Friday, October 26, 2012

When Hope Blossoms--Book Review

When Hope Blossoms
Kim Vogel Sawyer

As I have said before, I enjoy Amish fiction. This book is good, but is pretty predictable with it’s man-meets-woman-and-gets-married-in-the-end storyline that goes along with several of the Amish stories I have read. I did enjoy the book, but it was easy to figure out how the ending would be.

Amy Knackstedt, a widow, moves herself and her three children to a new town after the death of her husband.  Her neighbor, Tim Roper, is not at all happy about his new neighbors. As a former Mennonite, he is not happy about the reminders of the life he previously lived. When circumstances force Amy and Tim to interact, they are both surprised by the friendship that develops. They must decide if this friendship will develop into something more or if Tim will hold on to the hurts of his past.

This story has a sense of adventure and a twist of romance to it. It is a light and fluffy read, as most stories like these are. Like I said, I did enjoy it even though it was very predictable in general. I will give it to the author that she throws in a few “surprises” in the story line to make it a more interesting read.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review. I am not required to write a positive review.*

A Season for Tending--Book Review

This is another Amish fiction story, written by one of my favorite authors. I do not often have the opportunity to sit down and read a light-fiction story, but I always enjoy it. I always enjoy reading books by Cindy Woodsmall. She has such an easy-flow to every book she writes.

Rhoda Byler has an unusual gift and is handy in her herb garden. There are those who believe that her gift is hurtful to the community. She chooses to spend all her time in her garden and canning business and try to avoid those who think bad things about her. Meanwhile, miles away, Samuel King works hard to keep the family apple orchard going. Through a series of events, everything takes a turn for the better through a bad decision by Samuel’s sister, Leah.

This book has a sense of mystery, a tiny bit of action, and even a bit of romance. This is a perfect book to curl up on the couch and read during a rainy afternoon, while the children sleep, and the housework is caught up. Another book that can be hard to put down until you reach the end.You can read the first chapter here.

*I received this book for free, in exchange for a review, from WaterBrook Press. I am not obligated to write a positive review.*

Cruel Harvest--Book Review

Cruel Harvest
Fran Elizabeth Grubb

I don’t often find biography-type books that interest me enough to review them. When I saw this book on the list of options, I thought about it and decided to get it and try it. I am glad I did. While it is most certainly not a sappy, feel-good book, it will tug at your heart strings. Just the thought of what some children go through everyday with nobody from the outside world knowing.  It is a story that may make you cry, so be sure to have some tissues close by should you decide to read it.

This is the true story of Fran and her six siblings growing up with a very abusive father. They lived as migrant workers, traveling from place to place to place. They were poor, they hardly went to school, and they lived a life of fear as night after night their father would come home drunk and beating their mother and them. This is the story of how Fran learned to cope with her problems. This is the the story of how Jesus came into her life and redeemed her from a life of awful living and sin. While no one else may have known what was going on, Jesus knew.

This was a touching story to read. As the mother of a little girl, I cannot imagine any little girl having to go through what Fran went through. To see the power of the Lord in her life made the book a happy ending. To read about her forgiveness was amazing. May every abused child see such a happy ending to their story, the ending that only comes by the grace of God. 

*I received this book for free in exchange for a review from Thomas Nelson. I am not required to write a positive review.*

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Favorite Oatmeal Recipe

Growing up in a larger-than-normal family of 5 children (I don't think we were a large family, but others did!), we were not able to afford boxed cereal. With 4 of the 5 being boys, we could eat through a whole box in one meal! That would get expensive fast, so instead we ate oatmeal or grits for breakfast. On occasion we might also have pancakes for breakfast, or on Saturday we might even have fried eggs and/or venison steak with our grits. Such fond memories! But, oatmeal was not something I really enjoyed. We ate it with cinnamon and brown sugar. It was okay, it was nutritious, but not my favorite breakfast in the world. In fact, until I "grew up" I hated oatmeal.

