Good-Bye

Hello, Friends.  I’m ad libbing this this morning…I’m cutting my 31 days series short.  I was so very determined to complete it and I even have nearly all of it written.  But there are seasons of life where your best “powering through” just isn’t enough.

 

There’s no real way to adequately explain it without sounding dramatic, but I can at least say that at this time I am recovering from a challenging couple of years and acclimating to a new home, new schedule, new church, new friends, new job for my husband–all wonderful things!–and adjusting to a different regional culture after nearly 7 years in one where I felt so very at home.  And at the same time, helping my 5 kids make these same adjustments.  They need me right now, way more than the internet does.  Add this to limited internet service, and I just think I was overly ambitious!  (To be honest that explains only about one-tenth of it, but it will have to do.)

 

I am disappointed to have to cut this short, because I hate quitting anything, but also relieved.  My blog isn’t the boss of me.

 

I have been blogging for 9 years and I never imagined myself saying this…but I am taking an extended blogging break and I don’t know if I will blog again.  I may be hanging up my blogger’s hat.  I am still thinking and praying through it.  It’s a medium I love and I’m absolutely a writer at heart, but this simply isn’t the season for it.  And I don’t know if or when the season will return.  This is the first time ever I have considered deleting my blog.  So I just don’t know.  I’ll keep reading and somewhere I’ll keep writing, even if it’s just in a handwritten journal.  I’m backing off from Facebook and Twitter but you’ll still be able to find me on Instagram… my handle is stephanielynn78.

 

Love to each of you who have read here for so long!

 

 

 

 

31 Days of Teaching Old Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 14: It Couldn’t be Done by Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

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Stephanie Recommends:

Collected Poems of Edgar A. Guest

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

31 Days of Teaching Old-Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 13: Proverbs

books

When I was small, every evening after supper my dad would grab his Bible from the china cabinet behind him and read out loud a chapter of Proverbs that corresponded with the date.

He didn’t expound or moralize, or elaborate, he didn’t drag it out or turn it into some kind of Bible study. He just read it to us. Night after night, month after month, year after year.

This impacted me more than any Bible study of “devotions” we ever did. We became intimately familiar with the wisdom of Proverbs which is simply written and ideally suited for kids. It addresses all kinds of attitudes and behaviors, from warnings against laziness, disrespect, and foolishness, to admonitions of wisdom, industry, and uprightness.

Even today, so many years later I can quote verses we read together on those evenings. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so does thy poverty come,” is just one that springs to mind. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” I could go on.

Filling our children’s hearts with good things isn’t always flashy or hard. It’s just steady faithfulness.

I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

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Stephanie Recommends:

Collected Poems of Edgar A. Guest

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

31 Days of Teaching Old-Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 12: Be a Friend by Edgar Guest

girls chess

Be a friend. You don’t need money;
Just a disposition sunny;
Just the wish to help another
Get along some way or other;
Just a kindly hand extended
Out to one who’s unbefriended;
Just the will to give or lend,
This will make you someone’s friend.

Be a friend. You don’t need glory.
Friendship is a simple story.
Pass by trifling errors blindly,
Gaze on honest effort kindly,
Cheer the youth who’s bravely trying,
Pity him who’s sadly sighing;
Just a little labor spend
On the duties of a friend.

Be a friend. The pay is bigger
(Though not written by a figure)
Than is earned by people clever
In what’s merely self-endeavor.
You’ll have friends instead of neighbors
For the profits of your labors;
You’ll be richer in the end
Than a prince, if you’re a friend.

This series is part of 31 Days. 

Find the series index here

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

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Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

31 Days of Teaching Old-Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 11: Stories of the Great Depression

larsson girl table

My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. Her mother was a widow with seven children in Los Angeles. You can imagine how challenging this was. She used to talk about how they had to choose between small luxuries (going to the movies, for example) and having butter on their bread that week.

You might have heard Depression stories from family members and friends as well. It was a tough generation. We can learn a lot from them about endurance, contentment, industry, frugality, creativity, and hope.  These people learned to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

everything but money

Fortunately, even though many of those who lived through the Depression have died, some of their stories have been recorded. Reiman publications have some of the best compilations of Depression stories and photos (as well as stories from the World Wars and the decades that bookend them). Although these books are out of print, they’re easily available on Amazon.

The stories are written by ordinary folks who lived through that time. They are a pleasure for adults to read but they will hold the attention of kids as well, especially if used as short read-alouds.

