How to Start Conversations About Orphans
Coffee Conversation
Are you having trouble communicating why you have chosen to walk the adoption journey? Or maybe you have tried time and time again to get your church to start an adoption or orphan care ministry, and it just hasn’t clicked yet. How do you start and kindly facilitate a conversation that shows God’s heart for the orphan and our response as the church?
Host a Coffee Conversation.
Coffee shops tend to create an environment where people connect through conversations over a warm cup of joe or a refreshing iced latte. Recreate this atmosphere by hosting an intentional Coffee Conversation with your church, Sunday school class or small group. Maybe it’s a one-on-one meeting with your pastor at a local coffee shop or maybe it’s an event with small group.
Use this kit to help you share about the needs and opportunities to care for orphans with provided discussion questions and scripture references.

How it works:

  1. Visit and fill out the form to recieve the Coffee Conversation Toolkit with step-by-step instructions on how to host an event, along with video links, discussion questions and promotional materials.
  2. Purchase Gobena Coffee for your event. Visit Gobena Store
  3. Use provided materials to promote event.
  4. Host event using some or all of the resources provided in toolkit.

Looking for more Advocate Opportunities?
Visit to see more unqiue, tangible ways you can care for orphans!

Posted in Adoption/Lifesong | Leave a comment
What I read in August

Another month has come and gone!!

Everyone is sending their first day of school pics and I am here waiting for our year to be over. Ahh, to be the ones with the odd school schedule. :D

I read a few books last month, I feel like I cheated by including one since it was mostly photos, but there was still some reading involved…so..I figured that is ok.

So, this is what I read in August. Let me know what you read last month and really enjoyed! I feel bad, I got all sorts of busy and my held books at the library got sent back, now I don’t remember what they were. I will have to see if I can find my list somewhere on my desk!


The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith – Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

What I thought: I enjoyed this book…probably too much. It reminded me a little of the story of Jeffy and I. No, we didn’t get stuck in an elevator, but there were just a few things that made me reminisce.. :)


Noggin by John Corey Whaley – Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

What I thought: I liked this book to a point. I enjoyed the plot and the relationships..I think it was something about the ending that put me off though. I think I wanted it to keep going. But I guess that is a sign that I liked the book. :shrug:


Mila 2.0 Renegade by Debra Driza – There is no one left for Mila to trust. Except for a boy she barely knows.

But Hunter has no idea who—and what—Mila really is. She can’t bear to reveal her secret, even though he’s unwittingly joined her search for Richard Grady, a man who may know more details of Mila’s complicated past.

Yet the road to the truth is more dangerous than ever. With General Holland and the Vita Obscura scouring the earth for her whereabouts, Mila must rely on her newfound android abilities to protect herself and Hunter from imminent harm. Still, embracing her identity as a machine leads her to question the state of her humanity—as well as Hunter’s real motives.

Perfect for fans of I Am Number Four and Divergent, this action-packed and heart-wrenching second installment of MILA 2.0 will leave readers breathlessly awaiting the series conclusion.

What I thought: This was the second book in the series. It took me a while to remember the first one after starting this one. But I got right back into it with the hints the author placed throughout the storyline. It definitely had me reading at night, which for me to give up my Pinterest time, the book has to be good. ;)


Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer – Nancy Thayer, the New York Times bestselling author of Island Girls, tells the emotionally-charged story of two childhood friends on the tumultuous path to love and wisdom in this heartfelt ode to friendship.

When Maggie and Piper meet as girls on the Nantucket beach, they are instant best friends—even though Piper’s mother would much prefer she play with the daughters of senators and statesmen than a seamstress’s kid like Maggie. But after many golden summers spent building sandcastles and sharing their dreams for the future, Piper and Maggie grow apart. In her twenties, beautiful and spirited Piper worries she’ll never amount to more than the glittering wife of a successful husband, while hardworking redheaded Maggie scrimps and saves her pennies, wondering if she’ll ever have the luxury of a passionate romance. It seems they have little in common…until Cameron Chadwick appears on the island. A wealthy Midwestern charmer, Cameron takes moonlit walks on the dunes with Maggie and whisks Piper away to New York City for lavish nights on the town. When both women discover they’re pregnant, it looks like the end of their already-distant friendship. But as Maggie and Piper struggle to decide what their lives will be, they realize more than ever before how very much they need a friend.

