Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Tag Archives: spirituality

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

9781601427113 (109×180)

When the Heart Cries tells the story of Hannah who has fallen in love outside of her old order Amish community. That act alone can cause rejection from her community. Unfortunately that is just the beginning of her heartache. Life is changing, crisis is coming. Her life is never going to be the same.

This book is wonderfully written. I’ve only read a couple of Amish books for fear that they’d be the same story wrapped-up a bit different. This book is not what I imagine as the traditional Amish novels. I enjoyed the writing style and the author’s talent with story telling. The book did a great job exploring the social issues with the Amish and the approach to medical care. This book is so much more than a tragic love story. It transports you into the Amish a way I’d not been yet.

This book is a Christian novel. However, the mention of gospel, Christianity themes are all indirect and presented solely in regards to the Amish order. That does make this book very light-handed and on a superficial note could seem less Christian. However, if you are new to Christian novels, this would be a good start or if you just like a good Amish book but don’t want to feel preached to, it’s a good book. When I read a Christian novel, I do prefer more direct Bible references.

I do think the book is excellent. I recommend it to any adult reader who has an interest in the Amish, Amish novels, or Christian themed books. Due to the themes, I would not recommend to immature readers.

This is the first book in a series and I’m hoping to read the future books.

I give this book a 4.5 out 5 Bookends.

If you’d like more information on this book check out this site. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review


I’ve been reading a lot recently. Although, mostly I’ve been reading novels. Today I want to take a moment to review a slightly different book.


The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible by Dr. William Marty and Dr. Boyd Seevers

The Bible, an ancient text that many study and use as a guide for their life. It’s a book that can be intimidating as it includes everything from history to prophecy. The reviewed book’s goal is to “cut to the chase” of the Bible’s books. It addresses the questions: What does it say? and Why does it matter?

I personally own a self-study Bible. I find the extra information in the self-study Bible to be quite helpful and provide depth to the Bible. This book, I’ve found adds to my self-study Bible. It provides more to the point information in a conversational tone. I found reading this book felt like a really good conversation. It breaks down each chapter and gives a quick overview. The authors write an easily understood style that both those well-versed in the Bible and those new to the Bible can understand and appreciate.

One downfall for this book is that if one has a self-study Bible or has done significant Bible study this book may not provide additional information. However, I would guess, if someone has significant knowledge of the Bible, they would probably purchase more scholarly written books.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible, specifically the importance and lessons chapter by chapter. I would especially recommend the book to new Christians or those who have had not completed other in-depth studies.

I give this book a 4 out 5 bookends.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.



My Legacy- Part 3

What I Want Other’s to Know About Me

This has been the hardest of the 3 part series to write. I’m not sure why, if I feel like it makes me seem egotistical or if its odd to think about what I want people to remember about me when I’m gone. Despite the challenges, I feel its important to think about it so I can live purposely. This process has allowed me to really evaluate what I want people to think about me and to think about if I’m truly living this now.

Here’s what I hope people remember about me or, in other words, how I see myself:

Christian: I remember when my grandmother passed away, there was no doubt that she went to Heaven. In fact, people specifically recalled her as a Good Christian Woman. In fact many of my memories of her are bursting with Christian values and experiences. I want people to say they know that I am good Christian woman. This is an area of improvement for me. I need to find ways to live my faith Outloud.

Compassionate:  Compassion is feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others. I tend to be very compassionate and work hard to show this. I do unfortunately tend to be a bit direct and blunt. Sometimes I think this may take away from my compassion. I work hard at being supportive when I know people are going through tough times.

Passionate: This is something I’m certain anyone who knows me very well, will say about me! I’m very passionate about my kids, food allergies, family, living a moral life, reading, fitness, and the list can go on! My passion oozes when I talk about these topics and I read everything I can about topics I’m passionate about. unfortunately, I think I can accidentally put people off my the amount of passion that comes bursting out!

Now that I’ve identified what I want people to remember about me, how can I live to embrace these things? Am I doing a good job at embracing these things? I mean, after all, actions talk louder than words. What actions can I take to help grow those attributes?

Since I’m always looking for ways to better myself, here are my steps I plan to take to help grow in those things I want people to remember about me:

1) Growing in faith– One of the ways my grandmother become such a strong Christian woman was because she was familiar with God’s word. I must read the Bible more and spend more time within his word. I must not shy away from Biblical conversations. I need to become more involved in church.

