Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Real Moms, Real Jesus

Today I’d like to welcome author and speaker, Jill Savage. Jill’s recent book Real Moms…Real Jesus, just released, and I wanted to ask her about her real mom moments..

Jill, tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

Mark and I have been married 25 years and we have five children. Anne is 24 and married to our wonderful son-in-love, Matt. Evan is 21 and married to our beautiful daughter-in-love, Julie. Erica is 18 and a college student at Heartland Community College. Kolya is 15 and in the 8th grade. We adopted Kolya at the age of 9 from Russia---the God story about his adoption is included in the Real Moms…Real Jesus book. And Austin is 12 and in the 7th grade.

Tell us about your newest book Real Moms...Real Jesus?

Real Moms…Real Jesus is a book designed to help moms understand that when Jesus lived on this earth he was fully God, yet fully man. We don’t often think about the fact that he was a human being and he lived the full human experience: pain, hunger, fatigue, frustration, betrayal, disappointment. He experienced it all!

There’s one verse in the Bible about Jesus that simply says “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.” Well, isn’t that the life of a mom? Large crowds follow her to the bathroom. They follow her to the kitchen. To the grocery store. She’s in high demand! And when Jesus lived on this earth, He was in high demand, too.

Why did you want to write this book?

Most of us long for a friend who understands. Yes, we need girlfriends who understand what our life is like. But we also need to understand that we have a friend who understands in Jesus. Too many of us think of God as being distant and unable to relate to our daily struggles. But nothing could be further from the truth! He understands and he wants us to build our friendship with Him. He wants to not only be our Savior, but also our Friend.

What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?

I hope that readers will gain a new perspective about their relationship with Jesus. I also hope to weave God’s truth into the daily life of a mom.

What unique elements will the reader find in Real Moms…Real Jesus?

Each chapter looks at some character trait in Jesus’ life that can help us in our life as a mom. In between the chapters are interactive vignettes that provide brief, refreshing glimpses into our real, messy, busy lives.

There are also questions at the end of the chapter for further consideration and suggested Bible reading in the book of Matthew. If the reader chooses to pursue the suggested reading, she will have read the book of Matthew completely by the end of the book!

There is also a leader’s guide in the back of the book so it can be used in a group setting.

This is a Hearts at Home book. What is Hearts at Home?

Hearts at Home is an organization that encourages, educates, and equips women in the profession of motherhood. Hearts at Home encourages moms through annual conferences, our extensive website (, a free bi-weekly electronic newsletter, a radio program, and an entire line of books designed to meet the needs of moms all over the world!

Any closing thoughts?

I am very excited about this book! I believe that if a mom can strengthen her relationship with Jesus Christ, she will feel more equipped to be the mom she wants to be. I’m also offering an online book discussion on my blog beginning Tuesday, April 7. If you’d like to join us, you can subscribe to my blog at

I’d love to hear a reader’s thoughts after they read the book, too! You can connect to me through my blog at

Thanks, Jill, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your real mom, real Jesus moments with us.

You can purchase your own copy of Real Moms…Real Jesus by clicking here.

And be sure to check out Hearts at Home, their conferences for moms, and all their online resources

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Monday, March 30, 2009

A Home Organization Plan

Do you need or want a plan for keeping your house clean? Do you ever wonder what to do to keep it in tip-top shape? Check out this site for a great free daily plan you can print out and put in your life management notebook to keep you on track. I love great plans... now to actually do this is another story!
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Make Your Own Play Dough

Make Your Own Play Dough

In my quest to find activities to occupy my kids, I found this recipe that doesn't require odd ingredients... just stuff you have around the house!

Pour 1 C. flour, 1/2 C. salt, and 3 tabl. of vegetable oil into a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Add 1/3 C. water tinted with 17 drops of desired shade of food coloring. Knead dough with hands until it feels smooth. If the dough is crumbly, add more oil; if it’s sticky, add more flour. The dough can be stored in an airtight container in the frig for several weeks.
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Where I Am

Posting might be sparse around here for the next few days as today I am in Roanoke VA speaking at a women's conference with Rachel Olsen! I brought my daughter with me so we are having some good mom/daughter time away. So fun! We return on Sunday and then I turn around on Monday and head to Montreat NC to speak at an event there on Tuesday morning. My new friend Tammy is joining me for this trip, so I am looking forward to her sharing the adventure with me. Very cool.

