Saturday, November 30, 2019

My God, I Thank Thee

November has been full. The every-day challenges were surrounded by special days spent with family and friends.

I hosted a group of fourteen writerly friends for a delightful day of sharing words and books.

Our annual family hog-butchering day.

A day trip to DC with the high schoolers in our homeschool group to visit the Museum of the Bible. The collections and multi-media displays were fascinating and informative.

Eating lunch on the top floor within sight of many of the famous landmarks of DC.

Making Christmas cookies on Thanksgiving Day.

We wanted to have an authentic early American Thanksgiving meal, but the hunting was unsuccessful. We had to pull out some wild game harvested on previous weeks to enjoy a meal of venison, squirrel pie, and cornbread.

Of course, the joy of every fun experience and special day is dimmed by the inability to share them with Ed.

On Wednesday evening at church we sang "My God, I Thank Thee." This hymn put into words my thoughts this month, though I admit that often my heart fights against these words. It is one of those songs that is hard to sing honestly. I'd like to stay on the first and second verse, and not go on to verse three.

My God, I Thank Thee
by Adelaide A. Proctor
Hymns of the Church #683
My God, I thank Thee, who hast made
The earth so bright,
So full of splendor and of joy,
Beauty and light;
So many glorious things are here,
Noble and right.
I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made
Joy to abound;
So many gentle thoughts and deeds
Circling us round,
That in the darkest spot of earth
Some love is found.
I thank Thee more that all our joy
Is touched with pain,
That shadows fall on brightest hours,
That thorns remain;
So that earth’s bliss may be our guide,
And not our chain.
I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept
The best in store;
We have enough, yet not too much
To long for more:
A yearning for a deeper peace
Not known before.
I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls
Though amply blessed,
Can never find, although they seek
A perfect rest;
Nor ever shall, until they lean
On Jesus’ breast.

Thanksgiving two years ago. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Six Months Walking

It has been six months since Ed's death.

If you are someone close to me who is thinking, "Oh no, I forgot." Don't feel bad. Every month on the 18th at least one friend has called or messaged me, and often I had not remembered the date. I think of May 18th every day, but I'm not often aware of dates and anniversaries.

In many ways I feel as if I've lived a couple lifetimes in the last six months. I'm living a life I never dreamed of and walking a road I never wanted. I'm not surprised at the grief, but I never imagined I'd find joy even here.

I've enjoyed the fall weather this year more than usual, possibly because I've been enjoying regular hour-long walks in the roads around our home. After a challenging morning of homeschooling, to walk in the sunshine several times a week feels like a gift.

I always enjoyed walking, and before I married I had a job that I could walk to across farm fields. But with babies I was too busy for walks. But last fall Ed needed exercise, and we started walking several days a week. I did it for him, but enjoyed it for myself. I learned that I could leave for an hour, and all my work would wait until I came back. And I might have renewed energy to tackle it.

If you asked me last fall, I would have told you that I enjoyed walking with Ed. I know we talked and laughed and watched the birds. But now I only remember how slowly he walked, completely unlike his usual six-foot stride that made me trot to keep up. I remember how I worried when I saw him decline week by week. How I feared that our options to keep fighting his tumor were dwindling.

This week, as I walked the familiar stretch of road as I've have dozens of times in the last months, I had a flash of memory from sixteen years ago. That fall I was pregnant with our first child, and we woke up early enough to walk together before Ed went to work. 

I had not thought of those days for a long time, and instantly that memory brought back a rush of that heady time of life when we were relishing new love and new life and our days held the promise of a million dreams. 

It is rare for me to think about days such as those. My mind circles around the days last fall and winter, watching Ed lose his personality and control of his body to the monster in his brain. 

I wonder if subconsciously I'm pushing down memories from those happier, hopeful days to protect myself. As long as I remember Ed struggling in a cancer-ridden body, I can't wish him back to earth. But remembering Ed before, in the days when cancer and surgeries and seizures were unknown, brings back too many what-ifs and whys. 

So I watch the clouds scuttle over blue fall skies and the golden leaves dance in the wind. I relish equally beautiful words of an audio book. I chat with friends and make plans and dare to paint new dreams.

I wonder if it is okay to feel happy. To hold my face to the wind and feel joy. I know that Ed is happy. Unspeakably so. And I think that he's want me to find joy too.

That knowledge doesn't take away suffering. Seasons continue to move on. The golden leaves fall and crunch under my feet. 

Now the tree limbs are bare, making their own kind of stark beauty. The cycle of seasons continue.

We survived the first six months without Ed. We leave the busyness of summer to join the quiet of winter. I look forward to sitting by the fireplace with a book as snow falls. But I know that motherhood in winter means finding profitable activities for children without losing my own sanity. 

