29 November 2013

Finding Your Hearts Desire by R.T. Kendall

Do you ever feel ambitious about a goal in life - you know, really ambitious? Do you sometimes wonder why you were made to seek seemingly so much more than others around you (or, at least, it feels that way)? Then you feel guilty about not being satisfied with what you do and what you have - so you wonder whether your ambition is a curse or a gift from God?

If you're me, then the answer is yes. Perhaps you are like me too . .. if so, then read on.

I wonder those things, so that's why I chose to read Finding Your Hearts Desire by R.T. Kendall. Using Biblical insights, Kendall explores why ambition is not a curse, but can be a gift from God. Kendall sums it up best this way: "that we [should] truly become ambitious to seek after the glory that comes from God alone and not from people." The motivation behind the ambition is the thing.  Kendall explains that ambition can bad, if we have the wrong motives, for example if we are motivated by greed, or glory of man, or selfish desires. On the flip side though, if we are motivated by expanding God's Kingdom, bringing glory to God and working for His desires, then ambition is a very Godly, and indeed, God-given trait.

If you are an ambitious person (like I am), then I highly recommend this book. I love how Kendall backed up everything he wrote with numerous quotes and character examples from Scripture and then went on to explain the theology behind what he was saying. As Kendall wrote, "the thesis of this book is that we should channel our ambition into one direction: seeking the glory of God and, with that, if possible, getting all of Him we possibly can."  Kendall's book was certainly thought provoking and I really enjoyed reading it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Chosen Books Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 November 2013

Where have I been?? NaNoWriMo!

Well, that's a good question. And I have a good answer for you. :)

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo this month! NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and their website can be found here. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to encourage novelists, whether they are new or been-there-published-that, to start a new novel and write 50,000 words, at least, in the month of November.

So I decided to do this. I'm not really sure what motivated me and I didn't join until a few days into the month. So I missed all of the October training and all that, but that's okay, because . ..

 . .. that's right, I am an official NaNoWriMo winner!!

Basically this means that I have written 50K words and validated them on their website. In case you don't know what 50,000 words looks like, because I had no idea when I started this what that would look like, 50,000 words is about 65 single spaced, typed pages in regular font. (I still can't believe I wrote all that).

How did I do it? Well, I broke up the word goal into many, smaller word goals and I just wrote when I got a chance. I have to say that when I first told Mike about it, he immediately encouraged me from the very beginning and never doubted that I could make it to 50K. I think that if he had doubted, even the tiniest bit, I might not have gotten there. So anyway, my first goal was 2500 words, then 3000 and so on and I set time limits for them. I also worked out about how many words I needed to write in one day to meet the goal, which was about 2500 a day. Some days I wrote a lot more, others not at all.

I did not write every day and I did not spend my weekends writing away (except this past weekend when I was at 37,500 and really wanted to get to 50,000 and I stayed upstairs in my bedroom and wrote the whole morning (I got to 49,000 that night) and then at nap time and after the kids went to bed. Actually, the previous weekend I didn't get one word written because Flower was a very sick two year old and I spent the weekend holding her and catching vomit. Fun times. Anyway, basically I made sure I had my priorities straight (mostly) from the very beginning.

That meant, that if there were dirty dishes in the sink at the end of the day, I didn't write until they were done (talk about motivation though!!). If the kids were awake and Mike was at work, I didn't write. If there was laundry to be sorted and folded, I didn't write (mostly). I think I mostly followed this fairly well. Also, if Mike wanted to hang out when he wasn't studying, I didn't write, I hung out with Mike. Bottom line, I tried really hard not to put the novel in front of my family. You can ask them how well I did, or did not, do this.