The Kit series from American Girl is a recently-written story set during the Great Depression. We’ve enjoyed both the books and the movie.

depression quote

I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

{this post contains affiliate links}

Stephanie Recommends:

Collected Poems of Edgar A. Guest

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

31 Days of Teaching Old-Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 10: To the Humble by Edgar Guest

couple potatoes resized

If all the flowers were roses,
If never daisies grew,
If no old-fashioned posies
Drank in the morning dew,
Then man might have some reason
To whimper and complain,
And speak these words of treason,
That all our toil is vain.

If all the stars were Saturns
That twinkle in the night,
Of equal size and patterns,
And equally as bright,
Then men in humble places,
With humble work to do,
With frowns upon their faces
Might trudge their journey through.

But humble stars and posies
Still do their best, although
They’re planets not, nor roses,
To cheer the world below.
And those old-fashioned daisies
Delight the soul of man;
They’re here, and this their praise is:
They work the Master’s plan.

Though humble be your labor,
And modest be your sphere,
Come, envy not your neighbor
Whose light shines brighter here.
Does God forget the daisies
Because the roses bloom?
Shall you not win His praises
By toiling at your loom?

Have you, the toiler humble,
Just reason to complain,
To shirk your task and grumble
And think that it is vain
Because you see a brother
With greater work to do?
No fame of his can smother
The merit that’s in you.

{art: George Clausen}

I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

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Stephanie Recommends:

Collected Poems of Edgar A. Guest

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

31 Days of Teaching Old Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 9: The Ivan Series

Ivan

The Ivan series by Myrna Grant is a set of six books about a young Christian boy living in Russia under Communism. I read them as a child and I was so overjoyed to find that they’ve been recently republished!

Written in an engaging fashion, these books demonstrate what life was like for Christian families under a hostile and oppressive government. Myrna Grant skillfully handles mature themes of persecution in a way that’s appropriate for children.

Ivan learns to courageously stand for Christ even when doing so could result in grave consequences. These books are fabulous from both a standpoint of history/culture, and the standpoint of character, values, and faith.

This series is part of 31 Days. 

Find a complete series index here.

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31 Days of Teaching Old-Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 8: How Do You Tackle Your Work? by Edgar Guest

children working resized

How do you tackle your work each day?
Are you scared of the job you find?
Do you grapple the task that comes your way
With a confident, easy mind?
Do you stand right up to the work ahead
Or fearfully pause to view it?
Do you start to toil with a sense of dread?
Or feel that you’re going to do it?

You can do as much as you think you can,
But you’ll never accomplish more;
If you’re afraid of yourself, young man,
There’s little for you in store.
For failure comes from the inside first,
It’s there if we only knew it,
And you can win, though you face the worst,
If you feel that you’re going to do it.

Success! It’s found in the soul of you,
And not in the realm of luck!
The world will furnish the work to do,
But you must provide the pluck.
You can do whatever you think you can,
It’s all in the way you view it.
It’s all in the start you make, young man:
You must feel that you’re going to do it.

How do you tackle your work each day?
With confidence clear, or dread?
What to yourself do you stop and say
When a new task lies ahead?
What is the thought that is in your mind?
Is fear ever running through it?
If so, just tackle the next you find
By thinking you’re going to do it.

*****

(If you’re as smitten by Guest’s poetry as I am, you can purchase Collected Verses of Edgar A. Guest here.)

This series is part of 31 Days. 

Find the series index here

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

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Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

31 Days of Teaching Old-Fashioned Values Through Reading Day 7: Epic Fantasy

CS Lewis quote

tolkien quote

tolkien quote 2

Don’t disregard fantasy as a wonderful tool for teaching good values!

In fact, it’s often easier to absorb the lessons of fantasy precisely because it is so very other than our ordinary lives, yet with characters with whom we can so easily identify. If Sam can be so loyal to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings, if Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy can stand against evil in the Narnia books, then surely we can too!

Epic fantasy mirrors real life in the most engaging way. And it paints the picture of a life greater than ourselves.

In epic fiction, so much is at stake. Kingdoms! Realms! Whole species and groups of people and creatures! The war is clear-cut between good and evil, and our heroes always stand for what’s good—for the very best.

Is it more effective to tell your child, “Help your friend when he’s in trouble,” or to read the story of Lucy’s love for Aslan? Does your child absorb a lecture on loyalty, or will he better learn from Edmund’s betrayal to The White Witch?

I’m not suggesting that we moralize and expound on these stories when we read them to our children. Epics are quite capable of standing on their own with messages far more profoundly communicated than a parental lecture.

Clearly my favorite epic stories are these:

narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

hobbit

The Hobbit

LOTR

The Lord of the Rings

What other epic fantasies do you recommend? What values do they teach?

