Monday, March 27, 2017

Scripture Graphics #32

One of the passages I will never lack the need of reading.
In thinking about the relationships surrounding us, in what ways have we yielded to the sins in verse 31? Contrariness, how do we need to repent of those sins and work to apply obedience to verse 32?


Are we actively trying to follow God? Or do we just hope that our life will somehow be like Him without putting any effort there? If we're hardly thinking about following God, are we satisfied there? Or are we making changes so that we can better follow God?

"And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?" Genesis 50:19
Joseph refused to condemn his brothers or use his position of leadership to make his brothers "pay." He didn't have an exalted view of himself, but understood his place under God.
So what about when we refuse to forgive, or desire harsh condemnation on someone else? Is this, in a way, wishing we were in the place of God instead of turning over all righteous judgment to Him?


Something that is grown must be cultivated, if it is to be healthy. Taking that idea to spiritual growth, how are we cultivating grace in our lives? Are we cultivating our knowledge of Jesus Christ? And finally, for what goal? So we can check off the list that we are "better Christians"--or so that God is glorified?

What verses have stood out to you in your Bible reading this week?

Friday, March 24, 2017

First Line Fridays | 3.24.2017


Let innocence be your mask.
(from Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White)

I have never, ever read such an amusing character such as Winter in Ring of Secrets. She wears her mask beautifully -- and in such a way that makes me laugh out loud. But that's all I'm gonna say. ;) You may read my review here.

What's your first line this week?

~*~*~
Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Lauraine - Lauraine's Notes
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Mighty Fortress | Music Video

I personally think that one of the classic Christian hymns second to Amazing Grace would have to be, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." If you've not read the lyrics recently, I recommend you look them up. It will do your heart good.


For info on the sheet music, click here.

What hymns do you consider to be the Christian classics?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Learning Your Writing Style

Today is the first Indie e-Con day! I'm super excited to be a part of this e-Con. Today, our subject is... "Writing." There are a lot of authors sharing from their experience. You may check out the list of authors here.


"Learning Your Writing Style"
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“The best way to learn writing is TO write.”

Agree? Disagree?

What about somewhere in the middle? A quote by C.S. Lakin kind of sums up my thoughts: “Hands-on experience coupled with diligent ‘book’ learning make for a sound education. And so too writers, to construct solid, lasting novels, need both ‘hands-on’ experience and ‘book’ learning.” (from 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction)

I have learned a lot about writing through reading various books on the craft (and there are some great ones out there)! But more needful than that, by writing, I have been learning MY personal method of writing. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no book out there that will help you know that. Guess what you have to do to figure it out? (*points back to the opening quote*)

From what I’ve read, most authors agree to three main writing styles are: pantser, plotter, and those in-between. But if you read a dozen books on the writing craft, these three main styles are broken down into dozens of different applications and approaches—based on the author’s personal method. Usually, all of these approaches have very logical reasoning. However, it can be frustrating. One book says to spend six months plotting before you even start chapter one. Another book says just write. Yet another book says to make rough sketches of where you’re going. Et cetera, et cetera. It is easy to get swept into trying the dozens of methods and ending up as a big, hot writer’s mess, still with nothing to speak for all of our hard work. Am I the only one who has seen that frustration? What do we do to get out of it? (I shall refrain from pointing up top again)

I can only speak for myself, but something pretty neat has happened in the past year, as I’ve completed three novellas. As I’ve gone from idea to rough draft to publication (or soon-to-be publication for novella #3), I’ve noticed something about myself: I’m a “layer” writer. First, I write down the general story (the basic plot, telling the story). Usually, there are some very strong, key elements missing in that first draft (like Edward’s letter in “Journey to Love” and Belle’s awful sneaking habits in “Befriending the Beast”). But so far, I haven’t been able to discover those missing elements until I’ve actually written something (so, there goes the super-plotting for me; it bogs me down and snubs out my creativity). For all three novellas, I’ve had to write my first draft then sit back and do some planning—sometimes, serious planning (the biggest changes has been in “The Secret Slipper” where I had almost completely rewrite half of the story). The first time this happened, it felt like I was thrown behind schedule. I was ready to be done, yet here I was, making some pretty major changes. Fast-forward to now, and I’ve come to expect it. My first draft will be missing those important themes and clinchers, which the rewrite will improve. It’s just the way I write (might I add that I hope that someday, my brain will catch up and fill in those gaps for the rough draft?).

