, Are you actually a thing?  Like, do people actually get together with their girlfriends on Galentine's Day?  How do I get in on that?

Dear Husband, Why is it so hard to buy you presents?

Dear Snow, It's time for your mid-year performance review, and I have to say, your results are above average.  You've beautified the landscape, and you haven't melted off right away.  Keep up the good work.



Dear Red Rising Series, Why are you so hard to put down?  You are vulgar.  You are violent.  You killed off alot of the characters I liked.  You are everything I don't like in books.  If you were a human, we would not be friends.  So why can't I stop reading??

Dear Birds, Just sit.  Sit still.  Just for a minute, so my bird-crazy boy can get a picture of one of you. Please and thank you.




Dear Homeschooling,  You are so much more fun than I thought you would be when we first met.  And I thought you would be pretty fun.  Those days when I cried because I thought we weren't getting along, they were just a phase.  I didn't mean what I said.  If it happens again, just disregard.  In my saner moments (like now) I think there is something special here, and I know you can handle my crazy.  This relationship is worth fighting for.

Dear Churches Everywhere,  At the risk of being shouted down for dipping my toes into the broiling controversy of church music - my friend, it shouldn't be that hard to get the music volume level right.  It's not that complicated - I need to be able to hear the words and I need to feel like I can sing along.  If I can't hear the words or sing along, I fail to see the point of getting to you in time for the music.  If the music is too quiet, I hear myself sing too much, and realize I'd be one of those people that are laughed off the stage on American Idol, which is not fun for me or anyone around me.  If the music is too loud, I can't understand a word those people up front are saying, and I can't hear myself sing, and I can't hear anyone else sing, and I start to wonder what the point of all this noise is anyway, and I fear my eardrums may bleed when I leave.  Let's just try to avoid both these things, please.

Dear People Everywhere, Think of something more interesting to say about my five kids than "you have your hands full".  If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase, I'd never have to scrounge for coffee money again.  Preferably, pick something that is not rude, and bonus points if it's encouraging (because as you've noted EVERY DAY OF MY MOM-LIFE, yes, this is quite a job).  Comments on the cuteness of my offspring are always welcome.

P.S. People Everywhere, if you want to GIVE me a dollar each time you utter the aforementioned phrase, then please continue.  This mom needs her coffee.


(Moi on our nature hike the other day, powered by coffee.)

Stuff I Like | January 2019



I'm going to try something new here on the blog and share different things I'm liking or loving each month.  I always enjoy reading these kinds of posts myself, and I'm hoping to put together my own once a month as part of my blog goals this year.  We'll see how it goes!

The Book With No Pictures - My kids are finally old enough to find this book completely hilarious, and what makes them happy makes me happy.  Also check out the book I'm Just No Good At Rhyming.  Derek and I have laughed our way through the title poem, but the kids were cracking up at "The Sweetest Lullaby Ever" and "Hey Kids! Get Your Parents To Read This Poem!"  You have to have a goofy side to your personality to make any of these work!

Wild Thing podcast - You all know I live in the mountains, and supposedly people have sighted Bigfoot in our area.  I think there was even an episode of Finding Bigfoot filmed here.  There is a local Bigfoot club.  I know people who believe Bigfoot is a real thing.  I'm not convinced it's not a real thing.  After visiting Washington last year and seeing how much wilderness is out there, I can see how something might be able to hide in those woods.  Anyway, if you have even a little part of you that is interested in learning more about Bigfoot, Wild Thing is a fun podcast to check out!  It's an investigative podcast about...you guessed it...Bigfoot.

You probably could skip episode 2 since it's all about evolutionary theories (which I don't agree with), and watch out for one inappropriate part in episode 8 that you'll have to skip past - but also, my town is mentioned in that episode, ha!  Told you, Bigfoot is big here (no pun intended, but it's funny right?).

