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.

The Book–I had an exciting break through!

 

These women + Pam and sometimes Tegan, Amy,  and Katie. These women are how I got through Operation Iraqi Freedom I, 2003.

These women + Pam and sometimes Sally, Suzy, Tegan, Amy, and Katie. These women are how I got through Operation Iraqi Freedom I, 2003-2004. We were the real “Army Wives,” long before cable had that t.v. show. And I know so many spouses just like us, all over the world, across all branches of service. We have this unique life, which is¬†both good and bad, and our stories are worth hearing.

I don’t know if you remember, but before I gave birth to JD, I was writing a book. Yes, that was over three years ago now. I haven’t touched it that whole time.

I can’t write that particular book anymore. It’s not the book I want to write at this time.

Each morning I open my inbox in hope of seeing a blog job offer that I will want to take on. This week I had¬†opportunities to review a security system, a bidet, and coconut oil that costs $20 a jar…..when you can buy it for $8 a jar at any grocery store, yes, even organic. I was a little less than enthused. I passed on those.

(####As a blogger, it is my promise to you, my reader, to only review products I’m excited about or truly believe in.####)

I’m still happy blogging, and I’m constantly trying to learn how to be better at it and grow my audience. But for the past two years, I kept thinking about the book. (The first year I had JD the book wasn’t even on the radar. I was just happy to accomplish teeth brushing.)

I kept thinking, “Maybe once the move is done, I’ll work on my book again.”

And sometimes I mention it, and people ask me, “What is your book about?”

“Ummmmmm..uhhhh…” Cue the crickets….

“I don’t actually know what I’m going to write a book about, but for some reason, I’d really like to write one.” I actually feel this pressure to do it. I can’t explain it.

Then three nights ago, I had just gotten out of the shower, and BAM! It hit me! I knew what to write about.

Don’t you get your best ideas while showering? I mean I do, normally, unless there is a toddler beating on the shower door whispering, “Mom, get out. Mom get out.”

Sometimes JD just whispers. It’s cute, not creepy though. Well, sometimes it’s creepy.

Sorry. I’m rambling. So what am I going to write about?

I think it’s time for me to tell my war stories and how God and some wonderful friends brought us through them.

It’s been 15 years now since Sept. 11. It was the war of my generation. And it’s still a gigantic problem. I was 20 back then, and I sent my husband overseas to take part in the War on Terrorism three times already, as did many of my friends. We’ve spent a cumulative total of three plus years of our marriage apart.¬†

moviewithfriends

’03 or ’04, with my sister military spouses

There are so many stories to tell! Some hilarious, like times spent with my 4 best friends back in Texas in ’03, before any of us had children. Some sad, like when Caleb ran to a random dude instead of Alan at Alan’s 2010 home-coming. Some heartbreaking, as when we lost friends and bosses as casualties to the war.

It’s been so long now that people are beginning to forget. I’ve actually had someone ask me why I should get a military discount. And Congress is constantly threatening our benefits. Then there was that whole VA healthcare debacle.

So many things happened. And while you often hear of books about “letters from war”, you seldom hear about letters TO war. Well, who wants to read about that? There’s no shooting or convoy attacks in letters from home, right? Well, there are our reactions to them. Then there are the hilarious and sometimes gut-wrenching adventures that an Army wife takes on with her family while she’s left behind.

welcomehome

My sweet military kids during their first deployment experience. At this point,in 2010, Alan had returned from a 15 month tour. Caleb was still calling MY dad “Dad.”

Things like walking your son through EEGs and MRIs because he’s suddenly having seizures and trying to explain it all to your husband in Iraq, while your son’s pre-school teacher calls your son their “little class mascot” as they support him through his medical trials.

Things like getting over-the-moon-I-just-won-the-lottery kind of excited watching the train traveling back into town, loaded down with tanks and Humvees, and wondering what day that they will send your husband too, but knowing that they are finally, after the longest year ever, actually going to come home!!!

