Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Review: Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

I love the old hymns and I love delving into the history behind what I love, so Jody Hedlund's latest book was a perfect fit for me. Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace told a story I thought I knew, but apparently didn't know very well because I had never heard of Polly.




Polly is a good girl who loves the Lord and strives to honor her parents. Newton is a charming boy who does exactly what he wants even when the consequences are severe. What he wants more than anything is Polly. He wants to spend time with her, marry her. He knows that she is the girl for him. Polly loves him too, but how can she be more than a friend to a boy who disregards everything she believes in?

The timeline of this book takes place over several years. Several years of Polly growing up into a godly woman and Newton getting into every sort of trouble imaginable. It shows Polly's struggle to do what is right and Newton's desire to get what he wants and get it his way. I ached for Polly and cringed at Newton's continued short comings.

Throughout the story we see how God used Polly even when she couldn't see it. We see how Newton's love for her kept him going and how God changed his heart. I found the story to be inspiring, not just because God used a man like Newton to write one of the greatest hymns of all time, but because of Polly. Sometimes God doesn't work in huge ways that you can see. Sometimes He might use you in such a subtle way that you don't see it until after the story has been written.



I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for my review.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Reflections and Direction

What direction should I go? That is what is rattling in my brain right now. I've been writing and regularly but it's time for... something. Instead of picking a focus I tend to add more things on top of what I'm already doing until I am spinning in circles. Sigh. Enough circle spinning.

It's time to simplify, to choose what it is that will get me where it is I need to go. The problem with that is that it means cutting out the excess. The social media that doesn't really bring me joy or advance me in the direction I'm trying to go, the time I spend learning things that are wonderful but aren't for this time in my life, the things that are distracting me from being the mom and writer that I want to be.

I'm posting this because I don't think I'm alone it my reflections. I don't think I'm the only person with a dream burning so strong that they panic and stunt their own growth. Noticing we are overcommitting or just not focusing on what matters is an important step but not as important as doing something about. I'm on my way to close down some social media and give myself the gift of time for the things that matter the most.


Each beat of my heart
forces me to face the question
Who am I?
and am I 
living up to that?

                  -Sare Chafin

Friday, July 1, 2016

Updates and Poetry

Hello World,

  I've been hiding... but the good sort of hiding. The past year has been full of changes and challenges but I spent all of June reading, writing and getting my dreams back on track (as best as possible with my entourage of littles). I finished the first draft of my gothic YA novel and I'm letting it sit for a week before I dive into revisions. I've also been writing poetry at a fairly steady pace. Most of it is posted on Instagram but I just started a collection on Watpad as well.




I love that I'm in over my head in the world of words but I can't help but wonder, what next? Where do I go from here?





 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Challenges (Type 1 Diabetes)

 I keep trying to blog but I think I have to come to terms that it is just going to be sporadic right now. I miss it, but sometimes life smacks you down and that's where I've been, smacked down and scrambling to get back up. I love blogging so I'm keeping it up but only as much as is fun and not stressful.


 There have been many factors that have contributed to my currant exhausted state, but one of the main ones is that my daughter was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes in February. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Type 1, it is not the same as Type 2. It is an unpreventable and incurable autoimmune disease. Basically my daughter's pancreas no longer produces insulin so her body can not process carbs. Without insulin my daughter would die.

  It took me awhile to catch what was going on. My lively, dancer girl started to spend more and more time reading and drawing at the table. I wasn't worried, maybe she was growing up and enjoyed those things more than riding her bike or running outside with her brothers. Then she started having to go to the bath room ALL THE TIME. A new stage? She's only seven and seven year olds try out different things, right? She began sneaking into the bathroom for water late at night and then she started dropping weight. I took her to the doctor. He didn't seem to concerned as there was no family history but he sent us for blood work just to make sure. The results came in and we were sent straight to ER. We spent the rest of the week in the hospital. Her blood sugar was close to 700. The doctors were amazed that she was acting as healthy as she was. Of course I was kicking myself for not realizing what was going on sooner (despite praise from the doctor on how quickly I caught that something was wrong).

 My daughter is doing well now. She has gained weight and is on the move all the time. The thing with Type 1 diabetes is that it is sneaky. She will seem fine and then she will be in tears and wanting to lie down. I'll check her blood sugar and it will be scarily low. Other times we will be eating the same healthy diet (every carb counted and mostly low glycemic) and she will just be off, sort of flushed and irritable. So I check her blood sugar and find it only a few numbers from call the doctor high. I've been learning to rely on God in a way so much deeper than I did before. It is scary to put your daughter to bed and not know what her blood sugar will do while she is asleep. Will she drop and I won't know? Will I find her passed out? I can feed her the best I know how, I can document every thing she eats, I can make sure she has snacks at the right times and insulin at the right times and check on her throughout the night, but none of that guarantees anything, so I pray.




 I've been learning to not judge others. We don't know what they are going through.

