Saturday, June 15, 2019

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky Book Review

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky is the first book in a series that explores the British Home Children who were sent across the ocean from London to Canada in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Many of these children were orphans, but this novel gives a glimpse into a family that was torn apart by this system that promised a better life for children.

Laura McAlister is working as a lady's maid for the very affluent Fraser family in England when she finds out that her widowed mother has become ill.  When she arrives in London, she discovers that her brother and sisters have been put in orphanages.  She is desperate to find her siblings and tries not to worry her mother. Laura encounters many obstacles and frustrations as she searches for her family and  when she finds out that her siblings have been shipped off to Canada, she sneaks her way into a position that will allow her to travel the same route that will lead her to her siblings. She meets Rose who becomes a kind and caring friend.  And while on the boat, she meets Andrew Fraser (again), who not only is the son of her former employer, but also an attorney who is on assignment to learn more about the children being transferred through the orphanages to families in Canada.  She begins to form an unlikely friendship with him as they continue their search for her family. Laura had to rely on God's provision through this scary and lonely trial. When Laura finally tracks down one of her sister's she is appalled by her living and working conditions.  She is adamant to find her the rest of her family.   Will Laura and Andrew rescue her siblings?  Will they move beyond their friendship to something more?

This book addressed a new topic for me that I had actually never heard or read about before.  I was highly intrigued about how all these children were moved from one continent to another.  This historical fiction gave a glimpse into the life of a family that learned the struggles and heartache that could happen accidentally.  I especially liked how how even though the main character, Laura, seemed to be a very responsible and careful young lady, she had to take great risks and even conceal her identity to pursue her siblings.  I can't imagine all that this family had to endure.  It seemed very wrong and even though there were many well meaning authorities, when it came time for choosing homes, it was not done properly in my opinion.  The novel does not end here, but will continue on with a story for each of the McAlister children.  I look forward to following this fam

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review.  All opinions are my own.*

Be sure to check out the author at her website for more amazing books:  Carrie Turansky.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Goodbye, 2018, Hello 2019! 6 month update!

Oh my goodness!  I never believed I would have packed so many transitions into one year.  I did not plan any of these things!  At the beginning of the year we adopted a new cat who was about 6 months old.  He was all black and we named him Raven.  He has become my little buddy.  Also in January, we went to my father in laws memorial (he passed in October).  It was a very comforting time with family. Then in February, we had a garage fire which destroyed everything we thought was valuable, but realized it was just stuff.  Also that spring, my parents sold my grandmother's house (she had passed in October as well).  Then they bought a new house in a different town and also later that summer sold their home (my growing up home!).  Amidst all of that we went through a job search, and eventually selling our house, buying a house and moving across country.  I explained a lot of this in my previous blog posts.

But today we have been in our new home for 6 months.

Whew, and so much has happened since we moved here as well, but really good things.

I started this blog much earlier in the year and then life has become really busy!

First of all, I just LOVE living in the country! We have a huge yard and we are not close to any neighbors or noise.  We hear birds singing every morning.  The frogs were croaking at night in the Spring.  We can see the stars and watch the sun rise and sunset every day.  The kids can run, ride bikes, dig in the garden and be loud without disturbing anyone.  We have built bonfires, planted a garden, bought chickens and made a makeshift coop.

Our historic town is less than 10 min away.  The school is 5 minutes and the grocery store is 7 minutes.  There are many places to explore likes beaches and state parks.  There is a lot of driving, but there is no traffic except in planting season when the tractors use the regular highway.   We live about an hour and half from the big city of Richmond and the airport.

We have found the people to be very friendly and welcoming.  We started going to a church, the small group and the kids attended the Awana program.  I am volunteering at the school and taking care of the home as well as taking the kids back and forth to school.  I also have been on a few of their field trips.  My son went to Jamestown and Yorktown.  My daughter went to a state park for a fun day.

Things are a lot different here and sometimes we think about life back in Tacoma.  But somehow we feel so comfortable and at home here.  We love our big house and yard.  We are going to have a big work party with my husband's co-workers soon.  The weather is unpredictable, but we have had snow, rain, thunder, lightning, tornado warnings, sun and wind.  Most days are pleasant although it is getting warmer.  I don't even need a sweater!

