Author Archives: Amy

WWW: A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt by Joni Eareckson Tada


I added A Thankful Heart in a World of Hurt by Joni Eareckson Tada to my TBR Pile Challenge list not knowing it is a little pamphlet and not a full-length book.  I suppose that really doesn’t matter.  I got a lot out of it!  Contemplating (and yes, practicing!) gratitude is something I need almost constant reminders to do, unfortunately.  Maybe one day it will “take.”

Many things in this little booklet spoke to me.  Here’s one excerpt:

When it comes to finding the grace to be grateful, we don’t have to plead for it, beg for it, or do penance to be worthy of it.  No.  God’s grace–his love in action–is not a favor for which we must implore; it is a gift we are invited to enjoy.  All he asks is that we humble ourselves (James 4:6) and make Jesus Christ the focus, rather than our problems.

God wants us to have a thankful heart in a world of hurt.  We don’t need to ask God to make his grace sufficient for us; he has already assured us that whatever the hardship, there is an equal and compensating amount of grace ready and available for the taking.  Grace has been given and it only remains for us to receive it.  How wide and deep and high and long the promise of that grace really is!  It is sufficient.

I think somehow in my childhood that I absorbed the idea that I have to beg God for things instead of just beliving and being.  I’m learning to let go.  Trust.



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Birthday blessings



We celebrated my birthday yesterday.  Birthdays are a big deal to me personally, so I always look forward to them and celebrating them.  Lots of little things went into making my 41st birthday special, and I want to remember them here.

  • A couple of surprise emails from Carrie that weren’t actually birthday related but nevertheless had a jollifying effect on me.  :-)
  • Birthday greetings–“Happy Birthday” sung aloud, the presentation of almost thirty birthday cards, and even a birthday cake–at CBS leaders council meeting.


  • A wonderful time of fellowship and sharing at CBS leaders council as we had an abbreviated meeting (weather delays AGAIN!) to discuss Nehemiah 7 and 8.  It was wonderful to be back together again after missing last week!
  • Lots of sweet birthday notes on my birthday project post from you, my dear bloggy friends.
  • Lunch out with my family (at my favorite little restaurant).  Steady Eddie and I both had dill pickle soup.  Interesting!  I picked up Burger King for three of the four kids.  We only had one spill (chocolate milk on the burger and fries), and Benny only dropped his hamburger in the floor once.  I call that a success!  ;-)
  • A minimum of schoolish things done before and during CBS leaders council, and girls who finished their independent work while I put Benny down for his afternoon nap.
  • A sweet 4 year old who made me three (or four?) cards while I rocked Benny.
  • That I got to finish a chapter of Invincible Louisa while I rocked Benny!
  • Art making with my children.  I threw the schedule out the window on the way home from lunch and decided that it was my birthday and I could do that!  :-)  We made crazy birds and then two of the kids hung on to make paper dolls (which none of us actually cut out) with me.

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  • Supper out with Steady Eddie, which was nice after a busy (and people-filled) day.  We had a gift card left over from Christmas.  I ended up eating part of an appetizer and sharing his meal of steak, grilled veggies, and steamed broccoli after the chili that I ordered came out cold.



  • Zipping into my favorite department store to find Louise some boots since the sole of her boot had just about completely come off earlier during the day.  We ended up buying four pairs of shoes (two for the DLM and two for Louise and including her new pink cowgirl boots) for about $50.  That makes me happy!
  • Coming home to more celebrating with family–my parents, my mother-in-love, and my sister and her family.  We had a wonderful visit!  Gifts, cake and ice cream, laughter–all wonderful blessings!
  • My girls picked out books for me!  Lulu chose a one-volume Jane Austen collection and Louise a one-volume Mark Twain collection.  They also helped Steady Eddie pick out a silver charm necklace.
  • Hearing Benny sing “Happy Day” to me and seeing his little chocolate-smeared face made my mama heart melt.
  • I received texts from a few friends, and because my sister is a nut and had posted a crazy video of herself singing “Happy Birthday” to me on FB, I received lots of wishes there, too.  (Steady Eddie alerted me to it.  I’ve mostly successfully avoided FB for most of this year so far!  Go me!)
  • One of the things I enjoyed the most about the day was contemplating making art (again).  I seem to do this in fits and starts, but when my life feels overcrowded and hectic, I almost always turn to art making as a creative outlet.


All in all, it was a good day, and each of these things resulted in making me feel loved and appreciated.  I consider them all “hugs from heaven,” as Steady Eddie’s aunt says.  (Receiving a card from this aunt and uncle is the highlight of every birthday ! They always remember!)


ETA:  I forgot one of my favorite surprises of the day:  a dear friend came by to bring me a card and a balloon and to wish me a happy birthday!  :-)

Do you celebrate birthdays or do you prefer to let them slip by unnoticed?



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February 2015 Nightstand

What's On Your NightstandSince last month’s Nightstand post, I have read and reviewed:

Of all of these, my favorite and the one I recommend the most highly is Loved Back to Life by Sheila Walsh.  What a beautiful story of God’s work in a woman’s life!

