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Faith First

faithfirst

Image Credit: Ungrind.org

The door burst open.

Arioch, captain of the king’s guard, filled the doorway with his powerful frame.

“It is hereby decreed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon that all wise men, enchanters, magicians, and astrologers of Babylon are to be taken into custody and destroyed.” Arioch’s voice resonated in the room where Daniel sat studying a roll of parchment with his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The friends all looked at each other, startled.

Daniel slowly rose. “What has brought about this decree?” he asked.
Arioch sighed. He did not relish the task given to him.

To continue reading, click over to Ungrind.org

Sunflowers

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On Sunday we went to a sunflower field not far from where we live to take some
last-of-summer pictures.

And to announce the gender of our new babe:

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This little girl is soooo excited to have a sister!

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So are these guys!

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A nice stranger offered to take a family shot of us.

And the boys insisted on “silly faces” from mom and dad. Duncan makes his photography debut in getting this shot of us!

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amy - October 2, 2014 - 1:53 pm

these are so lovely. and I adore that last silly shot! :D

Corinne - October 2, 2014 - 6:46 pm

Oh I love these!!! Congratulations :)

Joyce - October 2, 2014 - 8:40 pm

These are great!
SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!
LOVE the silly shot – and love you all!
~Aunt Joyce

Jenna - October 2, 2014 - 10:42 pm

Gorgeous, Danielle. Just gorgeous!

Kaylan - October 8, 2014 - 1:55 pm

aww so sweet! Love these pictures.

Wild + Free Homeschool Conference

 

“All good things are wild and free.”

Henry David Thoreau

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The first thought that came to my mind upon arriving at the Wild + Free Homeschool Conference in Virginia Beach hosted at the beautiful Founder’s Inn was:

This ain’t your mama’s homeschool conference.

And I should know, because I went with my mama to quite a few of them growing up. Let me tell you, this conference had some hip mamas. No jean skirts were in sight for as far as the eye could see!

In some ways, the conference was a bit strange as far as homeschooling conferences go. It was billed as a homeschooling conference, but not all the women who attended or spoke homeschooled their kids–some had their children attending public or private schools. The speakers and audience were made up of a mix of Christians, hippie mamas, environmentalists, bloggers, and women who not only homeschool but are also writers, photographers, and run their own creative businesses. I loved the eclectic mix! But there one thing we all had in common: intentional motherhood.

I don’t talk much about homeschooling in this space but allow me to do so for a moment. I homeschool because I love it. As a homeschooled student I found this educational style very valuable, especially when I entered college and the work force. I realize it is not for everyone and have no wish to proselytize but allow me to gush for a moment: I love love love homeschooling! I love the planning, the teaching, the lifestyle, the everyday learning. I don’t do it because of my faith. I don’t do it out of fear of the public school system. I do it because I love it and as a student it allowed me to excel and I hope it will do the same for my kids.

Now, back to the conference. Friday evening was kicked off with the music of The Last Bison, which I really enjoyed. They reminded me of Nickel Creek. Kinda folk rock, so check them out if you like that kind of thing.

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Naomi Gal gave a stirring testimony about battling depression and hopelessness, her main point being that joy gives strength. She discussed joy stealers, like failure, comparison, jealousy, and perfectionism, which are struggles that often haunt women.

Saturday morning, after an amazing breakfast (the food was good–I mean good, people!) Kelsey Koslowski spoke on “Saving Sisterhood” with the main point that comparison is a poison to community. Then Kirsten Rickert, an artist, writer, and environmentalist, spoke next. I appreciated her life story and talking to her later in the day with a small group of other ladies about her homeschooling methods. Check out her blog. Her photography and posts are beautiful.

Bethany Douglass of Cloistered Away spoke about intention. One of my favorite take-aways from her talk was “Don’t be motivated by what you don’t want your kids to be. Turn it into a positive of what you do want your kids to be.”

