His Smile

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 14, 2014

They had been in the office for quite a while. She sat at the old coffee table with her purse resting against the leg beside her while she carefully and methodically folded the edges one way and then the other before tearing them off of the printer paper. She knew that this job belonged to her as long as she wanted it. She was glad to be in here with him. Every now and then she would stop what she was doing just to look up at him. She could only see the side of his face because he was looking at his computer screen. He had a look of concentration and he seemed to be pushing the same button over and over again. The machine was big and she didn't have a clue as to what he was doing. She just loved being with him.

All of a sudden, he turned toward her with his hands on his knees and asked if she had finished her work. He announced that it was time for another job. They closed the door on the office and headed down the hall. He stopped at the closet and she waited beside him to see what he would pull out this time. Excitement washed over her when he turned around with a single white paper plate. He didn't have to tell her what it was for. She knew.

They headed down the stairs and stopped by the front door to lace up their shoes before going outside. She ran ahead of him to the small grove of trees that she thought of as "her" forest. They chose the best leaves and acorns and even a few of the spiney balls that always fascinated her. She continued searching and he puttered around the yard. She didn't mind that he had left her to choose the rest of the pieces by herself. She would look for something really pretty to surprise him.

When she was finished, she used both hands to carry her treasures over to the front porch where he had settled into a lawn chair. He helped her up into his lap and they looked at each one. With the patience of an old man who recognized the wonder of youth, he listened as she talked about why she chose the pieces that she had in her hands. This was her favorite part.

Later they would head into the house and he would help her get started with the process of attaching them to the plate with Elmer's glue. They would sit at the table and he would read the paper while he waited for her to finish. When the glue was dry enough, he would take the nature plate and hang it with the others in the office on the closet door. They would stand and admire the plates and talk about what made each one special.

She would look up at him and he would look down at her and the smile on his face would stay with her forever. She would never forget the way that smile made her feel. He smiled more with his eyes than any other part of his face. It communicated deep joy and pride and safety. His smile held so many words and she heard every one of them...

But right now they were sitting on the porch having a conversation that didn't have to end. She knew these moments were special, but it wasn't until many years later that she really understood why.

* * *
Although this piece may read like fiction,  it's true.
It's  my story  and it's about a smile that
I've loved  as long as I can remember.
You can read another one like it HERE.

I am also writing over at The Quiet Place Blog today, so go say hello over THERE! :) 

Two - Four

Friday, September 26, 2014

So, two weeks ago, I turned 24 and had a party and made my favorite bundt cake (recipe to come!!!).
When it came time to add another number to my age this year, I had a lot of thoughts. This has been a year when God has been teaching me that:

to behold is to become

to become you must behold

we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 
(2 Cor. 3:18)

Everywhere I turn, I am reading or hearing someone say some variation of those phrases.

If you've been around here for a while, you know that my greatest joy and aspiration in life is to become like my Savior. He is my only hope. He is my anchor. He is my guide. I love knowing that God has committed Himself to helping me to see His glory and to use that sight to make me more like Jesus Christ.

I've been coming to this space for years now to share some of these glimpses and to share the highs (and lows) of life.

23 was a pretty awesome year. I really don't think 24 can even compete.

God is still teaching me this "to behold is to become" business, so I must have a lot more to get to the bottom of.

During my last week of 23,  I read a book that Jay brought back from his trip to Florida this year. The book is "The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield" by Steven J. Lawson. I love reading about people who truly were committed to God and depended on Him with every fiber of their being. Whitefield was such a man.

Did you know that someone tried to attack him in his bed?

Did you know that he preached tirelessly until his dying day?

Did you know that he is probably the reason why Phyllis Wheatley ended up published?

As I reflect on 23 and embrace 24, I continue about the business of setting my hope in God. I thank Him for these men who have honored His name above their own. I pray that I would behold Him and that beholding Him I would be transformed. I pray that I would have the same wherewithal that drove Whitefield until his last so that wherever life takes, I can truly say, "I will fear no evil". I pray that the words of my mouth would be a fountain of life and that my influence would inspire many to join in on the praises of our great God.

What has God been teaching you this year?

How many candles are on YOUR cake?

The Circle: Fall Favorites

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When Kiki announced this month's theme, I was super excited! Aside from summer, fall is my favorite season. Today is the day we all talk about why we love it so much.

The DRINKS:This fall, I've been drinking Irish breakfast tea. It won't be long and I'll be whipping up salted caramel mochas and ordering hazelnut mochas at coffee shops. 