What I thought: I was conflicted while reading this book..trying to think if something like this would really happen or not. But I really enjoyed the story and the characters. It was another book that I wanted to see what would happen. Not in a suspenseful way, but just like you are peeking into someone else’s life…


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

What I thought: We read this book for our school book of the month. I think it was a book club book for the kids, but we missed that month. I am glad we read it though! Seemed a little farfetched at times, but honestly, I could totally see something like that happening, especially in society today. :P I like the characters and the story too..We watched the movie a couple days later and I was disappointed, they left so much out!


Hollow City by Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike.

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

What I thought: This is another sequel in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children book series. This too took me a bit to get into and remember the characters from the first book and figure out what was happening. But it got me hooked quickly and I kept on reading, finishing it easy enough. A few more characters introduced and an interesting adventure.. Pretty sure they are setting up for a 3rd book, which I am fine with! It is a little odd that people have photos like these around…some of them are pretty creepy!


Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton – A beautiful, heartfelt, funny and inspiring collection of photographs capturing the spirit of a city

In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City.  Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories.  The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called “Humans of New York,” in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

Humans of New York is the book inspired by the Internet sensation. With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.

Surprising and moving, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of the city.

What I thought: Ok, photography and little stories about those photographed in the same book? Total win if you ask me!! I love what this man did with his photography. I would love to do that. Even the photos that only had one sentence struck me as fascinating. I am following him on Instagram and now he is in Uganda and some of the stories are depressing, others funny, others lovely. He is doing a great thing…

Posted in What I read | 1 Comment
Adoption: 4 Ways to Thrive Once They’re Home
This post is part of the Adoption Journey Series. See previous posts, “Adoption: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Journey” & “Adoption: 5 Funding Ideas that Work!”. 

You made it. After all the paperwork, emails, phone calls, times of waiting and waiting and waiting, your child is finally forever home. Now what??

Being home together as a family may be all that you envisioned and expected, but most likely, there may be some challenges and adjustments to work through. Whether that be with your child you just brought into your home or your bio kids. Change can be tough, especially when your new forever child has come from a hard place and may have many emotional walls and culture barriers to break down. The good news? You’re not in this alone.

Here are a few resources and ideas for families post-adoption…

4 Ways to Thrive Once They’re Home

  1. Find a Support Group. During the transition, you will need godly friends and family surrounding and encouraging you, telling you, “I get what you’re going through…We are praying.” If your church does not have an adoption support group, talk to other adoptive families and start your own. Also, check with your adoption agency to see if they can connect you with someone in your area.
  2. Attend an Empowered to Connect ConferenceYep, it’s that good that we’re mentioning it twice. If you can’t make a conference before your adoption, find the time to attend after your child is in your home. The insight and wisdom you will receive will encourage you as you parent a child from a hard places.
  3. Read Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive FamilyPacked with practical advice and ideas for families with an adopted child, this parenting handbook is unique in that it provides real-life solutions to common challenges. Bible-based and comprehensive, this Focus on the Family resource addresses the special challenges of adopted children and their parents from birth through adulthood.
  4. Call‘s Post Adoption Phone line. This ministry of Focus on the Family offers this service FREE for adoptive families! The phone number is 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459) and is staffed Mon – Fri from 8am – 10pm EST by counselors who have been trained by Dr. Karyn Purvis.

What are some other ways that helped your family THRIVE once your child(ren) were forever home? Please join the conversation by commenting below.

Posted in Adoption/Lifesong | 1 Comment
What I read in July

Goodness, did July seem to go by quickly for anyone else or is it just me?  Seems like I just did the June book blog!

I read a little bit more this month than last month as I wasn’t on the computer much the last week or two.

Anyway, here is what I read in July. :)


Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes – Lisa Edwards

This Prada-wearing magazine editor thinks her life is over when her “fabulous” new job turns out to be a deportation to Dublin to launch Colleen magazine. The only saving grace is that her friends aren’t there to witness her downward spiral. Might her new boss, the disheveled and moody Jack Devine, save her from a fate worse than hell?

