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  • Abraham Lincoln on Criticism

    "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
  • Consider the Cost

    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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  • Charles Spurgeon

    "Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence."
  • Progress through Perseverance

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
  • Psalm 7:10-17

    God will uncase the hypocrites ere long, and make them know, to their sorrow, what is was to trifle with Him." - Richard Baxter
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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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New Blog Address Soon!

Blogelina.com has offered a Mother’s Day Promo to raise money for cure.com and is going to be moving this site over to it’s own self hosted site some time in the near future. I’ll keep you updated!

If you are interested in blogging, go to blogelina.com and check out her $1 deal to get your blog up and running. She has done two of mine in the past: Adark Holsters and Love My DIY Home.

I highly recommend her – let her do the tough job and you stick to writing amazing blog posts!

#1000MomBlogMakeovers

Ladies, YOU need to hear this… Listen up!

Hey ladies, my valuable, worthy ladies who love God and put yourself out there every day for others. Yes, I mean you.

Melody2 by Jesse Therrien from freeimages freesxc

I have something to tell you, something you NEED to hear. I’ve gotten so many letters, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, and frustrated, “I need to talk to you,” face to face encounters that I have to address this. Urgh.

There is something you may not know and I’m going to tell you right now.

So listen up.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You are who you are because God made you that way. That makes you special… special to God… special to me.

Yes, I mean you.

I see you day to day putting yourself aside and working for others, dropping by a vase of flowers for a sick older lady, changing diapers in the church nursery, going out to work to help support the family, caring your grandchildren, sacrificing for your children, washing dishes after a fellowship in your church, raising an adopted child by yourself, taking your kids to sports practice, blogging tutorials for strangers on how to save a dime, tutoring the student who just doesn’t get it, caring for a sick husband, encouraging others to keep going…

You do so much for others that I couldn’t possibly list it all. And yet, you are discouraged, feeling unloved and disrespected.

To quote a phrase in the Bible, because it is so simple yet profound, “These things ought not so to be.”

It makes me angry (yes, I can be angry and sin not) to see the women around me live discouraged, defeated lives because of how they are regarded by those around them.

It ends now.

Every woman who belongs to Christ (if you’re not sure, go here) must claim their position in Him, realize their value, and act like it!

No more questioning. No more letting people walk all over you. No more wondering if you can be used.

NO MORE!

You are not alone.

When you met Christ, you not only were forgiven, but you became brand new. You became His child, valuable and complete.

Did you hear that? You are complete in Him. He VALUED you enough to hang on that cross – FOR YOU.

So how is it that we wonder if we are enough? How is it that we question our value?

Um, no.

Right now you are going to realize you are valuable, complete in Him and to be regarded as such. No more are you going to accept the notion that you are not as good or capable or usable as that woman you think is better than you (or that woman that thinks she is better than you and lets you know it).

If someone tries to make you feel small, you just stand tall and tell yourself, “I am a daughter of the Most High God, I am valued, I am complete in Him.” Notice I said, “tries.” No one can put you in your place but God, and if you belong to Him, you are already placed in His hand and He is in your heart.

Repeat after me, “I got this.”

Photo by Stephen Davies freeimages

I don’t mean, “I got this,” as in “I’m perfect,” I mean, “I got this, I’m complete, I’m valued by God, I don’t need your approval, I don’t need you to put me in my place. I’m good where I’m at, in my God’s hand, loved and valued.”

Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop trying to compete. Just be whom God made you. Accept who you are. Realize your value. Stand up and say, “I got this.”

Being submissive doesn’t mean we are a little mouse that walks around afraid to speak. If you’re not sure this is true, go read in the Scriptures about how all the women that served God were strong, confident women with purpose.

Being a good woman doesn’t mean you stand by while others smack you around with their words or actions. Others will not respect you if you don’t respect yourself. Stand up and say, “I got this.”

One friend recently said, “I’ve decided I will just stay in my room when they are home.”

Um. No.

You are not going to hide. You are not going to step aside and let them devalue you, take advantage of your insecurities or let them make you feel unloved. You are the daughter of a king. You step up and say,

“I got this.”