Another thing I’ve noticed as I’ve written is my writing weaknesses. I’d have to say that number one in my weakness list is probably description (anyone else there?). My beta-readers often come back with, “How did she feel? What did he look like? Where are they?” Whoopsie! However, if I worry about this in my rough-draft, I get so hung up on the description that my story begins to lose its flavor. So, I don’t worry about in the rough draft. I might not even worry about it too much in the rewrite. But, at some point, I will do a thorough run-over my manuscript and think about my story—through the eyes of the viewer. If I need an extra bit of help (which, I usually do), I’ll ask my draft-readers to specifically point out places they thought needed an extra boost.

All of this to say, I’ve discovered that cramming myself into someone else’s mold just doesn’t work. Sure, we can get ideas from others’ methods. We just can’t use them as our law (unless, by some chance, our writing style and method is the identical twin to someone else’s). We have to learn what works for us, what doesn’t work for us, and embrace our own, unique writing style and methods.




What about you? How would you describe yourself as a writer? Have you learned your writing method yet? I'd love to hear how you write!

Scripture Graphics #31

Genesis 22:7-8 - "And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. "
This is such a beautiful picture of our salvation. Sin must be paid for, a sacrifice must be made. However, instead of requiring our lives to pay for our sin, Jesus Christ came to provide Himself for our substitute. Just like Isaac went free while the lamb was sacrificed, so we can be free because of Jesus' sacrifice. What if Abraham had said, "No, I won't receive that ram as a substitute?" It would be absurd. So it is when one reject Christ's substitution.


When was the last time we gave thought to walking worthy of God's calling? When did we last think about lowliness? Meekness? Long-suffering? Forbearance? Endeavoring to keep unity?
How are we applying this list to our relationship with church members? With family members? With friends?



For some reason, I always remembered these verses as separate -- the subject of not being tossed about, and the subject of speaking truth in love. But, they are connected (and are part of a longer passage that is good to read as a whole).
Before we can speak the truth in love, we must grow in God's Word ourselves so that we are not tossed about with various doctrines contrary to God's Word. As previous verses imply, part of our responsibility in this is to be under the pastor God has given us (verses 11-14). As other verses in Scripture teach, we are also to study God's Word for ourselves.
As a new year dawns, what better time to make a commitment for two things? 1) Being faithful in church (not just going, but listening and learning). 2) Being faithful to *daily* read and study God's Word.


What have you read from God's Word this week? Any special verses you're clinging to?

Friday, March 17, 2017

God Loves Mommy and Me | Book Review

By Bonnie Rickner Jenson; Illustrated by Laura Watkins


My Review:
This book. I am not sure how to write a cohesive review of it, because it is just too super cute! It is a children’s board book, full of colorful, soft illustrations and beautiful truths. The words to the book explore the different ways that God loves and provides for both "Mommy and me." It gave a glimpse into the things that mothers and children do together from snuggles to playtime. This book just made me smile when I saw the cover. I absolutely adore the artwork in this book. Not too bold or bright, but cheerful and pleasant. That is probably why I loved it so much! What you see on the cover is the beautiful type of art you get inside. This is just the sort of book that I would read to my children, if the Lord blesses me with them. 
*I received this book from BookLook Bloggers and happily provided my review*

Book Description
God loves Mommy and me, He knows we love Him too, When we pray we always say, “You’re so good, God—thank You!”

Snuggle in cozy-close with a sweet reminder of God’s love for mommies and their little ones. Celebrating loving mothers, precious children, and the God who loves them all, God Loves Mommy and Me will remind parents and little ones of how much they are loved.


Purchase the book here.

