Friday, June 26, 2015

Father's Day Fun!

My mom booked us a special getaway for Father's Day last weekend, we all went to stay at Patterson Lake up near Winthrop.

View from the cabins

View from the pool up at Sun Mountain Lodge where we went swimming a couple nights.  I'm hoping to go back and stay here sometime sans children.

First night, Mom smoked Brian with a 20 point hand in cribbage!

The point of staying on a lake?  Fishing!  Papa's trying to get all his grandkids hooked.  I think Noah's taken the bait!

First fish!

Second fish, a keeper!  It was flopping all around.

The sisters were quite impressed!

This one was a bluegill and big enough so we kept it for Noah to try... and my mom thought it needed to stay fresh longer so she put it in the cabin sink.  It was funny to watch! (still, ew!)

My brother came up Friday night

A little late evening fly fishing from the dock

Sisters find a way to be silly all the time!

Look who stayed in our cabin and got a morning snuggle!  Uncle Kevin!

Saturday's weather turned out awesome.  The girls played in the nice shallow water...

And the boys played in the boat Uncle Kevin brought up.  Fun times!

More sisters being silly...

With plenty of encouragement from the Nana.

After dinner on Saturday there was a small squirrel out by this tree.  Joy went out to see it and instead of running away it just kind of went in circles slowly around the tree.  She was walking around and talking to it, but I couldn't get to my camera fast enough.  So cute!

Then the other two came out and it ran up the tree farther.

We had our own private "park" right in front of the cabins.  Unfortunately about 20 seconds after I took this picture Joy turned around, swung out on the monkey bars like she had been doing, lost her grip, and fell flat on her face.  Scary!

Sunday morning brought the butterflies out to play!

And how do you keep little girls occupied while you're packing up?

You let them play and they find themselves cabinets to climb into.  Bunkbeds I guess!

Then we had hot chocolate, another 5 minute distraction.

The girls got a short boat ride back across the lake to the boat launch.

Uncle Kevin

Now there's trouble!

Mom and Cory also went horse back riding on Friday morning, but she has those pictures.  All in all, a really fun trip in a gorgeous setting!  Even the mosquitoes weren't too bad, the first night we went out on the dock at dusk and could see the bats swooping the water, probably hundreds of them.  Very cool.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book: A Friend In Me

Young women long for relational connection with women further ahead of them on the journey. Yet, without realizing it, many of us tend to distance ourselves from those in younger generations.

Can we really have close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God? Where do we start?

In A Friend in Me, Pam Lau shows you how to be a safe place for the younger women in your life. She offers five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships and talking about issues such as faith, forgiveness, sexuality, and vocation. Most significantly, she reminds you that there doesn't need to be a divide between generations of women. Together, we can have a global impact---and experience a deeper faith than we've ever known.


When I saw this book for review I thought I recognized the author's name.  Then I realized she was the wife of one of the administrators where I went to college.  It's fun to have at least a little connection to an author, especially of a non-fiction book, so you can imagine them in place when they talk about stories from their life.

I spent quite a few years, especially during those college years, searching for a mentor.  Not just older women who were friends, but one in particular that would be willing to invest time with me.  After several false starts I pretty much gave up.  Recently I joined MOPS and the Mentor Moms have been wonderful.  This is the kind of relationship A Friend in Me is trying to help cultivate.

The book is really written for women over 40, and seeing as how I have a few years yet, and my four small children, it feels a bit like it isn't for me.  Which is not to say there aren't plenty of things I could glean from it!  How do you relate to other women in a way that creates an open atmosphere?  How can women's relationships be a safe haven for each other rather than a feeling of judgement or always having to show perfection? 

It's in being humble, willing to be vulnerable, and saying "me too" when someone else shares something.  Or perhaps, being willing to be the first one to share.  Not always easy! 

I hope that this book can be a useful tool for women.  I would say it's a great resource for my Mentor Moms, but they are doing such a wonderful job already.  Perhaps they will keep it handy as a reference.


Purchase your own copy or read other reviews.

Pam Lau is the author of Soul Strength and numerous articles for such publications as Christian Scholar's Review and Christianity Today. She has taught writing at George Fox University and speaks around the country at conferences and retreats. A graduate of Liberty University and Colorado State University, Lau lives near Portland, Oregon, with her husband and three daughters.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tea Collection Summer Sale is on Now!

This is Tea Collection's Semi Annual sale and the clear out of destination India!  Prices are up to 50% off.  Plus use code SUMMER20 now through Monday (6/22) for an additional 20% off.

Don't miss the unique designs from India in soft cotton tees and fun twirl dresses.

PS. Did you know they even have styles for women

Happy Shopping!

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book: As Waters Gone By

How can a marriage survive when separated by hundreds of miles and impenetrable prison walls?

Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again.

Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Café, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders if she's ready for Max's release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?


I would classify As Waters Gone By as women's fiction and I loved it.  Well, maybe love is the wrong word since it's not exactly a happy book, but it certainly got under my skin.

What would you do with 5 years alone after a husband is sent to prison?  And one who told you to stop contacting him and move on with your life?