You are going to claim your position in Christ, say to yourself, “I belong to the King,” and take your place as a valued child. You are going to set your boundaries and claim your spot. It is your home. They are visitors. They will respect and cherish you or they will go.

I have a family of 5 living in our home and my 87 year old mother. None of them treat me like I am worthless. None of them push me around. None of them disrespect me. In fact, it is just the opposite. I have loved every moment my daughter’s family has been in our home for the past 5 months. I have gained much by having my mother in our home. We help each other, we laugh, we enjoy, we respect each other. When they move out in the next few days I will feel a loss. When my mother goes home to glory, I will feel a void.

If this is not the case with those around you, then you need to reevaluate your relationships, disconnect from those who do not value you and find some who do. Pray for a girlfriend who will uplift you and support you. Find someone who can encourage you and walk with you. Set your boundaries with everyone in your life and make it clear you know whom you, to whom you belong are and who you are not. And then tell yourself, “I got this.”

You are a daughter of the King.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You are who you are because God made you that way.

That makes you special… special to God… special to me.

And yes, I mean you.

Blessings to you,

VAL signature

The Healing Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter

The Healing QuiltThe Healing Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter is about a retired Amish couple that moved to Florida for the winter. The husband, Lamar enjoys the change of scenery and has found the slower pace to be invigorating but the wife, Emma, soon finds she is bored and pining for her family and friends back home. To remedy her unsettled feeling, they advertise a 6-week beginner quilt class, hoping to use the class to encourage others and give Emma something to do.

Six people sign up and soon relationships develop between the couple and their students. The author weaves others into the story and connects them with the students in some way.

The story started out fairly slow, and was quite wordy with chitchat amongst the characters. A little more than halfway through the book the story became more interesting with each person’s problems coming to light and then resolving, mostly through their new relationships that developed at the quilting group.

The author does a good job at presenting the Amish couple as being compassionate, truly caring to impact others through the quilting class. The book was an encouragement to get involved in other people’s lives to make a difference as the main characters, the Amish couple had done.

I was given this book by Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Seasons of Tomorrow by Cindy Woodsmall

imageSeasons of Tomorrow by Cindy Woodsmall is the fourth book of the Amish Vines and Orchards series. This is the second book of the series that I’ve read and I have fairly enjoyed both of them.

This book continued the story of Amish folks who worked alongside non-Amish “Englishers” and the relationships that ensued. Leah and Landon broke through traditional Amish dictates, causing upheaval in the Amish community. It was the typical story of, “Oh no, what are we going to do when my Da finds out?” Another relationship, Rhoda and Samuel, grew out of a broken one, and traditional Amish family dealt with the potential loss of a family member.

Neither books were major page turners, but each story turned out well and had a Christian view through out. I received the books from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.

Love My DIY Home is Finally Here!

My newest venture is finally ready to be announced.

I’ve worked on it for a year now and would love it if you would join me at (wish I could do a drum roll)

Love My DIY Home

A site for the wanna-be DIY’er, almost DIY’er, thinking about bein’ a DIY’er and already doin’ DIY’ers

This is my passion and I hope it will be yours too.

That's me - Val @ Love My DIY Home

That’s me – the one super excited about the possibilities of sharing oodles of great projects with you!

If you decide to join our DIY tribe, you can expect tons of free: tips, tutorials, ebooks, product reviews, word art, how-tos, project examples, etc. – the sky’s the limit as to the things I’m going to cook up for you! I have some great things planned and those who join LMDH here will get started on the freebie whirlwind immediately.

Goodness, I was so excited yesterday that I signed up myself and my DH (which by the way will be contributing a bunch of guy stuff too)!

All you have to do is give me your first name and email address and then sit back and wait for the freebies to grace your inbox (there is an unsubscribe on every email just in case you get bored with me!). I certainly don’t want to be one of those annoying emailing fools that clutter people’s inboxes! So feel free to unsubscribe any time – we can still be friends!

If you have any questions, email me at val@lovemydiyhome.com. I promise to email you back!

