2 Must Read Character Building Fiction Books for Tweens

2 Must Read Character Building Books for tweens

2 Must- Read Character Building Fiction books for Tweens

 

Today I have the honor of writing this article, 2 Must-Read Character Building Fiction Books for Tweens, over at LikeMindedMusings.com, as part of Lee Felix’s 30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement!

For each day of May, Lee is featuring another blogging mom of tweens on her site to talk about this phase of parenting. There’s so much information out there for the years of parenting babies and toddlers, and then it feels like the older your kids get, the less people want to talk about it.

Here’s a snippet of my post. Be sure to check out the other 30 days as well!

“Farmer Boy was an easy sell for my boys. (I don’t have any girls.) They were definitely not excited about this next one, Secret in the Maple Tree, by Matilda Nordtvedt.

They protested at first, but then they grew to love it.

Yes, in this book, the main character is a girl. Her name is Hilda, and she is one of the most real, relatable characters you will ever read. Almanzo in Farmer Boy was naturally a very well-behaved boy. Hilda has to work much harder at it. This character is based on the author’s mother-in-law, Mrs Ebertina Erickson Nordtvedt, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, who migrated in the late 1800s.

Also, I have more good news.”

Click here to read the rest.

 

Be sure to subscribe to the other 30 days if you are a parent of tweens!

 

How we got banned from the library and my plan

I love to study. Sometimes it baffles me when children in this house do not share my desire to pour over books and take notes. I love it. This is what I do. It’s what I have done my whole life.

When JD, at 2 years old, would wake up in the morning, pull up a kitchen bar stool, and say, “Let’s study shapes, Mom!!” my heart would swell with pride. This is my boy.

When Joshua memorized all the species of whales at 3 years old, and checked out every single library book on badgers at 5, I knew that this apple was not falling far from the tree. (These days he memorizes sports statistics instead.)

By the end of my own kindergarten year, the library was my favorite place. It’s sad that all these years later we are banned from the library.

I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking it’s my kids’ fault, or my fault for not controlling my boys. But that wasn’t it at all. My boys love to go to the library, and while they are sometimes a little rambunctious, they have never actually caused any problems there.

It was me. I’m the reason.

In 2015, I paid $250 in library late fees, which included some fees left over from 2014.

In 2016, I paid ~$80 in library late fees, because I was trying harder and being more careful.

In Monterey, I could keep it under the radar. The librarians there were cool with us. Who doesn’t want the lady who donates $250 to the library?

But here in the South, I made the mistake, hefty mistake, of signing up for text alerts for when my books were due. I think the texts also went to the email account that I share with Alan, the same Alan who is very sensible with his money, maybe a little more sensible and organized than his wife…

Alan soon realized that I don’t bat an eye at returning a book a week overdue and continuing to use my library account.

I figure if the library lets me, I’ll just put it off until later, and they do always let me carry a balance. The library here is kind of far away, and I have trouble remembering where it is exactly and how to get there….

Poor Alan. The stress was too much. He was all calling the library to make sure we’d returned them all, going by there and paying all the late fees, and then he said it. He did.

“Can you please stop checking books out from the library?”

At least I think he said it. If he didn’t say it out loud, he was surely thinking it.

So I said it: “Okay. I know. I was wrong. I’m sorry. We will never check books out from the library again.”

I can be dramatic like that.

Alan was all, “Phew!!! Yes, I mean yes, obviously, you should not.”

Sigh.

And that was how we got banned from the library, and how I started shopping more at Book Fairs, Scholastic store online, and Amazon, so I’m not altogether sure we’re saving any money, but we do get to keep the books now…..which is actually sort of a storage problem.

And that is why the library is part of my New Year’s Resolution for 2017.

Yes, I’m aware that I didn’t actually make any New Year’s resolutions back in January, but I’m making one now. Right here, in the month of April, or as you might say MY MONTH.

I am getting my organizational act together!

I have actually been writing in and checking that planner that I bought. This is a BIG DEAL for me.

Every 2 to 3 years, we get completely uprooted, and I have to basically start life all over again, so maybe that helps you understand why I do not have the deeply engrained schedules that you may have. For a military wife, life changes drastically constantly. In 1 more year, we will probably move yet again.

Sometimes I’m guilty of feeling like why bother.

But you know what? I’ve got a lot of kids’ schedules to figure out now, and the older they get the more activities they have, and I’m going to have to get used to writing all this stuff down.

To be fair, it’s a lot of people to keep up with. ūüėČ

So here’s my plan to lift the library ban.