We are so excited to see what the rest of the year will hold for our family.  There is so much to tell, but honestly, I enjoy living my life.  If you want to keep up with me, be sure to check out my Facebook page The Knowlton Nest,  where I occasionally post what I do on a daily basis.  

We are so happy that God moved us to Virginia and continue to find ways to serve Him in this new area.  And we can't wait to have fun this summer with our new friends!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman Book Review


The Next Right Thing: A Simple Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman is a delightful and heartfelt read from a popular podcast presenter.  Her vision is simple, do the next right thing.  If you struggle with "decision fatigue" as Emily refers to it, this book will show steps to "create space for your soul to breathe."  Each chapter begins with a timely quote on the topic of the chapter.  Emily weaves her story along with inspiring actions and new ways of thinking to address the topic.  She ends the chapter with a short and hopeful prayer along with a simple practice to guide the reader to give life to the actions outlined in the chapter.  Emily is a master in keeping the attention of her readers as she shares her thoughts and musings.  The ideas presented are shared in quiet expectation.  She is inviting her readers on a magical journey by just choosing the next right  

Last summer a friend of mine who knows I listen to podcasts asked if I had heard of Emily P. Freeman's The Next Right Thing Podcast.  I had not, but as soon as I heard the title I knew I had to check it out.  I started at the beginning and devoured the words I heard through my ear buds.  Emily's sweet voice floated through my mind and caused me to unearth some hidden thoughts and ideas that I never knew existed.  I was so excited to read this companion book and I could almost hear Emily's voice reading it to me as I devoured it too.   I crave the simple and quiet spaces in my soul where I can breathe and connect with who I really am.  Emily's book is just the right pace to spur me to make decisions with ease and confidence.  

* I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Revell Reads for review.  All opinions are my own.*

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Dear Daughters :Love Letters to the Next Generation by Susie Davis Book Review (Giveaway!!)

Dear Daughters: Love Letters to the Next Generation by Susie Davis is a sweet book that gives young women wisdom and mentorship from a godly perspective.  Susie reaches the hearts of these young women by covering topics such as worry, life's purpose, expectation and caring for your soul.  Each chapter is designed to delve into the topic with a friendly opening story and carries along like a conversation.  She slowly urges her readers to ponder and answer questions that bring hope and comfort.  She also provides a small space for writing thoughts and gleanings from the chapter.  Her honesty and transparency are wrapped up in this book that will encourage young readers to lean into God.

I really enjoyed this heart warming book as I think back on my life as a young girl.  I have really enjoyed the benefits of mentoring in the past few years and I really encourage every young woman today to pick up Susie's book and let the love and and connection be wrapped in their soul.  This book reads like a devotional with stories and questions always leading back to the Lord.  It's a perfect gift!

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review.  All opinions are my own.*

Enter to win a free copy of this book through May 7:

Susie Davis is an author, speaker and co-founder of Austin Christian Fellowship. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Will Davis, Jr., and they have 3 delightful young adult children (Will III, Emily, and Sara) who are all married and living their own beautiful life.
Susie’s podcast, Dear Daughters, is full of wisdom and joy, offering women young and old the kind of comfort and companionship they crave.
Aside from family and ministry, Susie is hopelessly addicted to horseback riding, McDonald’s coffee and pink geraniums. She loves bird watching, creek walking and connecting the dots between God and nature. Her favorites include cooking, gathering people at her big French farm table and asking deep questions.
Visit her website:
She is also active on Facebook (@davis.susie)Twitter (@susiedavis) and Instagram (@susiedavis).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A New Adventure...Ups and Downs

It's been quite a crazy month or more for my family.  We found out at the end of September that my husband was finally offered the job he had been waiting to hear about ALL summer.  You can read about it HERE.  So the better part of October was getting our house ready to put on the market.  Thankfully we had done a lot of work this summer like painting the house and weeding the yard and painting the fence and front porch.  We also stained the decks and sprayed the screen doors so they were crisp white.  But in October we had to start packing up everything except what we wanted to keep for the next few months.  We also had to stage the house and have pictures.  We put in new carpet upstairs and had the carpets downstairs cleaned.  We worked many hours and were so thankful for the help of our friends.