It will be a whirlwind couple of days, but I promise to return with some tales of my adventures on the road. Look for a great interview with Jill Savage, founder of Hearts at Home and author of the new book Real Moms, Real Jesus coming soon!
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Things I Would Rather Be Doing Than Editing The Speaking Book Right Now

Don't get me wrong-- I love this speaking book. I just want to be done with editing it! Because there are so many other things I am ready to do. Things like:

1. Cleaning my house. It needs a good deep cleaning. Hmmm, I think I could call that spring cleaning, perhaps? :)

2. Clipping coupons and learning how to play the coupon game so I can reduce my grocery budget and save our family money. Thanks to my friends Paige and Brandi (because you know, you're a fine girl) for the tutorial on that this week!

3. Planning a fun Easter tea for my daughter and her friends. I plan to start here with my research. Oh, and we might just have to do this fun unit around here since eggs do go with easter and all.

4. Perusing curriculum catalogs and dreaming about what to order for next year.

5. Shopping for fun diversions for my children as we are making a more concerted effort for my children to spend MORE time with creative pursuits and LESS time in front of all things electronic-- tv, video games, computer. This is a never-ending battle and of course our children are going kicking and screaming down this path with us. I need to spend some time collecting things to do for those times when they say, "But I'm bored!" Books, paints, crafts, etc. Any suggestions? I love the Color Wonder stuff that Crayola makes. No mess means happy mama!

6. Reading through Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss again. I read it about this time every year. It's the perfect book to encourage homeschooling moms who might need a reminder as to why they are doing this again.

7. Reading The Shape Of Mercy by Susan Meissner. This book just won the ECPA fiction book of the year. I loved her book Blue Heart Blessed so much, I am sure to love this one!

8. Decorating for Easter... am afraid I've nearly missed the boat on this little endeavor-- it's almost here!

9. Working on my fiction novel. I love to do this so much, it hardly feels like work. I am not sure that means it will be any good, but I am having a good time trying!

10. Shopping for a journal. I have decided I need to do more personal journaling, as this blog is the closest I get to journaling and I can't share everything here. Because you people would never return if I started delving into my deepest thoughts on this forum. Trust me on that one.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our New Blog!

Well, Dawn has done it again! She just posted our new blog site for our book, Learning To Live Financially Free. I think she did an excellent job!

Be sure to bookmark us at:

And if you are a blogger who would be willing to mention or review our book, or a reader who would be willing to post a review over at Amazon, puh-lease let me know. My agent is telling me it's time to generate some "buzz" and let those folks out there who need this book know it exists!!

So please help us spread the word!! A million thank yous to those of you who have written to say the book has touched your life or to reassure us how important this message is for this time. We appreciate hearing from you!
ETA: Since I am out of town until Tuesday evening, I will respond to anyone who leaves a comment or sends an email about being willing to review or mention the book midweek next week. Just didn't think I was ignoring you or didn't appreciate your kind offers!
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just Something I Had To Share

Ok, so I saw this and just had to share it with you all. Now, just to teach my daughters this essential truth!
I am off to read a book and enjoy some of this. Yum!
Then it's off to bed early for this tired mom!
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Thanks to all of you who drop by today after reading my devotion at P31! I am glad to have you here!

So, what are you up to today?

I am spending today editing the book on speaking which will be similar in format to the book on writing that came out in 05, For The Write Reason. I am very excited about this resource as it is packed full of wisdom from some wonderful speakers. I can't wait to share it with you guys... and I won't have to wait long since it comes out this summer... just in time for She Speaks!

Please feel free to browse my blog. Just below this post you will find photos of a wedding on the beach my family and I attended this past weekend, and below that you will find an exciting announcement about an upcoming conference for women that will take place online. Both myself and Lysa TerKeurst are speaking as well as an impressive lineup of speakers with excellent topics. I can't wait to hear some of the sessions myself!

