January 15, 2017

I Wish He Had Come With Instructions by Mike Bechtle

This is a nonfiction book about how most men think and respond and what drives their behaviors.  
Dr. Mike Bechtle, an educator, speaker and author, addresses why men act 
the way they do in a variety of situations as they move through their lives.  

I wish I had been able to read this book in my early 20's as a young wife.  It is a very insightful book written by Bechtle with the goal of giving women ways to approach and communicate more effectively with the men in their lives.  I could apply a great deal of this to my husband but also to my dad and my sons.  He explains that most men will respond positively to conversation, communication and change if approached from the right angle.  

He does preface his remarks by saying that some men may not fit these suggestions due to their abusive or other harmful behaviors and that one should seek serious help in those cases.  He assumes that if you are reading this book you are seeking to build a positive relationship with a man you want to know and understand more deeply.  He also reminds us that this is not a book about making your men change to meet your expectations.  It is meant to give you tools so that you can approach them in positive ways to build stronger relationships.

This book gives very practical suggestions on how men think, act, and communicate.  Bechtle gives suggestions on how to reach beyond the outer person to really build a relationship that nurtures both of you.  In one of the chapters he mentions that his wife proofread it for him and suggested that all the work seems to be done by the woman in a relationship according to his writing.  He clarifies that by bringing us back to the title and purpose of the book.  It is meant to show women how to understand and approach situations differently for more positive responses and results.  He reminds us that the book was written for women and gives them tools that THEY can incorporate for better communication.  We cannot change other people... we can only change ourselves and our behavior.  This book gives us those tools.  

The ultimate message of this book is that we, as women, should take what we learn here to change how we will approach the men in our lives.  He assumes we are not looking for a fight but for an open dialogue.  He gives some great ideas that will help us approach our men with love and a desire to deepen our relationship with them.  His approach is one that builds the team in marriage.  I loved the part where he talked about two people bringing their strengths together to make a much stronger team than either could ever be on their own.

I highly recommend this book for any woman who wants to build better relationships with their husbands, fathers, and sons.  It changed my mind about a lot of things.  I see things that I can change about how I talk to my husband and older boys that I did not even realize may have sounded threatening instead of helpful.   

This book is extremely practical and informative... I give this one a solid 5 out of 5 rating.

I received this book for free from Baker Publishing Company for an honest review.  It is written from a Christian perspective but is not "preachy."  I would have totally picked this book up and purchased it if I had seen it in a bookstore.  I am grateful for the opportunity to share this book with other women.  It is a timely message that I think all women need to hear.

December 01, 2016

Some Resources for our Advent Celebrations Past and Present

We pull from lots of different places every year to use some traditional stuff and some new stuff for our children.  Over the years we have changed our "programming" to fit the ages of our children.  We have used many children's books and children's Bibles but this year we have older children and we are doing a more mature style for them.

We read a scripture reading or two, a devotional reading from one of our books above and we sing a hymn or two.  This year we added the Christ in the Carols book to read about the hymns before we sing them.  The children always look forward to that time.  I dare say they were drawn in when they were small by the eggnog/cocoa and dessert we often share but they have grown to love the reading and time together, too.  They participate fully in the reading and lighting of candles and always have since the time they could read.

Advent started last Sunday but if you are reading an Advent devotional then most of them start today... December 1st.

Here is our list with titles and authors for each resource above and a few extra not shown.

Books Shown Above

Advent and Christmas:  Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy:  Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper (On my NOOK)

The Christ of Christmas by Calvin Miller

The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren (this was a gift from last year)

Christ in the Carols:  Thirty-One Devotionals for Christmas and Advent
 by Christopher and Melodie Lane

Christ in Christmas:  A Family Advent Celebration from Focus on the Family

Great Christmas Ideas by Alice Chapin

More from my NOOK

Christmas Footprints by Todd Stiles

Finding Christmas:  Stories of Startling Joy and Perfect Peace 
by James Calvin Schaap

Devotions for Christmas:  A Celebration to Bring You Joy and Peace 
from Zondervan Publishing

Christmas Playlist:  Four Songs that Bring You to the Heart of Christmas
 by Alistair Begg

Children's Books We Have Used

The First Christmas Tree:  A Legend from Long Ago by Helen Haidle

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar and Gary Blythe

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

Night is Coming by W. Nikola-Lisa

Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate

Three books in a series by Arnold Ytreeide
Bartholomew's Passage
Jotham's Journey
Tabitha's Travels

My Son, My Savior:  The Awesome Wonder of Jesus' Birth by Calvin Miller

Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

How do you celebrate Advent?

