This past Monday my computer kept on turning off without my permission, so I finally gave up trying to get anything done on my computer and decided to set my mind to other things instead.
I found myself being quite the little house wife or at least that is what I would like to think.
I am working on finding ways to save money and one of those ways is buying dry beans and cooking them myself, rather then buying canned beans. So Monday I did my own beans, soaking them on a low heat all day. They turned out delicious and it was super rewarding and much easier than I thought it would be.
A friend had given us some really delicious apple pear cinnamon jam and after trying a little bit of it (which, by the way, was delicious), I knew exactly what I needed to make. English Scones. English Scones were the perfect compliment to this delicious homemade jam. I made a pot of tea and we enjoyed the tea, jam and scones for lunch along with pita pizzas.
When the beans had finished cooking, I made a small pot of vegetable soup and added some of my white kidney beans to it.
Sometimes I am intimidated to try something new, like cooking my own beans, but it is always so rewarding to have down it myself. And I have a feeling we can save a good amount of money this way, as well.
Happy new Years! What are your thoughts and reflections from 2019? Or what are your new years resolutions? Do you have a bucket list for this new year?
Brought winter, snow, and ice.
Lots of books to read,
Some old and some new.
Cherishing old memories, making new ones.
Brought more snow
And long days of work
And cozy days,
With pen, ink, paper, or book.
The snow kept falling.
Red barns in the country with friends
Or adventures in Still Water, MN.
Yarn to crochet, and a flower bouquet.
Giving thanks for little things,
Like Mugs of coffee and pretty sky.
The snow is starting to melt.
Coffee shops and books.
Green was starting to be seen.
Buds are finally in bloom.
Tyler graduated, my niece was born.
Reflecting on one year of marriage.
Lots of cuddles with my niece.
Waterfalls to explore.
More reflections and new adventures
That are to come.
Saying goodbye to our first apartment.
Traveling the roads
from MN to SC to GA to SC to NC.
Coffee shops, bookstores, family, and Chick-fil-A.
Biking or coasting the Virginia Creeper trail.
Exploring D.C. for fun.
Flying to Israel.
Walking the streets of Jerusalem for the first time.
Making a new home in a tiny apartment.
Exploring this country.
Writing and reading a ton.
Experiencing a new culture.
Visiting once more with dear friends.
Touring old ruins, walking through dark tunnels.
Cooking different foods.
Exploring musty old bookstores.
Making new friends.
Walking through the Old City.
New memories being made.
Visiting Masada and seeing more ruins.
Walking barefoot in the sand
Along the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv.
Writing, baking, cooking, having fun.
Merry Christmas from Israel!
It's rather strange to be writing that. It's rather more strange to be celebrating Christmas so close to where the Messiah was born.
This year doesn't feel so Christmasy. I have no Christmas decorations even though I kept telling myself all month that I was going to put up something. But in the end I did't. Call me lazy or call me cheap. I'ts probably a little bit of both.
However, even though I have not decked my house with boughs of holly or anything else for that matter, it is still Christmas. It may not feel like Christmas in the way we usually think of it. There isn't a Christmas tree. There are no gifts. It feels almost like another day around here.
Yet it is Christmas and Christmas isn't all about the tree or the decorations or the gifts all wrapped up. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, who came to earth as a humble baby, lived on earth a humble life, died a horrible death, and rose victorious, so you and I might have everlasting life. Christmas isn't about the Christmasy things we do or have, Christmas is about Christ.
We will still have fun this year. We will still eat yummy food and drink cozy drinks. We will have friends to spend the evening with even if not with our family. We will celebrate. But we will also remember Jesus' birth, only a few miles away from where we live.
We are each other's gift. And Christ is the greatest gift of all.
14 years ago today, my brother, Micah, at 15 years old went home to be with Jesus. I have often written a poem in memory of him each year on this day, but this year I have written something a little different. This is one of the rawest posts I have ever written, but I hope it makes a difference in your life. It is a little longer then my usual posts, but it is from my heart.
For the first 8 years of my life I lived childhood bliss. Life was pretty "normal". As normal as a big homeschooling family can be. I had 7 siblings at the time. I was the oldest girl after four boys and and I had three sisters younger than I. My brothers delighted in teasing me and I eventually learned how to handle it for the most part, but not after lots of tears and running to mamma for comfort. Other than having mean brothers that I still some how adored and followed around even to the point of almost getting lost, life was pretty normal.