And oh, sharing deployment with four close friends who saved each other’s lives that year. Okay. Not literally, but we’ve seen how stress can kill a person, so maybe literally! Yes, definitely literally. Yes, we saved each other’s lives.

I had no idea what I was getting into, but I couldn't wait to start!

I had no idea what I was getting into, but I couldn’t wait to start!

There are so many things I want to tell. Military wives, I know you have stories just like mine and worse and better and then some. I’d love to hear your tales. Maybe after I tell my story I can tell yours too. Hopefully, by telling mine, I will also be telling a lot of yours too. But it’s beautiful how each one us has a slightly different story to tell.

Okay. JD is here, and his nap is apparently over, and he needs me to put his pants back on him, so I’m outta here. Tell me what you think about my book idea. Don’t worry. I’ll change the names, and I’ve already gotten Alan’s buy-in.

We wish you all a fabulous Labor Day weekend!

 

 

Why Cope When You Can Conquer?

I’ve been reading this book. It looks like this:

Why Cope When You Can Conquer?

¬†It’s an encouraging book. It asks an annoyingly high volume of questions. I never did enjoy answering questions. See, it’s a Bible study guide, but it’s not one of these where you have to watch a video or attend a class to go with it. You can totally just read the guide on your own. (But I did warn you about the questions.)

Don’t worry. The book is still worth it. You can’t read it without learning and growing in your faith. There’s this one particular story that struck a chord with me this week. It’s in Lesson 6: Where to Run in Trouble.

The author, Juanita Purcell,¬†asked this: “When did the Israelites discover they had been delivered from Sennacherib’s invasion?” Read 2Kings 19:35

It was the morning. 

DSC_0922

Purcell said this, and she’s referring to a time when Senacherrib of Assyria was attacking Jerusalem in the 700sBC, “As the enemies gathered against the city of God, the nations were in an uproar. Yet the Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. This miraculous event was no big deal to God. He doesn’t even tell us how it happened. Is anything too hard for the Lord?” ¬†(source 1, page 62)

So I had to dig into my Bible, into 2 Kings chapters 19 and 20 to remind myself what exactly was going on here.

Big surprise. Hezekiah was king. He’s my favorite king of Judah. This was the kingdom of Judah, not Israel. Israel did indeed fall to Assyria, but Judah (the southern kingdom) didn’t really. (They fell to Babylon later on, after Hezekiah.) This was because of leadership. They had Hezekiah, and Hezekiah had God.

This is what Hezekiah did when he found out that Assyria was coming for him. He prayed:

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it….” (2 Kings 19:14)

Yep. He got a threat letter.

“Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord.” ¬†2 Kings 19:14-15

It goes on to describe his prayer. But I mean, basically, “God, save us from these horrible people!!” I just love how the Bible tells us that Hezekiah spread the letter out before the Lord. He was a man who took his prayers seriously, so God took Hezekiah’s prayers seriously. King Hezekiah had great faith.

My take away here: “Trust in the Lord. He will solve your problems in your sleep.”

Oh, and you might be wondering how the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 soldiers while the  armies were sleeping. Historians speculate that it was a plague of mice, an outbreak of the Bubonic plague. *oooo eebidy jeebidies*

I don’t know what problems you might be facing today, but God will lead you to the answers that you NEED, if you ask him to. Have faith and trust in the Lord, and he will not let you down. He is trustworthy. I tried so many things this past year to figure out my health problems, and eventually I was actually able to overcome my chronic joint pain by simply dropping gluten from my diet. That was not a conclusion I ever suspected, but God answered my prayers through the advice of my doctors and my friends. Praise God!

why cope when you can conquer

Carmel Valley, photo by Janet

So have no fear. Trust in the Lord. He will solve your problems in your sleep.

sources:

1.¬†Why Cope When You Can Conquer? by Juanita Purcell, published by RBP Women’s Studies, 1999

2. 2 Kings 19 and 20, The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan 

3. Wikipedia, Hezekiah

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