I suspect the neighbors will continue to see me walking, watching the sky, my ear buds turned to a fun book, my nose red from the cold, and my heart searching for joy. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Captain Garrison winner

I enjoyed hearing about the people from history who inspire you. We are so blessed to have people of faith who have showed us how to live in faith and victory.

I pulled one name to win a copy of Captain Garrison. The name was Mary Burkholder, who had donated books for an earlier giveaway this fall. 

She wrote...

"My children chose George Bauman, a character from the Martyr's Mirror, who is written about as 'Joyful George' in the Fruitful Families devotional book, written by Howard Bean."
I hope your children enjoy learning about Captain Garrison and will add him to their list of favorite characters. 

Thanks, Katrina, for this giveaway.

To purchase your own copy of Captain Garrison go to TGS International.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Giveaway - Captain Garrison

A young boy lives on an island near the sea and longs to sign onto a ship and go on an ocean voyage. When his dream comes true, he finds himself captured by pirates, barely escaping shipwreck, and unjustly accused of a crime.

That story line has been repeated often in stories through the years since we love to hear tales of men braving danger on the sea.

But in Captain Garrison, Katrina Hoover Lee includes all the above while also telling a story that goes deeper into the danger of the soul.

Katrina has written several nonfiction books including Blue Christmas and Voices of Syria. This is her first historical fiction telling the story of Nicholas Garrison who lived from 1701-1781. I enjoy historical fiction but often wonder where the history ends and the fiction begins. Katrina based her story on Garrison's short biography that he wrote before his death. His account is included in the back of the book so curious readers like myself can figure out exactly what is true in the story.

I've been fascinated with the accounts of the Moravian missionaries in the 1700s and this book delves into their work and passion. I found the book both an enjoyable read and personally encouraging.

The book is excellent for teens. Katrina doesn't ignore the evil of Garrison's early life and, though his infidelity is written about discreetly, if you read this book aloud to your children (something I'd recommend) you might want to look ahead to decide what is appropriate for young children.

Katrina is giving away a copy of Captain Garrison to a Home Joys reader.

To enter a giveaway for Captain Garrison, leave a comment on this post. Share with us a character from history that you find inspiring. If reading by email, click over to the blog and let your comment there.

Don't forget to share your email address with your comment or I have no way of contacting you.

To purchase your own copy of Captain Garrison go to TGS International.

You might also enjoy Katrina's blog.

Giveaway open for one week from today and is open to all US postal addresses. Winner chosen by

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Winner of The Missing Invitation

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway for The Missing Invitation. I enjoyed hearing about the books you enjoyed as a child.

The author, Tina Fehr, has given me two copies to give away to readers, so I pulled two names for the giveaway. They are:
  • Rachel who enjoyed Wee Willow Whistle.
  • Susan who joined many others in listing the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as one of her earliest book memories.

If you would like to purchase The Missing Invitation or any of Tina Fehr's other books, go to Christian Light.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Christmas Craft Expo

My girls have been stitching and crocheting the last weeks.

My oldest has made zippered pouches of various sizes.

My ten-year-old has been crocheting cell-phone purses.

Other ladies have been painting, baking, crafting, and sewing. They are making soap, binding journals, pouring candles, and shaping pottery.

The anticipation is rising for the Christmas Craft Expo to be held, Lord willing, this Friday and Saturday.

We had so much fun last year and if you are a local, make time to stop by this weekend.

You can see all the details and photos of some of the products on the Christmas Craft Expo 2019 Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Giveaway - The Missing Invitation

The missing invitation

Why is friendship so hard sometimes?

When I received a review copy of The Missing Invitation from the author, Tina Fehr, I was reminded of the friendship angst of elementary-aged children. (Which maybe isn't so far from adult friendship problems.)

In The Missing Invitation Megan is eager to befriend the new girl at church. But when the other girls at church ignore her and don't invite her to their special singing, she feels hurt. 

Tina Fehr has written three books for children based on her homeschool family's experiences. Daddy on the Mend tells of trusting God when Dad is injured in a work accident. In More Trouble Than Trouble Creek Andrew learns to get along with his siblings. Now The Missing Invitation focuses on friendships. These books are appropriate for children ages 5-8 and could even be used as a family devotional. The lessons that Megan learned in this book could be a good conversation starter in  your family on the importance of being a good friend.

Tina gave me two copies to give away to readers.

To enter a giveaway for The Missing Invitation leave a comment on this post. Tell us one of the very first books you remember reading (or having read to you) as a child. If reading by email, click over to the blog and let your comment there. I'll choose two comments to get a copy of The Missing Invitation.

Don't forget to share your email address with your comment or I have no way of contacting you.

To purchase your own copy, go to Christian Light.

Giveaway open for one week from today and is open to all US postal addresses. Winner chosen by


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