Tag Archives: Faith

Never Unfriended {a Review}

*This post does contain affiliate links.

What if you knew you could NEVER be unfriended? Would you be willing to take more risks in the making and keeping of friends? Friendship has been a struggle for me, it always has. I’ve never fit comfortably into any one group. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve realized that’s OK, I don’t have to. Although, even knowing that hasn’t made finding and keeping friends any easier.

Lisa-Jo opens her heart and shares all of her hurt and lonely places when it comes to friendship, in her new book, new book Never Unfriended. The opportunities that she missed, the friends she lost, and the hurt she has felt. But she also shares hope! Lisa-Jo tells about how she has been rewarded with rich, deep friendships when she has been willing to take a risk, step out of her comfort zone, and be the first to extend the scary hand of friendship. But it all starts with one thing…. Putting aside being “Fine”.

That word, that inability to be REAL is the absolute death-knell of EVERY SINGLE FRIENDSHIP AND OPPORTUNITY FOR FRIENDSHIP!

Fine is so dangerous, isn’t it? Fine means the end of a conversation; the beginning of nothing…Sure, it can be excruciating to admit our un-fine moments, but it’s in those moments that people can actually see us to help us. We need people. We are a body. And if one part is all bashed up and bleeding, it hurts everywhere else. (page 86)

Lisa-Jo does an awesome job tackling the topic of fine, because all other parts of friendship stem from this one truth.

If we can’t even start being real, we will never get anywhere.

Lisa-Jo goes on further in her book, addressing how comparison will rob us blind in friendship. How if we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of looking at what everyone else is and has we will wallow in our own inadequacies. Until we are mired down with so much filth that we won’t be able to see anything but.

Lisa-Jo’s writing is so engaging and fun. She’s light hearted and funny, but no less substantial in her words. She’s able to tell a story, share hard things, without feeling like she’s beating you over the head with a should-do list. Her heart is for friendship, that women would come alongside each other in community and love each other as Christ would have us do.

Never Unfriended is available everywhere, including on Amazon.com .


 

Lisa-Jo Baker has been the community manager for www.incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world, for nearly a decade. She is also the author of Surprised by Motherhood, and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband and their three very loud kids, where she connects, encourages, and champions women in person and through her popular blog, lisajobaker.com

***You can read my disclosure policy here. I received the above book for free, to review, but it was honestly so good that I’ve bought several copies to pass along ;-)

 

Still Waiting {a Review}

*This post contains affiliate links.

I have to admit something, I wanted to be on the release team for Still Waiting because of it’s cover. That’s right the cover. But this book is so much more than just a gorgeous cover. The book was fantastic, for lack of a better word. Still Waiting chronicles Ann’s own struggles with waiting for a resolution, a healing, that doesn’t seem to come…and maybe never will.Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

Ann parallels her story with that of the Bleeding Woman in the Bible; how her life became turned upside down, how she struggled with shame and being ostracized, and in desperation took a great risk of faith. How her leap of faith resulted in her healing, and how sometimes, healing doesn’t come.

Ann does a beautiful job of personalizing the story of the bleeding woman, who is only briefly mentioned in passing of a greater story. Through the story she shows just how flawed we are, how desperately we needed a savior from ourselves, and still need one now.

It is not our strength which God will work with most, but our weaknesses, and we are at our weakest when we are waiting.

We all know that, but embracing it is an entirely different thing. It’s not socially acceptable to admit that we are weak, that we are failing, that we are less than what we appear to be.

And yet God seems to embrace weakness — value it, even. In fact, in Jesus we see the valuing of our frailty — of our flesh — with heavenly fervor. He became human. (p. 38)

Digging deep into her own pain and struggles and anger and frustration with herself and her still waiting, Ann’s words embrace the scary truth, that it’s hard to wait. Physically painful even. But even there, in the waiting, Jesus is still with us, still caring for us in our pain and need. Even that is hard though, knowing that Jesus is with us in the waiting, when all the waiting would end with just one word from Him. Ann beautifully describes her struggle with God’s unwillingness to end her waiting.

We are all waiting for something.

And honestly once we’re done waiting for one thing, it’s inevitable that something else will soon pop up for us to be waiting for…that’s life. Ann’s words and story can touch and heal all of us in whatever we are waiting for, whether it’s physical healing, a hard situation, infertility, or any number of other things.