These two articles - Weirdly, in the last month two completely unrelated friends have brought up the same question: "What happens to people who never get an opportunity to hear the gospel?"  I've been frustrated with myself for not being as concise and clear as I wish I could be during these recent discussions, because the Bible is clear on what happens to people who never hear about Jesus.  It's a hard question and perhaps a hard answer, but "there is no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-13). It is only through Christ that we are saved. These two articles solidly answer this question biblically, and say everything I was trying to say to my friends, only better.  Definitely worth a read if you've ever ran into (or wondered about) this question.  What Happens To Those Who Have Never Heard About Jesus?  Can A Person Be Saved Through General Revelation?  

Also a quick note: I think if someone in a remote tribe (for example) is truly seeking after God, that is a work He has begun in their heart, and He will get the Gospel to them.  It's important to remember that God is infinitely more compassionate and just than we are, and everything He does is good and right. You have to start with that understanding or this question can never be answered satisfactorily.

Little Letters Linkup - I've been thinking alot about old-fashioned blogging this month, not just what happened to old fashioned blogging, but whether and how it can make a comeback.  As far as I can tell, there are precious few old-school linkups still going, which is a pity - I used to find so many other blogs to read through a good linkup.  They used to be very social things, where you wouldn't just drop your link and run, but you'd take time to look around and make connections with other bloggers.  Well, recently I came across this "Little Letters" linkup.  Guys, I think we should participate!  Sharing mini-letters to random things in your life - old-fashioned blogging used to be all about this sort of post, and I want to support it.  So keep an eye out for my little letters post in the next few days, and write one too if you want!

The Big Words Of The Bible Cards - Still loving these cards, which you can read more about here.

Snow - We had several snow days in January, and I am loving the snow so much!  It's supposed to snow again today, and I couldn't be happier.  It's pretty, and it's moisture.  If we don't get snow, then there is a much higher likelihood of wildfires in the summer.  So bring on the white stuff!




Did you find any new stuff you like in January?

Four Quick Reminders About Teaching Children The Bible



My arms are filled with laundry as I trudged up the stairs, turning the corner to put the clothes away.  Why is it that the laundry is never done? I think to myself.  But my steps slow down as I near the girls' room - one of them is singing in there.  I turn my hear to listen, and recognize one of the lines (amidst some other made-up words).  To God be the Glory, great things He has done!  The words drift out of the bedroom, and I feel a laugh bubbling up in my chest.

One of my greatest joys right now as a mom is to randomly catch one of my children singing a line to hymn.  Or to hear an echo of a catechism question or Bible verse we've been working on as they chatter to other people.  It doesn't happen all the time, but every couple months I catch one of them repeating something that we've been working on, and it makes my heart so happy.

This year one of my focuses with the kids has been developing a morning time routine.  Not only for our homeschooling, but also as a dedicated time each day to pour eternal truths into my kids.  We usually sing a hymn, work on memorizing catechism questions and Bible verses, and read from our Bible, and perhaps one other book.  

I haven't even been as consistent with this as I would like, but somehow things are still soaking through.  It's moments like the one above that remind me why I need to be consistent, why this is important.  I want these truths hidden in their hearts.

This week I have been thinking over a few things that I am trying to remember as I teach my children about Jesus, since we just got a new resource that I am excited to add to our morning Bible time routine (see the end of this post!).  I thought I'd share a few of my little Bible-time "notes to self" here.

Note To Self #1 - Don't refer to the Bible as a "storybook".  To be honest, I'm still working on this one, but I am really trying to not talk about reading a "Bible story" to my kids.  Every other time I tell the kids we are going to read a "story" from a picture book, I'm reading them something that is not true.  I don't want my kids to get the idea that the Bible is just full of nice "stories".  I want them to know it is history!  

So we don't read "Bible stories", we read the "biblical account" of history.  We don't talk about "Bible characters", we talk about "biblical figures".  It's a small shift, but I want my kids to know that this isn't a bunch of fiction - these are accounts of people that really lived, and things God really did!