First Line Fridays | 3.17.2017

*rubs hands together* Now for my current top favorite author! I'm featuring the first book of hers that I read. Since then, I've read four others. ;) She knows how to write an excellent book!


Temptation sat before her, compelling as the sea. Gleaming silver, green leather, the nearly silent rumble of the engine...
(from The Lose Heiress by Roseanna M. White)

See my review of it here.

And now... share your first line for today!!

~*~*~
Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Lauraine - Lauraine's Notes
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Secret Slipper | Cover Reveal 09

Here it is!!!! The full cover that you've so patiently been awaiting! What has been your favorite quote so far? The most enticing? The most confusing? ;)



*Edit*
I completely forgot to mention that my friend, Elizabeth, with SunKissed Photography, is the mastermind behind "Lia." You can view her work here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wonderful Words of Life | Music Video

Another early-intermediate piano solo! This one I arranged for a piano student back in 2011. It has a simple, repetitive style.


Sheet music available here.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Scripture Graphics 30


I wonder just how much neglecting the story of creation has led to things like abortion -- and even devaluing life itself. There is something awe-inspiring about man's creation that leads to God's wonderful plan and command of procreation. But if one thinks that we evolved, what special value has life? If humans didn't even start out as being humans, in the world's eyes, then no wonder they believe that the babe in the womb is not a living person. How important the truth of creation is!


God saw. Not only did He see man's actions, but more importantly, He also saw their hearts and thoughts.
And when He saw them, He didn't say, "Well they're not really *that* bad" or excuse it with, "That's just how man is." The evil grieved Him (vs. 6) and He sent His judgment through a flood.
If we understand how God views sin from the beginning of time, it will help us to understand His standards, instead of us explaining away our sin.


"And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel...and there Abram called on the name of the LORD....Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD." Genesis 13:3, 4, 18
Why did Abram's and Lot's stories end up differently? Abram had also gone places he shouldn't have, yet God brought him out without the drastic affect like Lot had. I think the answer is in these verses: Abram continually sought God every step of the way. Can that be said of us? Or are we, like Lot, pitching out tent toward the world instead of toward God?


These two concepts are amazing to meditate on. Though spoken to Abraham, we see through Scripture that these promises weren't exclusively for him. God is our shield and our exceeding great reward. Is this enough for us?


I love how, in many Psalms, the Psalmist is so overwhelmed, yet by the end of the Psalm, He is reminding himself of God's character -- how He hears prayers, is merciful, faithful, the list goes on. 
If we pray, but never lose that sense of being overwhelmed, are we truly coming to God and *casting* our cares upon Him? Or are we telling Him our troubles, yet still clinging to them, not certain He'll hear or help? Such shows a lack of faith and knowledge of God. Because He *does* hear the prayer of His child and He does help, according to His wisdom.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Tero Family Singing Video

The other Sunday, I had my brother bring his video camera and we recorded us singing a full service. For the first time in almost ever. ;) I thought some of you might enjoy it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

When God Made You | Book Review

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The art was very whimsical and childish. The rhyme was fun to read. A few of the words they used were a little big for children in my opinion (such as “debut” and “revue”). Some of the message was neat to introduce to children – such as them being made in God’s image, God thinking of them before they knew of Him, that type of thing. However, one quote in particular I disagree with: “You being you is God’s dream coming true.” The book seemed to end on an idea of, “Be yourself and God will smile.” I personally believe that the Bible teaches that God’s design in making us is so that we will glorify Him – not just be creative and be ourselves.


*I received this book from Blogging for Book and happily gave my honest review.*

Purchase the book here.
More info on the book here.

First Line Fridays | 3.10.2017


"Damaris! Damaris!"
Damaris Withers shrank back against the hard boards of the attic wall that supported her back.
(From A Woman Named Damaris by Janette Oke)

It has been a couple of years since I've read Janette Oke, but when I last read her, I admired her writing greatly--the way she so accurately depicted real life. And A Woman Named Damaris was one of my absolute favorites.

Grab a book close to you and share the first line!