I am so glad you stopped by today!
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Beach Wedding

The wedding of Stephanie and Jason this weekend was so fun. We were so glad we made it a family adventure! For those of you who love a good love story, I have to tell you Stephanie and Jason's, in a nutshell, as told to me by my Uncle Bob, her father. Stephanie had planned a trip to ski at Jackson Hole WY with a friend. But the friend backed out. Stephanie was so disappointed because skiing at Jackson Hole had been a dream of hers for awhile. When her dad heard what happened, he urged her to go and just fulfill the dream, even if she had to do it alone. Surprisingly, she took his advice and went on with her plans. One night she decided she couldn't bear to eat alone in her hotel room, so she ventured down to the hotel restaurant to eat. A young man sat down near her and for the longest time, neither one of them spoke. Finally, he mustered up the courage to ask her,"Are you from around here?" Turns out he was working for the ski season at the resort. The two ended up talking that night and, eventually, falling in love. As I watched this wedding, I was reminded again of how sometimes those risks we take in life pay off in the most surprising ways.

A beautiful, empty beach awaited the ceremony

I loved her choice of hydrangeas and cream colored roses for her flowers-- they went so beautifully with the colors of the beach

These clever melon swans were too cute!

The wedding was all "green" in theme, complete with all biodegradable, natural products. The cups were made out of corn products and guaranteed to disintegrate in 60 days! This cake went with their wedding invitations and included many personal references to the couple mixed in with the woodland decorations. Oh, and it featured a vanilla layer with chocolate filling, a chocolate layer with vanilla filling, and a carrot cake layer with creme cheese filling. Yum!

Her "aisle" was the steps leading down onto the beach. Here she is with her dad, my uncle Bob.

The ringbearer was their trusty dog Barley. (The rings were tied onto his collar.)

Stephanie and Jason saying their vows. There is no prettier setting, I think, to have as your backdrop than the ocean itself.

Curt struggled a bit when he watched Bob give Stephanie away...
that hit a little too close to home!
My girls-- the younger two above, and the oldest posing with Stephanie. Did I mention how cold it was on that beach? Hence Steph's sweater and my daughter's North Face!

The happy couple's first dance.
Congratulations Jason and Stephanie!
You have a beautiful love story and a bright future ahead of you!

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Monday, March 23, 2009

A Woman Inspired

Have you heard about A Woman Inspired? The online women's conference you can attend in your pj's? Well it's coming up very soon... and I just got the word that the lovely organizers have decided to drop the ticket price by half to just $12.95 until April 1st!

You can check out the great workshop options and learn more about what an online conference is by going to I know I plan to check out many of the workshops. And just to put your mind at ease, if you can't be online at the time of the conference, your ticket will enable you to access the recorded sessions at your leisure.

I hope to "see" you there!

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An Exciting New Column!

Some of you know I have been a contributing writer over at Heart of The Matter Online for awhile now, and I absolutely love the ladies over there! I am so excited to announce that a new column I am writing launched today. Write At Home will profile homeschool moms who write-- whether they write novels, nonfiction books, curriculum, blogs... whatever! The focus of the column will be the answer to that famous question, "How do you do it?" I will contribute to this column once a month and I am tickled to get the chance to learn from these wise women.

Be sure to drop by and take a look!
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Good Thoughts For A Monday Morning

This is worth watching... some good perspective on our homes, and our attitudes, by a group of moms:
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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Family Adventure

We're leaving town today for one night to attend a wedding. Some of you may remember me mentioning my uncle Bob, who owns the beach house we visit every summer, thanks to his generosity. Well, his daughter, my cousin Stephanie, is getting married on the beach on Saturday! My girls can't wait to see this wedding on the beach... though I just found out they are predicting weather in the 50's that day. Hardly the balmy spring day I had hoped for! I am picturing my little girls shivering in the cute little skirts and sweaters we got them to wear to this event. (I convinced Curt it was economical because these outfits could pull double duty-- the wedding and Easter.) Not sure what we're going to do about this unexpected dip in the weather. Oh well, it'll all turn out alright somehow.

We're looking forward to getting out of town as a family and the kids are looking forward to sleeping in a hotel (yes, we got two adjoining rooms-- big splurge!) and swimming in their indoor pool. I am looking forward to seeing some family members I don't get to see very often, slipping away for maybe a little bit of time at Sunset Beach (my favorite place in all the world) if I can, and watching my last cousin get married.

