Uncategorized

Celebrating

Been busy writing and made my May goal!

Advertisements
Uncategorized

You Know What

You know what I think of when I stay as a guest in someone else’s home and they have washcloths available in the guest bath?

Finally! Another sane person.

How do people live without washcloths? And really, why would they want to?

Uncategorized

Hygge Life

My husband and I had a conversation last night, and it went pretty deep. Then this afternoon, as I like to do, I had my afternoon drink- usually coffee or tea, and a snack. I’m Hungarian, Irish, Swedish and British mostly, so it must be in my blood. That afternoon stopping point in most days where a little comfort and peace is craved.

While sipping a cold drink today instead of my usual coffee, I perused Pinterest, which I have neglected of late. I came across pins for topics related to hygge sprinkled all over the feed. “What’s this?” I caught interest immediately and clicked on a few sights dishing on the perfect hygge foods, decorating, hygge schedules, and homes, and I just became confused. Until I came to a sensible one by an actual Dane. We Americans want to materialize everything. I realized after getting halfway through her post, that it was the exact topic of conversation my husband and I had the night before. The thing we were chasing and trying to describe. Oh happy day when someone can verbalize (or write) what it is you’re having difficulty communicating.

Hygge is a danish word and it’s meaning is simple. We’ve complicated it.

hygge: a feeling/atmosphere

I realize I’ve always valued an atmosphere of hygge. I create nooks and crannies in our home, where I tuck in bits of nature usually, but often it’s cozy spots to sit and read, or write.

My husband and I had been discussing how much we enjoy living on this ranch, even though there’s a lot of parts crumbling around our ears. Believe me, it’s not fancy. The tranquility and peace here is healing though. We enjoy simple things, and don’t feel a bit guilty for rarely leaving for exciting adventures like lots of folks we know. We considered ourselves boring I guess, until now. Now I think we are ahead of the game on the newly popular hygge life.

I can totally lose myself in the simple pleasures of creating. Whether that means a bit of gardening with the little people, making a batch of raw milk soap, or crafting a cheese, designing a logo, like the one below, or writing, I can be quietly and companionably creative for hours. Maybe days if I had the chance. I’ve always loved to read, and that simple pleasure pairs nicely with another deeply immersed in his or her own book, with a pot of tea and some scones within reach. Or maybe an afternoon of visiting with friends or family, just chatting with no agenda…these are the real things that make up a hygge life, not expensive dishes, plush pillows or the perfect picnic laid out on the lawn. It’s just being completely pleased with where you are and who you are with right at that moment.

img_6380

I was describing to my husband this exact feeling, that life was perfect and I was content a few days ago, as I sat in my rocking chair on the front porch writing while he mowed the lawns. It took hours, both of our projects, but the birds were singling and the sun was shining and everything was so perfect for that afternoon. I felt like there and then, was perfection. I was supremely content with life. We were together, making eye contact often, but engrossed in our tasks, too.

I believe that kind of feeling is healthful. I think cultivating a life of gratitude and simplicity will take some pulling out of things that have become our rat-race norm, but I think it’s totally worth it to enjoy what we have and who we have. Hygge living means taking time for people and savoring pleasant environments- no matter where that is for us. For Doug and I, it’s our ranch. Our adult sons love to be here as well.

Just being.

That used to be everyone’s normal. I’m so glad it’s back in style. I don’t want to just wish someday I had enjoyed my loved ones more, or been more grateful and content. I want to establish now, that I am, and continue like this no matter how the future unfolds. I’d like my children to take up this life early and be emotionally and mentally fit because they have exercised the ability to be.

Hygge for me: my barn and animals, but most of all quiet mornings alone with God and my (extremely good) cappuccino and Bible.

It’s also front porch sitting, watching the children being free and safe here on the ranch, enjoying nature and play, as children do.

I think well-cared for sheep are the masters of hygge life. A contented cudding session is good for a sheep’s soul. The goats too, although they are often in want of something. Reminds me of the human condition too  much.

Some of my most meaningful, yet simple moments have been in the barn in the evenings milking with all the animals surrounding me. They are my loves and have their own culture in the barn, that operates on pretty simplistic terms. But there are always interesting friendships, and they most certainly communicate and “chat” with each other.