We lived on five acres of land, but in an unofficial way we owned all the property around it, too. Life consisted of school in the morning and exploring the woods in the afternoon. We played make-belief and lived in unrealistic worlds of our own imagination. We listened to Elisabeth Elliot and Adventures and Odyssey on the radio, built forts in the woods, made tree swings, and road bikes. And that is just a very small peak into my life at 8.
But life took a turn for the worse on a briskly cool Thanksgiving morning when our mom had sent us out to play while she worked on getting a Thanksgiving meal ready. That was the day that thanksgiving didn’t feel much like a Thanksgiving. My brother, Micah, fell out of a tree that day and hurt himself really bad. My parents had to take him to the hospital and it turned out that a broken femur, torn spleen, hole in his lungs, and fractured vertebrae weren’t the only problems. That’s when my family found out that he had Leukemia, too. And that was just the beginning of a very not normal life. I was 8 and scared and sad and confused.
There are lots of suffering families around the world, lots of broken homes, lots of deaths, either parents or siblings. I know my family is not the only one who was facing an unusual life and deep suffering. But what is it like to have a completely normal and carefree life that is all the sudden thrown into havoc? What’s it like to have parents who are rarely around not because they don’t love each other or you, not because they work too much, not because they don’t exist, but because your own brother is in the hospital more days than not? What’s it like to have brothers babysitting you even though they really don’t want to? Or going to another homeschooling family's home to do school with their kids? What’s it like to watch your brother loose all of his hair and what’s it like to watch him grow weaker and weaker, unable to move around like he wants did? What’s it like to watch your brother slowly fade away? What’s it like to go to the hospital on a cold winter day and stare down at death in the image of your very own brother who once had been very much alive?
Or what is it like to feel the guilt of realizing you could have loved him better but didn’t because you always thought there would be a tomorrow, but then one day there wasn’t? What is it like to have your friends look at you and not know what to say because you are now different then they and they can’t understand what you have just walked through? What’s it like to listen to all those kind attempts from others as they try their best to say something comforting? You want them to know that you appreciate their kindness, but also saying “sorry for your loss” is simply an understatement. I didn’t just lose my favorite stuffed animal or doll. I didn’t just lose my favorite toy. I lost a human. I lost a part of me and that is not supposed to be normal, not at 12 years old.
And what’s it like trying to make life go back to “normal” when you know that “normal” will never exist again? That life ended four years ago. You create a new normal, but it’s still different. My parents are now home more often, but only in body and not in soul. But I know its a million times worse for them then it is for me. I lost my brother, but they lost their son.
Slowly, slowly I learn to readjust. But life doesn’t pick up where I left off at 8. At the age of twelve I was basically an adult. I knew more about suffering than most of the twelve year old girls in my homeschooling circle and I don’t know what they really thought of me, but I am pretty sure they knew I was different from them now. And I would always be different now. My new normal was now living every day with the realization that my brother was gone forever in this life. And thinking more about heaven then the average girl. How many of you go around thinking about heaven? If you do it’s probably because you have someone you love waiting there for you, too.
But I don’t look back on my life and think how terribly sad and miserable it was or is. I won’t lie either and say that there wasn’t any of that. No, my life has a lot of painful and sad bumps in the road. But I had a lot of good things, too. In those days of never ceasing hospital visits, I looked forward to the days that I got to go to the hospital with my mom and brother. And the days that we had to spend homeschooling at another family's home was actually a lot of fun. We had some pretty special people in our life who were willing to take a lot of extra children under their wings. They not only homeschooled their few or numerous number of children, but they also added several more kids to the group. I can look back and marvel at the church of God and how they supported my family. So many meals were delivered to us and so many anonymous gifts given, gifts that to this day remain a mystery. How many people in our church, but also all over the world surrounded our family with prayers and fasting. No, this life wasn’t normal, but it was special. It is not normal as a little girl to see first hand the body of Christ surround your own family in such a very real way.
And just because my brother died didn’t mean that life had to stop. I kept on living and I kept learning how to laugh again. And I was the little girl who could tell my friend that it's ok to talk about my brother because we loved him and we like to talk about him. I was the little girl who was learning at 12 that this world isn’t all there is to live for and that heaven really was a better place for Micah to be. I was the little girl who learned that his suffering had ended and he was safely home and he wouldn’t have to ever face suffering and pain again. I was the little girl that knew that it would be wrong to wish him back down on this earth again. No, life wasn’t normal anymore, but life could still be good.
