Apr 162018
 

This post contains affiliate links.


All throughout April you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before May 1st, 2018. You’ll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned enough since the beginning of the year to purchase a rain barrel, a compost tumbler, a used copy of a long-awaited book, and more.  This past month has been a bit quieter due to having my focus elsewhere.  That is one of the things I like about Swagbucks, the earning opportunities are flexible; there is no set schedule or method which you must use.

Apr 152018
 

This post contains affiliate links.
As much as I would like to live in my own little bubble, in my own little corner of the world, tending my garden, reading books, drinking coffee, and feeding birds, that idealized vision could only last for so long.  That is the problem with ideals, they are, well, ideal.  They do not account for realistic details.  For example, in order to sit in my garden drinking coffee and feeding birds I would have to had bought coffee, with money earned from somewhere, washed the dishes in order to have a clean cup, and have weeded the garden in order to have anything growing worth gazing at.  None of those – washing dishes, weeding the garden, working – were in the glimpse of my idealized world.  Yet, they all must have happened at some point or another.

So it goes with history at times, either we idealize it or forget about the smaller details completely.  At times, it may not matter so much – like whether a distant past relative made roast or chicken for Sunday dinners.  At other times, it is very important to remember what happened, how we ended up where we and the world is at today.  The actions and words of people in the past have greatly played out into the world we are now living.

Kevin Peraino takes a look into the past, piecing together the different strands to give us insight into how the events of 1949 set the path for where China has ended up today.  A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China is not a story which follows a straight path, but instead flows from one thread to the other, logically, giving the reader a broader understanding of the forces of the past which had an influence on the molding of what we see today.

In other words, the only cure for a run-away story is another story.   ~Kevin Peraino, Prologue to A Force So Swift

I greatly appreciated the broader picture Peraino laid before his readers, connecting and relating the different aspects of what was taking place in various parts of the world, among various factions vying for control and influence.  It is no easy task to walk someone through these details without losing them along the way.

A Force So Swift contains many details, not only in the main body of work, but also in the extras.  The beginning of the book contains a map of the China and surrounding countries, marking locations of various cities and regions.  The last quarter of the book hold an Epilogue, Notes, and a Selected Bibliography.  The 261 pages between these two is split into three Parts, which helps delineate various times in the story’s progress.

The research which went into this book resulted in a narration filled with facts, references to primary sources, snippets of conversations and communications, and expansions of the characteristics of the various players.  As a testament to the author’s skill, he did it all without making the reading too dry.

Truman thought he was being caution in his decisions.  It turns out there was more going on then they realized.  Little did they know this would lead to yet another war within a couple decades, one which would claim many American soldiers’ lives.

China is looking back to its past, trying to find where it went right and wrong.  Learning from their past is a part of finding their identity and creating a better future.  It can be tricky to pinpoint these “good” and “bad” parts among the various tellings of history.  Which has the correct view?  Which recounts it the clearest? How was one affected by the other?  These are questions which do not always have answers.  It takes more than 261 pages to work through over a century of ones history to find the truth, if there even is a single right one.

As I listen to the news and read reports of happening in our country and overseas, I can not help but see influences from the past showing themselves today.  None of us live in a bubble; what we do effects others, and what they do has an impact on us.  We may not know the result of those impacts, whether for good or not.  We may assume one outcome, one which never materializes.  None of us can predict the future.

Should we give up then?  By no means! Keep fighting for what you think is right. Things can change. Meanwhile, remember, the story will not end with you.  Your role is a part of the bigger whole, even if it feels as if we are only  weeding the garden and feeding the birds.

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books to review.  All opinions are my own.

Apr 032018
 

I was provided a copy of this book by Moody Publishers for review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  The post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small percent at no additional cost to you.

Ordinary.

That is a very good description of how I have been feeling as of late. While I have been getting better at keeping a routine, I think we all know that the world will not end if I happen to do my kids’ laundry on Monday rather than mine and my husband’s.

