Mini Book Review- A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea By: Melissa Fleming

I couldn’t sleep the night after finishing the highly emotional and soul wrenching story of Doaa Al Zamel a Syrian refuge.

I read it in 3 days having to work hard to pull myself away to get stuff done and then thinking about it the whole time I was doing something else.

Lost at sea stories are the most terrifying to me. I can’t even think of that movie Unbroken without feeling kind of panicked about how terrifying that would be. This book chronicles Doaa’s horrific 4 days at sea on a child’s inflatable ring, holding and keeping 2 young children alive ontop of her and watching helplessly while almost 500 people including her fiancé drown.

If you’re anything like me and you haven’t spent much time paying attention to the head lines involving Syria, this book will give you a pretty good understanding of the war in Syria and why refuges are risking their lives to escape the neighboring countries.

Melissa Fleming gave this TED talk that sums up the story pretty well although she seems quite nervous and I believe she  misspeaks when telling the events of the murder at sea. Also, the book includes an epilogue that gives more information of what became of Doaa and her family than what is include in the TED talk. (Link below)

And here’s Doaa herself speaking..



This is a story of courage and bravery and confronts the reader with both the best and the worst of humanity. You will be left with more questions than you began with but will undoubtably be changed by Doaa’s hope and her unwillingness to give up.


Books to read when you’re grieving

Like the collections of songs I put together in the last post I wanted to put together a list of books that I have read that have encouraged and helped me in my grief journey and pass it along to you.


(this last one is actually a workbook/ Bible study)

I asked few of my friends who have lost children if they could recommend any books and a friend said she had read this one and recommended it.

Many of these books are written for/ by parents who have lost children but some of them are not. I would say though that even the one’s written by grieving parents are applicable to anyone who is suffering.

For The Children’s Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I you look up this book on line you will find a lot of great and detailed reviews have already been written. Google, “Charlotte Mason” and you will be overwhelmed with a tidal wave of information. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here and do a full review of this book but I do want to take some time to share what I have learned because I liked this book so much!

Charlotte Mason was a teacher and education philosopher who lived 1842-1923. This book For The Children’s Sake Foundations of Education for Home and School was published by Susan Macaulay 1984 discussing Charlotte Mason’s education philosophy.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to answering the question, “what is education?” The Charlotte Mason view promotes reading to children what she refers to as living books. She promotes children spending large amounts of unstructured time exploring nature. She encourages parents and teachers to teach children to observe the world around them, to appreciate rich art and music. The book explains why it is beneficial to the minds of children to not be confined to “kids music” or coloring books but to be exposed to and given the best of what the world has to offer. She refers to much of what is labeled children’s curriculum as “twaddle”. Things that are merely time fillers that don’t engage or enrich the mind of anybody. Give the children the best! The best of music, the best of art and literature.

I like how she describes education as the science of relationships. How do I fit into this world? What is my relationship to the people and things around me? Math is connected to geography which is connected to history which is connected to literature and so on. One of the reasons I want to homeschool is because I believe my children will be more connected to and have relationships with people of different ages and different walks of life than if they were in a classroom.

A big part of this teaching philosophy is teaching kids how to learn. So much of education today is spoon feeding children facts and not letting them use the minds. A so called spoon fed education leads to a crippled mind that does not know how to think or problem solve. Instead, read to your children thought provoking literature and let them grapple with the ideas of right and wrong through the lives of those who came before them. Charlotte Mason taught that in the younger years children should be able to retell orally what they have been learning. In the older grades her students used writing to tell what they have learned. She believe that if a child could retell in their own words the subject studied that at that point they had thoroughly digested it and made it their own. Teaching your kids how to think not merely what to think is the idea.

Charlotte Mason ran her school on the idea of doing book work in the morning when kids minds were fresh and having the afternoon free for unstructured outside play, exploring the arts and working on projects. I live in an area of the country where if I wanted to implement this it would depend on the time of year. For instance, in  the summer I would want to take the kids out to play before the afternoon comes and it is near 100 degrees and we want to be in the air conditioning! During the winter though we do the opposite, we wait for it to warm up in the afternoon to play outside.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the idea that, “children are persons.” They are unique individuals and their individual needs should be meet. Children deserve respect as well and should not be treated as “projects” but as people. Private schooling and homeschooling has a better ability to make the education fit the child rather than trying to make hundreds of kids in a school fit into the same mold.

