Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Saying Goodbye: When the Path is Clear

***After I made the following decision, wrote it up and scheduled it to post, I read a few very coincidental sounding decisions on other blogs. I share this only because the similarity had my jaw hitting the floor. Obviously my thoughts and feelings are my own. That, or there is something in the water. Haha!***

As a child I used to play a game that my sisters and I called the blind game. Not very creative, but there it is. I've played this game a few times with my kiddos over the years too. Basically one person wears a blindfold for a specified amount of time and is essentially blind, while the others try to either help or hinder the progress of the blindfolded individual. It's good for a laugh. 

Problem is, I'm not a very good blind person. My arms are always flailing about, feeling for anything that might be in my way, even in a space where I'm positive of the layout. I'm not very trusting. I walk slowly, taking baby steps to feel my way to where I'm headed, constantly fearful of the moment when someone playfully sneaks up behind me and scares a good five years off of my life. 

Most of the time this is how walking though life feels. We take baby steps, not really sure of God's direction. Does He want me to turn left or right? Say yes or no? Move forward or stay still? It's hard to definitively know where to place that next step. 

But every now and then God grants us a glimmer of clarity, a moment to peer into the future, a peace about a specific direction. I love those moments. Even when they oppose where I previously thought He wanted me to go. 

I've been holding so tightly to my dream of (someday) publication and everything the goes along with it...all the social media, the blogging, everything. But if I'm honest (with you and myself) I just don't have the time, the energy or the passion for least not now anyway. My babies need more of my time. And quite frankly, I'm happy to give it to them. 

What I've been sensing so clearly is that I need to open up my tightly fisted hands and give my dreams back to Him- the creator of time, the source of our strength and energy and the gifter of our passions. 

At the beginning of the year, I chose my one word for 2013. The word that resonated with me over and over was relationships. I thought that meant to foster and build relationships via social media, to deepen my existing relationships, but what now seems very apparent to me is that my desire for relationship hasn't been for the friendship variety (although the friends I've met online have greatly brightened my life and I love you all!) but for the Almighty one. I am experiencing a deep hunger to spend all my free time digging deeper into His word and somehow that desire has trumped any of my previously treasured plans and dreams. Funny how that happens, huh? :) 

This doesn't mean that I want to unplug altogether. I still love to read your blogs and visit with you all on Facebook. What it does mean is that my neglected little blog will cease to exist. It also means that I will finally be free of that eternal feeling of failure as I strive to meet self-imposed writing goals only to fall far short. 

I'm happy about my decision and so very at peace to be walking confidently with my blindfold on toward the One that gives all good things. If writing enters my life again, it will be on His terms and not mine. And I'm okay with that. 

Much love and hugs! 

(Heather Sunseri and Joanne Bischof, I owe you both reviews for Mindspeak and Though my Heart is Torn. Since my blog is no longer, I will gladly post my thoughts on Amazon and any other site that will let me. Rest assured they were glowing reviews anyway! So one last shout out to anyone who needs a book recommendation. Both were stellar!) :) 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Book Pick & a Quote

How it has already managed to be the seventh day of February is beyond me!

Like many of you, my last two weeks have been full of horrible head colds jumping from one family member to another, and brainstorming creative and unique ideas for my kids' Valentine's Day cards. (We have purchased them in years past, but this year I wanted to try the crafty approach--because I just really need one more thing to do! ;) )

Author, Heather Sunseri
Regardless of the hurrying around in a short month, I am still finding plenty of time to read. I force it in whenever I can spare a minute, usually right before bed.

Which brings me to my February Book title! Yay! This month I'll be reading...

I am so excited about this book for two reasons. First, the author is super sweet!! I had the privilege of meeting her in 2011 at a writers conference. And second, this book is not one I would normally pick up--it being a YA Sci-Fi/thriller. I tend to stick to my historicals, but have found many gems by stepping out a bit! If there's ever a gal to take a risk on, it's Heather! So download her debut novel and read along with me!!
Mindspeak is available in many different ways so click over to Heather's site for links to purchase her book if you use something other than Amazon and a Kindle to do your reading.


Okay, change of topic. Yesterday morning I heard something that keeps zinging around inside my head. So I'm gonna spew it out here and see what y'all think.