So what are you waiting for? Jump on board and get your first free gift:

Top 5 Tool List - Love My DIY Home

{a one page list of my most used tools, all under $6}

While you’re here, leave me a comment and tell me about yourself and if you have been or want to be a DIY’er.

Here are a couple of examples of my DIY projects, tips, & tutorials:

Don’t Trash Your Old Brass Decor! 
Ugly to Lovely – Mason Jar Shelf
Old Tissue Box Re-do Old World Style
Pantry Organization on the Cheap

Take a moment, won’t you and come check out Love My DIY Home?

Thanks for stopping by!

VAL signature

Oh, it’s been a long time..

Greetings, my peeps!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done much here on Mom of Many. But I have a good excuse – honestly!

I’ve been crazy busy with a ton of irons in my fire (had to start a fire, it’s been so cold out here in Wisconsin!) Last July I started Love My DIY Home because I want to work from home.

Love My DIY Home

I saw an opportunity to start a monetized blog (more on that later) and thought it would be a good fit for me. We’ve talked a lot about what we want for our future and working outside the home for me wasn’t an option since I wanted to be available for my church and family in a full time way. BUT, funny how things work out. There’s always a “but” isn’t there?…especially if you are open to whatever God has planned for us. Yep. Sometimes God turns the tables on you (if you’re willing) and throws things in your path you wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

I have been on Care.com for a while, looking for a nanny opportunity one or two days a week. I got a call from a very nice lady at a placement agency asking if I would consider a family of hers that had just moved to Wausau. I had already been contacted by this family through Care.com and turned them down when they told me how many days they needed. Since we had decided to keep my outside work down to one or two days at the most, I thanked her and told her I wasn’t available for that many hours. BUT…and here is the “BUT” God threw in…But, the offer was so sweet and the family was so sweet, and the little girl was so sweet…you get the picture.

I agreed to meet the family and interview at their house. Long story short, I took the job. Oh my goodness. It’s been a chore keeping up with everything – church, family, Love My DIY Home and our new business Adark Holsters, in which Mark and I partnered with Adam and April.

Adark Holsters

I figured I’m putting in at least 60 hours a week juggling all of my responsibilities, not to mention keeping up on our house and projects that go along with my LMDH website.

So here you have it. I told you I had a really good excuse for not keeping up with Mom of Many!

Fortunately my husband is patient and understanding when I drop the ball on keeping our home in order. Good thing he does his own laundry! He even cleans the kitchen at 5am before work when he sees I’m worn out! He’s such a good dooby. My family has been kind to me, knowing my tight schedule and only plans family events AFTER they look at my nanny schedule. My church people, oh my, talk about fab!, my church family has been filling in for me and my pastor has been so very patient with me when it comes to my responsibilities. Yes, I drop the ball constantly there and they ALWAYS pick it up and give it back to me KINDLY! Did I mention we moved into a new building?

Northside Baptist

I am surrounded by the best people in the world. If you can’t say that – then make a change!

I’ve given much thought to my responsibilites – the big ones – and can’t believe I’ve roped myself into being so busy again!

  • Church secretarial/publications/nursery/choir/discipleship
  • Family – plus keeping my home up/decorating (only been here a year)/putting up a garden/canning
  • Adark Holsters – I’m mapping out the marketing plan and website
  • Love My DIY Home – two posts a week/DIY projects plus all the marketing hoopala that goes along with it
  • Photography – events/family/photo restoration/manipulation/correction
  • Mom of Many (this is the one thing I’ve so terribly neglected!)
  • Writing my ebook (on Creative Discipline)
  • Writing my book (This went on the back burner)

Plus, crazy me, I’m signing up for a 14 week online marketing course.

I am eventually going to change Mom of Many to a self-hosted website. So stay tuned as the changes are coming! Thanks for being loyal even when I’ve DROPPED THE BALL! You are the blessings in my life that keep me going!