Ashling Kennedy

Ashling, Colleen‘s assistant editor, is an award-winning worrier, increasingly aware that something fundamental is missing from her life — apart from a boyfriend and a waistline.

Clodagh “Princess” Kelly

Ashling’s best friend, Clodagh, lives the domestic dream in a suburban castle. So why, lately, has she had the recurring urge to kiss a frog — or sleep with a frog, if truth be told?

As these three women search for love, success, and happiness, they will discover that if you let things simmer under the surface for too long, sooner or later they’ll boil over.

What I thought: Well, I had high hopes for this one, but it was just…ok. It seemed to me like an episode of a soap opera or some other drama show…I didn’t really get into the story as much as I would have liked…And it was another book with words from Ireland/England so I always get thrown by some of those, lol.


All the Things You Are by Declan Hughes – About to turn forty, her youthful dreams of becoming an actress abandoned, there’s no doubt in her mind that suburban wife and mother-of-two Clare Taylor has settled. A wild week in Chicago may have shaken things up a bit, but as she turns her key in her Madison, Wisconsin home on the eve of Hallowe’en, she knows that what happened with her ex was nothing more than a distraction, that this is where her life is.

Except it’s all gone. The furniture gone, the house stripped, her husband Danny, her daughters, all gone; no message; no note, nothing. Outside in the dark, searching for a sign, she steps in one: the eviscerated body of the family dog.

By dawn next morning, her supposedly mortgage-free home has been foreclosed against, one of Danny’s childhood friends lies dead in her backyard, and Clare is caught up in a nightmare that began with her husband on Hallowe’en night, 1976. A nightmare that reaches its terrifying climax thirty-five years later.

What I thought: Another that I had high hopes for. I don’t think the story played out as I expected so I was a little disappointed. I am sure if someone didn’t go into the book with my same expectations it might be a better book…


Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson – Narrator Jen returns to her grandmother Samantha, who fell and is in a coma. She finds a series of letters addressed to her, about Sam’s secret affair. Meanwhile a childhood summer pal moves in nearby. Brendan is handsome, kind, funny, and ill. Two extraordinary love stories are entwined.

What I thought – Well, I have to admit that I was drawn to the book since it had my name on it… ;) But it was a cute little story and I like the way it was told. I enjoyed it…


Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline – New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award winning author Lisa Scottoline is loved by millions of readers for her suspenseful novels about family and justice. Scottoline delivers once again with Keep Quiet, an emotionally gripping and complex story about one man’s split-second decision to protect his son – and the devastating consequences that follow.Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater.  On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all. Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.

What I thought – This has to be one of my favorite suspense authors. There are relationships and the suspense is almost an afterthought but it is always there. Makes you imagine what you would do in the situation. I love books that make me not want to put them down and this was one of them. I do think that the ending could have been done differently, but really, it was worth the read.


Relativity by Cristin Bishara – There are so many moments Ruby Wright wishes she could change. The moment her dad uprooted her from California to live in backwoods Ohio with their new stepfamily. The moment she moved away without telling her best friend George she loved him. The moment a car accident ended her mother’s life.

But no one can rewrite time. At least, that’s what physics-obsessed Ruby believes.

Then she stumbles upon a lightning-powered tree—a doorway to a series of parallel universes. How many possible worlds will Ruby have to explore to find the one with the perfect combination of people, relationships, and experiences? And is she willing to risk everything she has to get back what she has lost?

With a deft blend of science and heart, Cristin Bishara’s thought-provoking debut novel explored the laws of time and space…and the even more mysterious nature of love and loss.

What I thought – This was a pretty fast read, which I needed towards the end of this month. Makes you think about how small things can totally change a life. The people you meet, the places you go… Very interesting..


The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.

What I thought – What can I say about this book? It was my first time reading it, surprisingly, and it was nice. I wish I had read it before I saw the movie though!

Let me know what you read in July! I love love love getting recommendations! Although I do have a large hold section at the library this moment. Oops!!

Posted in What I read | 1 Comment
Adoption: 5 Funding Ideas That Work
I am blogging with Lifesong to advocate for the orphan. Every month there will be a new blog post on different topics. This month is about adoption funding ideas.
This post is part of Lifesong’s Adoption Journey Series. See previous post, “Adoption: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Journey” here.