In late October we put our house on the market and made a trip out to Virginia to look for our "new" home.  My husband had to work at his new job and I was able to tour the area.  We ended up looking at 8 homes!  We were looking for homes with land and most of them happened to be older.  We went into a house built in 1865 and also one from 1895.  We felt at home since our house was built in 1905!  Well, we finally found a house that seemed just right for our family and we made an offer.  We were hoping that an offer would be made on our house soon too.

When we arrived back in Washington, we found out that an offer was made on our home!  We were so excited, but also cautious since there are so many things that need to happen before the closing of a home.  Well, something did happen.  The buyers backed out.  I was pretty upset about how the whole thing happened, but then we put our house back on the market the next day.  This weekend we had 3 showings, but nothing came from them.

Selling a house is emotionally draining.  I have had so much emotional ups and downs in the past 10 months.  But I'm learning to keep steady with Jesus.  Yes, I know how I wanted it all to work out with a little bow on top, but that is not how it is going.  So we are waiting and trusting.  We decided to go ahead and apply for a loan and buy the house in Virginia.

I have been trying to look for the "good" in this situation, but right now I just can't see it too clearly.  I don't feel good when an offer goes sour.  I don't feel good when someone chooses another house over ours.  I don't feel good when someone doesn't even stop to go into the house.  But God is good and He is working in ways I cannot see to bring "good" to this situation I am going through.

This coming weekend we are having a going away party at our church and then the following Tuesday we leave on our trip out East.  We are excited, nervous and ready to start our new adventure.

I ask for continued prayers for the sale of our home. We have put a lot of time, love and energy into making this our home and for putting it on the market.

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Year of Losing...and Gaining

If you have been following my posts this summer you noticed that we have had a very difficult year.  It started last October.  Our 17 year old cat was very sick, but she kept hanging on.  We had to put her to sleep.  It was a sad, sad day for our family.  We had Abby from when she was 6 years old and brought home both babies.  They grew up with her.

This was just the beginning of our sorrow.  On October 28 my 96 year old grandmother passed away. She had been diagnosed with cancer (again!) the year before and went through several surgeries until she broke her hip on June 1.  From then on she was in hospitals and then my parents took care of her until she died.  I loved her so much!  This was the last time I saw her on June 17, 2017.

We went up for her memorial on November 1 and that same day my husband got a phone call that his dad passed away the night before in his home.  We were shocked beyond belief.  The death of two of our loved ones so close together.  Thankfully we were with my family, but the grief that set in was deep. He was such a caring grandpa and had so many wonderful stories to share and life skills he imparted.  We miss him so much!

It was a rough and quiet Christmas season as we thought about the recent losses in our family.  I still don't think I've been able to work through these losses with all that continued to happen.

Then, you know, I shared the story of our garage fire on February 13.  

Then I shared our story (or part of it) about waiting.  

What were we waiting for?  
Before I share, let me say that I have never felt so close to God and so full of emotions than when I'm going through a trial.  I love God, but I am desperate for Him even more in those tough times and I know He's trying to teach me total surrender on Him for ALL things.

In June, my husband and I started thinking seriously about a new job opportunity from his company.  It would mean big changes.  We prayed, made lists, prayed and stepped forth in faith.  It started off so well and positive and then there was silence.  We didn't know what to think, feel or do.  So we prayed.  That's when I wrote that blog post.  We waited and it is now 3 months since the step of faith. God was with us and working in our hearts, planning everything for the right time.  

This past week my husband was offered the job!  This means so much to his career and our family.  We are beyond grateful for this answer to prayer and even though it will mean some major changes, we feel confident in this new journey.  

As much as we are excited, we also are anxious as we embark on this new life.  There are so many details we have to work through now.  and the funny thing is I'm feeling the exact same things as I did about moving as when I was waiting.  It's just that total surrender and laying it all at His feet is what I need to do.  