~*~*~
Also, be sure to hop along to all of these other blogs and see what First Lines they have to share!

Rachel - Bookworm Mama
Lauraine - Lauraine's Notes
Andi - Radiant Light
Robin - Robin's Nest
Kathleen - Kathleen Denly

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

We Have a Winner | Hymn Favorites Collection 1

The giveaway from last week has ended! :) Congratulations, Marlene! You won the digital copy of Hymn Favorites Collection 1!



Didn't win? You can purchase the digital file here for only $1.99.

Take My Life, and Let it Be | Music Video

Another first for WAJN: Violin quartet. :) I have enjoyed arranging for string ensembles for a few years now, but as with most things, I tend to do it when I have a specific reason to do it. Well, now with about ten violin students, I have a reason! We have a homeschool tea coming up, and one of the coordinators asked if I could get a few of my students to pull something together. The theme of the tea is "Celebrating our Individuali-tea." I thought there was no better hymn to use than "Take My Life," because no matter how different we are, God can still use our lives for His purposes.

I recorded myself (double and triple ;) ) so that everyone could hear the song as a completion.


If you're interested in the music, it can be purchased here.



Do you play violin? If so, have you ever played in an ensemble or orchestra?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Secret Slipper (and a writing update) | Cover Reveal 07

Just two more pieces to go! Which piece do you think I'm saving for last? ;)



In way of general writing update, I decided to give myself a challenge: 7,500 words this month! Actually, that's just for one of my projects. I'm also hoping to edit some more of Journey of Choice, and, of course, get "The Secret Slipper" closer to publication.

If you're on Instagram or FaceBook, I'm trying to keep everyone updated as close to daily as possible (click on the links to follow me). And...if you want to join in the challenge, go for it! Just set yourself a goal and see if you can read it. If you're on social media, use hashtag #writingmarch2017 so we can all connect with it. :)


Monday, March 6, 2017

Scripture Graphics 29


If this was the description of a nation that displeased God, could it not apply to an individual?



"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15
If we took just this verse, we would all have different definitions of what the "love of the world" entailed, and it would lead us to live lifestyles abstaining from certain inventions, maybe even people, and places. However, the next verse defines the love of the world that tempts every single person -- no matter what era or nationality: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." This is what Eve yielded to. It is what Satan tempted Jesus with. It wasn't about them abstaining from things physically, but about their spiritual focus and obedience to God.


This is Jesus' purpose for coming packed in a one-verse explanation: so that He could give us understanding for us to have a relationship with God, eternal life.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

10 Tips for Productivity

I’m going to take a guess that your “wanna-do” list is probably about a large as mine. And guess what? You have just as many hours in one day as everyone else does! How does it all get done? Or will it ever?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer those questions. However, in the past few years, I have found some things to be very helpful in making my personal time more useful and productive. Ready for them? I can’t promise they’ll change your life. But they may help a little. ;)


1. Start the day with God
Giving the first-fruits of my day to God does something. It’s not some “magic potion” for success or anything. I just personally believe that God honors those who seek Him. Plus, how will we know what needs to go on our to-do list if we don’t even ask Him?

2. Serve others
The saying goes “JOY=Jesus, Others, You.” Though Luke 9:23 applies in many spiritual ways, I have seen that when I try to “save” my time, it’s like walking into sinking sand. However, when I “lose myself” to others, God seems to always multiply my minutes.

3. Make a to-do list
Once we’ve done the first two things on our list, what happens when we get to “our” time? First things first: make a to-do list. If I wait to do this until my day is mostly over, I find myself treading water, piddling around, and yep, wasting time. I make my lists either the night before or the morning of so that way, as soon as I’m ready for it, it’s there, waiting for me to tackle.
                                                                                                     
4. Have accountability partners
Differently people use accountability partners different ways. I began by having an accountability partner for writing. Next thing I knew, this friend became my to-do list accountability partner. It helps to have someone to text (even if they won’t reply immediately) and say, “Hey, for the next hour, I’m going to write…ask me later if I kept to that!”