While nearly two in five practicing Christians have considered adoption, only 5% have actually done it.* What keeps people from growing their families through adoption?

One of the biggest barriers to adoption is the cost. Depending on the circumstances, adoption can cost up to $50,000! It makes sense why many families who have a heart for vulnerable children, look at adoption as something they desire, but is just too hard to grasp because of the high costs.
There are families who have seen God perform miracles as they have stepped out in faithfulness to follow His call for their family…if it’s His will, it’s His bill. He will make a way to show Himself as THE Provider of all things. Don’t let money stand in the way, when He has provided many avenues for families to bridge that financial gap.
Here are few tips and resources for funding an adoption…
  1. Save & sacrifice. It’s never too early to start saving for adoption. Try to cut back your budget to set a portion of money aside each month to pay for some of the initial adoption costs, like home study and application fees. Make sacrifices as God moves you, maybe that’s postponing a big purchase or selling some of your possessions.
  2. Learn from others. In her must-read book, Adopting Without Debt, Julie Gumm shares how to find extra money in your household budget, apply for grants, and fundraise in order to build your family without saddling it with debt. 
  3. Apply for Adoption Grants & Loans. Research and apply for national, state, and local adoption grants. A few favorites we direct families to are our friends at Show Hope & Abba Fund. See Resource Report for more grants & loans available and don’t forget to check out our adoption grant & loan page.
  4. Think outside the box. The fundraising creativity of adoptive families continues to grow. Check out organizations like Both Hands, who help families fundraise for adoption while doing a service project for a widow. Other groups like 147 Million Orphans & MudLOVE provide jewelry, t-shirts, and other products you can use towards fundraising.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask. Maybe the word “fundraise” and the thought of asking people for money makes you nervous. WATCH the video below to see how God moved in this couple’s heart to show them adoption was so much bigger than their family.


I want to hear from you? What ways did your family raise money for adoption?

*from Becoming Home by Frames Barna Group & Jedd Medefind

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Eighteen years!

Eighteen years!

Eighteen years ago today happened to be a Wednesday. Eighteen years ago today I married Jeffy. Who gets married on a Wednesday, right?

We were engaged on July 8th and married on the 24th. Yes, we got all sorts of comments about that. But like in the story I told here, we met when I was 15, so it wasn’t like we just started dating or something…

We got married at my mom’s house with just a handful of people present. We lived next door to a, that was pretty convenient. ;) I feel bad that more people couldn’t be there since we changed the date at the last minute. Neither one of us like being the center of attention though, and our wedding, as unassuming as it was, was still a special day.

It has been quite the ride the last eighteen years…we’ve had ups and downs and a lot of side to sides…but we have made it this far! Smile at the camera and go again!

A few years ago he went along with my idea to get photos together for our anniversary. If it is one thing he doesn’t like is getting his picture taken. Getting his picture taken on a busy street is even worse. But he did it for me…. I appreciate my friend Jen for every single image that she got of us…. Look, we are youngins!



If Jeffy can always do something, it is make me laugh. I think most people that know him will say the same thing about him.. :)

I googled what the customary gift was for the 18th year.. and well, it is feathers. Feathers? I guess I can go get him some from the yard. Guinea feathers are actually quite pretty. :) The more modern choices were porcelain or cat’s eye jewelry. :shrug:

Our anniversary gift is something that we will be excited about every day. It’s kind of large and it took a bunch of people to get it ready for our special day…

What is it you ask? It is a brand new air conditioner and a bunch of new duct work. Romantic, eh? ;) But really, this is so exciting because ever since we moved into this house the ac has not worked. We had to buy window units for each room upstairs and one for downstairs. Seriously, no air flow upstairs at all. Summer was miserable but winter was brutal.

I told him we need to make a plan to do something for our that is next on our list. I have plenty of ideas, but not sure it will be feasible..

Do you have any wonderful ideas to celebrate 20 years of marriage? :) What are some things that you have done? Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted in Chit chat, Family | 1 Comment
Thursday Things

So, today is a special Thursday Things.. It’s Ryan’s birthday and he is turning 15!