I will be sure to post pictures when I return! Y'all have a great weekend!
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bring It To Me

"Mo-om," my six year old son calls from where he is working on math, "I can't do this!"

I am in the kitchen washing dishes. "If you can't do it," I reply, "Just bring it to me."

And in a whoosh, I hear God's still small voice, coming in on the heels of what I have just spoken aloud. "Isn't that what I say to you?" he reminds me.

When I am overwhelmed: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

When I am angry: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

When I am hurting: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

When I am confused: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

Thousands of years ago, the disciples faced a situation they couldn't do. They couldn't feed 5000 men and their families lunch even though the people were hungry. They knew that allowing them to leave would mean missing a great ministry opportunity... but their resources were sorely lacking. And then one little boy stood up and offered his lunch. Jesus responded,"Bring them here to me." (Matthew 14:18) He took that meager offering-- the tiniest bit offered in faith-- and multiplied it beyond anyone's expectations.

I need God to do that for me every day. When I think that I can't do something, I need to faithfully take what little I can do and place it in His hands. And then I need to stand back and watch Him multiply my humble offering into something amazing.

What are you feeling like you can't do today?

Homeschool your children even though you know He is calling you to?

Respond to a ministry opportunity even though it is scary?

Stay in a marriage that looks over from where you're standing?

Persevere in your efforts to pay off debt?

Offer forgiveness to someone who hurt you?

Whatever it is, know this: You are right. You can't do it. So bring whatever it is to him. Picture yourself offering it up, just like that little boy's lunch. Then stand back and prepare to be amazed.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free Lapbooking Download... For Mom!

Recently I ordered the book The Hidden Art of Homemaking, a classic by Edith Schaeffer that I have seen quoted and referenced countless times through the years. I already intended to work my way through this valuable book, so I was super excited to see this FREE (love that!) resource offered by CurrClick this week-- a lapbook that moms and daughters can work through together, or something you can just have fun with yourself. I think this is SO great! I am planning to go through it with my 9yo (and maybe my 14 yo if I catch her in the right mood) this summer.

Here's a description:

This lapbook was created to go along with The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. The Hidden Art of Homemaking is an excellent book with lots of wonderful ideas on how to realize your full potential, while creating a fuller, richer homelife for yourself and your family. It covers a multitude of topics including cooking, flower arrangement, clothing, creative recreation, and even integration. This file provides thirty-nine minibooks to record notes as you read through the book. It makes a great study for mothers to do alone or with their daughters.

Want your free copy? Just go here to download it! (But hurry as this offer is only good til next Tuesday!) Happy homemaking!
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Teaching Reading In Retrospect

There are a ton of reading curriculums out there-- all with their own slant or unique angle, whether it's games or formulas or research driven results, each one promises to be "the one" that will help your child learn to read. I was thinking about this yesterday as we eased back into school after mommy's trip. I thought about the many great curriculums I tried back in the day: Alphaphonics, Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Turbo Reader, etc. We tried so many before my oldest finally read. I kept thinking it was the curriculum, but really it was the child.

He wasn't ready.

How do I know he wasn't ready? Because once he was ready, he took off! He was unstoppable, reading every book he could get his hands on about the Revolutionary War-- an interest he still has to this day (though he is loathe to admit it now that he's a way cool teenager). When I saw him reading adult level history books, I knew that all my worry had been for naught.

I was thinking about all this as I instructed my six year old son in reading. He is slowly progressing, getting frustrated, struggling with the word "all" even though we have read it most every day this year, confusing "b" with "d." All the things my oldest son did. But back then I had a gun to my head called "my family is watching to see if I screw this kid up with this crazy thing called homeschooling." So I stressed and pushed and cried and (I am ashamed to admit it now) yelled. Now my family hardly even bats an eye over what I'm doing-- they know I am going to let the kid go at his own pace. They have seen me do it with the other ones before him. And guess what? They are all strong readers! And I feel MUCH less pressure than I once did. I have grown more confident with experience.