I am the adult who finds it almost impossible to imagine what a normal childhood life is supposed to look like. I am the adult who is ok with a quiet peaceful life because the only excitement that I am familiar with, I would wish upon no one. I am the woman who reads a novel and then says, “Real life isn’t like that. Real life isn’t that easy or simple.” But I forget that real life for me really wasn’t that easy or simple. Or maybe the book does hold a mixture of excitement, but it is the kind of excitement that seems so unrealistic, so unreal. I am the woman who wonders where the books are that tell of a childhood that really does exist, but that everyone is afraid to speak of. There are lots of books with a broken home, but how many people know the broken home that I knew. It's not broken because of a divorce, it’s broken because there is a missing puzzle piece and it will never be found and it will never be replaced.
I am the the young woman who longs for children of my own. But at the same time I am faced with a very real reality that at any moment that child could be ripped out of my arms again. I still want it, but I also dread it.
I do not write this that you may take pity on me.
I write this because I need to tell some of you it is going to be ok even though right now it feels like it will not. I write so others will know there is hope and the greatest hope you can cling to is Jesus Christ himself. And I need to tell some of you it won’t all make sense at the time, it may never make sense on this earth, but God really is real and he really does have you in the palm of his hands and he really does care. I write so some will see that they really can laugh again some day, maybe not right now and maybe not soon, but it is possible. I write to tell some that life really can go on, though life will never be normal again.
But for some I write so you can know even just a little better what some have had to face. Maybe it's your best friend or maybe its someone you hardly know, but just met, or maybe it is someone in your church. I write so I can tell you real life is not always normal and real life isn’t always a fairy tale. I write to tell you that some of the biggest heroes in your life are those who are laughing, though they have walked through fire and they're still alive to live another day. I write to tell some of you your day may not have come yet, but when it does come, cling to hope. Life will never be normal again, but you will have joined the many who have survived and who can still rejoice.
I’m here to say that life isn’t always normal, but it is beautiful!
I have shared several photos of my most recent adventures to Masada on my old blog because it is easier to post pictures there. So if you want to check them out go visit my Graced with Grace blog, here. I will probably continue to share photos on my other blog, but I also share photos on my Instagram which you are welcome to follow (link on side bar). And don't worry, I am going to keep writing on this blog, while posting most of my pictures on the other one.
I have been thinking a lot lately about why it seems that some people (maybe the younger generation more specifically) don't really appreciate or enjoy classics and would much rather turn to the most recently published books.
Maybe part of it is an acquired taste. I grew up reading classics, so I learned to appreciate it at a young age. Maybe if you are not taught to read and appreciate it at a young age it is hard to appreciate and enjoy it as you get older. My degree is also in History of Ideas which is basically the study of Literature and philosophy, so college obviously taught me how to love classics and older literature even more. I definitely did not love everything I read, but I did learn to appreciate it for the beauty that it was whether I agreed with and enjoyed it or not.
However, one thing that I think I have noticed in the younger generation who dislikes classics is that they cannot stand all the descriptions. They find it tedious and boring and would much prefer reading a book of fun dialogue or action. And I agree that sometimes the description in classics can be really lengthy. I wonder sometimes why the author has to go into so much detail about something. Is it really necessary? Could they have written just as good a book without all that description?
It struck me the other day (while sitting in my Historical Geography class) why it was so important and necessary for writers of long ago to write with detailed description of places and events. Maybe this doesn't exactly argue for why writers need to do it still today, but maybe it will at least help readers and writers to appreciate it.
I was sitting in class thinking about all these really ancient documents that have been preserved and found and were used by explorers to discover and uncover ancient sites of historical events. These documents have such specific descriptions of places and the story behind that place that allows the explorer to rediscover almost exactly where an historical event took place.
Before the camera was invented, the primary way for an event and the place of that event to be documented and preserved was through words. The writer had to be able to describe something accurately if they were going to have something preserved throughout history. Some of these descriptions are not necessarily colorful and magical in word, but it is clear and specific.
In many classics there may be a lot of description, but in those days that was the best form of picture, describing something with words. Today's generation has the camera at our fingertips. We can pick up our phone and snap a picture of something or take a video. We preserve memories through our lens. But maybe taking the time to take a picture with our words is an art that is slowly being lost in today's generation.
