Monday, September 1, 2014

End of Summer Lessons Learned

This past week we took off as a family to enjoy the end of summer. We started off the week helping hubby at the MiTi, a triathlon race he puts on:

Lesson Learned:

The sun still burns. You don't outgrow this, no matter how often you think you have. So when spending 10 AM - 4 PM outside in the blazing sun, wear sunscreen. Every time. Or yes, you will look like a lobster by that evening.

Next we went to Cedar Point where I learned lots of new lessons:

1) When your hubby finds a hole in the fence, don't follow him through. I've now had my first ride in the back of a cop car...with all my children AND one of their friends. Yes. We are the responsible group.

2) Though mentally I'm still an adrenaline junkie, physically I'm older than I realize. If over 35, buy stock in Dramamine and Advil before you go.

3) When a coaster gets stuck with you on it and after a loooong period of time they roll you back and say they're "re-launching" you, pray. And hold on tight.

Our "selfie" after we'd been sitting in this position for 15 minutes.

Then we celebrated my Hubby's 40th. That along with our homeschooling year beginning tomorrow and the recent passing of my father-in-law has taught me this:

1) Life goes SO fast. This is our 9th year homeschooling. When we started this venture, they all looked like this:

and now they look like this:

And yes, that's one high schooler and one junior higher in the mix now. Which means, yes, Chemistry and Algebra all over again. Can you feel my uncontrollable excitement dripping through this computer? But...

2) I truly CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And...

3) He IS all we need. Even still, He's blessed us with some pretty beautiful relationships around us. We need to enjoy every single second with them. Because time is constantly moving.

So for all of you who are bidding good-bye to summer and for those of you who already have, I'll be praying this fall is a wonderful one for you! And that it's full of a few more lessons and certainly a lot of laughs.

Oh. And salted caramel mochas. Because life is just sweeter with them:)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson

I'm finishing up my summer reading and this book has been on my to-be-read pile for a little while. After a recommendation from a friend, I bumped it up. So glad I did! Here's a blurb, and we'll chat on the other side:)

A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past.

Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

I truly loved this book. There was just enough mystery--not the suspenseful type--to pull me in immediately from the first chapters. The two stories start at opposite ends and work toward each other in a well-paced story line that slowly unveils what happened in this Chateau during the War. Both Chloe and Gisele are strong women who refuse to give up despite what circumstances they may encounter.

While at first the chapter changes (from third person with Gisele's chapters to a first person with Chloe's chapters) jarred me, the story kept me tugged in tight and soon I easily slipped into the point-of-view changes. As for romance, it was more of a backdrop to this story and yet still present enough for this romantic heart. The mystery of each character, some you see in present day and also in their past, was the heart of this story, and Melanie revealed a little more of their lives with each new chapter. I enjoyed this pace which left me invested rather than frustrated with the story.

If Chateau of Secrets is on your TBR pile, nudge it up. If it's not, you can purchase it here. And if you want to learn more about Melanie and her books, head on over to her website. The link is below. Have a great weekend!

The author of thirteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Chateau of Secrets and The Courier of Caswell Hall. More info at

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Reminds me of 2 Corinthians 3:18,
We Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.

Just like the mirror in my bathroom, sometimes my reflection gets some splats and smears on it. Which is why I need Him to work in me. I don't want a dull reflection, but one that glows with Him. And some days I need more work than others:)

Praying our reflections get buffed up today!

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's a Race Not a Sprint

freedigitalphotos: mapichai
Thanks to my husband I've gotten to be a part of the racing world for the past several years. Yesterday, in fact, I volunteered at one of the races he helps put on. Let's be clear though, while he's done everything from a 5K to an Ironman, my role caps out at handing out the medals and cheering.

Yet I'm running my own race, and so are you. It's a thought that's been on my mind all week as I scrambled to finish a never-ending to-do list, meet my family's needs, prepare for our new homeschool year, and simply keep up with things I'd said "yes" to or simple daily tasks. Suddenly I felt as if I was running at an impossible speed and about to burn out when God reminded me of these words from Hebrew 12:

...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...

Emphasis on the word run, not sprint. And that's what slowed this runner enough to mull over all the words there.

See, we can start to sprint, can't we? Racing from one thing to another to another until we're nearly running circles. But if you've ever seen a race, the runners pace themselves. Sometimes they even walk for a bit--especially in longer races--and that's because a body cannot maintain that all out pace for long periods of time.

