Friday, November 9, 2018


Today's Five Minute Friday word is: burden

five minute friday, free writes, Christian living

In Matthew, Jesus called those who were weary and heavy laden to come to Him for rest. In Galatians we are called to bear one another's burdens. How do we do this? How do we lay our own burdens upon Jesus and yet humbly take up one another's burdens? It all begins and ends with prayer. 

Jesus is calling us to come to Him for rest because He knows that we today, just like those people 2000 years ago, will try to do it all ourselves. Our pride gets in our own way and we don't want to ask anyone else for help. We have convinced ourselves that we will be the one person who can hold it all together and have a perfect, or nearly perfect, life in our own strength. Oh friend, stop believing that lie. The ONLY ONE who can hold it all together is the ONLY ONE who led a perfect life - Jesus! Because He loves us so much that He died for us, He knows that we also need help with the daily living. He took our place in death, and now He wants to BE our place in life. When your life is focused upon Jesus, amazing things happen!

One of the most amazing things about laying down your burdens and allowing Jesus to carry then for you is that then you realize you have time, space, and strength to help others carry their burdens and lay those at Jesus' feet too. We take up the burden of a hurt friend, a sick loved one, or a homeless person we meet in the park because we know how much our own lives changed when Jesus took our burdens. We begin by praying for that other person, and then we listen to see if God wants to use us as His hands and feet to help them physically as well. Maybe you offer to drive your friend to their Dr appointment, or make a meal for your sick neighbor. Perhaps God calls you to give a meal to the homeless person, or direct them to the local shelter where you volunteer.

Bearing one another's burdens is what we do as Christians. It is what we were made to do. The world sees what we do and knows it is spurred on by love, for no one would do it otherwise.  The world knows we are His because of our love for one another. Put down your own burdens and carry someone to God in prayer today.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Schwa Was Here

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Title: The Schwa Was Here 

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: 2004

Genre: Young Adult 

Summary: Have you even met a person that you just can't remember? Maybe you know that they are there and just don’t pay attention to them or maybe you go through life and it isn't until some time later that you realize that they were right next to you the whole time and you never even noticed. For Antsy it's the latter, Calvin Schwa, or the Schwa as he is better known,  has sat next to him in school for years; always on time for class, always ready with the answers and always just waiting to be noticed. But there is just something about him that makes most peoples' eyes move right over him in a crowd or skip past him like he’s not even there when he is by himself. Everyone at school has heard of him of course, but he is one of those weird urban legends that you are never sure if they are real or not. Antsy never noticed him until the day he is given an unbearable plastic dummy by his dad who works in product development for a plastic company. On the day Antsy and his friends Howie and Irma go out to try and break Manny as they have dubbed him, they first really notice the Schwa and from that day on Antsy is curious to see how far being mostly invisible can be pushed before it finally gets noticed. It turns out pretty far. In a group of kids in a classroom, when counted, only 1 out of every 5 people notices the Schwa is there. Finally on a dare the Schwa goes into the realm of Crazy Old Man Crawley and turns out he is one of the people who can notice the Schwa just by looking around. As payment for not turning them over to the cops, Crawley has them walk his 14 dogs every day and what at first seems like the ruination of the boys summer turns out to be a lesson in both friendship and trust.

What I liked about it: I have read this book so many times and it gets better each time. Antsy with his straight forward Brooklyn attitude is an interesting first person narrator. The Schwa is also an interesting person in the way that he deals with his “invisibleness” and how it affects his life both before and after he becomes friends with Antsy. Of the other characters like Crazy Old Man Crawley, Antsy’s friends Howie and Irma, and Lexie, they are well developed and each interesting in their own ways.

Language: One of the things I try to do with these book reviews is find good clean books that parents don’t have to worry about their kids reading. As such almost none of the books have even light swearing and only a hint of romance. This books is a bit different. It has no inappropriate scenes but it does have some language, not a lot and not really anything super hard but it does have a few words that good little Christain me wouldn’t say. Its not anything that I would consider really bad but it is there. 