VAL signature

 

You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado

www.momofmany.wordpress.comYou’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado was quite good. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s struggling with trials in their life. Too often I’ve seen people quit or make poor decisions on which direction to take while in the midst of trial because they can’t seem to see around the corner, knowing that God is big enough to take care of anything. This book explains how it is that God is able, and encourages the reader to wait just a bit longer than what seems appropriate to see what good things will come after the trial is done.

Since I’ve personally lived through more trials than the average person, I can testify to the fact that God is bigger than any circumstance and that we can trust Him. Lucado was right on when he encouraged the reader to persevere and sit tight. Throughout the book he cited examples to back up his points. He’s easy to read and relate to. His writing style is relaxed and believable. I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with staying faithful or is discouraged.

Thomas Nelson Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For Every Season, by Cindy Woodsmall

www.momofmany.wordpress.comFor Every Season by Cindy Woodsmall is about Rhoda, an Amish woman, who is gifted with a special intuition – something that has caused her trouble in the past because those in her family didn’t believe that her abilities were God-given. This theme is woven all through out the story as she works toward establishing a new Amish community by reviving an orchard in Maine, far from her childhood home.

Included in this venture are two brothers and a sister, one of whom is her boyfriend, Jacob.  Added to the underlying plot of establishing this community are the relationships that are strained as a result of business disappointments and impulsive personal decisions, the visions that Rhoda has, and Jacob’s past that has come back to haunt him. All of the sub plots threaten to destroy Rhoda’s desire to establish the orchard, build a canning kitchen, and develop an Amish community.

I did enjoy this easy read, though not a lot was different from other Amish type novels. There is typically at least one Amish person that struggles with leaving the Amish community, the plot usually revolves around Englisch and Amish differences, and romantic associations that threaten the future of well laid out plans are a common theme. I would read another novel by Cindy Woodsmall. I like her style of writing and am intrigued with the Amish lifestyle.

I was given a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for posting an honest review, no other compensation was given.

 

 

 

 

YouTube Explanation of How to Use Freeze Dried Food from Honeyville Farms

On my other blog, Love My DIY Home, I’ve been talking about preparing your pantry for a food crisis. This is an interesting YouTube video from Nutnfancy exploring the use of freeze dried food from Honeyville Farms in every day living as well as in your food storage. Check it out!

Our Bank Used Our Kids in Their Commercial – Check it Out!

Missions-Minded Pastor Or Tyrant? (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #7)

Click the link below for an interesting article about what missionaries go through to get support from some churches. Missionaries on deputation need as much prayer as those on the field.

Missions-Minded Pastor Or Tyrant? (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #7).

Snapfish Deal – 99 Prints for $0.01 Each

www.momofmany.wordpress.comSnapfish has a photo deal going on right now – get 99 4×6 prints For $0.01 each.

Mail order only. Use code: CHEER99  Expires on 12/21/2013.

(Exclusions: Deco prints, collage prints & Disney themed products)

2013 Family Update – Crazy Busy Days!

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There has been so much going on in our family these days – I simply have to update you! Sorry for not manning the “Mom of Many” ship lately, but like I said, so much going on!

How about I give you a quick run-down? We’ve been crazy busy…

  1. We’ve moved to a new home where my mom has her own third level MIL apartment.
  2. We have a guest room in our new home that has frequent visitors – love this!
  3. I’ve started a new blog: Love My DIY Home.
  4. I’m constantly doing DIY projects, not only for my blog, but for my home and family.
  5. I am always in the process of editing pictures from photo shoots.
  6. Our church has a new building where I work in the office one day a week.
  7. I am a part-time nanny.
  8. April and I share tables at craft shows.
  9. We have started a new business with the Jones family: Adark Holsters.
  10. I help home school April and Adam’s boys a once a week.
  11. We have a new baby in the family – Emeryk Markus

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Let’s start with #1 – the new home.