Next, Tiffany Gray of The Gray Gang hit it out of the park. I scribbled two pages of notes from her talk because it was just so stinkin’ great. Granted, she was talking about something that is something of a hobby horse of mine: margin. Several years ago Josh and I read the book, Margin, which along with the Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking influenced some major shifts in our lives. Tiffany used the book Margin as the basis of her message on motherhood margin. She defined margin as “the space between ourself and our limits.” She discussed the need for margin in our lives as mothers so that we can be emotionally available to our children.

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Two breakout sessions came next. I wanted to attend them both, but went with Stephanie Beaty’s The Well Balanced Mama talk. Ironically, I realized I already knew who she was, but by the name Lifeographer. As someone in the photography world I new of her photography work as well as her writing over at The Creative Mama. Stephanie’s talk was fabulous and centered on the fact that “balance is infeasible, but peace is achievable.”

That afternoon there was substantial free time before a lovely evening dinner party in the garden. Once again there was delicious food, conversation, wine, and laughter. We got to meet and talk with Terri Woods, who was the final speaker the following morning. It was a delight to pick her brain, as she has 16 years of homeschooling experience. Her talk centered more specifically on homeschooling than the pervious speakers and she shared some of her “homeschooling tenants” for a lifestyle of learning.

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Overall, the weekend was a delight. A road trip with good friends, great food I didn’t have to cook, encouraging speakers, and meeting new and inspiring women. Granted, I didn’t get much sleep, but that’s okay.:)

One of the lovely ladies I met during free time was Melissa Lyon West. Her contribution to the swag bag was this lovely hand-lettered print. If you’re interested in purchasing one for yourself, you can do so here.

I think it’s message is a great way to remember my time at the Wild + Free conference.

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Hannah Mayo - September 25, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Such a wonderful recap Danielle! Thanks for letting me relive some of the best parts again this afternoon :)

Ainsley - September 29, 2014 - 9:33 pm

I really aprreciate you taking the time to do a recap of the weekend… this was fantastic! As the organizer, so much was a blur, and I wished I had taken better notes. Thank you for sharing your perspective! xo

Danielle - September 30, 2014 - 9:37 am

Thanks for commenting Ainsley and your hard work on the conference!

anne - October 4, 2014 - 3:24 pm

It sounded so amazing. So glad you got to go! Homeschooling is not out of the question for us down the road, just not for us right now :)
Tiffany Gray is awesome. I just love her on IG…I didn’t realize how big she was until a few months ago :)

AND I love that pic of you, Beth, and Amy! I love how we all connect with each other !!!
SO fun.

Devotions for Home or On the Go

 

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It’s that time of year: school has started, fall sports are in full swing, and after-school activities fill the calendar. With such a flurry of activity, family devotions can easily fall by the wayside. Or perhaps family devotions has been something you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t known how to implement.

For the Family has already given us practical encouragement on how to start family devotions. But sometimes, we as parents need some practical resources that allow the redemptive story of the Bible to capture the hearts of our children. And some of these tools can even be enjoyed on the go in the midst of a busy school-time schedule.

To keep reading, click on over to For the Family . . . 

Ten Books that Changed Me

My friend Krista tagged me on Facebook to list ten books that have stayed with me or changed me in some way. Ironically, before this whole Facebook fad started, I’d been working on a blog post on this very topic. For like a year! Being tagged made me finally get it together to finish this list. Take a look and please share in the comments: What book has stuck with you over time? I’d love to know so I can get some new titles for inspiring and thought-provoking reads!

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Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

This book had me really thinking through Christianity. It also made me realize that Christianity can be rationally defended and one doesn’t even need the Bible to do so. That a thinking person can have faith, yet not base their belief on Christianity on faith alone, but rational thought. Although it contains dated illustrations at some points, it’s a classic for any person thinking through religion and the reality of Christ.

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A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament by Michael Card

I have a whole post on this book. Read it and you’ll know why it helped change me from a stoic to someone who wasn’t afraid of lament.

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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

What is the relationship between art and faith? Is there such a thing as “Christian” art? I’ve read this book again and again and find L’Engle’s thoughtful essays on this topic so helpful and provoking. A must-read for anyone interested in the arts who is also a Christian.