I hoover over my daughter. Helicopter mom? Or just a mom who knows how fragile the balance of her daughter's health is?

I stay home more. Recluse? Or just a mom who is trying to balance one thing to many?

My house is never all the way clean. Slob? Lazy? Or a mom that's trying to cook healthy food that her entire family can eat while balancing homeschooling and the rest of life's craziness?

I crave understanding from others so I'm trying to make sure I offer the same thing.

Type 1 is wildly misunderstood. I have to put up with people who think it's because I didn't feed my daughter well or that think I just have to feed her less sugar and she will be fine. That's ok. I can't expect everyone to know. I didn't before all this started. It makes me wonder about all the unseen burdens of those around me, all those who are misunderstood.






Monday, April 11, 2016

Book Review- A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

  I grew up on a steady diet of Robin Hood stories. I loved every one I found and I spent many happy afternoons pretending I was wearing Lincoln green. My own children have seen the Disney movie version and have sat for many hours while I read them tales of Robin and his merry men. They even have a love for archery! That makes my heart happy. Anyway, I was thrilled to find out that Jody Hedlund's latest YA novel is very Robin Hood-esque!


Gorgeous! 


  A Daring Sacrifice is an inspirational YA set in 1390. It is the second in the series but could work as a stand alone. The first line drew me straight into a world of villains, thieves, noble deeds and horrific torture. 

  The Cloaked Bandit is on the prowl. If you are a poor citizen of Wessex you need not fear, but if you are a nobleman you had better watch your back, or more accurately, your purse. What the people of Wessex don't know is that famed Cloaked Bandit is Juliana Wessex, the rightful ruler of their land. They believe that she is dead, just like her father. 

  Living in the woods, stealing from the rich to provide for the poor, is Juliana's life. It is the only way she knows of to stay alive and help her people. She wants nothing to do with nobility or the life that she lost but then she steals from a young knight, Collin Goodrich, and he sees through her disguise. He isn't about to let her just disappear back into the forest.
 
 Juliana isn't open to a relationship, friendship or otherwise with Collin, but he stubbornly sets out to show her that just because he is rich doesn't mean he is evil. Tensions are rising, both in Wessex and in Juliana's heart. She must find a way to help her people without being killed by her uncle and she has to figure out how Collin fits into it all. 

 This was a very sweet story, the kind I hope my daughter will enjoy in a few years. It had all the elements of a beloved fairy tale and the sort of morals I feel good about recommending. I'm happy that I was able to be an influencer for this uplifting book.

It can be purchased at Amazon or your favorite book seller.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Book Review- Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

 I read this book over a month ago but my life sort of exploded between then and now, so I'm finally posting the review this book deserves.




 Undaunted Hope is the third book in the Beacons of Hope series and I think it might be the best one yet. It is about Tessa Taylor who has arrived at a mining town in Michigan with the hopes of redeeming her less than perfect reputation. Before she can even set foot in her new town she is met with challenges, and a dashing man who pulls her out of the lake. Having to be rescued from a lake is only the beginning of her problems. Soon she is fighting to keep the teaching position that her new life depends upon, keep her past firmly in the past and help the mining community that she is falling in love with.

 Tessa is a strong character. She is constantly battling with who she was and the woman of God that she is striving to be. I enjoyed reading about a character with this inward struggle because it is one that I am very familiar with and I'm sure other readers will find encouragement in it too.

 Alex, the lighthouse keeper who pulled her from the lake, is an equally strong character. He has given up everything to help his brother. That was fine, until his brother met Tessa. Suddenly setting aside his own desires and dreams is much more difficult.

 So, basically, if you enjoy historical fiction that has great characters, a creepy bad guy and just enough romance, you will love this book! Reading it was like a vacation for my brain. I was entertained and encouraged all at once.

I received a copy of this book from the publishing company in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review- Einkorn, Recipes For Nature's Original Wheat

I have taken forever to review this book. The book itself is gorgeous. The recipes look amazing but I don't think I would have chosen this book if I knew how expensive Einkorn flour is!

Isn't it pretty though?


  Carla Bartolucci certainly knows about einkorn and her reasons for using this flour are compelling.
The first section of the book is information on the benefits of this grain. Next it moves on to recipes that made me want to jump right in and eat (ahem, bake) them all.

  The recipes range from a sourdough starter to artisan bread to pizza dough and desserts. Most of them are paired with stunning pictures and interesting blurbs that tell more about the recipe. This book is complete enough to switch entirely to einkorn and not be deprived of delicious breads and other wheat items. 

 Anyone that wants to explore the benefits of einkorn or is trying to live a low gluten lifestyle would enjoy this book. My main complaint isn't about the book at all. It's about how expensive the flour is. I plan to try some of these recipes but I'm hesitant to jump into the sourdough or anything I'd want to make on a regular basis.  It may be worth tweaking the budget for but for now I will stick with some of the other high nutrient flours on the market. 

I received a copy of this book to review from Blogging For Books.