Through all that fancy curriculum, I arrived at something that worked for us that is, really, simple. So simple I do catch myself wondering if it's somehow... wrong. But then I quickly reason that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So, here's how we do it:

As soon as they know the letters and their sounds, I start them in Explode The Code, book 1. We progress slowly through this series, taking up to the third grade to complete them. As they learn to sound out short vowel words, I use the Bob books to help them feel like they are really reading. Once they are comfortable with those, we use The Early Readers' Bible. We read a story a day, then repeat the story the next day. Each day I choose a few sentences from what we read and put it on lined paper. Then the child copies the passage.

That's it! It takes hardly any time at all-- and it doesn't cost much money. I don't know about you but less time and less money works for me! If you are struggling with teaching reading, relax. Don't stress out. Trust your child, trust your instincts, and trust God to see you through with the right solution for you and your child. He did it for me, I know He will do it for you.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Traveling Mercies

Dear Girl Who Prayed For Us After Our Session (I am sorry I don't know your name),

Thank you so much for following God's lead and coming up to pray for our travels after our session at Hearts at Home. You said that you felt led to pray specifically for traveling mercies-- and yet you couldn't have known what awaited us as we flew the less than friendly skies yesterday. Suffice it to say we left our hotel room at 10am and returned home at 8pm.

But the truth is, it could have been much worse. Delayed planes, cancelled flights, and missed connections all resulted in some pretty desperate moments in the Atlanta airport as we were told that we couldn't make it home last night and would have to fly home in the morning. The kind Delta employee who tried to help us took pity on us and told us to go at least stand in line for the last available flight out for the evening. Though it was showing full, she said, she had high hopes we could make it.

When we got to the gate where that flight was, the hundreds of people milling around waiting for a chance to get on that same flight was daunting. We met another couple who were in the same boat and agreed to split a rental car if we had to to drive home. Imagine our surprise when the tv screen listing the standby list showed, miraculously, our names as first on the standby list! We went from hopeless and panicked to elated. We were going to make it out of there!! (Our new friends were second on the list-- what are the odds?)

It wasn't until we were on the plane flying back that Curt smiled and turned to me. "Remember what that girl came up and prayed for you about?" he asked. "She prayed for our travels... and we were first on the standby list with no explanation as to how we got that spot." I admit that I forgot all about what you had prayed as we stood there stressed out. Thank you for being obedient to what God prompted you to do. Because of your prayers, I am convinced, I am typing this blog post from the comfort of my home, instead of spending another night away from it.
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Friday, March 13, 2009


Thanks to all of you who stop by today after reading my P31 devotion on jealousy-- a very real human emotion, but one that's not easy to admit we struggle with. I will return on Monday with an update on my weekend at Hearts at Home. In the meantime, I invite you to have a look around here and I hope you guys have a great weekend. Y'all come back now, ya hear?
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Free State Study Ebook

Just wanted to pass on that School Express has State e-books free (they're doing 4 per week alphabetically and are up to North Dakota now):

If you click on the state name, you'll go to the state's homepage; if you click on thematic unit, you'll get the free e-book.

I've got my North Carolina one ready to go, and plan to let my third grader work her way through it this spring. We'll get a jump on those 4th grade state study requirements!
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Unexpected Friendship

On Saturday morning, I sat across the table from a woman and listened to her story for three hours. We didn't plan for it to be three hours, it just turned out that way. Later, she emailed me and apologized for talking that long. I told her not to say that! I thoroughly enjoyed talking to her-- every bit of the time we spent together was precious. Truth is, I wish we had had more time.

I am still marveling at the way God brought us together, and the timing of it, and how intricately He weaves all of our lives. When the time is right, He crosses this random thread with that one, seamlessly weaving us into a pattern we never envisioned.

Does anyone remember this post? Well at the time I wrote it, I never would have imagined that someday, I would be sitting across the table from that boy's mom. And yet, through my blog and her blog, we got connected and agreed that we needed to meet. I wanted to hear her story, how she's doing now, and tell her how much following her story on her blog has meant to me as the mother of a teenage son.

During our meeting, my son called me. He is looking at cars and wanted me to take care of something for him. I hurried him off the phone and looked at her, wondering how that made her feel. Her son died in a car wreck one week to the day that they handed him the keys to his car. She nodded. "I know," she said. "I remember." Grace lit her face as she spoke volumes in those four words.