Most of the story Max is an absent character and we see Emmalyn, learning that her heart has been locked up inside with Max and her judgement about her life has been clouded by her pain.  How do you work through something like that?

I do enjoy stories that live in reality and this book certainly is grounded.  The prose was a bit descriptive at the beginning, but then as I settled into the book it fit with the story and now I would love to go visit Madeline Island!

This book deals with some tough topics, things that I don't necessarily think about every day, but that perhaps should be thought about more often.  Cynthia did so in a way that invites contemplation, not preaching.

I certainly hope there is a sequel to this book that focuses on one (or more) of the other characters in the story while giving a peek at how Emmalyn is doing!


Read other reviews or purchase your own copy today!

Cynthia Ruchti
has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with Heartbeat of the Home radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Monday, June 08, 2015


When we walked into church this morning, late as usual, this was the song they were singing.  Oceans by Hillsong.  It's been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it a couple years ago.

I love the ocean and they always have some background of waves or water or just movement on the screen behind the words.  It seems peaceful and calming.

But then I stop and think about the words of the song.  And the reality of walking out into the ocean, even on a calm day, is not so peaceful.  At least the ocean I'm familiar with here in the Pacific Northwest, is not generally calm.  I've been tumbled by those waves a few times.

Just like the tumbling of the waves, walking out into the great unknown of faith is probably not a guarantee for calm.  You will be tumbled. 

Asking for that?  Just seems like crazy talk!

But that's what this song is really saying.  When the oceans rise, because they will, I will still be calm, because HE will never fail me.

Pay special attention to the repeating bridge.  I don't like asking for trouble, but I DO want to be in that presence, in that grace, in the mystery that makes life sublime.

Listen to my favorite song this morning and then won't you share one with me?

"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Friday, June 05, 2015


Joy, with a simple smoothie that Daddy made
Almost every time I hear a random word it triggers a song in my brain.  This week's word, Gift, immediately started the Shaker song, Simple Gifts*, going around in my head and I've been thinking about it all day.

Because of that, I've been thinking about simple gifts.  The delight in nature, the laugh of a child, the gift of clean water.  The things we take for granted in our daily lives that are not so simple in other parts of the world.

Lately it seems like either there is more awareness or I'm simply more aware of things going on in the wide world beyond my four walls and my small community.  The things that are "problems" for me can often be described most easily using the hashtag "first world problems".

What a privilege we have been given, living the way we do.  It's not something to be taken lightly.  Yet there is the daily tension of living in the moment, dealing with all the little things (and there are a million of them when small children are involved), and still being aware of the greater story going on in the world.

How do we make the most of the gift we have been given?  To live with intention, this is my daily struggle.

And wow, I didn't realize it's been since January that I've participated.  Life has been busy and the blogging has been one of the first things to go.  Here's hoping to get back into it again!

Please enjoy one of my favorite songs!
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

Five minute Friday is hosted over at Kate's place. As always please join in or leave a comment!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

GoMacro Bar Review, Coupon and Giveaway

Last week we got something fun in the mail, a box of GoMacro Mini bars to try.

I was excited to try these energy bars for a few reasons, but number one being that they are gluten free.  At the moment 3 of my 4 kids are gluten free, with the oldest on a permanent basis.  And he, of course, is the most picky about his food.

He gave the thumbs up for the fruit flavored varieties of GoMacro bars.  There are 11 different flavors and I think I've at least tasted most of them this week, corners off my kids' snacks here and there!

My favorites are probably the cherries + berries and the apples + walnuts too, although the chocolate chip peanut butter would be a close second.

What else do I like about these bars? Here's my list, you might find other reasons to enjoy them by checking out their core principles.
  • Gluten free
  • Soy free
  • Not only are they organic, they really are pesticide free
  • Mini bars are the perfect size for kids
Two of the flavors are nut free as well, so they really are trying to help out those of us dealing with food allergies.  There truly is a lot to love about this company!

Twin approved!

Stay in the loop by liking or following GoMacro on all their social media channels.

Try your own

If you'd like to check them out for yourself, new customers can get 40% off their first GoMacro order using code BLOGGER at check out.  That makes them cheaper than almost any other energy bar you can get in the store.

Win a box of GoMacro Mini bars!

In order to be eligible to win you'll need to leave a comment here AND like or share about GoMacro on at least one social media platform.  You can do more for extra entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a complimentary box of GoMacro bars to facilitate my review, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Book: Justified

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.


Well, after reading Jaded two months ago and loving it I am super disappointed that this one hasn't landed in my mailbox yet.  I will devour it as soon as it gets here.  You really probably should read Jaded before this one though as it's part of a series and there is a lot of back story to Fawn Blaylock.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Justified, go HERE.

An avid reader and blogger, Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about Christian women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and is currently working on the three-book Mended Heart Series. The first book in the series, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest for romance.

Varina attended three Texas universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in the local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature.

Even though Varina has spoken at ladies’ retreats and taught women’s Bible classes, she finds the greatest fulfillment facilitating prayer groups. She lives in Burleson, Texas, where she helps with Family Ministry in her home congregation. Varina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and North Texas Christian Writers.