I am not necessarily writing this post as an argument that readers and writers should read and write more description. If that isn't for you then that's ok. We do have the gift of photography these days and that is a beautiful thing. However, I do believe there is a lot to appreciate and respect for those who did take the time to write a thorough description of a place or an event, allowing us to rediscover places of historical events that would otherwise be lost forever.
I would love to hear your own thoughts about this. Do you read classics and if so why or why not? Do you enjoy reading long descriptive paragraphs? Do you try to put a lot of description in your own writing? Why or why not? Comment with your own thoughts.
It is already December 2, which means we have been here in Israel for almost 4 months already. Tyler said that is about 1/6th of our time here. ;)
This past month I started attending a class with Tyler. Its a Historical Geography class and we get to go around and visit various historical sites and museums. We really wanted to do this class together, so I would be able to tour some of Israel with Tyler, but were not sure financially if it was going to be possible. We prayed, however, that if God really wanted me to take the class then he would make it abundantly clear by providing the finances. Then someone payed for me to take the class and we knew that was God's answer.
I have been reading a lot, writing a lot, making new friends, baking, and cooking.
I have been slowly working my way through the second draft of my first WIP. Sometimes I take out whole sections, sometimes change whole sections, sometimes just brush it up a bit, and sometimes move past it altogether to come back to later. When I get frustrated with my own writing then I just read a book instead, hoping it may give me some inspiration on how to write better.
Even though Thanksgiving is considered an American holiday, we were still able to celebrate it here in Israel and not just with our American friends. It turned out to be a super special night with friends even though we are far away from family.
Pumpkin is not so very easy to get a hold of here in Israel, but it helps to know people who know places. So a friend pointed me to a place where I can get canned pureed pumpkin and my heart was made happy yesterday after baking a delicious loaf of pumpkin bread. Tyler was happy about it, too.
The days are definitely starting to get chillier around here, calling for a mug of hot cocoa and cozy blankets with a cheesy Hallmark movie playing. Why I keep watching the Hallmark Christmas movies I don't know. But even worse, I have also managed to get Tyler to watch a few with me even though he does sometimes groan all the way through. The fact is, there really isn't a lot of Christmasy feel here in Israel, so watching Christmas Hallmark movies helps makeup for the lack of Christmas around us.
What is your favorite part of this season? What was your favorite part of November? What is your favorite fall/holiday food?
I sometimes find book reviews more frustrating or annoying than helpful.
I used to not even be one to read the synopsis of a book on the back cover. If I wanted to read a book, I would read the book from front to back and did not care for any pre-spoilers. The author, the name of the book, and the cover were enough for me to know whether or not I wanted to read the book and if I wanted to read the book then who cares what other's opinions of the book is or what the synopsis says. I don't want spoilers and synopsis' always tended to say to much in my opinion.
When I was younger we used to get a Christian book magazine in the mail occasionally and the books would always have a tiny little blurb. I would go through the magazine, and since I knew I couldn't buy all the books, I would just read the blurb. I became convinced after reading enough of the blurbs that all Christian historical fiction had a similar story line and ending, but that is beside the point. I decided I no longer needed to read the book after I had read the blurb because I now knew basically what was going to happen.
Reviews often times aggravate me in a different way then the synopsis.
Sometimes a review can be genuinely helpful. In which case it should tell me if the book is well written or not, or if the content is appropriate or if it is PG13 and why. Book reviews do have the ability to give me helpful information in deciding whether or not I want to read the book for myself. However, I am often more frustrated then helped and this is why.
Some book reviews are just full of hatred and venting. Beside the fact that the reviewer probably did not read the book in the way that the author intended the book to be read in the first place, they go on and on about how much they hated the book and also possibly the author. It is ok to dislike a book or disagree with the message the author is giving, but there is a polite way to say it and there is an impolite way to say it. Moreover, if you are really truly disturbed by a book, most likely no one is forcing you to finish it, so put it down and find a book you will truly enjoy and can speak positively about. Life is too short to be reading books you absolutely hate.
Some book reviews are full of spoilers. Some reviewers find it necessary to give an essay length synopsis of a book and by the time I reach the end of the review, I feel like I have no interest in reading the book myself. Unless the express purpose of the review is for allowing the audience to know what the book is about without having to read it their self then I would recommend not giving away all the details of the book.