What I respected about Tammy is that she didn't spend the time we had dwelling on the tragedy she has lived through. She has spent the last months seeking God and finding His purpose in everything they've faced. She has seen her faith grow by leaps and bounds, and has been surprised at the response she has received from other grieving moms who have found her through her blog. She tells the truth with eloquence and raw beauty, and people respond.

We also ended up spending a good bit of time just talking about how hard it is to raise teenagers and how much we love to write. We went from being strangers, to being acquaintances, to being friends in the span of those three hours. Only God could take a random blog post typed out in the heat of the moment last summer and forge an unexpected friendship from it. I am grateful for the many ways blogging has blessed my life. This was yet another one.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Read Aloud Recommendations

Be sure and read the comments on my read aloud post below. There is a great list of books there! Thanks to everyone who left recommendations-- I am especially excited to use this with my kids as I compile our list of "not to be missed" books!
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A Letter To The Younger You

I read this today and thought I would share it with you. Isn't it fun to think about writing to our younger selves about what is to come? What would you say to your younger self if you could?

If we only knew then what we know now... Of course, I do think it's best that we not know. I probably would have run away screaming if I had known I would still be living in the same town I grew up in, married to a boy who used to babysit for me and my brother and mow my dad's grass, with six kids. Yeah, ignorance is indeed bliss.
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Monday, March 09, 2009

Choosing Read Alouds

I am trying to make a list of great chapter book read alouds I don't want my younger three to miss. And I need your advice! What would you say we have to experience? Keep in mind that these three will be 9, 7, and 4 when we are reading them. I am aiming the reading level at the older two, and counting on the littlest to glean what she can along the way.

So far, here's my list:

(All based on my own personal childhood favorites)

Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing (and the other Fudge books by Judy Blume)

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards

Danny, The Champion Of The World

Harriet The Spy

From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler

Understood Betsy

We've already done the Little House books and the Narnia books, so what else am I missing? What have your kids loved? Your input is appreciated!
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Great Laundry Tip

Though Sunday is a day of rest, some of us never get any rest from laundry. I thought this was a great money saving tip, and one I plan to try as soon as my current dryer sheets are gone!

No more dryer sheets!
Take a squirt bottle fill it 1/3 of the way with any brand fabric softner, fill the bottle with water. Spray a few times in the dryer after adding wet clothes. Your laundry will be soft and static free.

Another tip: I have started reusing my dryer sheets, and found that they work just fine the second time.
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Great Sunflower Project

Want to participate in the Great Sunflower Project? Just go to the link below to receive your free seeds!

I received seeds last year from Kelli, (packaged beautifully of course) and I can't wait to plant them with my kids this spring to enjoy this summer!
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Friday, March 06, 2009

Attention All Wannabe Organized Homeschoolers!

Today is week one of the "8 Ways To A More Organized Homeschool" Heart of The Matter blog carnival. The first post is up today with many moms sharing how they organize their physical space. More posts will follow each week. I am looking forward to learning from all these wise women.
PS. You don't have to be a homeschooler to benefit from this. If you love being organized or learning about being organized, check it out.
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Praising Him

I read this quote yesterday in the daily devotion book, "31 Days Of Praise" (by Ruth Myers). I have had this book on my shelf for years and only recently picked it up to add to my morning quiet time. I really like the way it sets my heart on praise first thing in the morning, and gives me a lot to think about besides.

This particular quote really resonated with me:

I praise You for You sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details. With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted.

Are you going through an experience right now that feels wasted? Incidental? Do you feel as though you have wandered into your life by accident?

God uses it ALL. His sovereignty is at work even when we can't see it. And we can trust in that, no matter what our feelings tell us. This was a nice reminder, and I thought someone out there might need to hear it!
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Daisy Chain: A Review

I am currently reading this book but I decided to go ahead and post my review of it because I want to spread the word now that it's been released. Daisy Chain is a great story and very well written-- but I would expect nothing less from my friend Mary DeMuth. I have long respected her both as a writer and a person. So I knew I had to get my hands on this book just as soon as it came out! If you are looking for a story that is part mystery, part gripping examination of characters and their motivations, this is well worth picking up. The relationship of Jed with his friend Daisy, his father, his mother, his sister and even Daisy's mother is at times troubling and at times sweet. The characters are so well developed and come off the pages as you read.

