Wednesday, December 28, 2016

52 Books in 52 Weeks Final Count (maybe)

Well, there are 3 days left in 2016. I'll just admit that I am not meeting my 52 books goal.  However, I did read more books this year than I did last year.  Here's what I've read this year:

Well, there are 3 days left in 2016.  I'll admit that I will not meet my 52 books goal this year.  However, I did read more this year than I did last year.  Here's a look at what I've read this year.  I still have two books going and hope to finish by Saturday night.

A book set at Christmastime
I read this book every year!  Love it.  I was fortunate enough to take my family to the play this year as well.

A book that is sure to bring joy
This is another reread.  This book touches my heart during advent. If you haven't read must!

A book with a title that has fewer than 5 words

All I can say is this is an amazing book, and this week, my children and students better be glad I read it!

A book you can finish in a day
I used this book as a read aloud in my classroom.  It is a sweet story, but you have to infer a lot.  I love the biblical reference.

And a look back at other books I've read this year........

A book that cost less than $1
I cheated a bit. This book actually cost $1.  I loved it so much.  It was a life changer for how I view my ever-changing body compared to how Christ views me. 

A book given to me
This book was given to me by one of our church members.  She thought I might enjoy it, and she was so right.  There are so many things I have been able to use in conversation and Sunday school. Billy Graham says things so much better than I ever could...right, Leslie?

A book in a genre I don't typically read
The Iron Trial was a recommendation by a student in my class. He is really into stuff like this. I promised him I would read it. I did, and it wasn't too bad. I actually have the second book in my bag to read this summer.

A book recommended by someone I just met
One of my new students was reading If I Stay as her AR book. I asked her if it was any good, and she said yes, and then she told me I should read it.  I really liked the book. I watched the movie and did the ugly cry even though I knew what was going to happen.

 A book with a title that describes my life
LOVE this book. LOVE a good pair of jeans. LOVE Jesus.  

A book with a blue cover
I used this book in lit circles with my fifth graders. I read it beforehand and fell in love with it. The jaw dropping ending really got me.  Loved the movie too. Be sure you read the book before you watch the movie!

An autobiography
I am fascinated by Malala's story. After reading this, I used it for lit circles in my classroom. My students loved it. It was a wake up call for them because they had such a hard time believing that children in some countries aren't allowed an education like they are. 

 A book based in my town
The setting of this book is my hometown. Our librarian used this book in her Battle of the Books program a few years ago, and I fell in love with it.  All church goers (young and old) need to read this.  Its a story of forgiveness and how God works through all things. 

A book I haven't read since high school
I had forgotten how good this book was. I love that it is referenced in so many other pieces of literature.

A book I've already read at least once
This is another book used in our Battle of the Books program. To Kill a Mockingbird is referenced in this book, you'll have to read it to find out why.  I've always loved this book, but this year, after I completed it as a read aloud in my classroom, one of my autistic students said that he really liked it because it helps you understand how people think differently.  Score one for the teacher!

 A book published this year
A fellow Five Minute Friday Retreat friend wrote this wonderful book about trusting God even if He doesn't answer our prayers the way we want.  For anyone who has had trouble trusting Him, read this book.  Some people are bothered by the fact that Kaitlyn didn't go into extreme details in some of her stories, however, I don't think she needed to. I think we can all relate no matter what.

A book that's under 150 pages
This is an older book that I love and use as a read aloud in my classroom. It touches on bullying in a way that all of my students can relate. I love that it reinforces 2 facts: A) If you don't step up and stop bullying, you are just as guilty B)Bullying has negative effects

 A book written from a child's perspective
This is another book I used as a read aloud in class.   I love this book for so many reasons.  It is actually told from the perspective of a classroom of children and demonstrates the love their teacher had for them and the love they had for him.

A book thats more than 600 pages
I thought reading War and Peace was going to kill me! It took almost a year, but I did it though. I was proud of myself for not giving up although I wanted to at times. I was so excited about the mini series until they cancelled it right in the middle.

18 Books Completed as of December 28!  

Head on over to Kate Motaung's to link up and check out what others have read this year.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Begins

Tis the season.

Its the time of year we rush and spend and stress. The time of year so many look upon with dread.

The Christmas season should be so much more, yet, year after year, we add more to our to do lists. We add more to our credit card debts.  We add unneeded negativity to a beautiful season.

Can we just not?

Can we just pause and reset?

Can we anticipate the gift of Jesus instead of the gifts under the tree that we feel obligated to purchase?

And thus, let's celebrate Advent.