I recently listened to this TED talk on education and I thought it was funny that the people who have been deemed the best and the brightest in education of our day are speaking about principles I just read in a book written over 100 years ago. When Angela Duckworth speaks about grit it reminds me of the chapter on forming habits. One teacher speaks on forming relationships with students and another speaks on engaging a child’s curiosity.

This book made me feel excited about educating my kids. While listening to these educators discuss all the problems with the public school system and why it is failing our children and hurting society I was made to feel more confident in my ability to give my children something better.







Snow, a day of spring and what I’m listening to

I’ve been listening to To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper on audio. I couldn’t find it on audio at the library but it’s on Youtube. I feel like an emotional mess as I’ve been listening to it! I’ve saw the movie so long ago I couldn’t remember the details of how it ended. I have one more chapter to listen to. It is one of those books where I’m on edge waiting for it to end but I also don’t want it to end because I am so engaged.

While the movie focuses on the trial, which is the main focus of the book, the book also focuses quite a bit on education and the failure of the public school system. Reading between the lines I am picking up on a powerful pro private education message.

After I recover emotionally from reading the book I’ll have to rematch the movie and compare!

Yesterday we were blessed with a beautiful almost 70 degree day, just 5 days after we were playing in the snow in less than 20 degree weather! I couldn’t believe I was out walking with the kids, no coats on! Here’s a snow pic I said I’d share,


Snow’s in the snow!

This morning there are a lot of people I have on my heart that I am so burdened for. It seems that every where I turn people I love are hurting and struggling. God is good and I believe He will prevail and get the glory in all these situations. I know that’s vague but it’s what’s on my mind right now.

That’s all I have time to write today, I’ve got a little guy calling for me to come get him out of his crib. Blessings in Christ Jesus!



Heaven God’s answer for your every need By Randy Alcorn (touchpoints)

I had intended to read the actually book Heaven by Randy Alcorn but I didn’t realize until I brought it home that this was his “touchpoints” edition. It’s a condensed version of the book Heaven. It’s a small book 210 pages long. (The book is pocket sized so it’s not actually as long as it sounds.)

It’s written so that if you have a question about heaven you could pull it off your shelf, look up your question, example, “Is the present Heaven a physical place?” see that that question is on page 7 and flip to it. One question doesn’t really build upon a mother spit’s okay to skip around in the book reading which ever questions you’re most curious about.

I read it straight through. The more I read Randy Alcorn’s writings about Heaven and the new earth the more excited I get and the more I love God for being so good to His people!

Today I read something I had never thought about before. When answering the question “Does God value craftsmanship?” The author points out that the first man to be recorded in the Bible as being filled with the Spirit of God was Bezalel, a skilled laborer and craftsman. The description of his work tells us that he was a great artist. I thought it was a neat point that The Master Artist (God) filled a man with His Spirit to do beautiful skilled artwork for the building of the tabernacle for the glory of God.

It also has me wanting to do a Bible studying on old testament believers because now I wondering, were old testament believers filled with the Holy Spirit or was the Spirit on them or with them? I’m thinning about men pre Bezalel like Joseph, Enoch and Noah. I’m curious to search throughout the old testament and look up every time the Spirit was mentioned. Anyways! That’s another study topic for another time.

Our Bible verse for the week is Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Today for my marriage challenge I’m going to successfully start the truck without locking it lol! Yesterday I fulfilled the challenge with a quick back massage and back scratches for hubby. (without asking for a massage in return- that’s what made it something nice lol)



Tell Me About Heaven By: Randy Alcorn

2 weeks(ish) ago I asks our library to get me a copy of Tell Me About Heaven by Randy Alcorn from one of their other branches. I had originally intended to read it to E because it was a children’s book but when I sat down to read it to her I realized it was way above her level and too long to keep her attention. (She’s 3).

After I got the kids in bed last night I made myself a cup of low carb hot chocolate and sat down to read it and enjoy the illustrations for myself. The book is 9 chapters long and took me a little over an hour to read it. It is very well done and doctrinally sound. There were parts that I had to stop and read two or three times because  it was just so good. I’d guess the book was written for kids somewhere around 8 years old although as an adult I enjoyed it just for myself.

The book is written to make kids excited about God’s promises of heaven and the new earth and to destroy unbiblical myths about eternity being a state of boring disembodiment where people sit on clouds and play harps.

Inside the cover it reads:

Heaven… It’s a place full of new beginnings that never end, seeing God, reunions, uninterrupted relationships, eating and drinking, activities, worship, music, and joy. But it’s also a place of mystery, especially for children.

