Friday, December 11, 2015

That Family

{I wrote this at the beginning of October but for some reason never published it. A lot of this has quieted down since then, but there are still headlines about them often enough that I decided it's still relevant to post now.}

Are we done with the Duggars yet? Because this whole thing is exhausting. I'm tired of hearing about them, I'm tired of seeing the headlines. Please please let it just go away already. I have seen many wild opinions about all of this, from unquestioned support to complete hatred. The one strong opinion I have about this is that while many people are too quick to judge, many others are too quick to defend.

I'm a Christian, so I get the desire that other Christians have to defend the Duggars. We don't like when the media/public/internet trolls pick on any of our Christian family. But here's the thing. It is NOT OUR JOB to defend the Duggars. Just like everyone else who only has a dim picture of what really happened, we have no business telling others that they should stop picking on them and give them back their TV show. Like it or not, unfair or not, hateful or not, this family chose to become a reality TV family. Doing so comes with the whole enchilada of scrutiny about how you live your lives and raise your many kids. And I heart Michelle Duggar, don't get me wrong, but her doe-eyed innocence of what the outside world is really like is not my problem. This is a harsh way to learn that the world outside of your bubble has always thought you were fruitcakes, and now thinks you are terrible people.

I have no idea if Jim Bob and Michelle handled the situation correctly. I have no idea how I would have handled it were I in their situation. People always think they would do the right thing but many have never had to make a hard choice themselves. I'm by no means giving them a pass; they started filming their TV show within a few years of Josh's confession, and it doesn't seem like they gave any consideration that this could eventually come out. Why they chose to do this show is a mystery to me, because if they wanted to use it as a platform for the Gospel, they might want to actually mention Jesus on the show once in a while. I'm just saying.

As with any negative event in our own lives, God is no doubt using this to draw the Duggars closer to Him as they go through a very public refining process. My prayer is simply that God's will would be done in this family.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

IEP once again

E's IEP meeting went very well. I was super nervous, as I always am going into these, but I really started to lose my nerve when E's therapist texted and said she would have to join the meeting via phone as she was sick in bed with a fever. And of course my husband went back to day shift this week, so he couldn't attend either. I put out my DefCon 5 prayer alert on Facebook and man my people rocked it. I got so many replies with prayers and support, and then private messages and texts and phone calls. This is what Christian community is about, and I definitely felt every word of prayer that was spoken.

The requests we made for better assistive technology for E's dysgraphia got a very positive response. It's still in the red-tape-paperwork-process but they've already gotten him a loaner Chromebook that he's thrilled about.  We also were in disagreement with the school psychologist & speech therapist who don't believe he needs speech pragmatics therapy. I think I made a solid case for why he needs this and why the evaluation they did was faulty, and the E's therapist backed me up on this.

In the meantime, I dropped off E's application to attend our local tech school (next year). I'm praying that he gets in; everyone I've talked to about this believes this would be the best environment for him. When I took him to the open house he LOVED it and was fascinated by all of the computer class options they offer. I love that tech school has come so far from when I was back in high school, and the stigma of it is gone. There's a limited number of seats that our own school district is willing to sponsor, and I'm concerned that his grades will hinder his chances. It's definitely in God's hands!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A blog about a blog

Have you heard of Study With Friends? It's a great ministry with free resources, such as printables for Bible studies, along with podcasts you can learn so much from. I've been downloading the various series to listen to on my walks and I can't get enough of them.  So imagine the giant stroke to my ego honor that it was when I was invited to join the team by writing for their blog. Cool, right? (There's no punchline, it really is cool.) Hope you like it!

They put up a fancy little blurb about me with a nice picture on their Meet the Friends page. I wanted to use this picture but they picked the other one for some reason. #doctrinaldifferences

Monday, December 7, 2015

I have E's IEP meeting this afternoon and I'm nervous about it, so naturally I'm thinking about books instead.

57. Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince

58. AD: 33 by Ted Dekker. I have a mixed review of this one. I liked it, but like the first book, there are long stream of consciousness monologues where the protagonist explores her feelings, and the plot stalls. This happens often, and seems to be the deus ex machina of Dekker's books anymore. There's no action that resolves problems so much as there is spiritual change. Not that this isn't how God often works in our lives, but for fiction it's a bit dry.

59. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. King is a master and this doesn't disappoint. Very long book but an incredible story that brought me to tears. The ending has stayed with me for days.

60. Just started The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith and enjoying it so far.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I need an extra day in the week just for reading

51. The Death Cure by James Dashner (book 3 in the Maze Runner series). The conclusion to the Maze Runner series was good, definitely better than book 2. I still wasn't digging the zombie aspect to it; I just feel like that's in there to participate in the zombie fad.

52. The Kill Order by James Dashner (prequel to the Maze Runner series). This was decent and answered a lot of questions about how everything started. Lots of action, not a lot of real story, and surprises that pretty much everyone could have seen coming. Still, I did enjoy it for the most part.

53. Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. TC and I read this together and really enjoyed it.

54. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling.

55. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I had mixed feelings about this one. I've never seen the movie but I think you can guess the gist of the plot based on the trailers. It had parts that were beautifully written, and heartbreaking elements that really moved me. But there would be random vulgar and unnecessary language that ruined it. And dang the author likes to write LISTS, which is super annoying. Some of the things the characters do are truly terrible, but are treated as morally neutral, or at least are never discussed. I did like the ending.

56. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. Just started this one, mostly because Robert Galbraith is actually JK Rowling. We'll see how it goes....

Friday, October 23, 2015

All the Books

So my last book post was #29 for 2015 so I have some massive catching up to do. That sounds like a boring read, so I'll give a quick list and perhaps some sarcastic remarks? Yes.

30. Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Sometimes laugh out loud funny, other times vulgar and not funny at all. Some good life advice, some interesting stories, but definitely unorganized and all over the place which led to boredom on my part. Was glad when it was over.

31. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (yes, I have read these books 417 times, I like to read before I fall asleep if you didn't already know, and I need books that I've already read or I will stay up reading all night. whatever.)

32. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless. I never read Into The Wild but I did see the movie. This follow-up is a heartbreaking but excellent read. There was way more to the story about how truly awful the parents were.

33. Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (my favorite of the series)

34. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt VOnnegut. People rave about this book, and I get that it's a classic, but honestly I didn't like it much. Very weird, quite gruesome.

35. Dogwood Hill by Sherryl Woods. I picked this up at the library at random, apparently it's the 12th book in a series. I enjoyed it very much, easy and fun romantic read without being trashy. Her backstory exposition is a style I don't care for, but overall I liked it.

36. Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury. Perfect people, perfect lives. Yes, they make mistakes and face trials, but the overall air is they are the best at what they do, whatever that field may be. It's just silly. For this particular book, it's all that plus the most gut-wrenching storyline ever. You just about want to hang yourself before you get to the end, which takes forever because KK does not know when to END a story.

37. Misery by Stephen King. If you're familiar with King then you know he swears a decent amount in his books, but generally it's not excessive and fits the story/characters. Otherwise an excellent book, truly disturbing and a scary, great read.

38. A Seaside Christmas by Sherryl Woods.

39. Postcards from the Past by Marcia Willett. A bit dry and slow, but good story line and character development.

40. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

41. A.D. 30: A Novel by Ted Dekker. Overall I really enjoyed it, great story of redemption, etc. I didn't love some of the excessive stream-of-consciousness parts, where she goes on and on about her feelings, etc. I was disappointed that they left a character unresolved, but I guess we'll find out in the sequel that came out this month.

42. The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan. Good storyline but be prepared to feel like you're reading a cookbook a lot of the time. Maybe you like that, what do I know? I found the multiple characters confusing and often had to backtrack to figure out who I was reading about when the author used pronouns instead of names. Not a ton of bad language, but the F word several times in inner monologues.

43. Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets and 44. the Prison of Azkaban

45.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Fantastic book! Excited to read the rest of the series and the prequel. I found it a stressful read and had a hard time keeping my eyes from skipping ahead since there were constant reveals and lots of action.

46. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, book 2). I was disappointed in this book. It felt draggy and I found myself skimming, in addition to hating the zombie-esque stuff.

47. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Ph. D. Barry M. PRizant. A fantastic book, very encouraging and helpful, like nothing else I've read about autism.

48. Lead Me, Holy Spirit: Longing to Hear the Voice of God by Stormie Omartian. Great book, I truly enjoyed it and took many notes. A word of caution, however, that there were at least three times that she stated something as fact that were either a stretch or did not line up with scripture. Still, I felt I learned a lot from it.

49. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

50. Harry Potter and the Never Ending Dishes in the Sink. I'm kidding, wasn't sure who would have read this far....

50. For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker. Charming and at times very funny. More enjoyable if you remember that she is a blogger, not an evangelist or pastor.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The New Diagnosis

Many of you know that last winter we had a QEEG done on E. I didn't post the results because I wasn't ready to talk to everyone about it, and also because as E gets older, I want to respect his privacy on social media. However, I try to keep my friend list limited to people that I actually am friends with & want in my life (and not many outsiders read my blog), and as I've joined new Facebook groups & become more involved in a new community, it has become obvious enough that I've gotten several private messages asking me about it. Additionally, if we want to encourage acceptance and understanding, we can't exactly hide in the dark.

E has Asperger's Syndrome. Yes, he still has Attention Deficit. He is also profoundly Dysgraphic. As hard as it was to hear this news, T & I have always suspected that he might be on the Spectrum. We are in the process of seeking new educational assistance for him and appreciate your prayers about this process. Please pray for E too; middle school is hard for everyone. For E it has been a bit brutal.

You can Google Asperger's and you'll find good info about what it is or look back at some of my recent posts about it. What Tom and I want you to know most though, is that E is still E, an amazing kid, incredibly bright, with heart and feelings and the same need for love and acceptance as anyone else. Talking to him and relating to him may seem complicated or intimidating but I promise you that you will love him if you get to know him. He loves insects and Minecraft and Percy Jackson books. He loses himself in video games after a long day at school where he must keep his anxiety & behavior in check. He doesn't like to make eye contact with people he doesn't know. He doesn't like very loud noises. He struggles with organization. He has one friend, a boy he met at our church, who also has Asperger's. E is a smart alec and annoys his sister who yells at him but also would do anything to protect him. He will spend hours putting together a complicated Lego set but usually only for display, not play. He is a black belt in mixed martial arts. He likes fishing and jumping on the trampoline.

Many people celebrate Autism Awareness Month, putting up blue lights and wearing t-shirts with puzzle pieces on them. Awareness of Autism is never a bad thing. But it can't stop there. E had an incident with a classmate last year that occurred mostly because this other student was annoyed and didn't understand that he was just trying to talk to him. I later told the guidance counselor that I knew the student would be disciplined for what he did, but that his punishment didn't interest me. I would much rather the student be educated about Asperger's so that he can have more patience in the future, or at the very least just leave E alone. Tell your kids that if another kid is strange or says the wrong things or seems clueless about social cues, that kid isn't trying to be annoying, he might just be different and that's ok.

I need to say one more thing. Over the years T and I have gotten lots of advice, suggestions, and understanding. Family & friends have loved us, loved E, and prayed for us as we strove to raise our wild child. We are so grateful for this; we are just so thankful for family and friends who love us well. We're happy to answer questions and talk about our experiences in order to educate or encourage others. Unfortunately there have been some along the way who have said things that were at the least not helpful and at the most/worst, very painful. If you have been one of those people and you're realizing it now, please know that it was forgiven a long time ago and we hold no grudges. But I think I need to make it clear that going forward, I'm just not having it. Unless you are E's therapist, case worker, guidance counselor, special education director, instructional assistant or God, then we do not need your input. We already have an entire team of people and unless you have a neuro-atypical child then you cannot truly understand or offer advice. What we need, what we've always needed, is love, prayer, & support. From our hearts, THANK YOU for giving us that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Spring Books

I mixed up my numbers at some point, but even I am not OCD enough to go back and fix it nor will the 2 people who read this blog ever care, so it is what it is.

I skipped The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, a classic book and entertaining read. Enjoyed it thoroughly. That was about #13-ish.

18. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire

19. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I loved and hated this book in equal measure.

20. Presumed Guilty by Tess Gerritsen. This is the author of the Rizzoli & Isles book series and TV show. I like the show a lot so I thought I might enjoy her work, but it wasn't awesome. The story was okay but predictable in some parts and lame in others. Meh.

21. The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer. Reminiscent of The Bell Jar but with more swearing and weed.

22. Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen. This was a Rizzoli & Isles title and again it was good enough to keep me reading but I probably won't read her work again. I'm not a fan of using God's name as a swear word.

23. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. Very twisty story, good stuff! The ending was weird though, it leaves you wondering what the what??  Looking forward to when the movie comes out and the ending may be cleared up.

24. My Story by Elizabeth Smart. Heartbreaking, terrifying, redeeming. I knew her story from the news but this filled in a lot. Her attitude towards what was done to her is inspiring.

25. The Mom's Guide to Asperger Syndrome & Related Disorders by Jan Johnston-Tyler.

26. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Fantastic! Pretty sweary but incredibly insightful and brilliant.

27. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book really drew me in, intriguing storyline. Was disappointed as it grew more and more vulgar and I hated the ending.

28. The Eternal Wonder by Pearl S. Buck. I had looked forward to reading this recently found & published lost book but was sadly disappointed. I will say that it is clearly an unfinished book that wasn't ready for publication. That said, it was a Forest Gump-esque story of a young man who is insanely smart with no ability to read people. An unsatisfying read.

29. Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. Absolutely fantastic book and a must-read for any Christian.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February/March Books

Lazy list of recent books:

11.  N or M? by Agatha Christie - This one was a good read but for some reason just didn't hold my interest very well.

12.  The Betrayal, Precinct 11 Series by Jerry B. Jenkins - Got this one for free on the Kindle. It's the second book in the series and I enjoyed it; kept my interest and an easy read. I probably won't pay for the other books but if they're ever offered for free I'll grab them too.

13. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - A classic book, not an easy read but really thought-provoking.

14. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - So I have reread this book series countless times, feel free to judge me since it's technically children's literature. I don't care; these are extremely well-written stories with wonderful characters and themes. I read them at bedtime because they help me wind down but don't keep me up late since I already know what's going to happen next.

15. Harry Potter & Prison of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling - See above

16. Still Alice by Lisa Genova - You've likely seen the trailer for the movie currently in theaters starring Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. I'm undecided on if I'll see the film or not, but the book was beautifully done. Genova tells the story of early onset Alzheimer's Disease from the point of view of the patient, making for a bittersweet story.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Longing and Loving


Book #9 and Book #10: Longing and Loving by Karen Kingsbury
I finished the Bailey Flanigan series and still have mixed reviews of them. I think Longing, the third book in the series, is the best one, or at least it's my favorite. I enjoyed Loving, the final book, but once again found myself skimming past multiple pages of scenes that were completely unnecessary. I was happy for the protagonist but once it was clear she was going to get married, I was ok with the story ending there. Instead we got several extra chapters of wedding planning, parents pontificating on their children growing up, and endless reminders about sexual purity. I get it, really I do, but this kind of blathering on is for people who enjoy soap operas, and I am not one of them. I'm still recommending them to my daughter because the story is engaging and the overall messages are great.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Harper Lee

If you felt a disturbance in the force yesterday, it was probably all of us book nerds crying out at once in reaction to this news:

Harper Lee, Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Is to Publish a Second Novel

If you're not familiar, the short version is that Harper Lee wrote one book in 1960 and then sat down. She didn't write another book, and in spite of all her fans clamoring for another, she didn't need to. That one book was enough to make every author's dreams come true. My 15 year old daughter was even excited about this news, as she just read To Kill A Mockingbird this year in school. I called my mother immediately and we rejoiced together. The new book will be released this summer.

There of course must always be at least one Debbie Downer on the Interwebs, and some are already blogging about conspiracy theories, etc., since Lee's sister and protector just died three months ago. I do hope that nothing funny went on, and hope that the reception this book is getting brings joy to Harper Lee's heart.