Oh my. God has blessed us there! We looked for 2.5 years for just the right house. It had to have a place for my mom, one that was big enough for family to come visit and stay, and a good sized kitchen/dining room for our ministry of hospitality. Since empty nesting, we’ve wanted to do what we could never do before – have people over, lots of people! We didn’t want a lot of stairs since Mark’s knees aren’t so great, so we spent a lot of time looking at ranch style homes. We needed a nice sized garage for Mark to be able to get back into his wood working and other such endeavors, and a good yard for the grandkids. It didn’t have to be big, just safe and big enough for them to play. We had a really decent size yard when we lived in town, and we surely didn’t want to give that up. It was so great to see the grandkids playing out in the yard. This new house has a dirt road that the boys can ride their bikes down without fear of traffic.

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

It also had to be within 20 minutes of church and the Joneses. That was a tough one, but I stuck to it! I think we may have looked at 70+ houses. Our realtor was so very good about being patient and looking for just the right house within our price range – under $150,000. Even that was a bit high for us. One day Mark was looking in the Homes and Land magazine, you know, the one where you can never find a house? Well, he found one that was a foreclosure in our price range in Wausau, about 9 miles from the Joneses and about the same to church. When we called our realtor to follow up on it, he couldn’t find it in the multiple listing. It had been on the market, but wasn’t listed on the  multiple. Huh? That doesn’t happen, unless you are us – the ones who prayed God would find us just the right house that would fit every criteria of our “forever house.”

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Here is Mom’s side of the house where her walk-out opens out onto her own driveway.

Up to the left you can see the door leading to nowhere from our guest master.

Some day there will be a deck up there, but for now it’s bolted shut.

We made the offer.

We made our offer – which was the second offer that week and waited for the outcome. Fortunately our offer was the best one (we offered $500 over asking price) and we took possession a month later. Our mortgage company required a long list of things to be done in 30 days time and our family along with our church family came to our aid and helped us get it done in time.

So much to do!

I had never painted before, but that job fell to me since the roof had to be done and Mark and all the guys focused on that while April, Mom, a couple of church friends and I painted every room in the house. It had to be done before moving in since every room was sponge painted – let’s just say not to my liking and leave it at that. Little by little I’m showing before and after pictures on my other blog. Kitchen before and after here. Kitchen half bath before and after here. Every ceiling was popcorn – ugh! Mark was kind enough to make it a priority to scrape the ceilings so I wouldn’t be in hate with our ceilings! Once he got busy on the roof, I finished up and scraped the last two ceilings before I could paint.

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

All the rooms were sponge painted so we painted every room a neutral color.

  www.momofmany.wordpress.com

My mom’s apartment had ugly wallpaper that had to be scraped and then painted. We did this room first.

It’s a good thing because it was the hardest.

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Isaac wanted to join in on the “fun”.

It was in pretty nasty shape. Oh it was sound and built well. But it smelled so bad from the animals that used to reside in the house and the cosmetics of the inside were atrocious. I’ll just show you some of the before pictures so as not to steal any thunder from future posts on Love My DIY Home. Suffice it to say we had our work cut out for us!

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Somebody apparently liked the “under the sea” theme. This was going to be our master bath.

We did the work.

We got it all done (painting, fixing, replacing) in time thanks to all the help and moved in. Mark was still working on the roof when we needed to move our stuff, so I spent many a day toting boxes from our little rental to our new house. I got to the point I could lift a TV by myself! God was good to me and sustained me through it all, even temporarily giving me exceptional strength for the job. The big stuff came last and fortunately we had a few guys and girls to help with all that. I NEVER WANT TO MOVE AGAIN!  I love our new home and God was so good to give us so many needs AND wants in this house.

God gave us a home tailor made.

It already had a complete mother-in-law apartment with its own walk out and a kitchen bigger than mine upstairs! Where we first thought was a closet turned out to be a huge storage room, the fourth level! The house is a quad-level. The listing agent thought it was a tri-level and was as surprised as we were when we found the fourth level. Top level is our master suite (more on that in a sec), main level is our kitchen, half-bath and living room. Third level is mom’s apartment, laundry room and my photo studio (Yes!) and the fourth is the basement that has three little rooms off shoot from the main very large room. She has her own driveway and we share the laundry room.

