Monday, December 30, 2013

Catching up

I feel like I have been gone from this blog for ages!!  It seems life has gotten a bit busy and I have not been able to keep up with both real life and on-line life!!  Oh well.

So, what is new?

We went on an amazing hunting trip!!  AMAZING!!  We were so excited to go hunting with Texas Youth Hunting in Brown County.  We hunted at a ranch owned by Brad Brookshire (who owns the grocery stores too).  All three boys were able to participate, and both J and P harvested 2 deer, and Eli harvested 2 turkey!

I have not put anything on here because I still do not have all the pictures (some are stuck on one of the guide’s cameras).  But here is some of what I have :

and a few more:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

new year

{If you are reading in a reader, please click over to my blog to enjoy several videos about Ann’s book}

I love new beginnings.  That is why I love Mondays, I feel like I start new each and every Monday fresh and clear!  Of course it does not last long, but it feels great to start that way!


New years offer an even bigger new beginning, a bigger clean slate!  So as I get ready to embrace 2014 I have been thinking about changes I want to make for the next year.  What do I want to leave in 2013?  What do I want more of in 2014?

One thing I go back to over and over is gratitude.  I have seen how Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts has blessed me and my family.  The simple subtitle : dare to live FULLY right where you are.  Does it get any better than that?

As these years are flying by I want to be FULLY here.  Before I know it my boy (who is now taller than me) will be gone, and I want need to know that I was FULLY here while he was still here.  And right behind him are three other sweet children that I want to spend each day treasuring. 

Gratitude.  As I fuss about the noise in my house, I am reminded to be thankful for the noise-makers.  What a different life I would have without them in it!  So I try to be patient with the noise and be grateful for it.

If you have not read Ann’s book, I challenge you to do so in 2014.  It really is a life changing book.  It will change you from the inside out.  It won’t declutter your house, or quiet your children, or calm your busy calendar (only you can do that) but it can help you to see the gift in the busy (at times), the beauty in the noise (or the noise makers) and the memories in the clutter.

Ann’s writing is poetic, I love to read how she can paint a picture with a few words that will remain in my mind all day.

So for 2014 I am going to re-read One Thousand Gifts, and I am going to challenge my children to join me in living with more gratitude each and every day! 

{If you are interested there are videos to watch while reading the book that Bloom & (In) Courage have on Youtube if you want to check those out!}

NOTE : I received a copy of One Thousand Gifts in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review : The God Puzzle

Valerie Ackermann has put together a great resource for churches or homes for kids ages 7-12.    The God Puzzle Book is a workbook style book that will allow a mom or teacher to walk a child through many many topics relating to their understanding of the Bible.god puzzle

As a homeschool mom and Sunday School teacher, I often feel that our kids learn concepts in pieces, and they never quite fit together to create a BIG picture.  This book will be a great tool to paint that BIG picture, each chapter weaves together another piece of the puzzle allowing the child to understand how they all fit together.

There are 36 chapters in this book, allowing you to work one per week for a typical school year.  Subjects that are covered include : Who were the first people, what is the trinity, what is communion, how do I study the Bible.

I enjoyed looking through this book and think it would be a great addition to a homeschool library, or even a family that just wants to walk through a Bible study together.  I think this would be a great book to help parents lead children through many subjects that they may not feel comfortable teaching on their own.  Each topic has activity pages to work through and then offers discussion topics/questions.

About the Book

The God Puzzle

The God Puzzle is a colorful, easy to use tool to help you communicate to your child the rich truths about God, His ways, His will and His love. The God Puzzle will help you address doctrinal themes of the Christian faith in a kid friendly way, present Bible lessons in an interactive way that will hold the child’s attention and deliver quality teaching with no preparation needed. 75% of children leave the church when they leave home. Something isn’t working. Sunday School isn’t doing it all. Kids need answers, good ones. And they need them from you, the parent. This book enables you to give them simple, clear answers.

