The Simplest Way To Change The World




If you are a Christian, read this book!

You might remember that the main goal I have chosen for this year is to reach out to those around me more.  So when I say that a book on hospitality was up for review a couple months ago, I requested it immediately.

The Simplest Way To Change The World (affiliate link) discusses biblical hospitality, both in terms of biblical teachings on hospitality and in terms of practical way we can become hospitable people.  I got so much out of this book.

What I really liked about this book was the way the authers discussed theological topics relating to hospitality, and alternated those chapters with practical suggestions.  

On the theological side, they framed the gospel in terms of hospitality in one chapter, writing about how in Scripture God is a hospitable God, and I found that really interesting.  They discussed the truth of the Gospel and what Jesus did in dying to save us, and expressed how that is what motivates us to reach out to those around us with biblical hospitality.

Some of the best chapters were definitely on the practical suggestions though.  The authors know that opening your home and lives to those around you is hard in this culture, in which it is more normal to lock yourself behind closed doors to "relax" than to open the doors and invite people in.  They gave so many practical and fun suggestions for starting to open your homes to other people.  I loved how they encouraged you to incorporate hospitality into the regular rhythms of your life, and how they made it seem easy and desirable to become more hospitable (even while acknowledging the parts that are hard and sharing their own mistakes).  

The end of the book includes a group study guide - I think this would make an amazing small group study.

Everything the authors had to say on how hospitality can be the most effective way to reach other people for Christ was spot-on.  You don't have to preach from the sidewalk, give a "gospel presentation", travel to foreign countries, or do something "radical" to reach other for the Lord.  Through simply being hospitable, we "share our lives" with people and naturally let them see how important Jesus is in our lives through words and actions - and God can use that to stir their hearts to know more.

Highly, highly recommend this book!  Easy and enjoyable to read, convicting and motivating!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

Purpose, In Five Minutes



I've decided to try something different on the blog today.  Apparently there is this linkup called Five Minute Friday.  I'm not a huge fan of linkups in general, to read or to write, because I feel like they tend to be too formulaic for me.  But for this one, you receive a one-word prompt and write about it for five minutes only, and then share without editing.  

I think this linkup is a bit of an exception to my general linkup dislike because you really can use the word prompt however you want, and the five minute timeline encourages honesty in a good way.

I'm going to join in, but you should know that I wrote for seven minutes, and I did add a few words here and there for clarity.  Not exactly following the rules, but this is my blog, so I can do what I want!  I might join in when the word is interesting, but if it's a stinker of a word, I will have no problems skipping it.  Stay tuned, but for now, here is my first installment.

6:55 PM

It’s funny how one little word can take your mind on a whole new track.  Purpose.  A word that isn’t just a word, but seems to prompt a question.  

"What is my purpose?"

That word and that question seems to come at an interesting time for me, because I have struggled with it.  For the last couple years, I have lost sight not of my overall purpose, but my day-to-day purpose to a certain extent.  I always have my overall purpose in mind because of the catechism our pastor’s wife taught us when I was a young teenager.  

What is the purpose of man?  To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  

That is always my ultimate purpose, and the purpose of every human being if they are willing to look and find it through what Jesus did for us in dying on the cross.  He enables us to live out our purpose, the one that the human race lost in Eden.  He got it back for us.

But still, my day-to-day, personal purpose has been wanting.  For a while I tried to find it in this blog.  Writers all around me seemed to be striving and reaching much bigger things - writing books, earning money, building a ministry.  

I tried for a bit too, but it all just came up empty.  Like chasing the wind.

This year I’ve been slowing down and realizing that my personal purpose won’t come from “making something of myself”.  I think my greatest purpose comes into my room at an ungodly hour every morning, and asks if it’s time for breakfast yet.  And I’m learning to stop striving and reaching for something bigger than the four brown-haired-heads slurping Fruit Loops and spilling milk.

I was looking too hard for something different that wasn’t there.  

My purpose is sitting right there, at my kitchen table.

7:02 PM

A "PJ Masks" Birthday



I was not aware until recently that PJ Masks is a new show, but in our house, we are all in.  My kids know the theme song.  They come up with PJ Masks stories to play out.  Even Derek will sit down and watch an episode with them in the evenings and chuckle at it!

Last week was Wyatt's 6th birthday.  I cannot believe that my baby is six years old!  I still remember that surreal moment when he was born, with his tiny little cry, and the tears that were streaming down my face.  This kiddo is something special, and I love him so much.