Our front yard is breezy and cool in the hot months, making for a perfect spot for most things.

We have succefully raised and released a wild bird from one day old, and I can’t begin to tell you how many hygge moments we have had with that bird together. The wonder of a wild bird landing on your book, or head, asking for food never gets old. We sit outside in the evenings together and wait for “Birdie” to come visit. And we all experience pure pleasure in one another’s company. We visit, snack, and chat. It’s that easy. Costs nothing.

Uncategorized

Guest Post: Katie Cruice Smith, Author

So, it’s National Foster Care Awareness Month, and as my husband and I used to be foster parents, were both in foster care as children, and have an adopted son from foster care, it feels great to welcome this guest blogger today. Meet Katie, an author and mother, who is very much involved in foster care.

~____________________~

Caring for the Least of These: 

Foster Care Awareness Month

It was 3 a.m. the first time a caseworker’s car pulled into our driveaway with our first foster placement. Out hopped a darling five-year-old girl. She skipped down the driveaway to my door, her short hair bouncing all around her while her younger sister slept in the caseworker’s arms. 

“Hi! What’s your name?” she shouted to me before she could even fully take in my face.

Unsure of how our relationship would develop, my husband and I had decided to just introduce ourselves by our first names. But by the next morning, I was “Mama,” and he was “Him,” as in, “When is ‘Him’ coming home?” Their attachment to their daddy was strong, and to refer to my husband as anything at all felt like a betrayal.

By the second week, my husband had become “Daddy,” and they were becoming an important part of our family. But…we were just respite and emergency care, and the day came when the girls were given a more permanent placement. We were devastated. We had no idea how quickly we would become attached and how hard it would be to say goodbye.

We soon were asked to do respite over a couple of weeks for three girls, each from a different home. The two-year-old was living with some friends of ours. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll, she was the instant favorite amongst my three children. The spit-fire, six-year-old redhead was a completely different story. She lied about the other kids, stole from them, and was overall disobedient. She whined and complained and tortured everyone; but when it was time for her to leave, she hid under the table because she didn’t want to go. We were also given the responsibility to care for another two-year-old who could not speak at all. She was easy to love, but our hearts hurt for a little girl who had been through so much already that she couldn’t even speak.

Then in the middle of the night, two little girls came to us. They were found in a hot car. One was severely handicapped and terrified of everyone but our oldest daughter. She clung to her like a security blanket. The baby had been found unresponsive and had to be revived. They didn’t tell us that until the girls were leaving us. We had them for 12 hours.

We then welcomed a beautiful African American girl. At four years old, she had some definite special needs, and we weren’t approved to be a therapeutic home. But we had her for two months while they searched for a more permanent situation. Because of her special needs, we found ourselves consumed with therapies and getting her to see the right specialists. We connected with her family and have been advocating for her to go home. She should be home. We don’t know why she isn’t home. But because we weren’t licensed for therapeutic care, she had to leave us. 

While she was living with us, we were excited to connect with her brother’s foster family. In fact, the other mom and I have become good friends. We were so excited when we were able to watch him for the weekend and give the siblings a chance to reconnect.

While we had our four-year-old daughter, we were finally able to welcome a six-year-old boy into our home. Just what our six-year-old son wanted! But the things this little boy had already seen and had done to him in his small life created a dangerous situation for our other children. His emotions were all over the place, and he would fly into a rage for no known reason and attack whomever was nearby. After two weeks, his caseworker finally stepped in and found a therapeutic home for him as well. They made me pick him up from school with his belongings in my trunk and tell him in the parking lot that he was going to be leaving us that day. It was the worst day of my life. He sobbed and begged to stay with us. I cried and prayed with him and reassured him that it wasn’t my decision for him to leave and that we loved him.

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. You may think that I shouldn’t have told you about my experiences. These situations sound hard. And they were hard. Loving a child who has been through trauma is not easy. But they are just children. They didn’t ask to be homeless or exposed to drugs or abused or abandoned. They didn’t ask to be poverty-stricken. In fact, the one thing they all asked for, that they all had in common, was to be loved.

In the United States, there are over 400,000 children in foster care. In my state alone, there are over 5,000. They need 1600 more foster homes in my state. But people make excuses.