The upper level has 4 bedrooms, one being a master. April had the idea to make the master a guest/library/craft room and for Mark and I to take the other three smaller rooms that had a full bath near all three as our “master suite” that would eventually have a door in the hallway separating it from the other master. In the three rooms we have our office, bedroom and walk-in closet. We also have plans to give the full-bath a walk-in shower.

God supplied more than just our needs.

The kitchen has very nice cabinets with an island. It was pretty icky to start with, but turned out to be one of my fave rooms. Mark bought me a nice Kitchen Aid french door fridge with the freezer in a bottom drawer and a vegi drawer – it’s a dream! We found a microwave/stove fan and dishwasher on clearance, so we have nearly all new appliances in the kitchen. Off the dining room is a nice size deck. Friends helped shape the walkway there down to the garage and another helped Mark build a nice little deck by the front door. We sit on an acre and have discovered a nice big fenced in garden that we took advantage of this summer. Who’d a thunk it? I actually enjoyed gardening and our yield wasn’t too shabby either for it being our first year. April and I canned tomatoes and grape jam for the first time. Click here for a couple of garden pics and here for our canning story.

This home has great potential.

I don’t have my photo studio up and running yet, but hopefully that will be our 2014 project. The house has tons of wall plug-ins – a great perk! The garage is huge and has built in for heating (once we buy a boiler). There are 3 out buildings, one is big enough for us to set up a little shop. We are set on one acre in a dead end dirt road. There are only two of us on our road and we are out in the country with deer, turkeys and bears! There is a lot to be done to bring the outside up to speed, but we have forever to do it!

www.momofmany.wordpress.com

Over the next year I will be showing our before and after pictures of the inside of our home on Love My DIY Home. It’s amazing what a little elbow grease and paint will do for a room! I hope to see you there!

Next I will tell you about our ministry of hospitality…

Please stop over to Love My DIY Home where you will find lots of DIY home projects.

~Val, Mom of Many, Wife to One, and Grammie to 10

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower

www.momofmany.wordpress.comA Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower is written in first person and is about an Amish girl named Chloe who grew up in the Amish community but ended up an Englischer because of family difficulties. A relationship develops between Chloe and Timothy, a boy who also left the Amish community. The plot is full of suspicion and suspense as they investigate a local murder, finding that things are not always as they seem. Since Chloe was living in the Amish community, but not a part of it any more, the police recruit her to help solve the murder mystery.

As the investigation goes on, more and more information is brought to light about the citizens in Appleseed Creek, which adds flavor to the plot. Even Chloe’s family suffers at the exposure of truth during the investigation, which draws her in even more.

In some ways this story is typical of other Amish stories, looking at the division between the Amish and the rest of the world due to their customs and family dynamics, but different in the sense that the author has introduced a murder mystery in the mix.

I was given a copy of this book from Handlebar Media in exchange for posting an honest review, no other compensation was given.

Shutterfly Prints 99 Free + Shipping

Shutterfly is offering free prints – Get 99 prints for just $4.99 shipped when you upload 99 prints, go to checkout and use coupon code FREEPRINTS – good through tomorrow only (Wednesday, September 4, 2013).

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love by Francine Rivers takes place in California’s gold country in the 1850s.  It is about a woman, Angel, who was sold into prostitution as a child and spent her entire life full despondency because of her hatred for the men who used her. Michael Hosea, a godly farmer, felt God directed him to marry Angel, much to the disapproval of everyone around him, including Angel.

This story is definitely a love story, the hard working love of a man for a woman, and the love of Michael’s God that eventually wins over the heart of Angel through the kindness and love of those around her. As Angel eases into a new life of being a farmer’s wife, she questions her ability to love and be loved. Though many times her doubts take her over, Michael maintains his trust in his God – that He will bring them together as a man and wife who love and trust one another. This story compels the reader to evaluate their own attitudes and actions toward those caught in a life of pain and sin that bears the responsibility. It is certainly a good example to a believer of how God can change a heart and cause a life to become brand new through the love and acceptance by His faithful few. This book reminds me of the saying, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”

This story mirrors the Hosea/Gomer story in the Bible where God directs a man to marry a prostitute in order for Him to show His redeeming love for His beloved people. Rivers does a great job of drawing the reader into the story and showing how insecurities and doubts that can prevent a person from giving and receiving love. I read this story years ago and it remains one of my favorites today. I highly recommend this book, especially to romantics who love a good ending.

WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.

A Walk Through the Dark by Eva Piper

AA walk through the dark Walk Through the Dark by Eva Piper is about a wife and mom of three who was suddenly thrown into the job of caretaker after her husband found himself in the hospital with serious injuries after a horrific car accident. Eva Piper was just an average wife and mother who was a teacher at her local public school. Don, her husband, was a youth pastor when the crash occurred. This is her story of how she walked through the valley with the help of God and her friends and family, and how she came out on the other side a more confident and strong woman, along with increased faith.

The thing I found most interesting about her story is how she grew through the difficult events that threw her out of her comfort zone and into what she called, “the darkness.” Not only is she brutally honest about the emotional stress she suffered through it all, she offers advice on how to support someone who goes through such a life tragedy.

My favorite part was when she told of how she made a decision to start letting people help her during the long hours she spent in the hospital during Don’s recovery. It reminded me of my recent stay in the hospital with my mother. When my daughter asked if there was anything I needed before she came up to visit, I asked for a cup of coffee. She stopped to McDonalds and bought me a big cup of coffee. The smallest things can make such a difference. Another daughter who lived in another state was frustrated that she couldn’t come visit – so she sent a virtual bouquet of flowers to her grandma. Others stopped by to visit or stayed in constant contact via texting. Needless to say, when I read Eva’s account of how an elderly couple asked if she needed anything and she asked for a Diet Coke from McDonalds, I got a little misty! Not only did she enjoy that small gesture of affection and support, she allowed the elderly couple to experience the joy of helping her through her dark time. Grace can be experienced in a simple “give and take” – which is something we all need at times. We cannot discount the little things in life that make the difficult times bearable.

I have a mental note of the suggestions in this book and plan to implement them next time someone is in need. I recommend this book to those who wish to improve their service to others. I received a free copy of this book from booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.

Virginia Trip Travel Log #4

The last two days we focused on getting Jillian’s front room finished. We’d painted the deacons bench, nightstand, shelf, and corner bookshelf. We bought all the little do-dads that she needed to complete the look. We hung everything that needed hanging.

She went with the Old World Style, a look that I am rather fond of myself. Here are pictures of my last day when we pulled it all together. I have to say, I think I enjoyed the process as much as she did. Maybe some day we will go into interior decorating together. We have many similar interests, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

I definitely enjoyed the journey as much as the destination in this case. So often we will see “before and afters” published but not the “in-betweens” – the grunt work, so to speak. Yet, I just can’t show the in-betweens – check out the “before and afters” on Love My DIY Home. We finished Jillian’s front room the night before I left for home.

It was with a happy heart I drove home. I spent nearly three weeks away from home visiting family – many people helped me on my trip. My peeps not only gave me gas money, shelter, and fed me, but they cared for me in a way I never ever expected. I will never get used to being loved. It’s a malady I will always carry with me, I suppose, because of the difficult times I have experienced in the past. But that can’t be such a bad thing, can it – to feel so blessed each time love is shown, to be in awe of the moment, to choose to look back over and over to relive it because it is such a treasured memory? I think not. I hope it never changes for me. I love being loved. I love knowing that a handful of people in my life will love me no matter what. Wow.

Here are some more pics of my trip. Such a blessed person I am!

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I stayed with family in Ohio on the way home – such a fun family they are!  Though I traveled alone, I had the support of family, church family, and friends. God showed me His faithfulness by protecting me and giving me people in my life who care. Thank you everyone for giving me such a memorable 3 weeks!

Free Shutterfly Photobook – Just Pay Shipping

Through August 31, 2013, you can get a free 20-page 8×8 Photo Book at Shutterfly when you use the coupon code TARGETBOOK at checkout. You will only pay shipping – about $8.00.

Thanks, Common Sense With Money! and Money Saving Mom!

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