Romance: There is a not really a love triangle. One of the things Crazy Old Man Crawley has Antsy do is “date” his granddaughter Lexie while she is in town over the summer. Basically it's Antsy's job to take her to parks and museums and that sort of thing. Lexie is blind and yet can still tell whenever the Schwa is in the room. Because of this Schwa becomes interested in her and gets a bit jealous that Antsy gets to “date” her. In the end, Antsy realizes that he and Lexie are just friends, which for a YA book is really nice because a lot of them seem to make it feel like there has to be a romance in every book and having a book where and guy and girl are just friends is really nice.

Violence: Manny the plastic dummy “dies” in several different ways over the course of the story at the boys try and break the unbreakable plastic but its never graphic and even when he finally breaks it is like whatever because he is just plastic.

Magic: None 

Recommended Age: Antsy and his friends are in their mid teens and I feel like to really appreciate the book and its themes and plot you really have to be at least 14-15. However, that being said, the themes of appreciating everyone you know and friendship and all that are good things that can be learned or relearned at any age so there I really no top age for when you can read this book. 

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Thursday, November 1, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

This is the last of my posts for the 31 days of Five Minute Free writes. I've been thinking about this one for a couple days, so it may go over the five minutes ;)

Close the door.
Are you close to done?

Which one is it? Either, both.
Let's choose the first one.

God's story is like a novel that never ends. I like to read novels. They give me a chance to delve into another time, or another place, and be entertained. When our girls were really little, I started reading a lot of historical fiction. A library card was free, and I needed a pastime that was free. I still read a lot of historical fiction, but not as much as I used to. There is a satisfaction in getting to the conclusion in the story, but oftentimes, there is a bit of a letdown, because you want to know what happens next. You become invested in the characters of a good book, and they can seem like your new friends. What happens to them next?

Isn't life like that? We want to know what happens next. When God closes one chapter in our lives, we want to be able to read the next one - soon, as in right now! But, that is not always how reading a novel works. You might need to set a novel aside to go make dinner, or help your child with their math lesson. These are real, everyday life occurrences that take precedent over knowing the ending of the story.

God has a way of placing everyday life occurrences in our own story, to turn our focus towards others, and away from trying to find the ending of our story. This is a good thing, a great thing actually. We need other people in our lives to make our story interesting. We also need other people in our lives to keep us humble. So often we need other people to point out the blessings in our everyday lives, so that we pause and thank our Creator. 

While today marks the close of this chapter, it also signals that another one is just beginning. Where will it lead? God knows, and He will be walking it with us!

Thank you for reading all the way through this Write October 31 day challenge. November is here, and that signals NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month)

While I'm not writing a novel this month, Arlene will be working on her third one this month for NaNoWriMo. I'll be working on writing my book, which means more writing, but a little less of it here on the blog. I'm hoping to get back to Instagram more, which has been sorely lacking during this October challenge. Stay tuned, there's plenty of interesting stuff scheduled for November here on the blog!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

Each of us has a voice. Our calling is to use it for good. While some people sing songs, others give speeches. Some people use their voices to teach children how to read. Maybe you use your voice to write words. However you use your voice, use it wisely. Words matter.

I want to use my voice to draw attention to God, and not to myself. That can be a tricky road to walk, because the world around us calls for us to promote ourselves, but God calls us to serve. 
May my words serve to encourage and challenge others.

While I was ruminating on what to write for this prompt, I was reminded that a long time ago (1995) my dad and his oldest brother put together a book of their father's poetry. My grandpa died before I was born, so I never heard his voice, yet, I can know it when I read his poetry. 
Today I share a small piece with you.

Fragment 7
by Harold Gale Emrick 
Courtesy of the publisher Emrick Press Limited

For a song in the soul
When the storm clouds roll
And the waves break high
         On the strand
Just turn to the Lord
Believe on His word
And reach for His 
         Outstretched hand.


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

Together. This word started out as a chain of green and blue links, and ended up as a multi-colored kaleidoscope. I like it!

Together. How we should be. We are stronger when we work together. But more than just that, God calls us to bear one another's burdens, to live another, and to serve one another. How can we do any of that if we are not together? Simply put - we can't.

Together we can show the world the love, grace and mercy of God. Separately, we often struggle to do this. Together our church did 22 service projects in one day last month. Together we loved on and served our community. Together we ate and laughed and fellowshipped afterwards.

Together is unity. Unity in the body of Christ is God's design. Let us each choose to find the things that hold us together, and let them be stronger than the things that divide us apart. Together, may the church shine forth the love of Jesus, many little lights, changing the world.