5. Limit distractions
The #1 time sucker is distractions. For many people, it has to do with online interaction (FaceBook, blog hopping, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, you name it). Other times, distractions come with texting instead of working (think about it: if you worked a normal 9-5 job, you’d not be allowed to text unless you were on lunch break). There are a few different ways to limit these distractions. Turn off the internet. Sign out of social media. Set a timer and don’t pick up your phone until the timer goes off. Or set a timer and only be on the internet/phone until the timer rings. Whatever works for you.

6. Notice spare minutes and use them
We daily waste hours of spare minutes. It’s not always easy to realize what gets wasted. Having a to-do list here helps a lot. For example, the other day I needed my brother to bring something upstairs for me to use. While I was waiting, I began correcting a student’s theory work. I was able to get a dozen pages corrected before he came up (which was more than on my to-do list). I could have easily picked up my phone and squandered those few minutes scrolling through social media (but what kind of example would that have made for this point, right? ;) ). It isn’t always easy to see these spare minutes. We have to train ourselves to see them.

7. Prioritize and narrow down
One of the important things to realize is what needs to be done today. What are others expecting me to do? What deadlines do I have coming up? What commitments have I made? Sometimes, when I prioritize (or make micro-lists), I find it helpful to narrow things down. Instead of just having “blog post” on my list, I might have it narrowed down to “write post, create graphics, schedule.” Doing this helps my brain to focus on the steps needed to get things done. At the same time…

8. Be realistic
Here, I speak to the over-achievers (guiltily I raise my hand!). What does not have to be done today? For me, on lesson days, I can’t expect to write 1,000 words, reply to five emails, plan for next week’s lessons (usually 10+ songs), create a music video (micro list: edit song, practice and record, upload to Sheet Music Plus and With a Joyful Noise websites, and create the video), design a book cover, beta-read five chapters for someone else, do things needed for my family, and teach for seven hours. Cramming a to-do list is also a good way to add extra stress to our lives, so we need to be realistic.

9. Reschedule
Part of being realistic is to reschedule. I suppose “be flexible” could also be in here. If something else comes up that needs our time and attention, it’s okay to move part or all of our to-do list to another day. This also goes with prioritizing. If we know what doesn’t need to be done today, it won’t hurt as much to move it.

10. Make free time
Enough said, right? Ahem…here is where I don’t practice what I preach super often: give yourself a break. It is possible to overwork ourselves, whereas if we just took a break, it would relax our minds to be able to refocus and get back to work. When I work, I work hard. It gets a lot accomplished, yes, but it also wears me out physically. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not some sort of superwoman. ;) I’m flesh and blood and God has made me with limitations. He also gives rest to the weary. Do I take it?



I know that I haven’t even scratched the surface for all that’s helpful in being productive, so I’d love to hear from you! 
Have you implemented any of these tips? 
What have you found helpful? 
What would you add to this list?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Books I Read - February 2017

Eight books this month! Wowie. Two trips helped with that. ;)

My balance got a little out this month, as I agreed to review quite a few books. So I only read twonon-fiction. Whoopsie!

Starting with...
MY FAVORITE!!!

Grace and the Preacher
Grace and the Preacher was such a sweet book! It's my only 5-star book of the month. Read why I liked it here.

Non-Fiction
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I started out really enjoying Plot, but parts of the end I didn't find necessary for me. This is the full review.

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The author contacted me and asked me to review this book. I had a mixed review, which you can read here.

Fiction Books
I enjoyed all of the fiction books I read this month. :)

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The longest review I wrote this month. :) I enjoyed most of this book, but have a thorough review here.

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I tend to forget I read this book. We were waiting at LifeWay so I wanted a book I could pick up and finish in about a half hour. This was the perfect book for that. It was my first Colleen Coble book and I'd try her again. My review is here.

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And then this sweet book by my friend, Faith. :) Check out my review here.

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An Emma retelling. It was fun to read! My review here.

Children's Books
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The first children's book I've reviewed that I just didn't especially love. See why here.

What have you read this past month?
What genres have you read? What categories? Any five star books?


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