“My house is too small.” My house is 1100 square feet, a tight fit when it’s just my small family of five. Yet, we found a way to have a bed for two more.

“I’m worried how it will hurt my kids.” My children begged us to be foster parents when my aunt and uncle introduced them to their foster cousins at a family picnic. When they found out that the two boys in their care needed to be adopted, my kids wanted us to be the ones to do it.

“I work full-time, so I can’t take care of them.” Many foster parents work. The state provides resources to help you take care of the children.

“I’d get too attached.” This is the worst and most common statement made to foster parents. It stings. We don’t foster because we won’t get attached. We foster because these children need us! They need you!

I am mom to 13 children—three live with me and 10 were with me for a short while and then gone. Growing up, I always wanted to be a mom, and God has given me that in spades! I also understand that some people can’t foster for a number of different reasons. But everyone can do something.

One of the biggest blessings for me as a foster mom was when one of my friends offered to make our family dinner after a new placement had come to us. We were overwhelmed, and it was so wonderful to just know that someone wanted to help. We also had someone give us some clothes. And our friend who often babysits for us was willing to have a background check done in order to be able to babysit our foster children as well. 

Like I said, it’s Foster Care Awareness Month, so I want to make you aware that there is a need for foster families, and there is a need for foster care support! What can you do today to make a difference in a child’s life?

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matt. 25:40 ESV).

 

Katie Cruice Smith is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor. Her book, Why Did You Choose Me? is currently available on Amazon, Christian Book, and Barnes and Noble. She is currently working on a devotional book to accompany Why Did You Choose Me?

Complete book cover

Katie resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with her husband and three adopted children. Katie is an adoption and foster care advocate, and she and husband are licensed foster parents.

Follow her on Facebook—Katie Cruice Smith, Author; Twitter—@authorktcsmith; or on Instagram @authorkatiesmith. Katie shares her life as an adoptive and foster mom at www.katiecruicesmith.com. 

Book Review · christianity · Reading · war

Words And Deeds Review

978-1-63146-804-9.jpg

Hey, just in time for Father’s Day! Or maybe a son at a graduation of any sort…at any rate, what a fabulous book for men. Our culture is in serious trouble, and this book is a timely mentor- an accountability partner, as I see it. A lack of character and integrity in general is hurting us as a nation, but this book offers encouragement, inspiration, and a challenge for men of all ages and stages.

Charles Causey, a recipient of the Bronze Star for his military service in Iraq, seeks to help men find balance between their words and deeds in his important book, Words And Deeds.

War stories, a call to action, and real significance, these are things that appeal to men. And aren’t we glad of it? I know I am. Words And Deeds delivers an exciting call to arms for men who want to live godly lives of integrity. If their words and deeds  match, if they are serious about being men of outstanding character and living out their beliefs, they should know Charles Causey is serious about pointing the way.

In a nation of fatherless men, we need more men like Charles Causey, and the hope and prayer is that as more men develop into courageous men of integrity and mentor others, there can be less fatherless children, husbandless wives, and more real-life heroes. This is my take-away, and maybe I’m reading more into it than was meant, but as a woman, wife, and mother, and especially as a fatherless child, I say that a battle cry for men to more integrity can only improve our entire society.

Excellent book. Really.  Inside there are some interesting ideas the author put together to help guys take it seriously, and get forward motion:

40-question diagnostic assessment tool (in the book and online) for measuring and growing in integrity

  • 6-week small group Bible study

Take a peek inside here

Check out the author title page on Goodreads

or the author page

 

*NavPress has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

 

SaveSave

Uncategorized

Late Spring On The Ranch

After a long, hard, cruel winter, spring is here full-force. It’s shaken me out of the grief I was feeling buried under. Sunshine and baby animals and tomato plants will do that to any normal human being.

 

I’m in the process of writing a novel, just about 57,000 words in, writing a Bible study, learning the Indie publishing ropes, milking sheep and goats, selling off lambs and goat kids by now, and keeping a baby Robin alive. I’m still homeschooling our youngest, and now we have added vision therapy to our days.

I’m trying to be more intentional about my time, and basically my life. I’m selling most of my sheep and dairy goats so I have more time for writing, riding my horses, and taking weekends with my husband. I have a couple of new favorite writers, Carrie Turansky and Kate Breslin, who is local. I just got Across the Blue from Amazon delivered today. Reading more is high on my list of managing my time. Reading is so much healthier than social networking.