Of course, much of my reading time was spent in reading aloud to my children.  Please come back Thursday for the month’s read-aloud report for Read Aloud Thursday!

I have several books in progress:

  • I’m still listening to The Prince and the Pauper.  Progress, which had been slow but steady, was significantly hampered by our bout of winter weather last week.  I listen to this mostly while I walk, and we were housebound all week.
  • I’ll be finishing up Invincible Louisa this week for this month’s Newbery Through the Decades Challenge, and I hope to publish my thoughts on it on Friday.
  • I’m reading Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking for the TBR Pile Challenge, and I’m loving it (and nodding my head in agreement!) so far.
  • I have a few other things I’m reading devotionally but since I read them in fits and starts, I won’t even mention them here.  Maybe one day I’ll get around to sharing about them!

After all this is through, well, I guess I’ll continue to tackle my challenges:

I would love to read The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer for March’s Reading to Know Bookclub, and with the possibility of a short trip with Steady Eddie sans children mid-month, maybe I can!

What’s on Your Nightstand?

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A birthday project

I contemplated several different birthday posts for this year, but honestly, forty-one of anything (facts about me, books I want to read, places I want to go) seems like a lot.  Instead, I’m sharing eleven books (you know, forty-one minus thirty) I intend to read this year.  I’m limiting myself to books I really, really want to read–not just things I feel like I should read.  None of these are re-reads, and none of them appears on any of other booklists or bookish projects/challenges I’m attempting this year.  I plan to read these books before my forty-second birthday.

1.  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanAuken.  Sherry has blogged about it numerous times that I can recall (here and here, at least), and I’ve seen it several other places, too.

2.  To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  Sherry, again.

3.  Booked:  Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Swallow Prior.  Review at Semicolon (yes, again.) :-)

4.  The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry.  Janet’s favorite, and she should know.
5.  The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg.  Because I really should finish the story he started in All Over but the Shoutin’ and continued in Ava’s Man.

6.  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  I love World War II stories, and this is such an intriguing premise.

7.  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.  Sherry suggested it.

8.  Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber.  Carried loved it.

9.  Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.  I loved his book Contentment, but I’ve had this one on my TBR list for much longer.  It’s time I read it already!


10.  Wild Things:  Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter Sieruta.  Is any explanation needed?

11.  84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.  I still remember Melissa Wiley writing about this one back in 2011.  

Happy birthday to me!

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Odds & Ends: Cabin Fever Edition

1-IMG_4953-001It has been a long week here at the House of Hope. Due to the winter weather and north Alabama snow hsyteria, not one of our scheduled activities took place this week.  NOT ONE.   While I definitely welcomed the break at the beginning of the week, by the end of the week I was through with snow forever, or at least for 2015.  :-)  The funny thing is, we really didn’t get any snow to speak of–some sleet or freezing rain, and the lightest dusting of snow.  Our area is gun shy about such because of an ice storm that actually resulted in a few fatalities when I was in college back in the 1990s.  Schools let out at the hint of snow or ice, and all of our activities follow suit.  The good thing is that because of the winter weather forecast, Steady Eddie had a crazy week, too, with late start times and even an early dismissal.  We were the beneficiaries of that!  He had the day off for winter break on Friday, too, so all things considered it could’ve been worse.  :-)

Friday's snow, er, ice

Friday’s snow, er, ice

On Thursday we spent the afternoon and evening in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.  We had no agenda in mind–just take in the sights and get out of the house.  This is the best kind of field trip, I think.


Quick Plane


  • The Saturn V rocket is gargantuan!





  • It was SO COLD that day, so we didn’t spend much time outside.  However, I did take time to snap this picture of a mock-up of the lunar landing.  I’m sure the highlight for my boys was the chance to go inside a Vietnam-era Chinook helicopter.  :-)



  • There’s a pretty neat exhibit on tour at the Space Center now–101 Inventions That Changed the World.  We didn’t get to tour the whole thing because the boys (and their parents!) were pretty much done by this time, but I did snap a picture of something I thought was interesting:  a corn cob curry comb.  Of course, there were quite a few things on exhibit that were a bit more impressive than this, but I thought it was neat.


  • After eating at a favorite seafood restaurant (where all the kids got chicken, of course), we headed over to the Huntsville Museum of Art to take in the Grandma Moses exhibit and the Rembrandt, Rubens, Gransborough and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe exhibit.  I loved it!  That was our first trip to this museum, but it won’t be our last!
  • School perked along pretty well this week, as well it should’ve, considering how much time we spent at home.  The thing I want to remember the most about this week is that Lulu took great pleasure in her writing assignment, which was truly a first.  She’s almost always a fairly willing student, but often it seems that she does her lessons more out of duty than anything, and that’s okay.  One of this week’s assignments (WWS W 13, D4)  was to rewrite last week’s assignment using sensory details.  She had a grin on her face the whole time she wrote.  That did this homeschooling mama’s heart good.  :-)
  • We’re gearing up for a super busy week next week.

Come on, springtime!  We’re ready!  :-)




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