God’s Word gives us glimpses of what’s ahead, with the clues that can be trusted- and anticipated. And this is the exciting news reflected in author Randy Alcorn’s heartwarming story and artist Ron DiCianni’s striking paintings.

As Jake’s fears and questions about eternity are turned to wonder through his conversations with his grandpa, any child’s excitement about Heaven should grow. Its powerful message will help curious young hearts understand that if they love Jesus, not only is there nothing to fear, but the best is yet to come.

In the future, I’m looking forward to sharing this book with my kids when they have questions about heaven.


Finished Reading “If God is Good” by Randy Alcorn

I don’t want to spend the time writing a book review but I do want to throw a few comments out there about this book. “If God Is Good, Faith In the Midst of Suffering and Evil” is easily the best book I read all year and for sure one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It has built my faith a lot to read scripture after scripture about this topic and to read many stories of saints and their sufferings and the victories their sufferings brought about. Near the end of the book there was a poem that I have been thinking about since reading it and I hunted it down on the internet so I could share it here. (I already returned the book to the library)


It’s written by Joseph Baylee in a book titled Psalms Of My Life (1969). The poem titled “A Psalm While Packing Books” was written after the author and his wife lost three children through varies tragedies.


This cardboard box


see it says

Bursting limit

100 lbs. Per square inch.

The box maker knew

how much strain

the box would take

what weight

would crush it.

You are wiser

than the box maker

maker of my spirit

my mind

my body.

Does the box know

when pressure increases close to

the limit?


It knows nothing.

But I know

when my breaking point

Is near.

And so I pray

Maker of my soul

Determiner of the pressure




Stop it

lest I be broken

Or else

change the pressure rating

of this fragile container

of your grace

so that I may bear more

Last Wednesday at the library I saw the book Heaven by Joni Earkeckson Tada. She never disappoints so I’m sure it will be an edifying read! I’ve already started it and so far it’s as good as I expected.

I asked the library to get for me from another one of the library branches Heaven by Randy Alcorn and also one of his children’s books, Tell Me About Heaven to preview and then possibly read to E.


Thanksgiving Day, 1890 by Olin Winfield Page

I’m reading through a book published by my great- great Grandfather titled LIFE PICTURES AND OTHER POEMS.

Here’s a poem he wrote on Thanksgiving 126 years ago.

Thanksgiving Day 1890

By: Olin Winfield Pge

There’s a voice of praise in our home to-day

The silence is broken, clouds rolled away;

The voice of a wife in pleading of prayer,

As sweetest of music now floats on the air;

And the daughter’s voice, too, clear and low toned,

Acknowledges Him whom her heart has enthroned.

The spell of stillness thro’ years that are past

Has been broken by prayer, God’s power at last,

Unsealed lips that were dumb. Beaming eyes

And accents of love speak the soul’s Paradise,

Resting in Jesus and owning His sway;

Together we praise Him this glorious day.

The smile of the sun rests down on the earth,

The rivers blue waves are dancing with mirth;

And o’er its waters in circles of light

Are bright, glancing wings of seagull in flight;

Lewis’ Woods, too, in its brightest array

Meets with the river to welcome the day.

Gold flecks the shadows ‘neath each arching tree;

Light crest each wave flowing down from the sea;

In each sheltered nook the deepest of green

Of the hardy grass-blade still may be seen;

Softly it nods in a sweet, loving way,

Glad that it’s Maker has saved till this day.

While the sun shines down on the thankful earth,

And the light shines in at each soul’s new birth,

With thankful hearts, in song, blessing and prayer,

We are praising the Lord for tender care;

Thankful for bounty that before us is spread,

Thankful for ways in which His hand led.

Thankful for life and the blessing of health;

Very thankful for love, hearts’ precious wealth;

Thankful for Jesus, who comes to abide;

O thankful to Him what’re may betide!

Thankful to Father and thankful to Son,

Revealed by His Spirit to hearts that are one.

Diabetes and God’s Power

Yesterday was diabetes awareness day. It would have been the 125th birthday of Frederick Banting, the man who discovered insulin. On my Facebook page I changed my profile picture to jdrf’s “type 1 diabetes look’s like me” slogan and I shared a few facts about diabetes. I want to take a moment here to share another side of living life with a chronic disease. As I shared before I’m reading through Randy Alcorn’s book, If God is Good Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil.