Advent, in Natasha Terms,  is the anticipation of the coming of Christmas.....and all that it entails.

For me, its yearning to be near to Christ in every possible way

To soak myself in scripture that hints at His coming

To sing hymns of praise and adoration

To give thanks for the gift of Christ, eternal life, and all the blessings in between

To focus on Christ instead of commercialism

Would you join me?

This Advent season, I will be reading from The Voice Advent Reading Plan.  It starts today, and each daily reading is short.

Starting December 1, I will begin reading The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.  This will be my second journey through this wonderful book.

Not only will I reset during this Advent season, my family will also.  Each night beginning December 1, we will take a book from our Advent calendar and read and pray over the scripture as a family.  Each book will then be placed on our Christmas tree.

And yes, that is an elf in that picture, our dear Bill Skylander Hotdog, who by the way has a friend this year: Penelope Skylander Hotdog.  We will still continue our usual fun family traditions. However, our focus will be on Christ.  Regardless of the number of gifts or parties or cards or carols, we will pause this holiday season and keep Christ at the center it.

So, Friend, will you join me in anticipating Christmas the way Christmas is meant to be?

Friday, November 04, 2016


These kids y'all.

They have a journey ahead of them.  A journey they just don't even know.

As I spend time with them each day, as I get to know them, as I see what our world is like today, my heart aches.  They don't even have a clue.

Our world is in a mess and these kids have hope and dreams.  Some have a grasp on reality. Some have no concept of reality. And for some, oh, my! We would not survive in their reality.

For some of these children, I fear what the end of their journey will be like.  For others, I'm afraid they will waste the journey.  And then, there are those that their journeys will end in success and joy.

I want to make the path straight.
I want to make the path well lit.
I want to make the path easy to follow.

But what then?  What would they get from that? What would they learn?

I saw a question posed on social media the other day asking why this particular person's journey was so tough.  There are many reasons: our choices, our sins, the sins of others. And there is this: If the journey was easy, would we feel the need for Jesus?  I've found strength and growth in my hardest journeys, and as difficult as it is, we must let these little ones do the same.

 Thank you for joining me today, this lovely finally fall feeling Friday.  If you haven't stopped by Kate's yet, please do so.  She has a great giveaway going on!

While you are there, spread the Five Minute Friday love.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Eat

Y'all, I like food. A lot.  I wake up in the morning wondering what I will have for lunch.  Before lunch, I wonder what I will have for dinner.

I used to be a pretty picky eater. But growing up on pork chops and pinto beans, I eagerly began trying new foods.  I found that I love seafood and Chinese and Japanese food.  I love Reese's Pieces and Rolo's.

I like to eat.

Sometimes that can be a problem.

I've had problems with the eat to live versus live to eat dilemma.

At one time, it got so bad that I lost 32 pounds in a short amount of time.

I'm also an emotional eater.  Happy? Eat. Sad? Eat. Bored? Eat.

I have to be careful because I know that food can control me. I've been there and done that. Thankfully, at that pivotal point in my life, I escaped the chains that food held on me.

However, I know that I can easily fall back into that trap.  Those moments of weakness or deliciousness can grab hold of me quickly.  Too quickly. I've had those moments, moments I haven't been proud of myself.  But I thank God that He is with me, giving me the conviction of my sin and weakness and picking me up when I have failed.

Thank you so much for joining me for Five Minute Friday. Would you do me a favor?  Would you stop by my class blog and show some Five Minute Friday love to my students.  Three of them posted their first FMF prompts today.  Just click HERE to check them out.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

When the Bible Tells Me So

God's Word.

The Bible.

We have to decide for ourselves this one thing.....

Do I believe that the Bible is God's Word and that it is Truth?

It is all or nothing.

My answer is YES.  I believe the Bible. All of it.

I don't understand everything in it, but I believe everything in it.

I don't believe the Bible because someone told me to.  I believe it because of what it has done to me.  God's Word is living. It has changed me.  God's Word has given me hope, wisdom, and conviction.

Ah, conviction.

We don't like that very much. Maybe that is why we stay away from the Bible. Maybe that is why we stay away from churches that preach ALL of the Word.  We get convicted of our sin.

Oh, another word we don't like.

Let's just get it out there.....We don't want to be told we are wrong.


Some see the Bible as a list of rules. Don't..... Don't..... Don't......Oh, the negativity of it all.