Note To Self #2 - Memory work matters.  I need this reminder sometimes because when we are having a busy week, our Bible memory work is one of the first things to drop off - but it shouldn't be. I know from firsthand experience that the best way to truly know God's word is to embed it into your mind from a young age.  When I was a kid, we memorized around a hundred verses each year, trying to earn our way to summer camp as part of a program at our church.  Now when I'm facing a tricky situation or doing something wrong or hearing something from a speaker that's just a bit off, the Holy Spirit brings to mind one of the verses I learned as a child.  I may not always remember the reference, but the words are there, hidden in my heart.  I want that for my kids too, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  And the only way to get God's word hidden in their hearts is consistency (and maybe a healthy dose of bribery motivation).

Note To Self #3 - Kids can understand theology.   And probably a lot more than we typically give them credit for.  One of my current pet peeves is when Bible lessons are dumbed down for little ones.  Instead of giving them the real meat of God's word, I think we too often give them a lick and then take the meal away!  

I think I first started to realize this when one of my children asked me why we still sin if Jesus takes our sins away.  Instead of giving a light answer, I had to really dive into our sin nature and justification and sanctification - how Jesus paid for our sins and gives us His righteousness, so we are justified before God when we trust in Him, but we still struggle with sin as God continues to sanctify us while we are on the earth.  Obviously I had to define these words, but I was shocked at how much my little five year old understood!  We underestimate our kids too often.

Note To Self #4 - It's okay to make religion fun for kids.  Lest you think it's all serious doctrinal discussions around here, I have to point this out (and remind myself of this too)!  

I don't take many points from Dennis Prager on religion, since he is not a believer in Christ, but this last Christmas I watched one of his videos where he talked about why it's good to make religion fun for kids.  What he said made so much sense to me.  It gave me some peace of mind as I give my kids the presents, make the Bible-themed snacks (two [swedish] fish and five loaves [crackers], anyone?), play the games, sing the silly songs along with the great ones!  I want to make Bible time fun, so they look back on it with fondness.  

God willing, someday each of my kids will grow to the point where these things I am trying to teach them become personally meaningful and life-changing, as the Holy Spirit convicts them and they truly realize their need for Christ and turn to Him in repentance and faith. I pray for that and it's the reason why I am teaching them in the first place.  But for these little years, they really still need it to be fun too.  It's serious work, teaching our kids about Jesus, but there is no reason we can't laugh while we do it - it may even help it to stick better!



One of the things I do to keep Bible time fun for all of us is to look for new resources periodically to refresh out routine.  We have the Bible we like to use, and the hymn book we sing from, and I am trying to rotate some other resources in and out.  So I was so excited to be able to be on the launch team for these wonderful "Big Words Of The Bible" cards from Tiny Theologians!










These cards each represent and important Greek or Hebrew word that it would be helpful for kids (or you!) to know.  I knew some of these, but some of them are new to me as well!  I am going to add these to our Bible time rotation - we will discuss one each day until we get through them all, and then work on memorizing them.  I am so excited to have a colorful fun resource that also teaches Greek and Hebrew vocabulary words that will be so helpful for my kids (and me) to learn!

The cards are launching on Friday!  
I'll be reminding you on Instagram if you are interested in snagging a set, or you can hop over and follow Tiny Theologians to stay updated and see all their resources (I'm eyeing the ABC Attributes Of God cards and the Fathers Of The Faith cards too)!

Note: I am on the launch team for the Big Words Of The Bible cards and received a set for free from Tiny Theologians!

On Being An Extroverted Homeschool Mom (Sort Of)






Somewhere between being a teenager and an adult, I became an extrovert.

As a teen, I was always quiet in groups, and if I had an afternoon to myself with a cup of tea and a book, I couldn't ask for better than that.  But when I was newly married, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test, and was only a borderline introvert.  The next time I took it, I was a borderline extrovert.