There really is nothing earth shattering about teaching roman numerals to one kid, while reviewing for the umpteenth time multiplication facts with another.  These will not help save a kid from hunger tonight.

Dishes done before going to bed?  Fabulous…there are still people without jobs.

Fixed a broken dresser?  Helpful, yes.  Does that help someone who feels lost and depressed?  No.

It is very easy to go through the day’s activities, day after day after day after … one begins to feel like a gerbil on a wheel going nowhere very quickly.  Not only am I going nowhere, but do I really have anything to offer others?

In a world obsessed with superheroes and celebrities, Dan Stanford reveals how our extraordinary God works through ordinary people to accomplish the incredible.

Dan Stanford gets straight to the point in the introduction of his newly released book, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes  – “…as bad as the world is right now, we don’t need a superhero to come save the day.”  Wait, what?  Then why am I reading this book?  Thankfully, he continues, “…we need ordinary people like you and me to join God and go change the world right where we are.”

In the next 21 chapters Stanford goes on to give multiple example of people, in the Bible and the world today, who have accomplished great things, even when they were obviously lacking.  He also encourages us to focus on our sphere of influence, use what we have on hand, rely upon God and not our works, and to stop expecting works of great importance to look big and earth shattering – sometimes the biggest thing to someone may come in the form of a small, seemingly insignificant gesture.  To the person, however, it means the world.

While there are many biblical references, Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes is a fairly casual, easy read.  It was not until a few chapters in that I began to get into the book.  That was the point where the author shared more of his background, what led him to where he is today, and more of how this has played out in his life.  I believe the story could have done with a bit fewer superhero analogies at the beginning.

In the middle section, I found myself underlining a fair amount and adding notes in the margins.  This was not due to finding formerly unknown concepts.  Instead, it was to help me get further into the content of the book.  It really did help encourage me to begin applying to concepts internally rather than superficially agreeing with them.

Several various parts are words of encouragement I could have used during particularly rough patches in my past.  Hearing someone say those things to me at those moments would have gone a long way towards reenergizing me to keeping going.

The ending section was a deeper conclusion, though it felt a bit rushed.  This part could have been expanded upon more and would have helped add to the application and encouragement in the reader’s life.  As it is, I believe taking time to think over what is read, rather than rushing through this last bit, will help the reader see more of how this can apply to their lives.

Changing the world doesn’t start with a cape and a catch phrase. Changing the world starts by allowing God to invade your world.

Following the last chapter are two additional sections – notes, arranged by chapters, and discussion questions.  Again, nothing supper long or heavy, but a chance to slow down and contemplate how what you have read may apply to your life and current circumstances.

While a lot of the book is talking about us as people, what we can do, how the world around us can benefit from what we have to offer, that is not the real focus and point.  In Chapter 19 Stanford makes a factual statement – our input was not needed when the world was created; people were being fed, clothed, and housed before we came along and will continue to be after we die; in a few generations we will most likely be forgotten.  Doesn’t sound too uplifting, does it?

Knowing all that, we were still uniquely created, born in a specific place at a specific time for a purpose.  Yes, it could all have been accomplished without us, but He chose to use us, to give us a purpose. How awesome is that!

Mar 172018
 
Be A Good Neighbor, Not A Nosey One and a giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for helping support this blog. There are so many “National _____ Month” or “National ______ Day” or “Celebrate This Day” that it is hard to keep track of them all.  Honestly, at times I do well to remember my family’s birthdays. You may then consider this your friendly neighborhood […]

Mar 162018
 
Stay The Course, Reach Your Goals

This post contains affiliate links. January has a reputation for being a recovery month.  Coming off several large holidays, one may find they are feeling a bit down, are having a rough time with cabin fever due to colder weather, or perhaps feeling overwhelmed by their goals for the upcoming year.  While January was, personally, […]

Mar 152018
 

Last October I shared this video with the intent of increasing garden knowledge for those who like to tuck such facts away for when they will be useful. For the rest of us, here is the video at a time which may be more appropriate to your gardening preparations. Do you grow onions?  What is […]