But really, the Bible is not a list of rules.  For me, it is a book of life instruction....that if I follow what it says, then I will be better off. Not that my life will be perfect and pain free --- the Bible tells me that isn't so ----- but I can find joy in the sorrows of life, I can have hope for tomorrow, I can be free of the things that hold me back.

Bad things happen. Why?  Because we are sinners.  We chose to do the wrong thing.  When I yell at my kids, that is wrong.  It affects our relationship. When I gossip about a coworker, that is wrong. It affects our relationship with each other and our relationship with others.  If I were to steal, that is wrong.  If I were to get drunk, if I were to cheat, if I were to lie, if I were to put anything other than God first in my life.......all of it is wrong, wrong, wrong.  The Bible tells me so.

Our world would be a different place if we all accepted the Truth of God's Word.  But it isn't because we don't.

Some choose to believe it all.
Some pick and choose.
Some dismiss it completely.

The Bible talks about some hot topics: the sanctity of life, homosexuality, drunkenness, marriage, idolatry, gossip, gluttony, laziness, theft, causing others to fall into sin, blasphemy, adding to and taking away from God's Word.....shall I go on?

And I don't see this as list of DO NOT..... I see this as "If I follow God's instructions on these things, I won't have to deal with certain problems."

I believe a sin is a sin.  A sin is anything we do that God doesn't want us to.

I'm not going to rank sins on a scale of 1 to 10.  That's being judgmental and that is God's place to judge our sins.

Some people say gossip isn't really that big of deal, but I beg to differ.  I'll admit that I have gossiped about people.  After doing so, I've felt guilty. I've worried over what would happen if that person found out. I've lined up a set of lies to get myself out of trouble if I was confronted.  Not really what you want to hear from me, but it's true.  I've seen what gossip has done to people, the pain it has caused, the broken relationships.  I've walked away from gossip sessions that I was a part of and that I just overhead and felt dirty and disgusted.

I've seen what idolatry can do.
I've seen what laziness can do.
I've seen what drugs and alcohol can do.
I've seen what abortion can do.
I've seen what homosexuality can do.
I've seen what sin has done.

I'm not saying any of this to be a bigot or judgmental or hypocritical or unloving. I'm saying this because I know what God's Word says, and I've seen the effects of what happens when we don't obey it. I've also seen the effects of what happens when we thrive on God's Word.

Don't take my word for it.

I challenge you......

Take God's Word for it.

Get a Bible in a translation that is easy for you to read.  I prefer the NKJV, NLT, and ESV translations.

Wholeheartedly, say this prayer: God, if you are real, if this book is Holy, if it is Truth, show me.
(Hey, You really have to mean it.)

Start with Matthew in the New Testament and read at least 15 minutes each day.

Read the entire New Testament, say that prayer each and every day before you start.  Try it to live the way it tells you. See what happens.

I have found truth, love, grace, mercy, patience, hope, and wisdom in God's Word. I don't feel the need to change anything that God says. I believe and I pray you do too.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Why Hello There #write31days


There's this thing called a blog that I committed to write every day for 31 days.

I failed at my #write31days commitment.

As a child of God,  I have to set priorities.  As much as I love this space, my priorities don't always include this space.

Sure, I could put my bible study and family on hold, but I'm not going to.  Sure I could put my laundry and housework on hold - wait- I do that, but not for the blog, just for my family. Working full-time, taking care of my family, volunteering after school 3 days a week, keeping up with my church responsibilities, and keep up with a blog is challenging.

Part of being a child of God is being able to identify areas of struggle, areas of temptation, areas that will pull us away from our priorities.

It is so easy to come here and post for the sake of posting. You know, getting those likes and shares.  We want to know that people have a desire to hear our words. But that's a temptation.  A temptation to put what you want ahead of what God wants, to put my self-centeredness above my family and other obligations.

When I come here, I want my heart to be in the right place.  I want this to be a place where I can focus on what God will have me say.  All to often we are quick to talk just to be heard.  I don't want you to hear me; I want you to hear God.

In my busyness of life (mama, teacher, robotics coach, academic team mentor, chauffeur, laundry doer, butler, maid, cook, custodian, counselor, nurse, psychiatrist, -----), I yearn for my quiet time. My time to be still and listen for His still small voice.  I yearn for my prayer time, my bible study time, my praise and worship time.

And He wants me to yearn for Him, to desire Him above all else.  And when I do, He can make me into the woman He wants me to be.

So, after reading this words......
turn the TV off
put the phone away
say goodnight to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat

be still
yearn for Him
feel His closeness
take Him in

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Where I Stand

Tonight at dinner, I got a very interesting phone call.  The caller identified himself and asked if I remembered him. I did, and then he proceeded to tell me the purpose of his call.  This young man had called on behalf of a local political party encouraging me to vote in the upcoming election and to vote for that specific party's candidate.