My theory now is that I was always an extrovert, just with a well-developed introverted side.  People always have both, they always are extroverted and introverted, just to different degrees and in different ways.  As I've learned since, being quiet in groups doesn't mean you are introverted.  It may just be that you haven't found a group you've clicked with.  As I became an adult, I had more opportunity to seek out friend groups of people that I wanted to be around, and I found that I loved hanging out with other people, when they were the right people.

That was why, when I entered the very introvert-inclined phase of new motherhood, I bundled my baby up anyway and made an effort to get out of the house.  We made friends at my church's mom group.  My baby and I met up for coffee dates with friends or a trip to the zoo on my days off.  I organized parties and girl's nights out.  I embraced my extroverted side, and we had a pretty full calendar and healthy social life.

Even adding more kids didn't stop me.  When we had two, then three, and four, I still planned outings almost weekly.  I didn't like to stay home.  If we could be out doing things and seeing people, that is what we did.

Once, as I was on the brink of the school years, I had a conversation with a friend concerning whether it would be hard to be a homeschool mom as an extrovert.  Wouldn't it be soul-draining, being stuck at home?  I told her that I didn't think so.  The great part about homeschooling is that it's flexible.  We can still have coffee with a friend in the morning and do school in the afternoon.  As the kids get bigger, schoolwork can be done in the car.  And then there are all the field trip opportunities and homeschool groups and co-ops.  I was pretty confident my social life wouldn't need to suffer just because we were homeschooling.

Overall, I was right.  It's not hard to keep up on a social life while homeschooling.  There are plenty of opportunities to extrovert.

But the thing is, I've felt a shifting in my personality again over the last year or so.  I still want and need days out of the house, and time to visit with other adults.  But over the last year of homeschooling, I've felt my heart turn back toward home.

I've come to treasure and look forward to my days at home just as much as my days out.  When we stay home, I can bake cookies and read my books (my love for books never waned).  When we stay home, we can be leisurely with our schoolwork and even get ahead of schedule if we feel like it.  When we stay home, we have time to sing hymns, and memorize Bible verses and catechism, and have poetry tea time.  When we stay home, the kids have time to run and play and be imaginative and grow in their friendship with each other.  When we stay home, I have more time to blog (fancy that)!

Maybe this shift isn't too surprising, since I've always been in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale.  But I also think this is a blessing from the Lord.  Because yes, to homeschool, you do need to be at home sometimes.  It's His mercy to me that He has helped me rediscover this love for home right when I need it.  I'm still an extrovert, and I find ways to fulfill my extrovert needs as a homeschool mom.  But it's a grace that we are never all extrovert or all introvert - we are always, somehow, both.

Ways To Satisfy Your Extrovert Side While Homeschooling 

-Get involved in a co-op or Bible study (it's social time that also counts as school hours).
-Find some homeschool friends and plan regular field trips.
-Invite friends over for Poetry Tea Time.
-Be flexible (ex. shift your homeschool routine one day so you can have a playdate with friends).
-Plan at-home events with your kids (poetry tea time in the afternoon once a week, craft day, science experiment day, etc.)  Even if you stay home, it's helpful to have something different to look forward to!
-Take time to text friends or connect with other homeschool moms online on your days at home.
-Plan "mom's night out" days with friends.

Ways To Embrace Your Introvert Side While Homeschooling

-Appreciate the more leisurely pace when you stay home.
-Do something you enjoy that you can only do at home (read a book, bake, draw/paint, etc).
-Light candles.  Cuddle under blankets.  Embrace the coziness.
-Daily quiet time/silent reading hour (I don't think this will ever go away in our house).

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Do you ever have a hard time balancing those personality needs with your real life demands?


Book Girl - Review



I'm going with 3 stars for this one.

I received Book Girl for review a few months ago, and to be honest, I wanted to give up on it after the first few chapters. I was a little worried when I requested this book from the publisher because of my previous experience with Sarah Clarkson's writing in my attempt at The Life-Giving Home. Her writing has come off stilted and pretentious to me in the past. I had hopes that this book (about books! one of my favorite subjects) would be one I would enjoy, but I was almost immediately bogged down in that same pretentious tone. I liked a lot of what she had to say, but her writing style is just not for me.