Valerie Ackermann has a BA in Theology VAckermann-190and has been a full time Children's Ministry Director at Parkwood Community Church in California for over 10 years. She is also a weekly Sunday school teacher, wife, and busy mom of two boys ages 9 and 11. She has hands-on experience as a children's ministry professional, teaching and leading children of all ages. Growing up in a Christian family in the small town of Saskatchewan Canada, she has wonderful memories of knowing God from an early age. She has a passion for kids to know the deep truths of God. Find out more at


NOTE : I received a copy of The God Puzzle in exchange for an honest review, by LitFuse.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Gathering family together is such a treasure!  Our second annual family gathering happened this year on December 27th.  With over 20 family members together, the day was fully enjoyed by everyone!

family festivus 2014

lisa and c3


This year we enjoyed a bountiful feast of fruit, veggies, cupcakes, sausage (from Woody’s) and Chili!!  The chili options were chicken and venison and both were a hit!! 

bonfire at sunset

The favorite of the day was the bonfire though!!  My father in law graciously made 4 new benches for us so that there was plenty of seating for everyone!  How he built them all and got them painted is a mystery!

robert and mom

The kids played and played – Crush the Carrier was the game of choice – give one kid the ball and tell him to run, the other try to crush him.  Once he is down someone grabs the ball and runs.  Simple.  Yet they played for hours!

cousin wrestlingcousinscrush the carrier

We were so blessed to have Robert’s great Aunt Stella join us from Vernon as well.  Hope that she gets to join us in the future, as we have already penciled in our Family Festivus for 2014!!silly cousins

Wrapping up the year as a family was lots of fun!!

sunset (2)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book(s) Review : Christmas in Apple Ridge

I always enjoy some good Amish fiction during the Christmas holidays!!  I really love when an Amish story continues in follow on books, so you get to “keep in touch” with the characters you have come to love!

apple ridge

Christmas in Apple Ridge, by Cindy Woodsmall, is a bit of both of those!!  There are three books in ONE.  Also the same people show up in each of the books since the setting is the Amish community in Apple Ridge.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting ensconced in the lives of these wonderful people.  I always love seeing the relationships that are shared through Amish fiction, there is a spirit of dependability and unconditional love that does not seem to exist in the real world so much any more.

My favorite of the three stories was The Dawn of Christmas, the last one.  This was a story of healing.  Two characters have to learn to truth themselves and others in order to move on in life.  Watching them gain their footing with live and each other was charming.  I enjoyed how they had to work through their trust issues more than once, but through it all they realized the other people was worth it.

Each of these stories is a face paced read that would be perfect to grab on these icy days we have been having here in East Texas!!  I love a good book by the fire when it is cold outside!!

NOTE : I received a copy of Christmas in Apple Ridge at no cost, in exchange for an honest review, by Waterbrook Press.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Graphic Novel–check it out!


 cinderellaAn Isfits book.
Isfits . . . postmodern fairy tales and cautionary confessions.

Cinderella scratched a new line on the wall every night when the clock struck twelve. For 999 nights, she'd sworn to herself that she wouldn't stay long enough to see 1000. Cinderella heard the old man and the old woman clunking up the stairs. The clock began to chime. Cinderella was out of time. She had a decision to make---the kind of decision that could change her life or take it from her.
What Is Isfits?
A cast of characters sampled from icons of adolescence, re-imagined.

A graphic novel, like you've never seen before.

This eBook is 1/6th the full length graphic novel. Read it in about 5 minutes. Enjoy for years.
Purchase a copy:
Join the Isfits' launch team:
Support the Kickstart (Do good and get COOL stuff!):
About the author: Justin Blaney is the author of the Amazon bestseller Evan Burl and the Falling which reached the #1 position in fantasy, teen and thriller categories. His latest project is "Isfits," a series of graphically illustrated postmodern fairytales and cautionary confessions for young adults. The stories follow the adventures of a cast of characters based on icons of adolescence placed in a darkly-humored world of blissful brokenness where they possess the power to affect cultural and personal change in the real world. Blaney is the founder of Innovate for Jesus ( and Inkliss, a film production company. He lives outside Seattle with his wife and three daughters.
Learn more about Justin at:


Check out what others are saying about this new book!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Review : Stones For Bread

Stones for Bread is a book that peaked my interest from the title alone.  I have been grinding grain and baking bread for our family since 2008, honestly I cannot remember before we did this!   We love it, and when I saw this book centered around the making of bread I knew I wanted to read it.


This book, however, is not just a book about a woman who makes artisan bread.  This is more like a 3 in 1 book.  There is the main story line that takes place “today” and it is about Leisel, she owns a small bakery and she makes bread from starters that grow wild yeast.  I  thoroughly enjoyed reading this part of the book, learning about her love of bread making, and all that it entails. 