"Hurrying (or busyness) is the flesh trying to do more than the Holy Spirit is leading you to."

Share with me: Agree/Disagree? Are you often hurrying around? (I know I am!) Will you be reading Mindspeak with me? Or have you already read it?? :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's Review Time - Submerged by Dani Pettrey

I've been waiting for today all month! And I'm so excited to talk about this book...

Author of Submerged and Shattered, Dani Pettrey
Submerged by DaniPettrey is one of those books that you never want to put down--and if you ask my family, they'll tell you that I didn't, for the entire day! Each of the characters comes to life in your mind, moving the suspense forward until you can’t help but wonder what will happen next.

Pettrey’s debut novel centers around a young woman named Bailey, who grew up in a small coastal town in Alaska. Bailey had a troubled youth and searched for love in all the wrong places. Her choices hurt people she loved, but ultimately hurt herself the most as the idea of her unworthiness weighed her down and kept her from any sort of happiness or attachment.

Enter handsome and studly diver extraordinaire who's connected to Bailey and her past, and refuses to let go. (Swoon!) Sprinkle in a plethora of nosey sisters, curious townsfolk, a few dead bodies, some Russian history, and voila! You have the perfect recipe for a romantic suspense a la Pettrey!

It only took me two days to read this book, and here’s why: I immediately loved her characters. All of them…and there were many. Pettrey is a pro at characterization and when working with an abundant cast of characters, she excelled at giving them each their own story, playing time in the pages, and made them real—full of quirks, and personalities. Equally as important as her skill with characters, the author had a new mystery that just had to be discovered on the next page...every page! A definite page-turner!

Submerged is an exciting tale of romance, adventure, forgiveness, and reliance on God’s gracious gift of redemption. I’m eagerly looking forward to Dani’s next novel, Shattered, which if I'm not mistaken is available now! Yippie!   

Share with me: Have you read Submerged? What did you think? What was your favorite part? Tell me, tell me! :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Money Talk and A Recipe

I recently read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. It was such a great book! I highly recommend it for anyone interested in their personal finances.

One of the things that occurred to me as I was filling out a few spreadsheets (provided in the book) is that we (my family) spend a lot of money on food, both groceries and eating out! What a waste!

So I set out to do better...starting with a pretty severe cut to my food allowance. Because why go small when you can make a big difference, fast! :)

I allocated myself $200 for groceries for the entire month of January! And a big, fat nada for eating out! Painful! Especially when I'm used to spending five times that amount, and when restaurants appear to be one of my love languages.

I'm so excited though, because God has blessed my extremism and our efforts and made our budget stretch beyond what I was hoping for. On top of that, miracle of all miracles, we haven't eaten out once this month, and I don't feel like bashing my head against a wall.

So today, I thought it'd be fun to share one of my super-cheap-and-easy-to-make-as-well-as-being-kid-friendly dinners. I made this last night and it was a huge hit. Everyone loved it! (Except my three year old, but she doesn't count cause I can't get that child to eat anything other than Gogurt!)

Cheeseburger Macaroni

1  pound ground beef
1  chopped onion (although I only used half and it was plenty)
2  8 ounce cans of tomato sauce
8 ounces of macaroni noodles
1  4 ounce can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the meat. Drain fat. Add onion and cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes or until your meat is cooked through and onions are tender. Stir in tomato sauce, 1 and 1/4 cups water, and the noodles. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 8 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender. Stir in mushrooms and cheese. Serve immediately.

I paired this yummy dish with steamed veggies and thought the whole thing was filling and easy. Bonus: everyone asked me to make it again! (With a skeleton-sized grocery budget, you can bet that I will!)

Share with me: How much attention do you pay to your "food spending" each month? Is it even on your radar? Do you have any tricks for keeping the bill down? And for fun, what is your favorite restaurant?? :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lessons From a Book

This is no secret...I love books! I especially love the evidence they leave behind that they once existed in our world, even if just for a moment.

Like many of you, I have bookcases in my little nook of our home, and it’s crammed full of books on—I’d bet—every topic under the sun. The other day I was sitting at my desk, daydreaming. Actually, I was probably stalling…when my gaze wandered around the room and landed on a title that made me smile.