BUCKET LIST ITEM: I'd love to make a trip to my favorite orchard/pumpkin patch/corn maze.

RECIPE: The ginger cookies that Carol taught me how to make during my time in Massachusetts. They are soft and chewy and packed with flavor. I love them! 

CANDY OR PSL: Candy for sure! I didn't even like pumpkin pie until a few years ago. I'm just not into pumpkin everything. I AM into snickers and reeses's and candy corn with peanuts. 

The SCENTS: I've always loved Yankee Candle's fall line. Some of my favorites are: Spiced Pumpkin, Apple Cider, and Banana Nut Bread. Anything warm and spicy, really. 

The HOLIDAYS: Thanksgiving is by far my favorite fall holiday. It is one of the hardest in that it always makes me miss my Grandma, but I love being in the kitchen with my Mom and having my sister join us for the last few years has been special too. The memories, the cooking, the food, the games, and the question of whether or not there will be snow are the best! 

I'd love to hear about your favorite fall things!

If you're here because of the link up, be sure to let me know you stopped by. :)

Grace Upon Grace pt. 5

Monday, September 22, 2014

* Hot weather. It has warmed back up over the last week or so and I have been loving it. There's still a crispness to the air, but I can sit outside and feel the sun on my skin again.

* The "Not my circus, not my monkeys" quote that's been going around. 

We usually host a HUGE get together in September, but I just knew that I wasn't going to be up for it this year. I apologized/declared my incompetence by sharing this quote with people. I've been saying it all weekend and even though a few people came I didn't play the hostess game this year.

It was wonderful. I needed the break.

* Conversations with strangers. I'm always up for a chat...Always. And I try to be safe about it, but I'm just going to talk to strangers.

I've met two people who interjected themselves into my conversation after listening to me say something to someone else (THAT'S a little creepy). As for a less creepy introduction, my Mom and I met an 84 year old man who came to America from Greece when he was 16. That is THE old country...In case you were wondering.

* My brother and sister. I can't emphasize enough how glad I am to be around for their teenage years. Teenagers have ALWAYS driven me a bit nuts, but I love them and I'm excited to watch them become passionate about things and pursue those passions as they get older.

* Time. I can't decide exactly how I feel about it, but fall always makes me get all nostalgic. I love looking back (well, on most of it anyway) and looking ahead.

Let's link up with JORDYN!!!

Nuggets of Gold

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"Wonder Working God" by Jared C. Wilson is a book to read slowly. If you're like me, you'll find yourself reading a chapter or two at a time and then spending several days going back over the key points.

Wilson is an excellent theologian. I have enjoyed reading his articles on the internet for quite some time, but this is my first time reading one of his books. He tends to be very true to the text so I was disappointed and surprised when I came across sections where he embellished Scripture by filling in the blanks and talking about what else MIGHT have been going on. I find it extremely unhelpful when people handle God's Word this way. Another thing that kept stopping me in my tracks were the places where Wilson used what I would describe as "juvenile" phrases to make a certain point. I'm sure many would find his style relatable, but I had to work very hard to get past it.

HOWEVER, every single time I would decide that this book just didn't pass muster, he would come right back around and share an application of Biblical truth that was spot on. I'd find myself highlighting a sentence or paragraph and making a note so that I can return to it later.

I have come to the conclusion that while this book did not meet my expectations or unpack the miracles of Jesus in a way that was particularly unique, it is not a book we should dismiss. Pick up your copy HERE and get ready to see how Jesus' miracles fit into God's big picture. You might even discover that many of them contain convicting lessons that will bring you to your knees.

Mr. Wilson, thank you for studying God's Word, taking the time to share what you've learned, and for being dedicated to the glory of our great God!

 * I was provided with a review copy of this book by Crossway. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.

Let's Talk: Search and Earn

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I remember when we were in school and every essay required a trip to the library to check out the Encyclopedias and to ask the librarian for help finding books on a certain topic. I loved collecting a stack of books, filling up a few index cards with the information I found in the Encyclopedia, and sitting down to brainstorm for my essay.

Just when I was mastering that process, my school got a computer lab and we were taught to use Encyclopedias to make sure the information we found on the internet was actually correct. I was so reluctant to do my searches online because of this "verify your websites" business.

Then all of a sudden, every time I would ask a question, the response would be, "I don't know...Why don't you Google it?"? I have a lot of questions. People are constantly asking if I've "googled it" yet.


My Mom (being one of the most technologically advanced people that I know and all) found out about Swagbucks when everyone else was still "googling it". Don't get me wrong, I love Google, but Swagbucks gives you REWARDS for searching.