Behind The Scenes Review




When I was a teenager, my sister and I had a couple groups of friends who like dot write stories.  We would labor over those stories when we got together or between seeing each other, and then we'd read them to each other and laugh and laugh.

(Affiliate links below - you know, so I can buy more books.)

Behind The Scenes by Jen Turano reminded me of those stories, in the best possible way.

In this book, the main character, Permillia, is an official wallflower, relegated to the edges of all the exciting society events.  However, that's just fine with her since she writes an anonymous society column for a local newspaper and is more interested in business than marrying well. However, on the night of a certain ball she not only makes better acquaintance with a gentlemen named Asher Rutherford, but she also learns of a murder plot with him as the target.  She is determined to either figure out who is trying to murder Asher, or at the least make him take the threat seriously.

What I Liked

This is one of those books with over-the-top characters and situations, but done in a really fun and comical way - and I loved that!  I love light-hearted historical fiction that avoids that "tragedy" formula and takes a comedy route instead.  That was the part that reminded me of the stories I used to write with my friends, because I have always loved a story or book that can make me laugh, and this one delivered!

The ending of this book was nearly perfect too, with almost every loose end tied up in a nice bow.  Some people don't appreciate that because they like their fiction to be more true to real life...I am not one of those people, and if you are, this is probably not your book!  I loved everything that was slightly over-the-top, and I loved that everything came out alright in the end.  It was just fun!

What I Didn't Like

Permillia's character was a little too ambitious for me at times, and it seemed she expected everyone else to recognize her value.  She came off as lecturing other people when she really wasn't in a position to be lecturing.  All this was framed within the context of the women's suffrage movement, since this story takes place during that time.  However, Permillia did not come off as pursuing a good cause (like women's right to vote, etc.), but instead she just seemed arrogant, which is a character flaw not really addressed in this book.  She seemed like a know-it-all in places.  Despite that, I still liked her character overall.

The only other thing that I had a problem with was in the scene where Permillia learns her father and stepmother were really only married because they were using each other.  Her stepmother used her father to escape financial ruin, and her father used her stepmother to help Permillia become more accepted in society.  When this all officially comes out, there are tons of accusations and very hurtful words hurled between the parents, and between Permillia and her stepsister, with a couple of side characters even joining in with the verbal thrashing.  It was probably meant to be amusing, but I did not find this scene funny.  Even though this book wasn't meant to be realistic, even over-the-top fictional characters would have a hard time coming back from that.  

In the end, this sad conflict with Permillia's family was the one loose end that wasn't tied up well.  I wanted relationships to be repaired, especially in the marriage of Permillia's father and stepmother, because the careless words they flung at each other really seemed to bring down the whole view of marriage itself within this book.  So I'm taking off a star for that.

Conclusions

Even though those last two books sound fairly bad when they're all typed out, just take my word for it that the book overall was fun and funny and lighthearted!  Despite my couple of bones to pick, I really enjoyed reading it, and I'd still recommend it if you want some not-too-serious reading!  It comes out in April if you want to check it out, or preorder here!

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

Speaking Of "Spring"...




If Sisters Were Flowers, I'd Pick You



Did you know that last Thursday was Random Acts Of Kindness Day?  I didn't know there was a such a day, but I think it's a fun idea.  It's nice to get something special on special days, but there's something different and maybe even better about getting something special on a day you didn't expect it at all.

Proflowers offered me a free bouquet to send someone a bouquet of flowers in honor of Random Acts Of Kindness Day, and when I thought about who I wanted to send them to, I decided on my sister!









I am so proud to call this sweet girl my sis!  She inspires me in many ways.  She is so thoughtful and loving toward her family, including me!  She is the kind of person you can always count on, and she always does what she says she will do.  There are not as many people like that as you might think, and I'm lucky to have someone so reliable as my sister.  She also is so good at standing up for herself and what she believes in - I've occasionally recruited her to make a phone call for me to a difficult company, and she knows how to get things done (a relic of her office manager days collecting payments when we used to work at the same dental office!).  I want to be more like her in all these ways!  I'm so lucky to have not just a sister, but a best friend.

I think sometimes we don't take the time to really tell those closest to us how much we appreciate them and what we love about them, and I'm guilty of this too.  That's why I wanted to send the flowers, because I don't tell her enough how glad I am that we're sisters!




I'd encourage you, in honor of the month which holds Random Acts Of Kindness Day, to do something special for someone in your life too - just for no reason!  And if you do, here are a couple ideas:

1. Send flowers.  You can do what I did here and have a bouquet sent!  Proflowers was so easy to order from, had a great variety of flowers, and even delivered to my sister's rural address, so I'd recommend checking them out if you want a swift and easy way to deliver some botanical happiness!