Sometimes reviews give irrelevant information. The reviewer states they disliked this or that about the book even though the problem they address really is completely irrelevant. It's as if the reviewer believes they could have written that book better than the author, so they decide the author shouldn't have written this or should I have said this instead. The author can choose to write the book however she/he chooses to write it. We, as a reader, do not get to choose how the author decides to write the story.
Lastly, sometimes book reviews are just depressing. I have read book reviews of books I have already read and know I love just for the fun of reading others opinions. But to my great horror, I discover not everyone loves the book. Lets take, for example, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, one of my favorite authors and favorite classics and one that almost everyone knows. I love the book and I love the talent that the author portrays in writing that book. I can try to understand if someone finds the book a bit slow or boring or just not their genre, but when the reviewer can't even acknowledge the author's talent and, in fact, shoots down all classics, that is just depressing. Classics may not be your favorite genre, Pride and Prejudice may not be your favorite book, but there is a reason why certain books are still being read today an why they are called classics. You may not prefer the style or the content, but there should at least be an acknowledgement of that persons gift and talent.
I realize that my opinion of book reviews (or synopsis) may not be a popular opinion. Maybe I am even missing the whole point of a book review. What are your thoughts on book reviews? Do you like to read them before reading a book or do you find them unhelpful? What kind of review do you find helpful and what are the things that drive you crazy? I would love to hear other's thoughts. Do you know of a website or blog that does helpfully informative book reviews? If so, please share with me.
Back in the day when I was young and single and still in college I used to go to coffee shops a lot to study, read, write, or just spend time with a friend.
Ok, I confess, I made myself sound really old with that opening sentence. In all honesty that season of my life is really not that far past.
Since moving to Israel we have had to be much more careful about how we spend our money, so sitting in a coffee shop is not an option on a regular basis.
However, I was realizing the other day, just how much I miss spending time in a coffee shop. At first I thought cutting that out of my life was just cutting away a frivolous and bad habit and figured that would be the hardest part about not going. Bad habits are hard to quit.
But now that it has been a few months, I realize I still miss coffee shops. And not because it was a bad habit, though maybe it was that too, but because I really enjoyed coffee shops and miss spending time there.
I miss the atmosphere of a cozy coffee shop; others around me studying studiously, working, or catching up with a friend; the feeling of being around others, but not the need to talk with them.
I miss buying a latte or other drink not made by myself; sipping quietly on a hot drink with beautiful art displayed; my fingers warmed by the mug.
I miss catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee; or running into a friend at the local coffee shop that all your friends are likely to go to.
I miss being greeted by a barista who knows me and we chat a little bit about life.
I have heard some people say they can't concentrate in a coffee shop because there is too much going on; too much to distract them. Maybe its because I grew up in a big family that makes noise less of a distraction to me. But I think I find that sometimes being by myself in quiet is almost more distracting then being around the noise of others.
Its almost as if a coffee shop motivates me to actually buckle down and get something done, while being by myself gives me the opportunity to watch another western show.
Do you like coffee shops? Do you like them as a place to go and study, read, or write? Or do you see a coffee shop as a place to catch up with a friend over a hot drink?
So many years have slipped away
Since last I beheld your face,
Since last I heard your laugh,
Since last I laughed at your outrageous joke.
So many years have slipped by
Since last I heard your songs of praise to God
And listened to you strum your guitar.
Although sometimes I play an audio
Of your song
And I cry all over again;
Fresh tears of sadness
Because I miss that voice so much.
So many years have come and gone
And so many tears, too,
And so many things have taken place.
Every time something exciting happens in my life
I always think how much I wish
I could tell you all about it.
But I have lived now
More of my life without you
Than with you
And that makes me kind of sad
Even though I know
It is the way it was meant to be.
I was listening to a song today
And it was written by a girl
Who was grieving the loss of her brother,
And of course it made me think of you.
I was that girl, too, grieving the loss of her brother
And I am still that girl and I still grieve.
Grieving looks different now
And I don't usually just sit down to have a cry
Or else I cry of other things instead,
But my heart will always miss you.
When I take the time to stop and think
Then my heart aches
Because there will always be something missing
And that something is you.
You will always be missed
Deep down in my heart,
And yet I know that I will be ok
And it's ok to miss you now
Because someday we will be
Together once again;
Not here, but there.