2) Compassion– I need to remember to be compassionate in tone, as well as, actions. I will (try to) be more outgoing and approachable to others as I sometimes come off as too direct or stand-offish.

3) Passion- I will curb the passion when needed and try to read people’s body language better. I will keep bringing up the food allergy issues and continue to be available for those who want to talk about it but remember that NOT everyone wants to discuss food allergies. I will re-direct my passion to things that I CAN change and be OK with letting those that I can’t go by the wayside.

What do you want people to remember about you? What do your actions say about you? Are you living that out? Are there ways you can improve? I’d love to hear from you if you feel like sharing.
If you’ve missed the other previous parts to this series, check them out here:  Part 1 and Part 2 

20130103_134314It’s that time of year again! How in the world did another year pass so quickly? The new year is a time to purchase new calendars and start the year fresh. The picture above is of the pretty new calendar my husband gave me. It’s a good time to reflect on the year that passed and the year to come. Naturally, many people make resolutions and plans for the future.

A few weeks ago I was in the car, listening to a local Christian station and first heard the concept of one word resolutions or one word to sum up your resolutions. I really liked that idea. So, this year, even though I have specific resolutions, I searched for one word that I felt summed them all up. The word I chose was HEALTH. 

Definition: the state of being free from illness; a person’s mental or physical condition. 

I want to work on health in all aspects of my life, not just limited to my physical condition. My goal this year is to look at all the situations and consider its “health”. Although I’m making two specific resolutions, I’m planning on looking/examining everything and considering whether its healthy. For example, do we have a “healthy” budget (or are we overspending)? How does this activity affect my spiritual health? How can I improve my home management to make it “healthier”? Get it?

My specific resolutions this year are as follows: fitness/weight loss and household management. But before I get too involved into what I want to accomplish, I want to tell you what I’ve accomplished last year.

Last year I realized I was less than 10 years away from when my mom had her first stroke (she was quite young). Quickly following that realization came the one that I was out of shape and had several extra pounds. So, I resolved to start exercising. During the winter I started using my elliptical at about 20 mins and worked myself up to 45 mins (yaay me!). I first started not lifting weights and by the end of the year now I’ve made tremendous improvements in my strength training. Then in the spring I started training for a 5K. I took the training slow basically following the couch to 5K with a few adaptations. I jogged my first 5K in Aug and continued on to jog a total of 4 between Aug and the beginning of Oct. At to end the year I was back on my elliptical 4-5 times a week with a goal of doing 30-45 mins at a time and lifting 3-5 days a week.  I’ve lost a little over 20 lbs last year which is a great start to my overall weight loss plan.


This year’s fitness/weight loss goal is three-fold: 1) jog a 10K planned for September 2) jog  a 5K in under 38 mins 3) work on losing another 20 lbs. My plan: exercise 4-5 days a week to include 30-45 mins on my elliptical or jogging and weight lifting. I also plan to track calories to help in the weight loss.

My resolution for household management is to put together a cleaning schedule and stick to it! This way I don’t feel so overwhelmed trying to get everything done. I also hope it helps me to stay on top of some of those less frequent household cleaning things (like dusting). I’ve made my first step in creating a monthly cleaning schedule. I plan to start implementing it next week. I anticipate there may be some adjustments made as I go but I’m certain this well help me have a “healthier’ household management.

So that’s it, my New Years resolutions. And, you might think I’m done, but I’m not. I’ve felt led to pick a Bible verse to focus on this year. I can already anticipate some difficult times ahead and I know I will need something to help me provide strength for my family. For me, my strength comes from God and his words. Knowing this, I’ve decided I should pick one verse that I can keep close to my hear this year to help comfort me and encourage me. The verse I chose is this:

Trust in the Lord always with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

I personally like this verse because it helps to remind me that I am not in this alone. It reminds God watches over me and I don’t have to feel like I need to do it alone. And quite frankly, I need to remind myself that I don’t have to control everything because well, God actually controls everything.

Did you make any resolutions? Please feel free to share, I would love to hear from you!