I was very proud of this 15 year old for being an active and responsible citizen, for doing what he felt was right.

We had a nice chat.  Well, I asked him some questions concerning the major topics at hand, since he was trying to persuade me.  He was prepared for some of those questions, but others he wasn't.  However, I had to admire him for "campaigning."

Are you curious as to where I stand on the issues at hand?

First and foremost, I am a Christian.  Before I identify as a republican or democrat, I AM A CHRISTIAN.  My desire is to have political representation of Christian values.  Isn't that after all what this country was founded upon?  I want leaders who will defend Christians and not allow God's Word to be thrown to the wayside.  God's Word is very clear on morals, ethics, and sin. I also know what the Bible says about forgiveness and judgement.  So when I look at the sins of the politicians, I have to keep those things in mind. Both of our presidential candidates are sinners (we can't say one more than the other). A sinner is a sinner.

Next, I am a military spouse.  I have a husband who has been to war. I want to know with utmost certainty that whoever is in our highest political positions will support our service members at all times.  Our service members make up a very small percentage of our American population.  However, without them......well, I don't even want to think about it. Until you live this military life, you can't not fathom the uncertainties, the unseen scars.  I have to determine which candidate I trust with my husband's life.

As a mother and educator, I am concerned about the educational system in our country.  When parents can not help their first graders with their math homework, then there is a problem.  I understand the importance of a good, solid education.  However, when businessmen and politicians make education and testing a moneymaker, then the wellbeing of our children is taken out of the equation.

A friend of mine just became a grandmother again.  Her grandson was born at 28 weeks gestation.  He is growing and doing very well for a premature baby.  Do you want to tell me and his parents and grandparents that aborting him would have been ok at 28 weeks because he wasn't really a baby yet????? Really????

What is wrong with having secure borders?  What is wrong with requiring voters to be US citizens? What is wrong with requiring those who want to live in our country to go through the legal process of doing so?  America is an amazing country, however, I don't understand how it can continue to be when others who are here illegally are allowed to have the same rights as those who obey the laws. My feelings about this are not racist. Wanting people to follow the law is not racist.

These are my feelings on some of the major topics at hand in America today.  With that being stated, let me also say this....

I am offended.

I am offended by BOTH presidential candidates.

I am offended by many Americans.

I am offended each and every time I turn on the television.

I am offended when my radio strays off WayFM.

I am offended by those who fuss about the lady in the welfare office being rude.

I am offended when people think I am a hypocritical, judgmental bigot/racist based on my beliefs.

I answer to God.  I will have to answer to Him when I vote in November.  I will have to answer to Him for all I have said and done.

So here is where I stand....I stand with Jesus.  I trust Him to lead me and guide me when I fill out my ballot in November.

Instead of calling the candidates bigots, racists, and lunatics, why not pray for them?  Why not ask God to touch their hearts?  Why not ask God to convict them, to turn away from their sins and put HIM first instead of their own agendas?

If we want American great, we have to allow God to take over.  We have to have leaders who love the Lord and are lead by the Lord.

I beg you....PRAY.  PRAY for God's Will to be done in America.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Mail

My favorite writing time of the week: time with my Five Minute Friday friends, both old and new.  We breathe deep as we read Kate's one word prompt. We exhale. Then, we write for five minutes flat.

Today's prompt: MAIL.

Mail. It's one of those things we get a love/hate relationship with.  I love mail from friends and family, learning how they are doing, seeing how their children are growing.  I love those birthday cards and Christmas cards.  But I loathe junk mail and bills.  I see bills as a means of survival. You know, doctor's bills are necessary, but the cost......eesh!

I've anticipated the mail many times. Most recently, I've anticipated the arrival of my Five Minute Friday book and sweatshirt (technically, the sweatshirt was mom's mail, but still).

The purpose of mail is to bring us word of something.

I'd like to look at God's Word as mail too.

Psalm 143:8 says, "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love."

And you know what?  I anticipate my time in God's Word each morning.  It brings me word of His love and the hope and peace only found in Him.  It's mail that I want to open and read each and every day.

Mail.  You might think that this is an unusual word to write about, but I encourage you to join the Five Minute Friday community. Head over to Kate's to find out what others have to say about mail.

Don't forget to leave some love when you visit someone's blog.  One of the reason's I love FMF is the encouragement of the community.