I am so excited about what I see happening in Christian fiction! It's encouraging to know there are authors out there who are talented and have inspirational stories to share with the rest of us. I love reading great writing more than anything... including chocolate. So knowing that I can pick up a Christian fiction book with the confidence that it's going to contain a great story that is well written (like Daisy Chain) just thrills me to pieces!

Check out the trailer here.

Buy it here.
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A Reader's Diary

Does anyone keep a reader's diary? This is a great post, and be sure to read the comments where readers shared their ideas.

This seems like a good idea to me, and one I wish I would have started at the beginning of the year. We are only on the third month of the year and I already can't remember what I've read!

I want a way to not only log the titles of the books I read, but also to keep track of what I liked or didn't like about them. Books are important to me-- a huge part of my life-- so why wouldn't I keep track of them?

I think this would be a good section to add to this.

Please share if you keep a reader's diary. How do you do it? And if you don't, would you like to?
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Great New Site (And Series!) For Kids

Justin Case is an innovative, new children’ s series for four to eight year olds. Perhaps best thought of as MacGyver in an eight-year-old body, Justin tackles the challenges of childhood with creativity and determination. The common experiences that all children share become wild and wooly adventures for Justin and his dog Hershey. Armed with only his imagination and the contents of his pockets, he conquers his world while invading our hearts.

And don't forget to sign up for Justin’s free newsletter. Once a month you'll get an e-mail jam packed full of parenting tips, craft ideas, and kid-friendly recipes.
Visit the website at
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Home Another Way: A Review

I finished Christa Parrish's book, Home Another Way yesterday, after devouring it in a weekend. It was all I did in airport waiting areas and on the plane. Every chance I had, my nose was in that book. It is so refreshing to read a Christian fiction book that was that well-written. The characters were well-developed, the action was paced right, and the story was one that kept you turning pages. Here's a synopsis I lifted from her website:

After her mother’s death and her father’s abandonment, tiny infant Sarah Graham was left to be raised by her emotionally distant grandmother. As a child she turned to music for solace and even gained entrance to Juilliard. But her potentially brilliant music career ended with an unplanned pregnancy and the stillborn birth of her child.

In an attempt to escape the past, Sarah, now twenty-seven, is living life hard and fast–and she is flat broke. When her estranged father dies, she travels to the tiny mountain hamlet of Jonah, New York to claim her inheritance. Once there, she learns her father’s will stipulates a six-month stay before she can recieve the money. Fueled by hate and desperation, Sarah settles in for the bitter mountain winter, and as the weeks pass, she finds her life intertwining with the lives of the simple, gracious townsfolk. Can these strangers teach Sarah how to forgive and find peace?

A story of grace, of God’s never-ceasing love and the sometimes flawed, faithful people He uses to bring His purpose to pass.

This book is well worth buying. I feel like it should have one of those "You'll love this book or your money back!" stickers on it. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

You can learn more about Christa at and see a trailer for the book, with an excerpt from the first chapter at this link.
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Monday, March 02, 2009

For Love Of Poached Eggs

Ok, so I love poached eggs. This weekend at the host home I stayed in, Shirley made me poached eggs for breakfast. I hadn't had a poached egg since the Girlfriend Getaway Cruise, where I ate them every morning for breakfast with some fresh fruit.. and felt extremely healthy for doing so! So, when Shirley offered to make them for me, I told her she could if I could watch her do it. She gave me a very quick lesson on how to poach an egg and I found it was easier than I had anticipated. Like most people who've been cooking for a very long time, Shirley was quite adept at it, and didn't consider it a very big deal.

So, fast forward to yesterday morning when I decided to try my hand at poaching eggs. While my eggs did resemble poached eggs (and tasted just fine), they didn't hold their shape or thicken up the way they are supposed to. So, I did what all folks in this day and age do-- I googled it. And I was delighted to find this easy, simple video on how to poach an egg, step by step. If I can't have Shirley cooking for me, at least I can have this video as backup.

*This post was written, incidentally, for the one of you who always wanted to know how to poach an egg, but didn't know who to ask. Now you know.
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Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: March 2nd

For Today...

Outside my window... a late winter wonderland

I am thinking... about how this day will go with the big kids out of school. Will boredom ensue?