  1. Look at my planner every single day. ¬†I’m going to do that as soon as I finish this article.
  2. Take my planner with me, and write down each upcoming responsibility down on the calendar so I won’t forget.
  3. Check out 1 library book, write down the due date in the planner, and see if I can get it back to the library on time.
  4. If that works, I’m going to check out 2 books the next time!!!

 

So what about you guys? Have any of you ever paid $200 in library fees? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve also lost books and had to buy the library new ones. I didn’t feel like this made me a bad customer. I felt like it just made me a frequent flyer, and these things were inevitable. Right? I say yes.

Have a FUN weekend, y’all. Life’s too short to not.

“Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. ” Ecclesiastes 5:7

 

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests. ¬† Psalm 20: 4-5

 

What I’ve Been Reading and That Famous Niemoller Quote

What I've Been Reading and That famous Niemoller Quote

I recently finished reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The funny thing is that I chose this book because I was confused. I was mixing Bonhoeffer up with Niemoller. I was so excited to learn more about the man who said this:

What I've Been Reading and That famous Niemoller Quote

Martin Niemoller

I took that photo on our 2012 trip to Boston.

Bonhoeffer had a lot in common with Niemoller, except he was executed about 2 weeks before Hitler killed himself. Hitler personally selected Bonhoeffer to be killed because Bonhoeffer was part of a large conspiracy of German aristocrats to assassinate Hitler.

In fact, they tried to kill Hitler and failed several times without Hitler even knowing it, until that last time when the bomb actually did explode, right at Hitler’s feet, and the evil murderous man didn’t die.

You’ve heard of the Gestapo, but have you heard of the Abwehr? That was another German government intelligence agency. The Abwehr was full of guys who wanted to kill Hitler in order to save millions of lives and to save Germany. It was dissolved by the Nazis in 1945 when they realized it was full of conspirators.

Bonhoeffer was a part of that group. Niemoller was not. Niemoller had already been in prison since the beginning of the war.

Don’t let Niemoller fool you. He was humble. He spoke out so boldly against the Nazis, from his pulpit, as a Lutheran pastor, that he spent pretty much all of World War II locked in a German prison cell. His support for Hitler was extremely short-lived. When Hitler first rose to power, some people just thought “Yay! Not Communist!” It didn’t take too long for the gloves to come off.

Did you know that when Alan went to Iraq he learned that their whole middle eastern society was indoctrinated to believe that the Holocaust never happened? They all believe it was a giant myth. They say it was propaganda put out by the Jews, because there is such a strong hatred of Jews over there.

History tells the true story. There are survivor stories, photos, videos, piles of their hair, remaining buildings of their death camps, and first-hand journal accounts of what happened to the Jews and to anyone else who stood in the way of the Nazis.

Niemoller and Bonhoeffer did know each other long before either of them were imprisoned. There was mutual respect there. They ran in the same circles. They knew many of the same people. They lead the Confessing Church movement, which pulled away from the German Church, blatantly disagreeing with Nazi policies.

It was so interesting to learn about WWII from more of a viewpoint on what was happening inside Germany.

No quote in the book beat Niemoller’s quote on apathy. There’s a reason it’s so famous, but here are a few quotes from the book on Bonhoeffer that I found interesting.

I loved what Bonhoeffer wrote in his Advent letter of 1938 to Confessing Church leaders. I love it because the fact is that good is not always winning. Sometimes evil is winning, but that doesn’t mean you should not do the right thing:

“And we simply cannot be constant with the fact that God’s cause is not always the successful one, that we really could be “unsuccessful”: and yet be on the right road. But this is where we find out whether we have begun in faith or in a burst of enthusiasm.” ¬†(Bonhoeffer, p. 318)

 

Not every nation’s churches folded under the pressure of the government as Germany’s did. ¬†Germany occupied Norway from 1940-1945, and their church leaders fought back, even if their government didn’t.

“In March Quisling overreached again, establishing a Norwegian version of the Hitler Youth. A thousand teachers immediately struck in protest……On Maundy Thursday, Bishop Berggrav, the heroic leader of the pastors’ resistance, was put under house arrest. So on Easter, April 5, every pastor in Norway did what their bishops did six weeks earlier and what Bonhoeffer had begged the German pastors to do in July 1933: they went on strike.” ¬†(Metaxas, p. 395)

 

 

A different 9/11.

In Europe, they write dates with the day followed by the month and then the year, so 9/11 is November 9th. Germany’s 9/11 was in 1938. It is called Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. The Nazis beat up and killed Jews, destroyed their businesses, burned their synagogues, and destroyed and looted their homes. Broken glass was everywhere. The result thereof was only more terror.