The other part of this book is her past, her parents, her mother and grandmother specifically.  Her mother and grandmother shared their love of home made bread with Leisel, so much so that Leisel still maintains her grandmother’s starter that she brought from Germany.  Leisel still carries a tremendous burden of dealing with the loss of her mother when she was 12 years old. 

The last part of the book is the historical telling of bread.  This is the smallest story line woven throughout the book, telling bits of the history bread, ending with the story of Jesus being the bread of life.

While this may initially seem confusing it was beautifully woven together.  The far past, the near past and the present. 

There are many tough parts to read in this book, because quite honestly this felt more real than fiction.  Several parts were so raw that if felt like the truth pouring from the pages, the hurt and the anger and the grief that Leisel and her father work through as they navigate life without her mother.

Did I mention the romance?  No?  Well, there is and it is so sweet and subtle you are not really sure it is happening.  For someone {ME}who does not enjoy lovey-dovey drippy romance novels, I LOVE how the romance element was delivered, just the right amount!!

I was quite captivated by this book, read it in about 3 days and could not touch another book while I was in this one.  It certainly grabbed my attention, but I think also Leisel grabbed my heart with her story. 

I highly recommend this book, one of the best, most realistic fiction books I have ever read, it felt so real and sincere and raw that my heart broke and rejoiced with Leisel.  Not sure I have seem so many elements all come together to form such a beautiful story at one time.

To read more about Stones for Bread check out the LitFuse page HERE.

Meet the author: Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of CParrish-186three novels, including the 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year Watch Over Me. When she's not writing, she's a homeschool mother of three wonderful children. Married to author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, Christa serves with him as co-leader of their church's youth ministry as well as serving as a facilitator for a divorce recovery ministry. She is now also slightly obsessed with the art of baking bread.

NOTE : I received a copy of Stones for Bread, at no cost in exchange

for an honest review by LitFuse.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review : Aloha Rose

Aloha Rose is a novel by Lisa Carter in the Quilts of Love series. 

aloha rose

Aloha Rose takes place in Hawaii where Laney comes back to meet her biological family.  The heritage of the Hawaiian people is clearly of tremendous importance to her family as they prepare for her return.  When she arrives she is shocked to not find anyone waiting for her, until her “cousin” shows up.

The instant sparks that appear between Laney and Kai are obvious.  Both Kai and Laney are accustomed to remaining in control of their feelings and maintaining their own space.  With one another they realize they need to learn to trust the other and be willing to let each one into their lives.  This is especially difficult when Kai is torn between his interest in Laney and his suspicion that she is up to no good.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the area as Kai gave Laney her own personal tour of the islands.  Ms. Carter writes a compelling story with a vivid backdrop.

Many family issues are touched on in this story, showing that there is rarely a simple explanation to adoption.  Watching Laney and Kai heal from past hurts as their relationship grows was my favorite part of the story.

I recommend this story for readers who enjoy a romantic style novel, that is both a fun read and one that moves along quickly.


About the book: When Laney Carrigan's adoptive parents encourage her as an adult to seek out her birth family, her only clue is the Lokelani quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island, she battles fears of rejection from a family that abandoned her once before while her faith struggles to embrace God's love.

Along the path to her true heritage, she meets Hawaiian cowboy/helicopter pilot, Kai Barnes. Kai is determined to protect the people he's come to regard as family against a woman he suspects of being nothing more than a gold-digger, but he finds himself drawn to Laney in spite of his reservations. He's spent his entire life seeking forgiveness from past mistakes and longs for a second chance at happiness.

Laney's painstaking journey to find restoration and a place to belong among the breathtaking allure of the Big Island will lead her closer to her past and maybe even something more.

Meet the author: Lisa Carter has been published in MomSense and lisa carterChristian Parenting Today. Lisa is currently teaching music at a preschool and enjoying the enthusiasm and joy for life for which preschoolers are famous. She and David have two beautiful daughters.
Find out more at:

To read what others are saying about Aloha Rose, and more about the book check out the LitFuse page for Aloha Rose.

NOTE : I received a copy of Aloha Rose, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review, by LitFuse.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review : Christmas at Harmony Hill

This book, Christmas at Harmony Hill is my first Shaker Story.


 Ann H. Gabhart writes Shaker stories and this is her first Christmas one.  I enjoyed her mix of history (Civil War is going on), the romance (a young couple is separated by the war), and the family drama.