For me, the sign of a good (non-fiction) book is the number of pages that end up dog-eared and marked up; this book delivers. Her writing is beautiful and engaging. She strikes the perfect balance between story writing and information, making every page of this book enjoyable to read.

You can order Still Waiting from Amazon.com and any other book retailer.

 


Ann Swindell is an author and a speaker who has written for CT Women, Relevant, Deeply Rooted, Darling, the Gospel Coalition, and (in)courage. She holds an MA in writing and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing, and she makes her home in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. Connect with her online at annswindell.com.

 

***You can read my disclosure policy here. I received the above book for free, to review, but it was honestly so good that I’ve bought several copies to pass along ;-)

Box Day! Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Curriculum

What we are using for our 2017-2018 Homeschool Year

It’s Box Day! Our 2017-2018 homeschool curriculum has arrived!  The kids, or maybe it’s just me, have been excited awaiting the arrival of the last of our books for next year. This next year is going to be completely different, because the triplets start. I’m not going to lie, it scares the crap out of me, but we’re going to do. We’re getting ready, they’re excited, and we’re moving forward.

It took me a while to figure out just WHAT we were going to do this year. There’s not many blogs out there chronicling the antics of homeschooling triplets, especially not from the start. Most of the homeschooling families that I know of with triplets started once their kids already knew their numbers and letters.

Being that I’m not sure of the HOW of homeschooling triplets I really didn’t want to overwhelm myself and be setup for failure. I really wanted this first year to get our feet under us and figure what homeschooling triplets looks like. That said I wasn’t sure I wanted to move on to the next core (which would be D) in Sonlight.

I’m taking a different approach.

When I officially started homeschooling Avelyn (the year she turned 6) she already knew her letters and numbers, thanks to ABCMouse.com; the triplets aren’t there yet. They just turned 5 in December, so they wouldn’t even be beginning Kindergarten until the Fall, so I’m not concerned that they’re behind.

I decided that wouldn’t be progressing to Core D; we’re actually going to go backwards. Avelyn has already done Core B and C (Ave has always been on the young range for the recommended ages for each core), but she never did Core A. Some of the books we already had and some we still needed to order.

Our Homeschool Curriculum with Triplets

Here’s the breakdown or our homeschool curriculum

Math

Avelyn will continue on with Math-U-See, she will be in Beta after this year. The triplets are actually going to start in Horizon K; the reason for this is that they have no connection between visual numbers (1, 2, 3, etc) and actual quantities. They know how to count and they know quantities, but the actual numbers are arbitrary. Math-U-See Primer is just a bit beyond them. Horizon K looked like it gave them a good foundation for learning the number associations.

Science

Avelyn loved Science A last year and B this year from Sonlight, but we never did any of the science experiments…I’d like to talk to a parent that actually does the experiments on a regular basis. I still haven’t quite figured out what I’m doing with science yet. A friend of mine is interested in doing a science co-op so I might just supplement that with other books that we’ve found. Whatever we do, all the kids will be doing the same thing.

History

All of the kids will be doing Sonlight’s Core A, which is an Introduction to World Cultures and History. Yes, Avelyn has done Core B and C, which were more in depth, but I don’t think she’ll be hurting for History. The wonderful thing about Sonlight is all of the FANTASTIC read-alouds and books that are included. We have quite a few from the last two cores that we haven’t managed to finish (they include so many more books than can be read in a year).

Reading and Writing

These will each be done on their individual levels. Avelyn will continue with Explode the Code and A Reason for Handwriting, the triplets will begin with Before the Code and A Reason for Handwriting K. I am planning on adding in whatever things we need, such as ABCMouse.com. Also, we have a ton of Beginning Readers books for all of the kids to work through.

Bible

Sonlight does a great job of incorporating Bible readings, theology, and studies in their curriculum! Unfortunately, I do a REALLY bad job of keeping on top of these things as they’re dictated in the Instructor’s Guides. Really bad. Now before you’re ready to throw me under the bus, we do some of our own storybook bibles and devotionals. Right now though, I have an EXTENSIVE collection of books that I want to work through with the kids. I’d much rather save my money and use what we already have.

~*~*~*~*~

Most of our curriculum is from Sonlight, the rest of it I purchase through CBD.com (Christian Book Distributor) or directly through the program (ie Math-U-See). I think we’ve done well with Sonlight and have enjoyed their structure as well as the books they use. I don’t have endless hours to pull together curriculum and plan everything out myself. I give those who do a TON of credit. I just can’t.