2. Mail a card.  People don't send enough snail mail anymore, and there's something so nice about getting a non-bill piece of mail - especially when you put some thought into telling your friend or family member what is special about them!  We all need some encouragement sometimes.

3. Stop by with coffee.  Especially if you are surprising a mom with young kids, but really, who would turn down coffee?  Except those crazy people who don't drink caffeine, by whom I am continually puzzled.

Have you ever done anything for Random Acts Of Kindness Day?





From Winter To Spring


In one way or another springtime here always disappoints me.

I used to truly hate springtime, mostly because where I live the season inevitably means one thing - mud. Lots and lots of mud.  However, springtime in the mountains has started to surprise me.  The last couple springs have been unseasonably warm, with blue skies and flowers that have started to sprout early.

This last week I thought we may be in for another uncharacteristically nice spring, but I'm still on guard because the air as I type this on Saturday has a bit of chill sneaking back in.  So even during "nice" springs, you just never know when we will be right back to winter.  I'm dubbing it the springtime blues.  You are happy that the weather is so beautiful, but you are sad because you know it's not going to last that long.

It's an emotional roller coaster, I tell you.

In-Between Seasons Clothing

Regardless, I thought I'd just talk today about transitioning from winter to spring, in more ways than one!  First clothing, and in particular, shoes.  I am so happy that laced suede flats are a trend right now, because I think they are perfect for those transition seasons, when you don't really know what to wear.






Floral Tank: Papaya
Drapey Utility-Inspired Jacket: TJ Maxx
Jeans: JustFab (my referral links here)
Shoes: JustFab

All About Birding

For the uninitiated, "birding" is the modern term for "bird-watching".  Don't let a birder catch you saying "bird-watching", because I hear it's a major faux-pas.  I've mentioned before that one of my favorite movies is The Big Year, and every time I watch it I get in the mood to break out my binoculars and find some birds.  Last year when we went to Yellowstone was when it started, because there were so many varieties of birds there.  I saw an American White Pelican!  I don't think I've seen a pelican in my life before that.

As if I needed another reason to just give birding a try, I saw in one of my homeschool Facebook groups that the Great Backyard Bird Count is starting right now.  This is a citizen-study put on by Cornell every year.  It helps them gather information on bird migration patterns, and it helps citizens (like me) get outside and identify some birds.  I decided we would participate and incorporate it into our school days.  

Our first day out was not overly successful.  I heard a chickadee and saw a Dark-eyed Janko.  But to be honest, I was just guessing as to what bird it was.  I poured over websites and books for almost an hour trying to figure out what it was that I saw.  It was a 7-9 inch bird with a chestnut-colored back, and blackish and white tail feathers.  I settled on the Janko, because it's very common and also the only bird that even vaguely fit that description.  

I'm sure I'll get better at this whole thing eventually and won't have to spend an hour identifying each bird, right?

The Book-Buying Urge

Even though I wouldn't say spring has officially started at all, this spring-like weather is conjuring spring-like thoughts.  Spring makes me think about saving money for the homeschool conference, and preparing for next school year (oh, the life of a homeschool mom), which makes me think about picking curriculum for first grade (even though we are still in the midst of kindergarten).  And since I am an eclectic homeschooler with an emphasis on "living books", it makes me want to buy books for the kids.

My Usborne party was a declared success, and I have a big 'ole batch of books coming my way from them soon (more on that when they arrive!).  Last Saturday I also took a shopping trip by myself, and there is a local thrift store that has a particularly good selection of books.  Seriously, every time I go there I find a bunch of classic children's books.  I am baffled.  Who is giving away all these good books?  I must be in a sweet-spot, surrounded by parents with kids just a little older than mine who give all their good children's books away to this one thrift store.  This is my haul (excuse the fact that I'm talking so fast, Derek was waiting for me and I was in a rush!).





I may have gone a little overboard.  It's hard not to do when you can get each book for $1.50 each! This batch of books would have cost me at least $160 on Amazon, and that's if I bought each one of them used.

Old School Blogger Shout-Out

Just one today, for the sake of time!  Alex from Inspiration Clothesline is a long-time blog friend.  Go check out her most recent post where she announced being pregnant with her FOURTH baby!  So cute!

What I'm Drinking: Still to be determined.  Coffee?  Peppermint tea?  Something that will wake me up and give me energy for our homeschool playdate this morning.


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