Of course, it was pretty uneventful…hopefully this weekend will be more celebratory!

It is getting late, so I wanted to make sure and get this posted.. See, life is hectic right now and I am really trying to post more, lol.

So, here are this weeks Thursday Things..

Ryan babyThis is Ryan when he was a baby. I total remember taking this pic. He was right by the fish tank stand.. Check it out, film camera, lol. This is just a scan.

This Trek Mix from Costco is sooo yummy. :) I love everything in it! You know sometimes there are trail mixes out there and you pick things out and leave other things? This one, I eat everything.. Yum yum!

EOS Shave Cream. I love their lip products and now I love their shave cream. This is an actual cream, not a gel or anything else. It is thick! And this vanilla flavor??  Smells soo good.. I won’t go back to gel again!

airplaneI can’t say much about this yet…but I am loving it this week. :)


This song. I know it has been everywhere lately. But I do love it. :)

What are things that you have enjoyed about this week? I love hearing good news…

Have a great rest of the week!! :)


Posted in Thursday Things | 2 Comments
Samurai Sam’s Teriyaki Sauce

Before we moved to NC, we made sure to buy as many bottles of Samurai Sam’s teriyaki sauce that would be able to fit in the RV. Why, you ask? Well, the combination of the sauce and white rice was one more meal that Lauren could eat…and with driving across the country, we knew that we would need such a thing!

We made it to North Carolina, and even into our house a few months later…we finally ran out of sauce. :gasp: Luckily, it said on one of the old bottles that we could order some! Yay!!! So, we did what anyone who has a child with sensory issues would do…..we ordered two cases. :P

We eventually ran out and I went to order some more only to find out that they don’t do that anymore. :gasp: What!?!

Seriously, Lauren eats only a handful of different things…things that we know she will eat and be ok with. I talk about it a little bit more here in case you were curious.

I wrote to Samurai Sam’s off of their contact form on their website asking if there was any way that I could get some of the sauce. I think it was the VP of something or other that got back to me..she commented that I should just go into my nearest restaurant and purchase some. Well sure…our nearest Samurai Sam’s is in Virginia…and is about 2.5 hours away. We made a plan to go there but decided to call first to see if they even sell the bottles of sauce. Guess what? They don’t. Saved us a trip, although Lauren was disappointed that she wouldn’t even get a meal.

I wrote to the VP again and explained our story…she offered to go into a store herself and purchase one for me and to send her our address. That was nice of her!!  But, I told her that it wasn’t necessary, that a bottle would only last for a couple days and it wasn’t worth her doing all of that…

I posted my disappointment on Facebook, just because I was really frustrated that the ability of getting sauce for Lauren was looking more and more impossible.

I was so surprised when a few people offered to pick up some and send it to us. I had no idea that anything would come of it!

Well, guess what we got in the mail two days in a row?!?!?!?! Seriously you guys….this is just amazing. Nine bottles. Crazy!!!

Lauren couldn’t stop smiling and cheering….no exaggeration.

Thank you to the two lovely gals that went and did this for Lauren, for our family… Jen and Chrissy, you guys are awesome… :)

You can tell that we all had a celebratory dinner last night already, with the almost empty bottle…lol.

Samurai Sam's teriyaki sauce and Lauren

Posted in Chit chat, Family | 1 Comment
What I read in June

I can’t believe half of the year is over.. Maybe because with the ice storm, winter seemed to stay longer in my thoughts than before. Hard to imagine that in just a couple months it will be Fall again!

June only had me reading four books, I knew it wasn’t going to be a lot. I had a lot of deadlines to meet all at the same time it seemed… Of course right now I have started a book that is kind of slow going at the moment. I hope it picks up!

Here is what I read in June!


The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz – It’s summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother’s busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn’t know what “her thing” is yet, it’s definitely not shopping and makeup. And it’s not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute?
This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she’ll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.
In this bighearted, sweetly romantic novel, things may not turn out exactly as Nina expects. They might be better.

What I thought: This is totally a teen book…I wouldn’t even classify it as YA. But it was cute. And if filled the quick read that I needed this month. It is a nice story of someone trying to do a certain number of ‘nice’ things. I would definitely recommend this book…


My Real Children by Jo Walton – It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know—what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War—those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history. Each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives…and of how every life means the entire world.