I’ve also been busy making soaps. I love the new brand. Super cute logo, don’t you think?

I’m also spending as much time outside as possible, and trying to be observant of everything- nature sounds and scents, people, the honey bees and even the plants- everything. This little dandelion struck me as an opportunist, taking root in the little space available in this old wooden beam. Rooted and blooming is a devotional I’m working on, and this illustrated my theme, I thought.May is a pretty busy month in regards to family celebrations. We have Mother’s day and two birthdays. My little sister shares hers with our youngest son. She is an animal nut like me, with a sense of humor. This is fitting:

 

 

Isn’t she cute?!

I had 8 lambs born this year and about the same number of goat kids. Most of them are sold but I have 3 lambs left and 1 ewe, 2 kids, and 2 does left to sell. Then I’m finished with that business.

The apple trees are blooming and they are always a glorious sight. In the lower valley at least, the cherries are also blossoming.

The wind blows like crazy here, and unfortunately it knocks eggs and even chicks out of the nests that are literally everywhere. A day old chick has been living in my kitchen, eating soft cat food, mealworms, earthworms, and baby foods like apple sauce, etc. So gross, but it’s alive and well, so there’s that.

I have a small collection of nests and empty little eggs. My granddaughter found this one.

SaveSave

Book Review · christianity · war

The Hidden Side Review

978-1-4964-2323-8

 

Heidi Chiavaroli put her heart and soul into the pages of this novel. It was a slow burn for me to start, and when the fire got going, boy did it burn. I hated to leave the pages for anything else after I became engrossed in the stories of life-like characters, facing huge issues of morality and faith.  This book has emotional punch. The dual story lines mesh themes beautifully, and I have to say, some hard questions of modern day life in the battle zone of a jaded culture, as well as historical life in a time of war, are wrestled with expertly. The ending was a satisfying one, and gave me a faith-filled resolution which was gratifying after the roller coaster journey I felt I took right along with the characters.

Every summer I collect a stack of novels to read in the sunshine, that’s how I relax, and this book kept me riveted in the late spring sunshine long enough to get a pretty good tan already. This is author is one of my new favorites. This book is a must-read for those of us who love nothing more than a good novel, in all of it’s delicious drama and escape.

***

 

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

Check out these links:

Goodreads title page

Goodreads author page

Heidi’s Pinterest page for fun

Amazon

Tyndale’s author page for Heidi Chiavaroli

*I received this book from the publisher for a written, unbiased review. All opinions stated are my own. I received nothing but the pleasure of a good read for this review.

Uncategorized

Daring To Hope Review

For some humans the capacity for kindness and generosity toward others is strong. For Katie Davis Majors it’s obvious to those of us who read her books, blog posts and observe her life-as-ministry that her capacity to love is enormous. We see in her a picture of grace we all wish we ourselves reflected. She makes us want to embrace selflessness and humility in our lives.

9780735290518

Katie dares to hope when things look bleak and her example teaches us to hope. And by bleak I mean imminent death, gaping, bloody wounds, abandoned people with nowhere left to go. A daily grind that would put many of us on our backs. That’s when Katie’s faith radiates the most.

Her first book showed us a brave teenager; a bold believer. This book shows us a humbled woman, who has learned to believe and hope in the hardest situations and has mellowed in her faith to a stronger, more vibrant and even clearer reflection of Ja Savior Who Loves. Jesus.

Katie has learned that ministry changes and hers now looks different than a few years ago. Her home and community have become her God-directed focus. I love this.

She has also learned that God walks with us in the dark. He doesn’t only show love by our desired and even prayed for outcome to critical issues. He loves us in our pain and broken places, and He somehow brings good out of death and despair. We keep walking and obeying and even continue to hope, and He grows us and our faith is nourished in even, and maybe especially, the droughts.

Daring to Hope is a tall glass of water in a desert. Katie shares the nitty-gritty, real-life struggle to hope in a good God even when circumstances would say He can’t be good. She shows us her tears and doubts, as well as her laughter and joy.

You don’t want to miss Daring To Hope, by Katie Davis Majors.

*This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased written review. Thank you, Blogging For Books.

See the YouTube promo video