Our Homeschool Curriculum

This year I was trying to save money. I ended up spending $350 on what we purchased through Sonlight (the picture on the left above), and an additional $250 from CBD (on the right) for our Explode the Code and math books.  I still need to purchase Avie’s math and handwriting. I will wait until the fall to do that, but it shouldn’t be more than another $75.

For this year, I’m significantly under what we spent last year with purchasing a full prepackaged curriculum. Since I wasn’t buying a Core from Sonlight I was able to save quite a bit of money by only purchasing the books that I couldn’t get cheaper elsewhere. Some of the books we already had, some of them were significantly less buying them used. It worked out well.

Where are you in your homeschool journey?

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart {a Review}

31 Verse to Write on Your Heart

How often have you said that you really need to start memorizing scripture, because you know that your heart needs the truth burned into it? I have, a lot. I have a few verses that I have memorized, but I’m by no means vast in my knowledge. I can barely remember which books go where in the bible. It’s horrible.31 Verse to Write on Your Heart

The problem for me is that I have no idea where even to begin or with what, so I get easily overwhelmed and do nothing….always the worst choice possible. When I was perusing the books available for review from WaterBrook Multnomah I stumbled upon Liz Curtis Higgs new book “31 verses to Write on Your Heart” and figure, that might just be a great place to start!

There are 31 chapters in the book, each with a verse to memorize and a helpful tip on how to make memorization a bit easier. She goes on to dissect each verse, clarifying its meaning and giving you little tid-bits about it. The best part is that each of these chapters will literally take you just a few minutes to go through, but obviously memorizing it will take a bit longer.

This is such a great place to start at memorizing more scripture, and isn’t starting half the battle.

* I received this book for free through WaterBrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program. My opinions are my own. You can read my disclosure policy here.

A Lenten Dare: Finding God’s Gifts in the Everyday

A Lenten Dare Finding God's Gifts in the Everyday

We’re so often concerned with the self denial aspect of Lent, that we completely forget about what the purpose of that self denial is: To draw us closer to God. What if there was a way to draw us closer to God, without our feeling resentful that we’re missing out on caffeine and chocolate? There is.

Intentionally seeking and finding God’s gifts in the everyday.

A Lenten Dare Finding God's Gifts in the EverydaySix years ago, I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousands Gifts. During the reading of it I had decided to take up Ann’s challenge of counting the gifts that I received from my heavenly father. The timing perfectly coinciding with the beginning of Lent. What if, rather than giving something up for Lent, I took something on. Did something that ACTUALLY drew me closer to God, rather than filled me with resentment.

Every day I challenged myself to find 25 things that were gifts from God. Sometimes they were big huge things. Sometimes they were just little mundane things (more me grasping for filling 25 spaces). All were gifts. At the end of Lent I had a list of 1000 gifts.

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

We focus so hard on the denying ourselves part that we completely ignore the later: FOLLOW ME.

All the self denial in the world amounts to nothing, if we don’t follow Him.

That dare took me on a journey: A journey of seeking and seeing God and His gifts to me, in the everyday. I got more out of Lent that year than I ever did before. In the taking of time was the giving from God, showing me just how abundantly He has blessed me.

There were days when it was easy to think of 25 gifts (both good and bad days). There were days when I struggled to think of 5 gifts, praying for God to open my eyes to what I knew was staring me in the face. On those days He knew I was desperate for His presence. That I needed to see His gifts and feel His love; and He was faithful, always revealing His heart for me. I truly believe that if you open your eyes to His gifts you will see them. They are all there, just waiting: Seek and ye shall find!

Our brains have an incredible way of rewiring themselves. The more we seek, the more we will find. We can move from being people who “know” that we are blessed, to people who know just HOW we are blessed. How much greater can our faith be in a loving and caring God, when we are wholly aware of His presence in our lives?! When we’ve trained our minds to seek His gifts not just when everything is “coming up roses”, but also when things aren’t going according to our plan?

This dare is not meant to create a list of favorites or special moments. But to be a conscious recognition of all the ways in which God bestows His gifts during and through ALL circumstances: Reminding us of His constant goodness, grace, and generosity. It’s meant to really make us think, to make us aware of the world around us, to make us aware of God’s His presence and His love.

This Lent I dare you.

Can you find 25 gifts each day of Lent? Or even just 5? Ask the Lord to open your eyes and heart to His goodness. You can following along on Instagram with me as I share my discoveries this Lent (@JessicaM.White)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh
down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
James 1:17