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Books

I read 8 books in January! Feels good to be reading so much. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie was # 6. I started reading N or M? by Agatha Christie but took a break from it and read the first two books of Karen Kingsbury's Bailey Flanigan Series. I just needed something easy and fun to read, which these are. I do have a love/hate relationship with this author's books if I'm being honest. She writes great stories about faith and family, but they are often cheesy and predictable. We have to suffer through the lengthy inner monologue as characters work out their feelings and decisions, and the mom & child conversations with baby talk are just torture. I end up skipping over long sections like this because they make me a bit stabby. That said, I'm still reading them and enjoying them as crazy as that sounds. It's nice to have something a bit mindless to breeze through and they do have a good message about living out your faith.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Agatha Christie books etc

I'm on my 6th book of the year so I figured I'd better catch up now or I'll abandon the idea completely.

Book #2
Kingdom Wars II: Tartarus

I enjoyed this one but found the ending a bit lacking. The overlying problem that the protagonist has is not resolved. Perhaps Jack Cavanaugh has plans for a third book where it will be resolved, but I haven't heard about it.

Books #3, #4 & #5
I'm currently working my way through a collection of Agatha Christie stories all in one volume. They're long enough that I'm counting them as individual books.


This book gave me a really great quote to save: "The young people think the old people are fools, but the old people know that the young people are fools!" ~ Miss Marple

This was a unique mystery as Hercule Poirot is brought into the story in order to attempt to prevent a murder, rather than after one has occurred. I read on another blog an interesting tidbit about one of the main characters, Ariadne Oliver: "Ariadne Oliver plays a central part in this novel, with many seeing her as Christie's alter-ego. Indeed the house that the novel is set at was based on her own home." (Thanks to Mysteries in Paradise for the quote.)

This was a good read, with some nice unexpected twists. I confess that I have no idea what the title means however.

I am truly enjoying reading these. Old enough to be classic and intelligent literature, but not so old that they are a difficult or stuffy read. I really want to call them delightful but I'm fairly sure that makes me sound old.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Empty Shelf Challenge

Jon Acuff is hilarious and you should be reading his blog/following him on Facebook/stalking him like I am. Outside of being truly funny, he is gifted at motivating others. At the end of 2013 he issued the Empty Shelf Challenge. The challenge was simple; take a picture of your empty shelf and then add each book you read to it during 2014. He started a Pinterest board for us too. I loved this idea and started my own Pinterest board to keep track of what I read. I read 43 books last year! He hasn't reissued the challenge but I've already decided to do it again for 2015 and I'd like to share my books here as well.

Book #1

Kingdom Wars I: A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavanaugh. This is reminiscent of Frank Peretti's Darkness duology, with angels and demons engaged in spiritual warfare. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. I loved that the main character has a sarcastic sense of humor and used it even in the presence of angels. I'm already starting the next book, Tartarus, which I'll blog about when I'm done reading.


From time to time I think about resurrecting the blog. This is about as far as I get and then I bail. Maybe I should just start.

I'm out of school right now. It was a very hard decision but I think I just need to get E through middle school and then revisit the idea. My grades are still really good but this past school year was just too much and I felt hysterical way too often. Plus I really couldn't wait to write that student loan check every month, and why deny myself that pleasure?

So when we last left off, life was hard and I was sad and please Jesus just come back and get us already. I still feel that way about many things. I've always been a cynic but I feel like a much darker and twistier person in the last two years. Still working on that. I've found myself walking more and more with Jesus every day though, something that brings me joy. That time with Him is sometimes awesome and sometimes convicting and sometimes boring, but I'm trying. I love keeping a prayer journal and writing down verses that comfort or or doodling little colorful pictures that amuse me. I like talking to God this way. (I started a Pinterest board for inspiration.)

The holidays are over and we're on the last few days of winter break. I'm ready to get back into the routine and madness. I had the flu for Christmas so I wasn't exactly in one-horse-open-sleigh mode this year. I already put most of the decorations away. Time to start focusing on 2015?? Is it seriously 2015? My daughter turns 16 this year. My son will become a teenager this year. Maybe now is not the time to start blogging again....