Do you have a favorite resource?

Please feel free to share with us in the comments.  

I always love learning about new resources!

November 30, 2016

The NaNoWriMo Wrap...

Weeks one and two I moved through my days pretty well 
and had hope of staying on track 
and then week 3... 
and Thanksgiving 
and traveling to see my parents 
and my daughter 
and not wanting to have my head buried in my 
computer while I spent time with them...
Yeah, all that happened.

I ended up with almost 28,000 words when it was all said and done.
I did a ton of research on the history for my timeline.
I developed some characters.
I wrote some tragedy and joy.
I did some virtual write-ins on YouTube at the NaNoWriMo channel.
I read about the writing process... a lot!
I am developing goals for more writing in 2017.
I am toying with the idea of taking a real live creative writing class.
I will do this again next year.  

I knew by about Saturday/Sunday this past weekend that I was just done for right now.  
I have a super full plate this week and just knew it was not conducive to big chunks of writing time.  So, I put away the big file on my computer with all the writing and research and will use it all at some point if for no other reason than to give me a place to restart and a list of characters to develop more deeply.  

Well, that is it... I did not "win" but I grew as a person and a writer and that really was the point for me this time around.  Time to regroup and make a plan for December.  

The adventures are not over... there is much more to do.

Onward and upward my friends!

November 26, 2016

Advent Begins Tomorrow...

Some great resources I found to share...

A blog post full of resources and a free 28 day handout you can sign up to receive.  It is a great resource!

A more detailed description of the meaning behind all of the elements of the Advent Wreath.

A free resource - digital download entitled Good News of Great Joy

November 14, 2016

NaNoWriMo Lessons from Week 2

Week two nearly KILLED me!  LOL

I lost my focus for four whole days and wrote NOTHING!

I, honestly, had a great reason for not writing, I promise.  I was canning all things pear for the entire week between keeping up with the house, kids and work.  There is a canning post coming, btw.

They were not kidding on the NaNo site that week two is hard.  There was one point where I thought, "What would happen if I did not continue?"  That thought did not last long.  I love my characters so I kept going.  I am going to try and get ahead during week three so that my travel plans and family time don't have to be spent in the bedroom writing while everyone else is having food and fun.  I want to take some time for some photographing of all the family that will be together and the lovely fall surroundings so getting ahead is to my benefit for sure.

I decided that some motivation was in order so I took some time to do a little research and reading on the four uninspired days and got my groove back by Saturday afternoon.

Here is what I did that helped me if you need some ideas.

1.  I loaded a Pandora channel for music of the 1930s.  This is the time period I am writing about and the music feeds my soul so I thought I would give it a try and now I write listening to it for most of the time I write.  Gershwin inspires greatly!  LOL

2.  I added an East Texas history app to my phone for quick research.  It is a quick reference app sponsored and maintained by Sam Houston State University and I LOVE IT!  Click on the button to have a look...

3.  I started a Pinterest board for all things 1930's from clothing and food to historical information about the region I am writing about.  I just scroll through and read from the resources when I am feeling the need for a brain boost to keep going.

4.  I picked up a cookbook on food served in the boarding houses of the area during that time period and one on food, in general, during the Great Depression.

Food typically served in the boarding houses and hotels of the area where I am writing about.

Clara shares her Depression Cooking here in this book and online on YouTube.com.

I also pulled out some old "Church Cookbooks" which have many recipes that have been passed down from church dinners over the decades.  There is also a plethora of videos on cooking in different eras on youtube.com if you just search for them.

Food inspires me, too!

5.  I am continuing to read in the No Plot? No Problem! book and I am attending some of the online writing sessions on the Nano channel on YouTube.com (link below)

I finished up yesterday with 16,458 words written and as soon as this is posted I am taking some time this morning to plug away a bit more at it between laundry and cleaning chores.  There is coffee in my cup and my brain is working.... yes, even on a Monday morning.  So, I continue with a little Ragtime and Big Band music playing in the background.

Hope this inspires you NaNoWriMo writers out there, too.

What do you do to inspire you to write?

How do you warm up for a writing session?

Are any of you reading any writing books right now?  Please share!

Some others sharing their journey....

a little sweary but good tips

November 07, 2016

Lessons from Week 1 of NaNoWriMo 2016

This might be my best effort for writing, outside of journal writing and blogging, that I have ever made.  Granted, I have not tried to write fiction very often.... maybe three times now?  I have already come across some things that I would do differently if I could go back to October and start again. Here are my current observations...