I snagged the audiobook because I was not getting anywhere in print, and her writing came across much more relatable and friendly with the narrator's voice. Overall, while listening, I enjoyed it. Most of the book was composed of recommended booklists, with thoughts on reading and personal stories in between. I liked hearing her book recommendations, as well as her thoughts on the reading life and the benefits that can come from reading good books. 

However, I won't be adding all of these books to my to-read list (even if I did have time to read them all). I could tell from her interjections and the actual book recommendations that we are not on the same pages theologically. I wouldn't trust all her non-fiction recommendations, but I am interested to check out a few of the fiction books she referenced.

The book also lost half a star for the constant references to Oxford. I'm sure studying at Oxford was a cool experience and formative for Clarkson (if something can be "formative" at 30 years old), but it was starting to feel awkward, like name-dropping (except with a place instead of a person). The "place-dropping" just added to my problems with the writing style.

Overall, would I say this book is worth reading? Sure, go for it if you want. Not everyone will mind her style, and she did have some good recommendations (but take some of what she recommends regarding Christianity with discernment). I'll keep this one on my shelf as a reference for when I want to add a meaningful fiction book to my reading list. However, I think I can pretty confidently say this is the last book I'll be reading by Sarah Clarkson. I've read enough of her writing at this point to be able to say it's not my cup of tea.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Currently | January 2019




Are you one of those people who complain every time it snows in the winter?  Because I am so not one of those people.  I just don't quite understand how you could not want it to snow in the winter.  You could have brown ugliness, or you could have this!





I think I can rest my case.

Borrowing the prompts here this time around, I'm currently...

Choosing...things for the house.  The renovation is back in full swing.  Derek is planning on finishing up the kitchen details this weekend, and then the master bathroom is next on the list. I'm trying to make decisions about bathroom tile, and vanities, and decorative items, and which chair to buy for the corner of the living room to tie everything together.  Also, have I shown you this flower box thing we have in our living room?



I have it filled with a garland leftover from Christmas at the moment, but I'm trying to decide what to do with it long term.  We could tile it over and make it a plain old ledge, or I could try to get creative and think of something cool to fill it.  Since I have a black thumb, actual plants are out of the question.  What would you put in here?  I'm tinkering with the idea of a fake succulent garden, but I haven't found quite the right thing yet.

Tidying...nothing.  Everyone is experiencing a bout of house-tidying madness after Marie Kondo's Netflix special, and I'm over here actively avoiding starting any tidying projects.  My life over the last several months has been so not normal, between church issues and moving and renovating and Christmas - I just don't think I can bear to put anything else into upheaval.  So I'm hunkering down with my piles of stuff, and I'm liking it, thank you very much.  I'll tidy in the spring, when my bathroom floor is no longer bare plywood.

Exploring...my unread shelf.  One of my goals for the year is to refrain from buying any new books, and to read and/or make a decision on whether to read the books that I own and haven't yet read.  There are a lot.  I'm just warning you now.  In reality, clearing my unread shelf will be a multi-year project, but I'd like to get through at least half of my books this year.  Go look at my unread books on Goodreads, and tell me if you've read any of these and what you thought!  You can help me know what to read and what to gift to my local Goodwill. (Also, why can't you give away ebooks?  This should be a thing.).

Resolving...to actually follow through on my goal of going one week a month sugar-free.  I attempted to go sugar free the first week of January, and also the second week of January.  After succumbing to stress-induced candy heart cravings, I decided the third week in January was not going to be a winner either.  It's just been stressful, okay!  I think I'll make next week the official no-sugar week.  I'm doing so great on my New Year's goals, huh?

Refreshing...my style a little bit.  I've had a limited selection of things that have fit me over the last year because of baby weight, and I realized that my style identity has suffered some as a result.  I'm not really sure anymore what items in my closet are things that I feel good in, and which things need to be updated and refreshed.  I would like to shop my closet and figure out which things still feel like "me", and which things should go.