Here is a little bit of what Bonhoeffer wrote in response to it. He read Psalm 74, the 2nd half of which reads “They burn all of God’s houses in the land.”

“This was when Bonhoeffer most clearly saw the connection: to lift one’s hand against the Jews was to lift one’s hand against God himself. The Nazis were attacking God by attacking his people. The Jews in Germany were not only not God’s enemies; they were his beloved children.” (Metaxas, p. 316)

Whether you agree with Bonhoeffer or not, he was a fascinating man who walked very closely with God. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more not only about him but about WWII Germany. If you can hang with the first half of the book, which is slower, you will be richly rewarded by the second half.

  $8.92?? What? I paid a lot more for it back at Christmas time. *sigh*
And here’s an Amazon affiliate link in case you want to read this book too. Just be forewarned. It’s like 600 pages, but you will learn a ton.

And for my next book, I have decided to read something quicker. I’m going with a Christian fiction novel involving some espionage and action. Excited to get into this one too.

What have you read lately that’s good? Leave me a note in the comments.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

**This post does contain affiliate links, which means that when you purchase through links on this page, April collects advertising fees from Amazon.**

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

Was I always a little flaky? I don’t know. For years, I could get away with being very loosy-goosy with my planning because I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. We moved all the time too, so by the time people developed expectations of me, we were off and away to the next town.

Over the years, I have slipped into a routine of planning as little as I can get away with planning. I’ll procrastinate decisions until they are made for me. Yep. Guilty of that. Sometimes I get this fear of commitment. If I sign up for things, I’m going to have to figure out how to actually accomplish those things with toddlers in tow.

And I never knew when my husband would be here or not be here, so making plans felt like shooting darts– real darts–in a room full of people, blindfolded.

No thanks.

So friends, that is how I became the version of April you have today.

April, are you going to the yada yada yada meeting?

**Total deer in the headlights**

Ummmm. Uhhhhhh. ¬†Umm, yeah, you know, I might…

(Inside my head I’m thinking……IF all 4 kids are well, IF Alan is in town, IF I have energy left that day…..IF I am not supposed to actually be at Dan’s tee-ball game or some Army function that I can’t remember the exact dates for…..If, If, If…..)

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

I love to rock me some babies. Go away, world, until I finish this.

 

Actually, for the past 11 years those were all perfectly good reasons to be flaky, indecisive, unprepared, uncommitted, and unsure. Did I shut the world out a little bit? Yes, yes, I definitely did.

In fact, I had to google the word “twerking” not too long ago. I’m so out of touch with pop culture, and I kept hearing that word. All I can say to that one is ew, girl! Ew. Somebody get that poor girl a sweater and some capri pants.

But things keep popping up on our calendars, and I’ve re-entered the world of work with my blog. I actually HAVE to FORCE myself to plan and be less free-spirited, more grown-up like.

You people who have a plan amaze me, and I mean that in a good way. You totally have my respect.

You know when you are going on vacation. You’ve actually committed to specific dates, and you probably even know how you are gong to pay for that.

You have a budget.

You know when people’s birthdays are, and you plan for that accordingly.

You keep some sort of planner or calendar.

 My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan
About that….Y’all! I have purchased TWO different “planners” this year. They are both mostly blank. I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen too, which makes 3 planners, really. All I’ve written on that one is what the kids are doing for lunch and when their dentist appointments are.

I even downloaded an editorial calendar plug-in to try and start planning my blog posts. (It’s actually extremely helpful, fellow bloggers, check it out. It’s called “editorial calendar.”)

Only I’m so anti-structured in my thinking, I can rarely bring myself to write about what I’m ‘scheduled’ to write about.

I also have 2 different e-books I’ve written half of, and now they are just sitting on my hard-drive taking up space. My hard drive is so full, my computer has actually stopped letting me download or upload new things.

And suddenly I find myself wanting to change.

See, I bought all those planners. That’s the first step. I WANT to do the right thing and be all responsible again. I always was one-half responsible and one-half not at all, even back in high school and college. I used to make myself plans and stick to them, sort of. Well, I used to make plans. Maybe I never did really stick to them. I almost always turn in everything on time, actually, but I live in fear of signing up for extra things.

So I decided to pray about this today.

And this was my answer:  If you can plan out each day by making a list and crossing things off, then you can apply that same strategy to weeks. Then apply it to months. Then do that for years. Do it at the start of each week, each month, and each year, just like you are doing now for days.