I spoke in a previous blog entry about teaching my daughter there are consequences to our actions. In the blog I mentioned I believe we are moving into (and in many ways are in) a society with very little thought of consequences to actions. And that, in fact, as parents we are responsible for teaching our children that not only are consequences real but we should expect them. The recent well-publicized DJ prank, I believe, reinforces my thoughts.

Everyone (I believe) has heard about the nurse who inadvertently provided two DJ’s on air information on Great Britain’s princess’s medical condition. Following this incident, the nurse was found having committed suicide. Before I go any further, please know that I feel very sad for the family of the nurse and everyone involved and there would have been no way the DJs could’ve predicted the nurse’s response. I, do however, feel this is an example of no thought to consequences or, frankly, just not caring what those consequences could be.

The ending of  this DJ prank reminds me of another one several years back where despite being warned, a radio station had people drink large amounts of water in order to win a prize. A woman died. These DJ’s were warned but ignored the warning. Life was lost because of a lack of believing in consequences. I’m sure there are many more tragic ends following pranks that don’t make national news. I know there are lots of things ending tragically that were not pranks; just poor judgement.

I’m not angry at the people who had moments of poor judgement; who didn’t take a moment to think through their actions. I’m not intending to condemn anyone or place blame on anyone. I’m not calling for stricter laws or this to become a political moment. It was a horrible and tragic end to what was thought to be a harmless prank.

It’s important to remember even if this woman didn’t die, there would’ve been consequences. Maybe not as severe as death but still consequences. A woman’s privacy was invaded. Potentially information she would’ve preferred to keep between her and her husband. I mean, really, who wants the world (literally) to know you’ve had your head in the toilet all night long? I’m not saying she was vomiting all night (quite frankly, I don’t know if she was), but that could’ve been aired if she had been. She could then become the punch line to jokes because she was pregnant and sick. Even a princess deserves some privacy.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I’ve loved you. -John 15:12

Even worse than the lack of fore-thought is the lack of compassion that I see in pranks that end in tragedy. Compassion is caring about others and truly wanting what’s best for them. In both of the situations, there was no compassion. If there was, the DJ’s would’ve not called in hopes of gaining some personal information about the princess. The other DJ’s wouldn’t have ignored the fact that someone could get severely sick and die from being forced to drink too much water. Compassion would’ve forced them to think it through. They would’ve put themselves in someone else’s shoes and considered how they’d feel if it happened to them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these people are completely void of compassion. I’m not saying there are not those they love dearly and would do anything for. What I am suggesting is there was the missing piece of being compassionate toward those they don’t know. People who aren’t family and friends. True compassion for strangers is harder than for those who you personally know.


Teach me good judgement and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. -Psalms 119:66

I do, however, wish to point out that as parents we can instill in our child right from wrong. We can instill in our children to take time to think through our actions. To remember that even as adults we are held accountable. No one is exempt. Although I won’t be able to be with my child as she makes every decision, especially once she becomes an adult, the important lessons should stick with her. For me and my house, teaching my children God’s word and to be good disciples is essential in reinforcing consequences. Using God as a guide, we can teach them to be compassionate toward everyone.

Let’s not call for others to make changes or for politics to sort out these issues. Let’s start at home. Teaching those who will inherit this world. Teach a child to be compassionate and to recognize consequences. Teach them how to show God’s love to everyone.

Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you. -Proverbs 2:11

DSCF7974My Favorite Things to do with the Kids

Every parent has those activities that they enjoy doing with their kids. For me, I have several. Some of my activities require me to leave the house, some are loud, and some are quiet activities. Whether they provide me snuggle time or giggling time, these activities top my list of things I love doing with my kids. They all have common characteristics of relationship building, development skills, and fun!

Here’s 5 of my favorite activities:

1) Reading: who doesn’t love a little snuggle time? I take this a step further with my four-year-old by asking her to find “sight” words and page numbers. We’ve started reading chapter books with her and she tells me about what’s happened in the story. My two-year-old has started memorizing parts of the stories so I make him say his part. We also find the “can you find?” game while reading. I love taking a quick trip to the library to browse though the books. Yes, we’re the family with about 20 books surrounding them and we only check-out two a piece, sorry librarians out there!

2) Cooking/baking: my kids love the kitchen and I love sharing this with them. Having them help me cook/bake helps to keep them from being underfoot or into things and is a great learning tool. We talk about the different ingredients, we count, measure, and pour. Having them help me helps them with math skills and fine motor. We also get to talk about entry-level science too- fruits, veggies, meats, and why all these foods are important.