And that gave me an idea. Brace yourselves. :)

Here are five highly valuable life lessons I learned through the years from random books on my shelves.

Lesson 1: 
Look before you leap. 
Book: Small-Scale Livestock Farming. 
I don’t believe I ever read this book from cover to cover, but I sure do remember the summer I was determined to convince my husband that selling our home and buying some acreage so I could play farm girl was the way to go. I was going to need the perfect Green Gables farm house, of course…I operate much of the time on impulse and very little follow through. Thankfully, my husband is the exact opposite and keeps me quite grounded.

Lesson 2: 
Nobody’s perfect. 
Book: Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook. 
I vividly remember asking my sister to get me this book for Christmas after I got married in 2004. She obliged and I happily opened the crisp pages of Ms. Martha’s 10 pound tome. Oddly, as I look at it now, those pages are just as crisp almost 10 years later. Hmm. I’m pretty sure it’s okay if you stack your woodpile in a manner not recommended by Ms. Martha.

Lesson 3: 
Fight it out, but stick together. 
Book: FamilyLife, Weekend to Remember Guide. 
Marriage stinks sometimes. (I've said this many times before.) It’s a fact of life. In an effort to invest in our relationship a few years ago, Chris and I went to one of these Weekends-to-Remember. And boy do I remember it! We fought the entire weekend...instead of learning, growing and building with one another. But as my homework guide stares at me all these years later, it also reminds me that we laughed our heads off on the drive home from that conference. Not that it wasn't a helpful or well-planned event, but the cheese-factor was through the roof. And if I’m honest, Chris and I just don’t respond well to homework involving love poems. We're just not classy like that. 

Lesson 4: 
This too shall pass. 
Book: My high school “Adventure Bible”. 
I can’t really put my finger on whether or not I liked high school. It was fine I guess. I learned stuff. I met some people. But really I was just counting down the days for it to be over so I could find Prince Charming and have lots of babies. (Before you think I’m crazy, read this post.) Needless to say, my Bible offered a safe place and Truth like no other book can.

Lesson 5: 
God has plans for me, and they may differ from my own. 
Book: Field Guide for North American Birds.
Okay, don’t laugh. I really do own this book and not because I’m a bird lover by any means. Way back when my eldest child was in utero, I had big homeschooling dreams. Contrary to my ever social husband. But I was convinced that God gave me my mom-passion for a reason and it must be to have my kids around constantly. So I slowly began to accumulate schooling items and books. We have more puzzles of African countries then I know what to do with. Almost eight years and three kids in school later, I’m still not homeschooling, and while that feels at times disappointing to my mom-heart, I know He has something else out there for me.

Share with me: What random books do you have on your shelves? And what life lessons have those books or those phases of your life taught you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Tuesday Shout-Out

Friends make the world go round, don't they?

And I'm blessed with some great ones! Both in my daily life and online!

This is my 2013 "Relationship" photo inspiration. Jenny and Jaime, I'll meet you here! :)
Today I want to give a huge THANKS and a tight squeeze to Jaime Sundsmo and Jenny Hale for reminding me that writing doesn't always have to be a solitary endeavor, and for making my week! You two rock!

I'm going to bed tonight (well, when you read this it'll be last night) with a smile in my heart thanks to your kindness and awesomeness and spontaneity! :)

Thanks for being YOU!

Share with me: how has a friend made your day recently? How can you return the favor?

***By the way, keep an eye on these two gals. Great writers, both!!!***

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Would You Survive?

Take today's post for what it is: a bit of hypothetical silliness! :)

I find the below photo very interesting. (I have no idea if it's accurate. Guess I could have looked it up, but...) 

Photo found on the Homesteading/Survivalism Facebook page
I'm always so curious about farming and what it would have been like living without modern conveniences. Which is probably why I love to write stories set in a time period other than my own. The research is fascinating! 

I don't know...what do you think? Could you have survived if you had to wander out to your field to scrounge up every meal? It's funny to think about, but come along for a moment. If supermarkets suddenly disappeared, would you be able to survive? What would you miss most about your local grocery store? And what, do you suppose, would you enjoy most about living off the land?

Happy almost Friday! :) 

**I devoured Submerged, loved it! And can't wait to share my thoughts!