What I thought: Woah…what an interesting idea for a book. I am sure there have been other similar stories, but I loved the way this one was told. A woman having lived two different lives.. and during the story, you imagine that one of them is true..but then you realize that she remembers both lives.


This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash – The critically-acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins

When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a town not far from the Appalachian mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex-minor league baseball player whom they haven’t seen in years, suddenly appears and wants to spend more time with them. Unfortunately, Wade has signed away legal rights to his daughters, and the only way he can get Easter and Ruby back is to steal them away in the middle of the night.

Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn’t the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

What I thought: I enjoyed this story. That’s pretty much what it was, a story…someone telling events that happened. I didn’t get into the characters as much in this book. I had an issue with how it ended.. It wasn’t a strong ending for me. I still did enjoy the story though..


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

What I thought: What can I say about this book that so many people have read? lol. It was a great story. I hated some of the language in it since we were reading it in school. But it is such an interesting story…

Let me know what books you have read lately and enjoyed! I have a list here to take with me to the library next time. We live in the middle of nowhere so some of your suggestions might be on the list a while, lol.

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The Power in Your Hands

The search for the ‘perfect’ curriculum seems never ending sometimes.. I think I have math taken care of, science and language arts.. But writing? Goodness. I have tried so many things! There are books that I have gotten recently that I totally love…but they aren’t substantial enough to stand alone… Argh!!

So you can understand how excited I was when  asked to review The Power in Your Hands. (Writing Nonfiction in High School) This is made for high school ages, around grades 9-12. We just started our school year in January this year, so Ryan was only a few months into grade 9.

The Power in Your HandsI received the teacher and student book and, in my opinion, you need both!

I will start with the student book! (click here for a sample!) What I like about this book is that there are noted end points where to stop for each day. Oftentimes in a book like this, I just keep going until it feels time to stop. This book tells you when to stop!

The book starts with a little questionnaire to get a feel on how you feel about different areas in writing. Some may like reports, others stories…it also asks about writing utensils you prefer, and times of day for writing.. Very interesting reading the results from that!

It pretty much jumps right in with learning the structure of an essay and different ways to start and end an essay. Meanwhile it is asking for your opinion on a matter and asks you to brainstorm the idea…and then come up with a beginning…and an end… and eventually you are asked to write an opinion paper! Woah..that was fast, right? But not really, because each day you already had been working on little bits and pieces! I love that!!


Now, a little about the teacher book. (click here for a sample) This thing is pretty full of…stuff. It is hard to narrow down what is in it!  The first 40+ pages give you hints on grading and proofreading. You would probably want to read that before starting these as it was very informative! Then it tells you what is going to be covered in the student book. After that is a section that includes 14-minute power surges. What in the world are those? Well, basically they are daily prompts…given Monday-Thursday. Write for 14 minutes, keep the work until Friday when you pick which paper you like best, complete it and turn it in Monday to be graded! They are listed by month and week, which is nice if you are like me and tend to lose your place on things like that. :nodding:

The rest of the teacher book pretty much goes over each lesson. If there are questions in the student book, the answers are in the teacher book. It is very helpful! You might be able to start seeing how having both books would come in handy!

The prices are really great too! $39.98 for the student book and $14.98 for the teacher book! The books are so thorough that I would have thought it would be double the price!

Now, how did our first essay go? Well, I involved all three kids in this first round just to see how it would work out. Which, my kids are almost 11, 12 and almost 15. The essay itself went great! I was very impressed with what they came up with! I know my youngest had a little help with her dad, which is totally fine as the subject was to explain why it is, or isn’t, a good idea for teens to have credit cards. She wasn’t sure about some things.

With that said, I think I may purchase the middle school version, Jump In and start with that. It will be nice to keep this high school one to use in a year or two.

I think it is definitely worth checking out both products, to fit in what age group you are working with! The author did such a great job with these books! The way she writes in the student books is like she is chatting to you in person, which makes it easy for independent work, or if you do like I did and read aloud. There are some Christian based content, so keep that in mind.

If you’d like to read other reviews of The Power in Your Hands or the other items for sale, click here!

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