In this story a young woman who has been on the front lines of the war with her husband, decides to return home to deliver her baby.  Upon arriving home she must face terrible news and a unwelcome response from her family.  As a result she turns to an aunt she does not know, who lives in a Shaker community for help.

I found the Shaker story line very intriguing.  Their beliefs were completely new to me, and were more than fascinating.  As I read about their customs and why they do what they do, it made me think about why we do what we do.  I also pondered how their beliefs differed so much from biblical teaching and my own faith.

I enjoyed the story line of Gideon and Heather, their relationship was quite deep for such a young couple.  Their faith in their relationship and their closeness was very tender and sincere.

This was a very interesting story that I enjoyed very much.  I hope to get a chance to read more novels by Ms. Gabhart.

Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

A little more about the book :

A stirring story of healing, hope, and home at Christmas

She stared up at the Shaker buildings. They took in those in need. That was why she was riding into their village. But she couldn't stay here. Not forever. They divided families. She'd heard her grandmother speak harshly of the way Shakers didn't believe in marriage and had special houses where children were kept from their parents.
Heather put a hand over the swell of her baby inside her. Surely they wouldn't take a newborn from his mother's bosom. Heather's mother couldn't have imagined that happening or she'd have never told her to come . . .

It is 1864 and the nation is torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child. With her husband at the front and nowhere else to turn, she seeks refuge in the Shaker village of Harmony Hill. Amid the tumult of the times, Heather yearns for the peace she sees in this strange community. But can this longing really be fulfilled amid these people with their peculiar beliefs about family?
As Christmas approaches, the joy of new life and the love that is born of forgiveness may hold the answer.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Book Review : The Christmas Quilt

Next up on the list of book reviews is The Christmas Quilt by Vannette Chapman. 

christmas quilt

I enjoyed this sweet story about two sisters-in-law who are both expecting their first babies. Leah is due near Christmas with twins and Annie is expecting her first later into March.

The story shows us the love of family through thick and thin. When Leah finds herself on the floor in her bathroom, unable to get up and having contractions weeks before her due date, she knows something is wrong. As she is rushed to the hospital by ambulance Annie stays by her side. Annie’s past as a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Philadelphia comes in handy when Leah finds herself there on bed rest. Annie is able to reunite with friends, and even gets to hug a former patient.

The love that these two sisters share is quite special. They encourage each other and hold each other accountable for who they are. As Leah must remain in the hospital resting, Annie keeps her company as she sews a quilt for Leah’s baby. They both share stories from their past that represent the Fruits of the Spirit from Paul’s letters in Galatians. Even one of the doctors that sees to Leah is brought into the cast of the story tellers. The stories are encouraging and full of goodness and they help Leah to stay positive no matter what is going on.

This is a great family Christmas story, I suspect young adult readers would enjoy it too, mostly girls, however. This is a great book to give as a gift, or to enjoy yourself during the Christmas season!

Meet the author: Vannetta Chapman has published over one vanettahundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.
Find out more at:

To read more about this book and what others are saying check out the LitFuse Page for The Christmas Quilt.

NOTE: I received a copy of The Christmas Quilt, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review by LitFuse.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review : A Simple Christmas Wish

I love reviewing Christmas books!  It kick starts my holiday spirit, it gives me some sweet stories to enjoy, and then I can gift these darling books to friends!! Win/Win!

simple christmas

Today’s book is A Simple Christmas Wish by Melody Carlson.  This is a perfect book to snuggle up by the fire with some cocoa and read.  I flew through this book as it is a light fun read, but the story is one that will grab your heart. 

Melody writes in a way that you are drawn into the story and you want to keep going until the end.  She paints a picture of life in both a high rise apartment in the city and an Amish home with just the right amount of detail.  You can feel the atmosphere but you don’t get lost in the details (if you know what I mean).

I fell in love with Holly from the very beginning and I watched she dealt with devastating loss, and yet clung to a great hope.  As Holly’s Aunt Rachel helps her cope and plans to make a life with her, neither sees the future ahead of them.

There is a bit of intrigue in this story, you will wonder why several things happen, and as those stories are revealed more relationships are started and a bit of love  is in the air as well. 

This is a sweet story that anyone would enjoy.  This is certainly appropriate for young adults as well, without any hesitation.  A great gift book for Christmas, one that could be passed around the family throughout the season!