 Is God refining something in your life and heart?
I just never thought about that when we started this process.  

Wherever you are and wherever God is working on you, be there with Him.  

And may I please ask for prayer for our family as we need to sell and buy a house.  I am feeling overwhelmed and not sure how this is all going to work out, but God knows.  Thanks for listening to my story.  I pray that God will meet you in your greatest need.  He loves us!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Where's Part 2? The Waiting...

So, I am going to be honest and personal again.  Truly, I don't know where to begin.  I have been on an emotional roller coaster this summer and I'm still uncertain of what is going to happen.  As I shared in Part 1, we had a fire in our garage.  It's now been 6 months and I think we are getting the final inspections scheduled.

I want to talk today about waiting.  Are you waiting for something?  Has it come to pass?  Was your prayer answered in the way you asked?  Are you still waiting?

I have had to wait for a lot of things: getting accepted to college, passing the ACT exam (I took it 5 times!! another story for another time), getting my first job, getting my second job, waiting for a marriage partner, waiting for a child and then another (those are two more stories I linked to on my blog), waiting for a job, and now waiting again.

It seems that God wants to teach me some things.  This summer I felt compelled to do this devotion called Unblinded Faith  by Elisa Pulliam.  Faith.  What is it?  Do I have enough of it?  I once heard my pastor say something like this, "You don't need more faith, you need faith more often."  I have faith in God.  He saved me from my sins.  I live forgiven.  But everyday faith.  Do I have it often enough?  In Unblinded Faith Elisa unpacks many Scriptures that speak of who God is and what He does.  Everyday I read the passage of Scripture, the devotion, the prayer and I then I write.  I write down all the promises of God and commands of God from that Scripture.  God is faithful, He is true, He is trustworthy.  He says, DO NOT FEAR!!

I have a friend who posts a daily "no fear" verse on Facebook.  I fear because I'm confused about what God desires for me.  We stepped out in faith this summer and I feel like I've been standing on the edge of a cliff.  The wind might blow me over at some point, but God is keeping me from falling.  I don't feel steady or grounded.  But God has made it perfectly clear in His Word He is the only solid rock.  It's on Him I stand, not on my worries, fears or desires.  It's God.

Here are some quotes I've been pondering too:
*"What if the circumstances you're asking God to change are the very circumstances God is using to change you."  -Mark Batterson
*Let your FAITH be bigger than your fear.
*"what if"= fear
  "even if"= faith
*"No present obstacle is ever bigger than God's glory."  -Ruth Chou Simons
*Jesus, we give you our yes and trust You with the outcome.
*"The greater the gale forces in life, the greater the need for peace in Christ." -Julie Sanders

I also found this list of verses to bring calm for the anxious heart from More to Be:  40 Verses

And some verses that were in my prayer journal this summer:

And I've loved these songs:

In all of this I'm learning that true dependence on God is messy, but necessary.  My humanness is overwhelming to me when I see how big God is and how small I am.  Yes, I'm waiting for a prayer to be answered.  It may and it may not, but that doesn't change who God is or my purpose in life.  I will choose to trust in the unknown because I am KNOWN.  I wrestle and it's OK.  God is drawing me deeper to His heart in this journey. It's not about what I want, but His desire for my life.  We step forward in faith and we give each step to Him.

This summer I'm reading Brother Andrew to my kids.  He took leaps of faith and God was with Him each time.  I know God is here right now.  He has been preparing me for what is ahead even though I don't see it clearly at all.  He is there and He knows.

May what I share today help you in any season you have to wait.  Just wait.  Stop and be in God's presence.  Cry, rejoice, be still, on your knees, hands lifted, soul searching prayers, it's ALL in God's hands.  Give Him your everything.

If God chooses a different path, I will trust that is the right way for us.

And this podcast (The Next Right Thing) spoke to me about Looking for Arrows, Not Answers by Emily P. Freeman.  (In fact, this was on February 13, 2018- the date of our fire)

If you think of it, please pray for us to follow God's leading no matter what.  I promise I will share more when I can.  Until then...we wait.