That sounds suspiciously like tidying, doesn't it?  But hopefully a little less chaotic and a little more fun.

What are you all up to this January?

Becoming Mrs. Lewis Review



2.5/5 stars.

First let me just say that I requested this book to review on a whim several months ago, and then as soon as it arrived I completely lost motivation to read it. Maybe it started in the first few chapters when I realized that this story starts out with Joy Davidman (the future Mrs. Lewis) married to another man. I didn't know that much about how Davidman's and Lewis's love story played out before going into this book, but I tend to generally dislike love stories that start with one person married to someone and ending up with someone else. I can't criticize the author or the book for this, it was how it happened in real life. I just didn't realize it going in.

I received a print copy of this book, and read several chapters in print, and then finished it on audio. Overall this book was written like a memoir, even though it is fiction. It's written in the first person, and covers many years of Joy's and Lewis's relationship, so some of the sections really read like narrative non-fiction as historical/logistical details were put in place. Overall I think the writing of this story was well-done, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped, for several reasons.

First, I feel funny saying this since the book is based on a real person, but I either wasn't a huge fan of Joy Davidman, or wasn't a fan of how she was portrayed in this book, or maybe a little of both. It's hard to sort out what parts of the dialogue were quotes or true to real life, and where the author used her imagination. But overall, the result was me feeling slightly annoyed with the character of Joy, I think mainly because I couldn't relate to her. 

Some of this couldn't be helped, because the author was only trying to portray the facts of Davidman's life. Joy starts falling in love with Lewis before she decides to divorce her husband, while at the same time paying lip service to being "committed to her marriage" - but can that be true when she is entertaining an emotional affair with another man? After her divorce she also ends up sleeping around before she and Jack finally get together - once again, probably based in the reality of Davidman's life, but disappointing nonetheless. I find it ironic that she struggled so much with the decision to divorce her cheating husband, which IS allowed in Scripture, but brushed off her extramarital relationships as something she just had to try to do better at.

There are some parts in the beginning of the book where Joy expresses almost a disdain for the ministry of the home, wishing she could spend more time writing instead. I can't necessarily be upset about this struggle to value the ministry God gives us as wives and mothers in our homes, I get it, but while the struggle was slightly resolved by the end of the book, overall I didn't find the message here very uplifting on this front. Once again, there is no one to blame for this, it's just an example of why it is probably harder to write fiction when you are trying to be true to the facts of someone's life (I personally like my fiction tidy, so this might be the last fiction-based-on-biography book I read for a while). I also found it sad that there is so much made about how much Joy misses her boys while she spends several months writing and recovering form health issues in England, but then as soon as she gets them back and divorces her husband, she moves to England and ends up putting the boys in boarding school. I imagine it may have been the best decision she felt she could make as a single mother in England at the time, but I felt bad for the characters of her little boys in this story.

While there is nothing that could be done about those facts of Joy's life if the author was to be faithful to the Davidman's life story, I didn't like how some of Joy's internal monologues were presented. I don't know how much of this the author was basing on written evidence, and how much was the author's imagination, but Joy's character engages in mild cussing (h-word, d-word) and using the Lord's name in vain. There is a part where Joy's parents come to visit her in England, and she thinks of her father as a "prig" and refers to his "idiocy". The disrespect for her parents was cringe-worthy to me. How much of it was based in the truth of her attitude toward her parents, I don't know, but it was a shame.

Even more cringe-worthy though were the repeated phrases referencing "quivering", "trembling", "shaking", "desire", and references to how it felt when "bodies came together" in sexual relationships. I just couldn't. I do blame the author for that, and did not enjoy those passages in the book at all. It's not the style of romance book that I like. I cringed a lot. This one point cost this book a couple stars for me.

Overall, I thought this book was just okay. I did learn a lot about Lewis and Davidman that I did not know. But did I enjoy it? Not that much. It's not one I'll go around recommending. 

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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