I love Melody Carlson’s books!  Check out my reviews of her book The Christmas Shoppe.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review : A Million Little Ways

This book popped onto my radar on another blog probably before it was out, and after reading her review I KNEW I needed this book!  I planned to add it to my cart through Amazon as soon as I made a purchase.  Lucky me!  I did not have to.  Either later that day or the next I got an email offering this book for review – I was thrilled!!


So, A Million Little Ways is a book that will encourage you on many levels.  It will help you to see that all those things you do, from the heart, for others, are a way that the Lord works through us.  The way we make a yummy meal, pack a note in a lunch sack, tuck kids in at night – all these things they are the way we communicate love to others. 

So often I find that we moms are struggling to do enough, to make sure our kids see all those things we “should” be doing – but really we are showing them far more than we realize. 

Emily Freeman takes the reader on a journey to figure out the gifts and talents the Lord has gifted us with, but not through a personality test or something similar.  Instead, Emily asks questions that cause us to dig deeper into who we are.  She encourages us to remember the things that make us feel alive, the things we love to do, and to grab hold of those ideas.

Emily points out that the Lord has given us many ways to be who we are, yet we tend to squash down those desires in our busyness of life.  She challenges you to remember, to grab hold and to make those things a part of your daily life now.  If you had a dream, ask yourself what stopped you from accomplishing it? 

Recently I read something that talked about a mom who was dying, she said that she wished she had not made homemade bread for her family – instead that she just bought it and had more time for her family.  This has bounced around in my head since I read it.  Making me wonder if I would feel that way, if what I do every day, if it is not the most important.  After reading this book I realize that if I love to make bread for my family, then I need to do it – it is another way my children see god loving them through me.  It is a form of art to create meals that wow my family. 

It is art when we create a room that is fun to be in comfortable and inviting.    This week I wrapped a sheet tacked to the ceiling around AG’s top bunk.  Oh my!  You’d think I offered her and E the world – they have been up playing in that bed for more hours than I can count.  That is making art – living, touchable, fun art – the art of creativity to imagine and play with your best friend and brother.

I hope that as I wrap up my life on this Earth (whenever that is) that I will not dismiss all those things I did, the bread I made, the cookies, the granola – that I will remember that my children were loved through that food.  That I made many moments matter in a way that will stay in their memories.  That is what this book spoke into me.

We are all living, breathing art from the most amazing creator, he’s created us to be ART to the world, to show his love every day in a million little ways.

I enjoyed this book, I suspect it will be one I read more than just once!  I recommend this book to encourage you to embrace who God has laid on your heart to be, to grab hold of those deep hidden desires to love others with your talents and gifts!  Emily will help you figure out how to do just that!

NOTE : I received a copy of A Million Little Ways, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review by Revell Publishers.

Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a little of this and a little of that

Holy cow – life is flying by, and I am afraid that it may  not slow down until my sweet girl moves out – UGH!!!

I hate that I am not even chronicling what is going on in our lives on here, for my benefit, let alone keeping family and friends up to date!

So we have been more dedicated to Archery this year, trying to practice as much as we can, and J and P even went to an outdoor shoot! 

Archery practice

The next priority seems to be hunting – we are going hunting in about 2 weeks, and we are slowing acquiring people and gear to make this trip a success!!  We needed guns (check), ammo (ongoing need, but check), another adult to chaperone (check – Nathan is coming with us), shooting practice – still working on that! – oh the list goes on and on.  Hoping to get the boys qualified this week so we can breathe next week as we pack and prepare for our trip.

Then there is a bit of 4h sprinkled in -

A MADD walk here :

lets go lets growmadd walk

madd walk again

Food Practice there :

Food Challenge practice


Everyone once in a while we try to get together with our homeschool friends too  - actually we meet twice a month to study artists, composers, nature, and hymns!!  While getting there is a struggle each week, and planning'/preparing is a bit of work, once we all settle in this is a GREAT time!!  Watching these kids learn is blowing me away!  They are loving it!!

So that is what has been going on in our world. 

The animals are good – my goats are pregnant (we suspect) – our buck needs a new home, and the calves need a bigger yard, but otherwise life is good!!  (Did I mention that Robert woke up the other afternoon, while on night shift, to the sound of a goat in the house.  Oh my!! Axle was walking down the hall in the house! Love this life!!)


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