So when did I find the time to write in my busy schedule? You know, between those average of three appointments a week (this week we have four) and taking Butterfly to school and doing all my normal activities? Well, I'll tell you. First, I spent a heck of a lot less time on Facebook (there's a lesson for everyone there I tell you), I also only read one book this month - so I cut back on books that I read to review and books I read for pleasure, I didn't blog (obviously), and I tried to make the best use of my time. I carried a notebook in my purse and when I was at therapy or anywhere else for that matter, and an idea came to me for the novel, I started writing. I also stayed up late a few nights because I had some really great thoughts flowing and didn't want to miss them.

I will tell you that I constantly had interruptions. Except for when Mike was home (although even then) I don't think I could write for more than ten or fifteen minutes without an interruption of some kind: kids, cat, phone calls, door bell, laundry timer, kisses from husband, text messages, you name it. I was interrupted seemingly all the time. I did try to not let this bother me though. :)

One more thing, because I know this has been super long. :) If I can do, you can do it! If you want to write a book, you can do it. :) Even if you have three kids ages 2,3 and 4 and have a ton of stuff going on and are super busy, if you want to then you can do it. For me, this has been more fun than anything and I have really looked forward to all my times of getting to sit down and work on my novel. Lord willing, I'll see it published next year. Be watching for "Made"!

05 November 2013

A Family First - Halloween Edition

Last week was Halloween and this year our family decided to dress up and celebrate Halloween. Never before have we dressed up or gone trick or treating or done anything to celebrate Halloween. I actually haven't dressed up for Halloween since I was 18, and that was really the only time I dressed up.

It was more or less a success. Butterfly and Little Man really enjoyed dressing up and going out for trick or treating. It took them a few houses to understand the whole concept; it was actually a little bit cute that they didn't know what to do. We didn't stay out for very long at all; it was freezing, especially the wind, so 15 or 20 minutes was all I was willing to do. Flower did not participate. She was super tired and was one very cranky two year old. So she had an early bath and an early bedtime, courtesy of Daddy.

Butterfly went as Merida from Brave, Little Man was a train engineer and Flower was supposed to go as an owl.

Butterfly also had a Literacy Day Parade at the CDC and I was able to make it to that after Mike's work Oktoberfest and I thought I was going to die of cuteness! All the kids were dressed up and then went through the hallways in pairs, holding hands. Butterfly was just beaming! The CDC is doing to do this again at Thanksgiving and Christmas; I'm pretty excited about that. 

Mike's work had an Oktoberfest that everyone dressed up for and that was pretty fun. I didn't have time to get a costume until after the work party, so I went as a "worker" (as opposed to being a SAHM, ha ha ha). Mike went as a biker and man, he was very good looking, if I do say so myself. :) After I got my costume, I ended up going as a pirate. It was pretty fun.

I think this might be a family tradition that we do something together each year. We were going to go to Bootastic on the base, but I forgot about all it until a friend asked me what we were doing for Halloween the next day and I answered that we were going to go to Bootastic and she said it was the night before. Oops! I guess next year.

I'll close for now with a few pictures: (not all were from Halloween, as Flower refused to put on her owl costume).

02 November 2013

Peace on Earth by Mary Engelbreit

Mary Engelbreit's Peace on Earth is an enchanting and lovely collection of Christmas stories, songs and Mary's beautiful, magical artwork. Mary's art so timelessly captures the spirit of the season in this picture book, from the Nativity scene done in various renditions (love the children's re-enactment!) to the Three Wise Kings journeying from afar to the small ways that families celebrate the birth of Christ and the Christmas season. My children really loved looking at this book and exclaiming over the pictures and pointing out their favorite part of each one. I think this book will become a beloved Christmas tradition to read and reread each year in our house.

I loved this book as well. Mary Engelbreit's artwork stirs a warm and familiar feeling from deep within me; her art work betrays love, hope and joy and all the good things that this world has to offer. Her art moves me to a time of innocence and curiosity in the world and the magic of family and the Christmas season. I would recommend this book for anyone and everyone who celebrates the Christmas season; it is sure to become a family favorite with everyone.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”