Recently, I decided to simplify breakfast. There is nothing like starting the day out having no plan for breakfast, and an hour to get it make before Dear Husband has to get off to work. It creates stress, late meals and rushing out the door to make it to work on time. So, I decided to follow my mother's example and have oatmeal everyday--almost. I have since done some figuring and found that the 10-lb box of oats from Costco will feed us breakfast 5 days a week for a month. Of course that will change as more are added to our family, but this is what works for now. On another day, we might have pancakes, muffins, eggs, etc. I have experimented (with help from the Lord) and have come up with a nutrition-packed breakfast that we all enjoy. I start the oatmeal in the evening, after reading the benefits to soaking grain. No, I don't soak flour and everything right now, but oatmeal is something easy to soak and tastes yummy. My children love it and often want oatmeal on the mornings when we have something else! I am thankful for the help the Lord gives in providing nutritious things for our family to eat. :)

Here is the recipe I use:

5 cups water, divided
2 1/2 cups oats
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup organic sugar or 1/2 cup honey
3 T. butter or 1/4 cup coconut oil (coconut oil gives a nice flavor!)
cinnamon to taste
dash of salt
Ground Flax seed 
Raw Milk

In small container pour in 2 1/2 cups water and apple cider vinegar. Mix together. Add oats. Cover and let it sit at least 7 hours, longer is better. In the morning, pour oats into small to medium size pot with remaining 2 1/2 cups water.  Bring to boil and cook until most of water is absorbed, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick to the pot. I haven't actually timed to see how long it takes, 5-7 minutes? I usually get tea started and grind my flax while it is cooking. When it is done cooking, add salt, sugar or honey, cinnamon and salt. You can add flax now if you desire, but I usually spoon it in everyone's bowl. I grind probably 1/4 cup of flax seeds, but have not measured for sure. You can do as much or little as you like. Serve with milk, fruit, or whatever else you desire. Enjoy! Edited to add: This is the perfect amount for our family of 4. Two adults, a preschooler and a toddler.

Linking up at Growing Home,
Whole-Hearted Home, 
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rejoicing in Motherhood

When I see my children acting so incredibly happy, as they are in the picture above, it is easy for us all to have a good time and enjoy each other. Yesterday was not one of those days. Crying, whiny children, stressed out and irritated mother trying to get water for Daddy before he went to work while dealing with said whiny children, made this mother realize that the day had NOT started out right at all. What did I neglect? To start my day with the Lord. In this season of life, getting up at 5am is not always possible, but attempting to rise before the children and have a few minutes of quiet time is so important. Yes, there are mornings that start a bit more chaotic and I do not get a chance to read until the afternoon while the children nap. But I am realizing the importance of a  daily Quiet Time, thanks to Judith over at WholeHearted Home for her encouraging posts on this topic.

What does this have to do with rejoicing in motherhood? After my husband went to work, I told the children that Mommy needed quiet time for a few minutes and to please play quietly. They sat down on the couch and "read" their Bibles as well. I started praying and reading, and the following verse caught my attention. "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart." Psalm 32:11. I remembered that 1 Thessalonians 5 had a verse which reads "Rejoice evermore.". I went to that passage and read, amongst other things, "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19. It all became very clear--we are to be rejoicing and giving thanks always and for everything! I know I wrote a similar post last year, but sometimes we all need a reminder--mostly myself! So while my children are not acting their best, I can rejoice, when they are whiny and clingy I can rejoice, when they are cheerfully helping Mommy I can rejoice, when they are throwing tantrums I can rejoice! Not just CAN rejoice, but we are commanded to rejoice continually! May the Lord help me with this part that my children may see the joy of the Lord in my life in every situation.

Did my day get easier after I read my Bible? No. But, I had a better outlook on the day, one that caused me to remember to rejoice and rely on the Lord. My child had an accident in his pants, turned the water on in the bathroom causing the sink to overflow all over the floor, same child also acted not-very-obedient when we took lunch to Daddy. A 2+ hour nap was welcomed for all of us! Today, I am apparently still learning this lesson as it is another trying day, but I know that I can rejoice in the Lord and He will be my strength.

Sharing with: WholeHearted Home , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home , Growing Home