I followed my Mom's advance and signed up for Swagbucks. It's just now dawning on me to share this little gem with you!

If you're not familiar with Swagbucks, it's simply a free search engine that rewards you for searching. Swagbucks also offers you opportunities to earn rewards by taking surveys, signing up for coupons, shopping online, playing games, and even watching short videos.

Here's a snippet from their own about page:

"Swagbucks is the Web's premier rewards and loyalty destination. Swagbucks allows web and mobile members to earn virtual currency (called Swag Bucks) for doing what they already do online every day- watching videos, searching the web, playing games, participating in market research and shopping online. Swag Bucks can then be redeemed for valuable rewards, including gift cards to the world's online and offline retailers. Since its launch in 2008, Swagbucks has awarded more than $45 million in real life rewards." 


You might be wondering what kinds of rewards they offer...Begin by signing up and claiming your rewards points. Once they have built up a bit, you will be able to exchange your points for gift cards to all kinds of stores: Amazon, Wal-Mart, Paypal, Target, Old Navy, Lowes, Nike, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Homegoods, and the list goes on and on.

Sign up HERE and get started on earning your rewards today.

Just so you know, when you sign up using any link found on this site, I'll get points.

When you invite your friends to sign up, you'll get points.

*Even though there are "affiliate links" throughout this post, Swagbucks did not ask me to write it . I use Swagbucks and I'm sharing it with you because I think you'll enjoy using it too! 

Etsy Swap

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

AMY and MEGAN are teaming up to host an Etsy Swap again! It's because of the swap they threw earlier this year that I signed up with Etsy and began browsing all of the wonderful shops. So far, I'm stuck on the zippered pouches, the prints, the greeting cards, the ceramics, and all of the stamps.

Let's take a look at some of my current favorites! 

I also really, really like these different stamps! I'm thinking some of my birthday money will be spent on a couple of them.


Which address label to you like better?
What are some of your most frequented Etsy shops? 

You have until September 19th to sign up for this swap, so click HERE if you're interested!

Fall Reading List

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I started making my fall reading list earlier this spring. Slowly but surely, it's been filling up with titles that I'm really looking forward to. I noticed that my historical fiction avoiding self didn't pick one single piece of contemporary fiction this fall. Here is my list of possibilities.

I'll add a few comments about each book after I'm finished with it. 

The titles in bold will be ones that I'm currently reading. 

Also note that each title is a link to the goodreads profile of each book! 

"The House Girl" Tara Conklin //  I couldn't get enough of this novel! The story flashes between NYC in 2004 and Virginia in the mid-1800's. The times weave together perfectly. You learn what really matters and enjoy digging up history with the Lina (the "modern" woman) and you are reminded of the horrors of the past and the hope the Underground Railroad offered with Josephine (the woman from the past). If you're looking for a good novel that takes a bit of time to read, this is a book for you! (September 10, 2014)

"The Alchemy of Murder" Carol McCleary // I decided to check this book out from the library after seeing it on my friend Shauna's goodreads page this summer. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that it was set around Jack the Ripper and more specifically a detective posing as a prostitute. The cover looks great, the jacket made it sound wonderful, but I just didn't make it very far before I realized that this was NOT a book for me. (September 13, 2014)

"The Small Rain" Madeleine L'Engle // I absolutely loved this book! Before I started I knew that it L'Engle's first novel, but I had ZERO expectations. I assumed that I would probably hate it. I didn't! It was first published in 1945 and is set in New York City. You'll follow a young pianist named Katherine as she deals with growing up in the world of the theatre. I read a 1984 edition that included a note from L'Engle that I found especially helpful.  (November 10, 2014)

"The Devil in the White City" Erik Larson // I started this book, but I decided that it was a little too much for me. The fact that it's based on true crimes started getting to me!

"A Severed Wasp" Madeleine L'Engle // I didn't even touch this one! I enjoyed "The Small Rain" so much that I am saving this for later because I don't want the story to end just yet. There were 40 years between the two books and if L'Engle had to wait that long, I think I need to wait at least a little while!