1.  I would make an outline of my book idea ahead of time - There are two categories of writers in this venture according to the NaNoWriMo website.  There are the planners.  Planners are those who plan out their outlines and characters and do the research ahead of time.  The second kind are called Pantsters.  Pansters are those who start this process with no planning and fly by the seat of their pants for the entire 50,000 words.  There are combinations of the two that are referred to as Plantsters.  They combine both methods with a little planning and a little pantsing to get it done.  I have discovered that I am not a pantster and I need a plan.  Next year I will take October to prepare much better than this year.

2.  I would make a chart for characters - I loved a video I just watched about developing a character notebook and I find myself having to backtrack and make some details about characters that I am coming up with.  Without the character sketch I am finding myself struggling to develop scenarios and responses of my characters because I have not thought through how they would respond.  I need to start a notebook and start developing characters.  I know many writers do this and their stories flow from the characters they have built in their research.  I am starting that notebook now and will keep it ongoing.  When I need characters I will already "know" them to some degree and be able to write more effectively as I tell their stories.

3.  I would have read No Plot? No Problem! in October instead of November - I am enjoying the book very much and reading it slowly as I work through my writing but I wish I had known so much of this before I started.  Next year, since I am reading it now, I should have a better handle on the great information in this book.  I still won't be pantsing it, though.  LOL

4.  I would read other books on writing fiction before starting this process - The more I write the more I realize how little I know about doing this.  I know a good story when I READ it but have no earthly idea how to WRITE one.  I need better skills and knowledge to make this a real success.

5.  I would read FAR more fiction than I have to this point in my life - I have been so into non-fiction for so long I tend to write like that.  I am making a goal for 2017 to read FAR more fiction and historical fiction specifically.  I am a firm believer in reading good fiction to write good fiction.  I think it is super important to read a lot from the genre you want to write in.  I plan to make this new habit a priority.

6.  I would take a creative writing class - This one is HUGE for me.  I have already looked into some continuing education class schedules for the coming year.  I am researching some online writing courses that are legit.  There will be a six week course or two for me in this subject.  I don't believe you HAVE to take creative writing to be a creative writer but my personality is one that needs a class to give me some ground rules to keep me in line.  The ISTJ is not necessarily the best storyteller.... or are they?  I know I like lots of details and research and I love finding little tidbits that are exciting and cool to share.  I think the ISTJ, and me in particular, would be rather good at writing historical fiction.  The only problem is the lack of creative artistic feel to my writing but I don't think that is an impossible obstacle.  I think with a little push in the creative writing realm I could soar at that.  I may never be an award winning writer but I can, at the very least, improve my skills and as an ISTJ that is very appealing.

7.  If you write historical fiction there is A TON of research that should be done BEFORE you start writing.  I am writing an historical fiction work and the more I write the more I have to stop and read things about what I am writing.  I know I could keep going and make it up and correct the inaccuracies later but I stop.... and I read.... and I research... and get drawn into the history... and forget to write.  LOL  I would read ahead if I had it to do over again and for next year I will think through what I want to do and start reading from that time period several months in advance.  I am learning that it takes WAY more than a month to truly write a novel but the daily writing is the best practice I could imagine so I will keep going.

Are you writing a novel this month?

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo before?

Have you learned anything through this process?

Feel free to share your observations in the comments below or link me to a post you have written on your own writing adventures!

November 06, 2016

Road Trip North...

I love going to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  It has my favorite bookstore in the whole world and a few yarn places I like to visit.  It also has a yearly event called Tournament of Bands (TOB).  This was our 10th year of going with our kids.  It was a magnificent overcast cool day for a band contest.  Thought I would share a few photos from the day for you...

The first thing I did this morning was head to Coas Bookstore for a book signing with Bruce Wilson.  He just published a new book called Death in the Black Patch.  He just happens to be the father of a sweet friend of mine.  I love historical fiction so this is right up my ally.... if I can keep it long enough to read it before my husband snags it I will do a review for this one, too.

The rest of the day was spent looking at this magnificent sky!

and a plethora of bands

This band is the one my son is part of.

It was a great day.

I also came home and wrote over 3,000 more words for NaNoWriMo.  I am sitting just under 9,000 words right now.  I am still plugging away and doing a little reading for inspiration tomorrow.

Hope you guys had a great Saturday and that your Sunday will be one that is a day of recharging for the week ahead.


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