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The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller

I highlighted this book to death. Read my full review here.

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Terrify No More by Gary A. Haugen

I didn’t know that modern slavery existed until I read this book back in 2006. Boy, were my eyes opened. Terrify No More follows two stories of slavery and International Justice Mission’s efforts to eradicate slavery through the local laws of whatever land their humanitarian work happens to be in. You can read my full review here.

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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”  With these words begins the chilling tale that made a modern gothic classic. I’ve read the novel numerous times and it never ceases to disappoint. From the foreboding that building like thickening mist, to the fact the main character is nameless, to the fabulous way du Maurier so memorably opens and closes her book in a way that the beginning only makes sense after you’ve read the end, Rebecca will haunt you after the last pages are closed.

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” is the famous line that begins Tolstoy’s epic. It took me a long time to invest in reading Anna Karenina. Why did I want to read about a woman who has an affair and then kills herself?! Sounded like a downer to me. When I expressed this sentamint to the friends who recommended the book, they said, “No, that’s not what it’s really about at all!”

Now I get it. Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina as a response and challenge to the radical intelligentsia of his day who were attacking the idea of family in favor of sexual freedom and communal living. The couples in the novel all can be viewed as critiques of culture, and Tolstoy makes some very pointed ones that are still relevant today. But besides the cultural critique, the novel’s other main theme deals with the existence of God and the fear of death. The two main characters, Anna and Levin, both fear death intensely and come to opposite conclusions on how to deal with this fear in the end. One of my favorite and most thought-provoking novels of all time.

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Middlemarch by George Eliot

Dorothea Brooke Casaubon and Dr. Lydgate are both idealists looking to live out their idealism in their own unique ways. When the dreams of idealism are swept away, mainly due to poor marriage choices on both their parts, how will both these characters cope? A Victorian classic for a reason, Eliot’s portrait of a provincial town and its characters shows such depth of insight.

The Maytrees

The Maytrees by Annie Dillard

I can’t say this is my favorite novel, but the writing was stunning. I opened up a whole new way to think about writing to me. It took me a while to get into the swing of Dillard’s style. That she tells stories through metaphors more than narrative. But it was exquisite, more like a poem than prose. The story too, was an unconventional love story that centers on forgiveness and the complexity of one couple’s marriage. My review of the book can be found here.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I went back and forth as to whether include this series, but the truth is, few books written in recent years have sparked so much thought on my part. I originally wrote about the series here. There was so much I loved about these books such as the influence of the ancient myth Theseus and the Minotaur being the original inspiration for the games. The critique of our modern reality TV culture. How the “good guys” rebelling against a dystopian government aren’t really good either. How she destroys the glamorization of what we’ve come to expect from a hero or heroine and instead of triumph gives us the reality of war on the human body and mind: a heroine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

What book or books have your read that has changed you? 

Image Credit for all images: Amazon.com

amy - September 11, 2014 - 1:23 pm

Too funny–I started a blog draft of this topic more than a year ago, too! I guess it must have been a blog-meme before it was a FB fad :)

Your list is interesting–some overlap with my own, a couple of books I’ve long wanted to read but haven’t gotten around to yet, and a couple that I have read, or tried, and not particularly enjoyed! I read Anna Karenina in the summer of 06 and just did not get into it. I had that feeling (not unfamiliar) that it was really deep and going over my head :/ –like if I were reading it with a literature class or some sort of study guide, I’d be getting a lot more out of it. Then, I tried Middlemarch last year sometime but just could not get into it. I eventually abandoned it.

Danielle - September 11, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Well, Amy, I must admit to having a HUGE love for Victorian literature, so if one doesn’t share that love, perhaps those books are less compelling??

krista - September 11, 2014 - 8:19 pm

Awesome!
I remember having you recommend Anna Karenina to me while still living in MD, I bought it after moving here,…and I still haven’t picked it up. *sigh* But I rarely buy books that I don’t want to hang on to, or think I’ll reread, so…there’s hope. :)

I’ve added a few to my reading list, so thanks!