From the learning rooms... learning math in a more hands' on way-- using Unifix cubes and pattern blocks and other manipulatives we have around the house. Continuing with the efforts to have a consistent circle time. Still need to buy addition (1st grader) and multiplication (3rd grader) flash cards to use for drill during circle time.

I am thankful for... family life

From the kitchen... hamburger patties and a side salad for dinner

I am wearing... gray sweatpants and a blue New Balance polarfleece sweatshirt-- the height of fashion

I am reading... several books to review here on the blog-- Rest by Keri Wyatt Kent, Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth, and Beginning With The End in Mind by Lori Lane

I am hoping... to have time to write some this week. I am working on a new novel idea, because I am into continually taking on more projects than I should. And I can't leave well enough alone.

I am creating... plans for a week of school, including a list of great picture books to read aloud each day

I am hearing... my kids arguing over who can play the Playstation, my husband banging dishes around in the kitchen (he's snowed in with us, for now)

Around the house... laundry to be done, meal plans to be made, papers to be filed, treadmill time to be accomplished

One of my favorite things... a big cup of Chai Redbush tea in the evenings while reading a great book

A few plans for the rest of the week... finally ordering photos for my mom that I promised for her birthday (in Jan!), organizing my writing/speaking portfolio, homeschool moms' night out at my house Wednesday night, starting a new Bible study Tuesday night, a weekend at home, and meeting a new friend on Saturday morning to talk writing and life.

Stop at Peggy's for more daybook entries.
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Some Sunday Randomness

It's a cold, rainy Sunday. Since we've had a collection of kids coughing for the last week and a half, we opted out of toting them through the cold rain to church this morning and have stayed home instead. I returned last night from a speaking engagement in PA, so I welcomed the time to just hunker down and do not much of anything.

There's a forecast of a big snowstorm heading our way. The kids are anxious to see if we will actually get any snow. I feel the urge to catalog their outerwear. Does everyone have hats, gloves, scarves, coats? Seeing as how it's officially March, I didn't think that would be necessary anymore. I spent the whole weekend bragging on my beloved southern climate in cold PA, only to be made a liar when I got home. That's what I get for opening my big old southern-accented mouth.

Today I hope to plan our school for this week. Curt was gone much of last week and, I will admit, I slack off when he's gone. Add some sick kids to that equation and it amounted to not much academia happening at the Whalen house. The kids did a bare minimum of school and I spent lots of time working on the release of our book with the publicists and also working on that pesky novel that I can't seem to leave alone. So, I know we need to get some serious schooling in this week. That's one of the things I love about homeschooling-- the ebb and flow of it, the way it adjusts to our lifestyle.

I have been struggling lately as writing pressures have mounted and I have been feeling that urge to have them in school so I can have some writing time built into every day. This, I have accepted, will always be part of my personal battle. My desire for things to be easier and simpler will motivate me at times to come up with "solutions." And yet, God seems to be moving me continually into that place of following His complex call on my life. Homeschool my kids and write and speak. Relying on Him to see me through it and not me to see myself through it, as I am prone to do.

I tend to offer up solutions to Him, as if He can't think of these Himself and might need my insight. I tell Him how much easier it would be if I didn't have to find sitters for the kids when I go speak. I tell Him how much I struggle with wanting to write when I need to be schooling. I tell Him that, if I had my druthers, I would spend every day in a cafe writing while my kids were tucked safely away in school. And He says back, "Well, sorry. That's not what I've called you to." And then He points out that I always do find a sitter for the events I need to be at. He reminds me that I don't always need to be writing-- sometimes I need to be sitting on a couch with my kids sharing my love of words with them. And always, always He helps me see that those long days to write will come later-- but my kids? They will never be kids again. If you miss that, He says, You can always do it later. But if you miss this, you'll never get it again.

These are the random things that are on my mind and heart these days. God continues to be patient with me as He and I hammer out the same old issues over and over and over again. He patiently puts His hands on my shoulders and points me back to where I need to be going. "You've wandered off again," He says. And I nod my head dutifully, making my feet plod in the way I need to go, obeying because He is faithful, and because I know that my Father does indeed know best.

(Want to read more about treasuring the time we've been given? This short post by Elizabeth is wonderful and thought provoking.)
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