"Deceived" Irene Hannon //  I love a good mystery! If you are a fan of Mary Higgins Clark or Dee Henderson or mysteries in general, you'll probably really enjoy Hannon's style. This particular book is more of a HOW did they do it and less of a whodunnit which was refreshing to me. I found myself enjoying the writing and not really trying to hurry up and solve the mystery. You can read my full review HERE. (September 21, 2014)

"Call Me Zelda" Erika Robuck // I got into a Fitzgerald mood this fall. This fictional biography was very well written and appears to have given a very fair sketch of the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. It inspired me to pick up a collection of her own writings and to consider her as I read her husband's work. Her story is nothing fairytale or dreamy...but it's reality and I truly enjoyed it. (September 29, 2014)

"Save Me the Waltz" Zelda Fitzgerald // I ended up sending this back to the library before I finished it...I'm going to keep my eye out for a copy of my own at used book sales! (November 3, 2014)

"The Christmas Cat" by Melody Carlson // You can read my full review of this book HERE! (November 8, 2014)

"Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan 


"The Wonder-Working God" Jared C. Wilson // Although this book did not live up to my expectations, it wasn't all bad. You can read my full review by clicking HERE. (September 21, 2014)

"The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield" Steven Lawson // This is an EXCELLENT book! Whitefield is one of my favorite "Georges" from history past and I never tire of hearing of his walk with God, his influence in the world, and the stories of God's faithfulness to him in his ministry.

Pick it up, be inspired, and learn about more about one of God's greatest tools. (September 10, 2014)

"An Autobiography" Agatha Christie // This book reads like a history of days gone by. Christie fans and Downton fans will like it because it's a very real person's account of what life was actually like in the first half of the 1900's. I especially enjoyed hearing about how and why Christie wrote what she did. (October 28, 2014)

"Dispatches from the Front" Tim Keesee // This is one of those books that is made up of a collection of journal entries. It's the kind of book that I pick up and put down, never reading it all at once or all the way through. I checked it out from the library, read portions of it, and returned it. I'm looking forward to coming back to it again and again. The stories of God at work in and through Keese and the people he has found himself working among are refreshing and inspiring. This is a great, yet unique book! (October 4, 2014)

"By Searching" Isobel Kuhn // I'm putting this book on my list of all time favorites! This is an autobiography of sorts. Kuhn writes about what it was like to be a young woman in the 1920's. She writes about the years she spent questioning her faith, the years she spent questioning God's plan for her life, and touches on the years that came after those two difficult seasons. Trust me, this is one you MUST read. (October 15, 2014)

"My Life in France" Julia Child // I learned so much about Julia from this book...Memories, travel stories, cooking tricks, and the little things that end up forgotten were all very interesting to me! I really enjoyed it. It was amazing to hear about HOW Julia became Julia Child. You'll enjoy reading about her, food, cooking, France, and life in the 1940's-70's! (November 17, 2014)


"Cold Tangerines" Shauna Niequist // I think I'm the last person on the internet to read something of Niequest's! This collection of essays was beautifully written. I read the first eight of them all in one night because I just couldn't stop. My favorite piece was titled "Swimming" and close seconds were: "On Waiting", "Island", "French Class", "These Are the Days", "Pennies", "The Hook", and of course, "Cold Tangerines". I haven't completely finished this book, but I'm putting it down for now. Like "Lessons From the Front" (above), I want to come back to it later. If you've read Niequist, you know that she writes short pieces that have everyone nodding their head saying, "Yes! Me too!!!". If you haven't, you will and you'll want to stop and think and listen and maybe even write a short essay of your own. (October 14, 2014)

If you're looking for more book recommendations, check out these posts:

When You Must Write

Saturday, September 13, 2014

When Waterbrook offered to send me a copy of Robert Benson's latest book, "Dancing on the Head of a Pen", I was ecstatic. There is something about reading about writing from someone else's perspective that always intrigues me. This book promised to be a kind of writing memoir aimed at inspiring others to pick up their pens and fill pages of their own. Benson's hope for this book is that it will:

"...help you write one of your own. If you are not sure whether or not you can write a book, this one will not answer the question. You will have to write a book before you will know. I do hope these pages will give you a way to begin to make dark marks on pages of your own." (p. 13)

No matter how much we love it, writing is hard. You can read about those writers who have inspired Benson the most in chapter 8 and  in the section at the end titled, "On Gratitude". He knows that getting alone, sticking with it, and believing that the words are important are struggles that all writers share. Benson has faked it (you can read about that in chapter 3), but he has also put the work in and come out on the other side to see his name in print.  

He knows what it's like to desire real people to read your work (you can read about this in chapter 5), so he devotes several chapters to the process of sharing your work with others, putting the finishing touches on it, and realizing that you are free to move on to the next one (see chapters 11 and 12). 

In short, this is one of my favorite books on writing. I have a feeling it will become one of your favorites too!

Click HERE to order your copy today. 