Huh. Brilliant. Maybe even doable?

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

My planning tends to never go past the day that I’m on. This is the typical extent of my planning.

 

What I do now for each day is this. After I have safely delivered all of my children to school, I come home and have a little time for Bible study and prayer. You have to pour inspiration in to yourself if you expect to pour any out, right?

I close with prayer, and I ask God to help me make my to-do list for that day. I write the list out on the wipe-off board in the kitchen. Then I mentally prioritize the things that HAVE to get done.

That’s why I usually cook supper in the morning, by 12:00, because I know everyone HAS to eat, and I don’t want that task hanging over my head. Also, I have no energy left at 5:00pm.

I see no reason why this method for planning each day could not be applied to my weeks, months, and years, with one of the 3 planners I’ve purchased laying open on my lap.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

And don’t even say that I should use my phone as my planner. I can’t do it. This falls under scatter-brained people problems.¬†The minute I open my phone to use the calendar or some other useful, productive app, I immediately forget what I was doing and end up reading Instagram or my email or something.

So watch out, world! I now have a plan for how to plan!!!! Who knows? Maybe next week I will make a budget, a meal plan, or catch up on my 2,809 emails…….nahhhhh…

Please share your best planning tips in the comment section! We would love to hear more ideas! Thanks, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

How do we know the Bible is reliable?

How do we know the Bible is reliable?

 

 

If someone asked you why you believe the Bible, would you know what to tell them?? This is important, y’all. Faith is paramount, but people need some reasons behind that faith. These days most people are not educated about the Bible.

I’m going to do the best I can to re-tell the excellent illustration that Pastor Craig Bowers used to show just how reliable the Bible is.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

Jar illustration: This shows how many separate ancient manuscripts exist of the Bible as opposed to the works of Julius Caesar, Plato, or Aristotle. And yet, which one do naysayers question?

Do you see those first few jars on the left? Those represent how many ancient writings we have found from Julius Caesar, Plato, or Aristotle. We have 10 remaining copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. That’s the 1st jar.

Plato had a handful of letters that remained. That’s the 2nd jar.

Aristotle has 49 copies remaining, and the oldest one of those was copied 1400 years after Aristotle died. 

Does anyone question these tiny jars of writings? No.

You see the 1 jar to the left of the Bible that is full of packing peanuts? That one represents Homer’s works. Most of these were recorded¬†ages after Homer was long gone. But no one questions the validity of these documents. These are great stories. No problem.

Do you see those stacks and stacks of Sam’s size jars of packing peanuts to the right of the Bible?? Those represent how many ancient copies have been found of the Bible, in miraculous agreement with each other. There are over 24,000 copies. Over 24,000!!!

Over 5,000 ancient “Greek manuscripts from the New Testament alone still exist today.” (source 2, page 18)

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written between 200 BC and 68 AD and are the same as the manuscripts we have today.

By 200 AD, the Bible was already translated into 7 different languages.

By 500 AD–13 languages

By 900–17 languages

By 1400–28 languages

And remember, this is all long before the invention of the printing press in 1440.

How do we know the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe it?

The Bible itself was written by eye-witness accounts, eye-witness accounts who had other witnesses to hold them accountable for telling the truth.

This was so real to these apostles that 10 out of 12 of them died a martyr’s death for this cause. What were they killed for? Simply for preaching the gospel. Jesus saves. Trust in Jesus. They never hurt a soul. In fact, they healed many people.

The Bible doesn’t have a leg to stand on, it has at least 24,000 legs to stand on. The evidence is overwhelming.¬†

And that’s not all!! There are countless other writings and archaeological finds from antiquity that support the stories in the Bible. There are stories of the flood, stories of the Exodus, and the list goes on and on.

People don’t disbelieve the Bible because the evidence isn’t there. The evidence is everywhere. People disbelieve because either they are ignorant or because their hearts are hardened to the truth.

As believers, it is also our responsibility to know WHY we believe. I hope you found reassurance in these facts today.

13This is why I speak to them in parables: ‚ÄėThough seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.‚Äô 14In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: ‚ÄėYou will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.‚Ķ ¬† ¬†Matthew 13:13-14

For God so loved the world he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

 

Sources:

1.) Sermon notes from Craig Bowers, Jan. 15, 2017. You can follow him on this recently launched YouTube channel.

2.) Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines, 2015, pages 10-11, 48-49

3.) 25 Fascinating Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls 

4.) The Holy Bible, NIV

5.) The Holy Bible, KJV

 

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