This series is part of 31 Days. 

Here are links to the rest of this series:

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Book Review: When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman

when we were on fire image

I fully intended to not love this memoir. But once I started it I couldn’t put it down.

Addie is your typical girl who grew up in 90′s Evangelical Christianity. She did it all—WWJD, Meet You at the Pole, True Love Waits, attended a Christian college, and dated missionary boys. Over time, she began to struggle with her faith.

You’ve heard—maybe you’ve said of someone– “She used to be so on fire, but she’s really fallen away from the Lord.” This usually describes a person who once did All The Christian Things but is now sleeping in on Sunday, going to bars, and cussing. They may or may not now identify as Christians, but they aren’t living the kind of life many equate with being a Jesus-follower.

That’s Addie.

Too often, we “committed Christians” blow off the stories of the Addies who grew up in our churches, but I believe that it’s important—vital, even—to listen to their stories and understand how we can do better by our kids.

In Addie’s story, I noticed a string of things that slowly eroded her faith over time.

1. Emotionalism. I’ll begin with the disclaimer that of course a relationship with Jesus includes deep emotion. But Addie’s childhood conversion (“asking Jesus into her heart” after a scary dream about hell) and many of her subsequent spiritual decisions (responding to altar calls because her crush responded or “taking a stand” because it made her feel part of something bigger) seem based on emotion rather than spiritual substance, and sometimes they were borne of pure emotional manipulation from friends or adults.

2. Legalism. Some of the legalism we Evangelicals impose on others, from strict youth group dress codes to extra-biblical behavioral rules, is well-intentioned. But ultimately, especially with the younger generations, it backfires. They quickly learn that these things are not actually necessary to live a Christian life and quickly turn their backs on those who insist on them. One example Addie gives is how her future-missionary boyfriend shamed and embarrassed her for her wardrobe choices in a way that amounts to spiritual bullying. In Evangelicalism, this kind of legalism is sometimes subtle but all too common.

3. The culture war. Young Evangelicals, for the most part, are sick of losing a culture war that has nothing to do with the Gospel. They’re tired of the hysteria. When they go to church and hear series, studies, and sermons about the latest cultural threat (book, movie, movement, political crisis), they soon grow weary. This is not the Jesus they signed up to follow. Goodbye. Addie describes this.

4. Lack of real love and community. Numerous times throughout the book, Addie felt unwelcome as the newbie at church or Christian gatherings, which made finding a spiritual community super hard work. This isn’t unique to her! I have heard many stories from real-life women who have experienced the same thing. Addie was One Of Us, a bona fide Church Kid. If anyone should feel welcome and fit in at church, it should be women who are already Jesus-followers. If we are not even welcoming our own, how much more alienated must our non-Christian friends and family members feel—the very people we claim we want to reach! Even when Addie did find a group, she was desperately lonely. While others were friendly, it seemed that no one really cared to find out what was going on in the hearts of others they saw every week, to know if they were hurting or struggling. There was a lack of honest, authentic relationships. Addie fell through the cracks.

5. Exhaustion. The constant years of doing, doing, doing, often for emotional or obligatory reasons, wore Addie out. By college, she was spiritually and emotionally exhausted.

6. Depression. Addie struggled deeply with depression in young adulthood, and the church had little to offer her that could help.

7.The Church’s aversion to honesty. When Addie had doubts, questions, and struggles in her faith, church was not a safe place for her to work through them. Raw, honest questions made others uncomfortable. They were quickly passed over in favor of pat, fill-in-the-blank, Sunday School responses. Consequently, many of her struggles were ignored and her questions weren’t answered in any kind of satisfying way. She quickly learned not to ask at all.

When We Were on Fire isn’t a happy book, overall. It’s a story of a woman who slowly went spiritually bankrupt. But it’s an important story.

Rather than be offended by Addie’s sometimes harsh criticisms of Evangelicalism, I believe that we should take them seriously and realize that some of our sacred cows are actually stumbling blocks to young people growing up in our churches. Addie can identify those stumbling blocks now, and I really loved her story’s positive and hopeful ending.

The only thing about the book that really grated on me is that it continually flip-flopped between the first and second person. Perhaps this is a literary device to demonstrate that the Addie in the story is so foreign to Today’s Addie that she feels like she is observing someone else from a distance, but I find it just annoying and distracting.

Nonetheless, if you’ve ever wondered why seemingly solid young people leave the church, read When We Were on Fire. It gives a firsthand insight into how many young adults who grew up in Evangelicalism now view the religious culture in which they were formed.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

You can read more at Addie’s website.

Here’s her bio.

More info about the book.

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