I wanted to share what he wrote on page’s 172-173 about his life as an insulin dependent diabetic. He first quotes 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 then goes on to say,

   “As a teenager who had just come to faith in Christ, I read this passage with perplexed interest. I believed it because it was God’s Word- but it made little sense to me. Now, forty years later, it makes a great deal of sense. As an insulin dependent diabetic I have lain helpless, stiff as a board, not in my right mind, needing my wife to get sugar in my mouth. My once-strong body grows weak. Low blood sugar clouds my judgement and leaves me with a memory of having said stupid things, like a drunken man. Several times a year I have severe reactions in which I don’t know what’s happening to me.

This humbles me, but I can honestly say I am grateful for it; yes, I even delight in it, because I recognize the value of being humbled, for “when I am weak, then I am strong.” My weakness drives me to greater dependance upon Christ. I wouldn’t begin to trade the spiritual benefit’s I’ve received.

As a young pastor I loved God sincerely; but like my tavern-owner father, I was independent, self-sufficient, and prone to do things on my own. Christ’s words, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), rang true- but I did a lot of things without drawing on his strength. So from eternity’s viewpoint, those things amounted to nothing.”



Hands Free Mama Book Review

Seems that I’m on a book review kick here on the blog!

I listened to Rachel Stafford Author of Hands Free Mama on a podcast a few weeks back put out by power of moms radio. I thought her message was really inspiring and I had been thinking about it for some time when I was at the library and while not even looking for it, saw it sitting on the shelf. I was so excited to get to read it! I could really relate to her struggles of living in the moment and the way she said she lived her life for two years, too busy to stop and savor the little things in life. The full title of the book is Hands Free Mama A guide to putting down the phone, burning the to-do list, and letting go of perfection to grasp what really matters! I’m not a huge phone person and I think I’ve taken little steps in my life to keep that from being too much of an issue (although I still struggle with the temptation!) but the parts of the book about connecting with your children, playing with your children, making memories with your children even when you’d rather be cleaning the kitchen and getting the to- do list done- I could totally relate to that. I also saw myself in her when she talked about over commitment. I have a really hard time saying no because I want to be there for every body and do what I can for as many people as I can but she’s right when she points out that a mother trying to be everything for everybody is going to end up neglecting the needs of those closest to her, her children and husband.

The term “hands free” comes from a story in her book telling about the first decision she made to be present and let go of distractions. She was in the middle of doing so many things at once when she looked over and saw her daughter sitting on the couch watching a movie. She stopped everything she was doing and went and sat next to her daughter. When she did so her daughter smiled then kissed her mother’s palm.

Since reading through this I’ve done a better job at keeping in mind what she refers to as, “sunset moments.” Those precious times when I stop folding the laundry, get on the floor with my 1 year old and am rewarded with a slobbery kiss and a funny baby grin. Those moments when I am fully present with those I love instead of being distracted by any number of things.

It’s a really fun read too because she tells a lot of stories from what she calls her “hands free journey.” It’s not just a condemning list of, mother, don’t do this or that! It really is a great reminder of, isn’t this what you want in life? Aren’t these the things that are important to you? The book is meant to be read over a year. Each chapter is meant for 1 month at a time with habits to implement along the way. Of course I read the whole book in like 2 weeks or less but I liked it so much I would really like to go through it again at a slower pace.

You can find Rachel on Facebook on her handsfree revolution page where she shares inspiring messages to live for today and to invest your time in your closest relationships not waste it on things that don’t matter. The book really is a wake up call to a person like me who easily lives in a highly distracted state of mind. It reminds me that I only have one shot at my kids childhood and then it’s over and done and becomes the past. In the future how will I look back on this time? Will I be full of regret that I lived in constant irritation with my kids for messing up my hard work and getting in the way of my plans? Or will I look back and smile that I squeezed out of life every chance to feel awe with my children while taking in the world around us? Did I savor the cuddles and breathe in their smelly baby sent before it was gone? Did I truly see them and live with my eyes wide open and undistracted?

A couple of my favorite chapters were “Silence The Inner Critic” and “Let Go.” She discusses the needless stress moms can place on themselves in the endless pursuit of trying to be the perfect mom and the perfect wife and the perfect everything. I think in today’s society where there are not a lot of great role models showing us what motherhood looks like it easy to try and build a model in our minds of what motherhood is supposed to look like all the while not realizing that the image created in our minds is totally unrealistic. I know the days when I collapse at night totally drained having given my 100% to my children all day my husband sometimes tells me that what I think I need to be and do for my children is too much and they don’t really need all that. I’m still a work in process but yes I’m learning to let go and stop being so hard on myself.

Rachel’s mantra in the book that she said in the beginning of her hands free journey she repeated to herself over and over was, “only love today.”

Only love today…