And when we start to sprint we can miss the markers on the path we're on. Oh, do we need those markers! Without them we can miss our calling, miss those moments God can use us, or even take on so many extra miles that it wears us out.

So pace yourself. Stay on the marked path. Walk sometimes, it's okay. It's a run, not a sprint, to the finish line God has for us and he doesn't want anyone to miss one thing along the way.

Have you found yourself in a crazy sprint lately? What things can you give up so that you can slow down some?

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Beauty in Cancer

Cancer is ugly. It's cruel and doesn't play favorites. And last week it took my father-in-law. Yet in the midst of all that our family is going through, I refuse to let something so ugly get the last word. So I'm looking to the beauty in it.

Like how we held each other a little closer since Dad's diagnosis. They say time flies, and it does, but the reminder that life is so precious slowed down the speed of our days. In those moments that we'd normally tear through, I'd sit back and simply watch Dad. Truly see him. His laughter and joy from being in the middle of friends and family. His truly awful one-liners that made everyone groan while his smile grew. The way he'd position everything exactly where it belonged or scrub something until it shined--because it made him happy to take care of items he considered a blessing...and ok, he had a wee bit of OCD in him:)

I created snapshots not only on my camera but in my mind of him playing full-out with the grandkids; they were his joy. I got to tease him over who took more mashed potatoes from Mom's roast. I sat and chatted rather than rushing past, and didn't simply chat but made sure to listen. Best of all I to got to hug him tighter and say "I love you" all those times I may have simply slid out the door with no more than a "see you later".

Cancer allowed me to savor each moment with Dad rather than hurrying past, forgetting how each day we wake up is a blessed gift with those we love. Time became precious and rather than living with a disease, Dad simply lived. And he lived to the fullest. By extension, so did those of us around him.

I have been blessed to call him my father. Blessed by the man he raised who'd become my husband. Blessed by the relationship he had with Mom that gave us a beautiful picture of marriage and friendship. Blessed by the way he loved my kids. Blessed by his love of Jesus that may have taken a few dents but never wavered.

Time does fly, and oh, how I wish we had more of those precious moments here on earth, but we will see Dad again. Of that we are sure. And while cancer may think it won, it didn't. It took too much from us, but it also gave us this strange little gift of slowing down our moments together and making them count for so much more than we ever knew they could. And that's beautiful.

Exactly as Dad's life was. We'll miss you, Dad:) All our love.

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quotable Wednesday

Dance. Rejoice. In affliction. In blessing. Our delight is in Him.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Don't Want to be Normal.

Normal says that in the face of adversity we aren't joyful.

Normal says to be beautiful we must be a certain weight--and have no wrinkles.

Normal says our worth is measured in "likes" and "follows".

Normal says our identity is found in our abilities and successes.

Normal says our acceptance is found in the crowd around us.

But I don't want normal. I want God.

God says we can be joyful in all things, because joy in the midst of our sorrows produces in us that which normal circumstances cannot. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

God says we are beautiful. No qualifications. You are all together beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7

God says our worth is measured in him and through the price he paid for us, simply because of his great love. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

God says our identity is found solely in him. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9-10

God says our acceptance is found in him, and he doesn't play favorites. Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who [reverently] fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:34-35

This life is full of what the world deems as normal, but at the end of the day their "normal" leaves us feeling insecure, anxious, and even unsure of ourselves. Sometimes even hopeless. But when we take our eyes off of this world and focus on God and the Truths he says about us, that one action ushers in stability, security, and bucket-loads of peace.

No. It's not easy to do. Situations can overwhelm at times like a breath-stealing tidal wave, but we can learn to do it. And God never, never, never fails to meet us when our obedience steps us toward him.

Today I challenge you to take one "normal" that you have around you (it could very well be one I didn't mention) and replace it with God. I'll even share the one I'm working on: my worth. I've come a looooooong way on this one, but in today's world of social media (coupled with working on becoming an author) finding my worth can shift into the wrong place. So I'm reminding myself daily of where my worth comes from and even putting myself on a limit of how often I can be on social media. Because at the end of the day, I want God's voice and truth to be the voice I listen to.

I don't want to be normal:)

What "normal" will you be working on?