3) Dancing: Music, music, music! My kids love to dance especially since I’ve enrolled my four-year-old in dance. Since they love it so much, I jump in and Bust-a-move with them. It’s great exercise as I bounce around and be silly. In fact, stellar dance moves not require because the crazier the dance the more they love it. Dancing helps develop creativity as they are coming up with their own moves. It also helps with confidence as I give each of them a chance to independently show of their moves. Its great physical activity for both me and my kiddos. So I say turn up the tunes and get active!

4)  The Lying Game (otherwise known as Did You Know?): Ok, so the name of this game may not seem like a good idea, but it really gets a lot of giggles and it helps with creativity. How this game works is I look at my daughter who is wearing a pink shirt and say, “Did you know your shirt is Green?” She laughs and says “No, its pink”. Then she comes up with one of her own. This game is great because it promotes creativity as we come up with new “little lies”. The other bonus is I can play this game while standing in line at the store or while sitting at the dinner table. My son is slowly catching on, well, that what we’re saying is funny anyways. I’ve started including him in it, but he pretty much repeats whatever was last said.

5) Church: This may seem like a strange one, especially for anyone out there that doesn’t attend church. But there are so many benefits of church, besides the whole salvation thing (which is very important). Church helps to not only teach a spiritual aspect of life and helps them to learn about God and what it means to be a Christian but it also teaches many other lessons. At church, they learn there is a time for everything. We stand and sing (loud time), we sit and listen (quiet time), and we sit quietly praying (even quieter time). We have times that we say memorized prayers. As they get older they will work on memorizing those prayers. For now, they learn how to listen, be patient, and about all things spiritual. They learn about God’s Grace and about how to talk to him. Church helps to not only teach those important religious factors but teaches them other important lessons.

Well, that’s my list. What are your favorite activities? What do your children learn from them?

During the month of November at the dinner table, I ask everyone what they’re thankful for. This particular day, I took my daughter out for supper following dance. I’d forgotten to ask her and so we had our conversation while driving home. When I asked her response was this: Caleena (one of her preschool teachers) is thankful for all the cars and the city. Then she went on to say that she was thankful for God because he made all the cars and the cities. Noticing the trees, she went on to say that God made the tall, tall trees and listed off several things she saw as we drove. Finally she asked me, “Mommie, does God get tired? The trees are so tall and the cities are so big. That must be tiring to make all of it.”

I left this conversation feeling happy. In our house we do our best to talk about God, to reinforce that there is a God and the behavior that gives Him glory. She speaks openly about Him and it’s not uncommon for her to talk about God. This conversation was different. She wasn’t just stating facts or repeating things I’ve told her. From this conversation, I was re-assured that she not only thinks about what He’s done for us but she is grateful for what He does for us.

Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Mark 10:14

Ever since I started talking with her about God, I’ve been so impressed with her faith in Him. She has believed unconditionally that He exists and loves her. Her genuine belief is empowering and inspires me to be a better Christian. She loves to go to church. Her faith comes naturally. I’m certain God has great things in mind for her.

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a  little child will never enter it.  Mark 10:15

Child-like faith. It was a concept I didn’t fully understand until I had my own child. They, without reservation, believe in all things concrete and mystical. If they are told it exists, it does. No questions or over thinking. He exists and that’s that. As we age, we become more skeptical of all things unseen. We question everything and almost seem to look for a way to not believe in God. Of all things my children have taught me, I believe this is the biggest lesson: believe in God and take Joy in Him as a child does.

My goal going forward is to be more child-like in my faith. I want to take Joy in the Lord. I’m planning to spend less time questioning and more time listening and following. I do believe God is working through my daughter. I believe she’s more accepting of His guidance because she’s less bogged down by worldly things. I will become less bogged down and take time to really listen and really thank Him for everything He does for us.

I challenge you to think about this too. How can you become more child-like in your faith? What is holding you back?

Prayer for childlike faith:

Dear God. Thank-you for the lessons brought to us by the smallest of people. Thank-you for providing me with my child who is helping me to see you differently. Please help me to look at the world with all the awe and wonder of a child. Help me to have child-like faith. Please continue to provide me opportunities to not only teach and guide my daughter but for her to teach and guide me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.