* I was provided with a review copy of this book by Blogging for Books. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.

What I Learned in August

Thursday, September 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

August 18, 2014

August 20, 2014

* Zucchini has two c's in it. Also, thanks to my Post to Post penpaling, I've learned that my spelling STINKS these days. I need to work on that! Do you have any tips?

*You can buy graham cracker crumbs. This is just so strange to me, but apparently, it's real.

* Jayda over at Avocado Grove led me to try out the Zebra F-301 pen because it is THE pen. It is. You should try it.

* Thanks to Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, I learned about Eleanor Roosevelt's "My Day" Column that ran from the end of 1935 through the fall of 1962 . This is the closest thing to a blog from those days and I'm excited to work my way through them. Do you know of any other columns like this one? Fill me in if you do!

*I've been watching Once Upon a Time again. I learned that Sebastian Stan who plays the Mad Hatter also plays Bucky on Captain America 2. I KNEW that guy looked familiar!

* Believe it or not, I learned to "play" the baritone ukulele at music camp. My Mom learned with me which made it 100 times easier and 1,000 times more fun. Don't worry, if you come to visit, I will NOT be forcing you to listen. :)

* That Keanu Reeves turned 50 on September 2 and played in The Matrix (I never watched those. There is more than one, right?!?!?) and was born in Lebanon.

Best Reads From the Summer of 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One of my favorite things to do that is basically cheap or free is to read. I'll give just about any genre a chance, but I am known to choose my books by the season and the cover.

Discovering new authors is always great and sharing them with my friends is always my next step, so I thought I'd share a little "best of" list with you!

"Women of the Word" by Jen Wilkin * * * * *

Aside from John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life", this one is the most influential book that I have ever read. It has CHANGED the way I study the Bible. After reading this book in June I started a study of 1 Peter using the step-by-step methods that Wilkin laid out and it has been one of the richest studies I've ever done in my life. I want everyone I know to read "Women of the Word"!

If you long to know more of God's Word or if you've known that your Bible study time could be richer, get this book. Actually, if you are still alive on this earth, get this book.

I'm serious. It's THAT helpful!

goodreads image

"Navigating Early" by Clare Vanderpool (YA) * * * *

It was a Wednesday evening and I was filling in at the library with my Mom. Whenever it gets slow, I like to step away from the counter and look around. I look in my favorite areas and then I move on to the other areas that I don't tend to browse when I stop in to get books for myself. "Navigating Early" was on display in the young adult section and it caught my eye.

After reading the jacket I almost put it back thinking it sounded pretty "out there". Then I remembered that I'm an adult and I don't HAVE to finish every book I start. So, I checked it out and I was so glad I did.

This was one of those novels that left me sad to be finished with it. It wasn't action packed. It didn't have a mystery. There was no "love interest" as my brother likes to call that. It was just a story about two boys (one whose name happens to be "Early") who were facing the struggles of growing up and found themselves embracing a very unlikely friendship.

goodreads image

"Summer of the Gypsy Moths" by Sara Pennypacker (YA) * * *

This was another book that I chose because of the cover and also because of the setting. I grew to love Great Aunt Louise and found the "drama" that the two girls who live with her found themselves having to deal with.

This book is funny and heartwarming and so bizarre that it was just perfect.

The very plot of this book is probably unlike any other book you will ever read. Somehow, Pennypacker makes it work. I'm eager to read more of her stories!

"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee * * * * *

It was just time that I read this classic. If you haven't read it yet, I'd invite you to put it on your list for this fall!

I always assumed that this book was about the black man who was wrongfully accused and given a sentence that was not his to bear. It turns out that this book was about so much more than that. I loved following Scout around and getting to really know Boo.

The world has changed so much and yet this book reminded me that some things always stay the same.

"Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library" by Chris Grabenstein (YA) * * * *

This was by far the most "entertaining" book from my summer stack. I read it in one day because I had the time and I needed to get to the bottom of the game.

Mr. Lemoncello is like so many quirky old men that we have all known. He is the star of this novel and yet it is Grabenstein's genius that keeps you eager to solve the puzzle for yourself. It's the perfect book for any lazy day.

"One Thing" by Sam Storms   * * * *

This book will feed your soul. It will show you the importance of looking for the glory of God, but it will also define it for you and show you how to keep yourself gazing upon it.

You might devour "One Thing" or you might take it in in chunks like I did. However you read this one, be sure to have a pen ready to mark down the sentences that stop you in your tracks.

What were some books that you enjoyed this summer? 

Are you awaiting the release of anything new by a favorite author?