Welcome

I’m glad you stopped by my blog.  Make yourself at home.  Start meandering by scrolling down…and you can peek into all my cupboards and closets by clicking the side bar.  I know you’ll find some strengthening articles, encouraging resources, fabulous-but-forgotten hymn texts, and perhaps a heartening smile or two.  Most importantly, I hope you’ll be strengthened in your walk with the Lord for the time you spend here with me.  If you do not yet know Him, please click here for a beautiful invitation.  To learn about how He changed my life, click here, and by clicking here you can find out a few more fun and forgettable snippets about me. 🙂

If I can do anything to be a further blessing to you, in prayer, or by improving my site, please let me know…or just write to say “Hi”!  Please click here for an email form.

Blessings ~Diane

Homeschooling High School-Part 3

We are on the brink of it. Our two older kids have graduated from our homeschool, and now begins the on-ramp for graduating our youngest. She is currently finishing 8th grade, and today I put together a rough plan for the next four years. She has interests in art and veterinary science, so there are a few things included to help her investigate those subjects.

Spring 2020 and High School Overview

It doesn’t have to cost a bundle, either.

My cost is $25 a month for Power Homeschool.

My subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a benefit of working for the company (but it’s still CRAZY affordable at under $9/month for the whole family, with our current special, and includes my record keeping, our quarterly magazine, planners, SO MUCH–ask me about it!).  I’ll use some videos like Mr. D’s Geometry and Drive Thru History to round out our math and history classes.

Typing Club is free (I like it…used it for Michael).

The New Answers books (1-4) are free right here.

I got a complete copy of WriteShop on Ebay for $15 I think.

We use the library and free books on Kindle for reading.

Driver’s Ed (with high school credit) is $19.95 one-time fee, when we are ready for it.

Add in paper, pencils, a few sundry supplies that I buy in bulk at Walmart’s back-to-school sales.

Homeschooling does not have to break the bank!

If you find the idea of homeschooling high school daunting, a couple favorite resources of mine are the It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School Facebook group, and all that Lee Binz has to offer at The HomeScholarsite (really, go look!).

Comment if I can help! And keep an eye out here for an announcement about an incredible, free online event coming up very soon!

What You Have Seen in Me…

vastnessoftheheavensSomeone asked today, what scripture has been on my heart this week. Well, I’ve been thinking about what I’m thinking. How I’m thinking. How I’m modeling how to think to our kids.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8,9

I’ve been accustomed to hearing lessons from verse 8, but we can be bad about removing verses from their context in an effort to stress a main idea. It’s important to run our thoughts through that 4:8 “sieve”, but today I’m seeing an admonition for me as a parent when I view this truth in tandem with verse 9. Verse 8 is designed to alter how I think and line it up with God’s thinking. His thoughts are not our thoughts, so this is one of those continual game-on challenges for us.

But then I consider the next idea. Paul, who, incidentally was writing this “joyful letter” from prison, invites the readers in Philippi to follow his example. What they’ve heard and seen through his testimony, he encourages them to practice for themselves.

So I ask myself–how am I thinking? When I consider the threats, frustrations, inconveniences, and concerns of our current situation in this world…are my thoughts making it through the sieve? Are they dark, fraught with worry, full of fear? It will translate into the climate of my home. I will model that for our kids. I will unconsciously be inviting them to practice the same behavior.  Convicting.

As I navigate this life, my spiritual GPS is continually “recalculating”. Some of the things that have helped me:

  • Good music
  • Keeping a mental thankfulness list…writing it down can help, too. A grateful heart is a powerful tool in adversity.
  • Embracing my smallness and reveling in God’s bigness. The world would teach us to reverse that order. Even if I can’t get out in nature, I can still “consider the heavens” via online tools. Oceans which extend their watery, wonderful depths from horizon to horizon, towering peaks crammed full of evergreen boughs reaching ever-heavenward, the broad expanse of stars which follow their courses according to His voice…all so healthful in bringing needed perspective.
  • Reading great books that get my mind to contemplate ideas beyond toilet paper, quarantines, and closures.
  • Prayer. This little book has been priceless through the years in reordering my mind and teaching me how to worship.

I’ve said for years that one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is not teaching our kids what to think and regurgitate on paper for a test and a grade…but teaching our kids how to think, evaluate, discern, choose rightly as life skills. I’m still building those skills. Are you?

Peace While Wading Through a Sea of Opinions

There is only one way, and God has comforted me with it yet again today. Only one way to find quiet in your heart when you feel censured by others. Read on, friend.

I’ve been a homeschooling mom for over 20 years. I have chronic health issues. I’ve helped our kids navigate through learning disabilities. I wasn’t married until I was 30. I had our last child when I was 45. I’ve been a pastor’s wife, and in a place of leadership at a large, Christian institution. I’ve got a child with a life-threatening illness that has no cure (yet).  Believe me, I’ve been the topic of conversation amongst whisperers and have received many pieces of unsolicited advice.

searchme

Here’s the thing. People can be wrong. The heart is deceitful, and our perception is largely myopic (read: up-close). God knows it all, with no “spin” on it–only truth. The Bible says there is safety in a multitude of counselors (so please don’t misunderstand me to be saying you need to be a Lone Ranger Christian)–but one thing you’d better be sure of in those who offer you insight: check it against the unfailing truth of the Word of God. Always, always, always.

Whether advice or opinions are offered because we asked for it, or because someone felt the need to “share”…always place those words alongside scripture. Do the same with your own attitude when you feel you’ve been misunderstood or judged unfairly. God can speak through donkeys…and He may be doing it again. 😉 So if those words come from a source you feel has no “right” to speak up, still ask God if there is any truth in them. And ask Him to help you be honest and objective. If there is, then get it squared away with Him. Then rest.

Open your Bible. Follow the directives of Psalm 119–teach me, lead me, search me, instruct me, guide me. Allow these experiences to build spiritual muscle which makes you strong, instead of building up callouses, which only makes you hard.

That’s all.

 

Do You Know Who You Are? (Part 1)

Do you know who you are_
A prominent theme in recent movies I’ve seen concerns identity. Moana’s grandmother asks her, “Do you know who you are?” People are searching…they want to know what makes them matter? Some give up asking in futility and take their own lives out of their resulting sense of hopelessness.

This theme is also prominent in “Overcomer”, which was our family’s collective video gift this Christmas. A main character asks this probing question: “Who are you?”  He posits that if a person claims to know the Lord, then the first identifier on their list should be, “I am a Christian.”

See, all other identities we may claim–or hope will provide a sense of significance for us–are subject to change. A job, a relationship, an accomplishment, a title…they are all fleeting. The “15 minutes of fame” comes and goes. Everything is really quite fragile, whether we realize it or not.

But–what if you could know who you are…that you matter, you belong? What if that knowledge could be secure and unchanging?  That’s what happens when you claim the identity of Christ to define you. I love this graphic. 
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
We can possess this for our own when we trust Christ as Savior. Contrary to popular belief, we are not children of God automatically by being born into this world. We need to belong to Him by being adopted into His family. He extends that invitation to us, and we need to receive it.
Click here to learn more.

 

Guest Post: New Book from Adam Blumer, Author of Clean, Christian Suspense

adam2My friend Adam Blumer has some excitement going on! His new book, Kill Order, has been released! We’ve enjoyed his previous thrillers, Fatal Illusions and The Tenth Plague, and can’t wait to get our hands on this one! Here is a plot overview:

When he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of the past come alive.

Grammy-winning pianist Landon Jeffers’s brain cancer has given him only a few years to live. But when he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of his past torment him. When he wakes, shameful memories come rushing back. Desperate for answers, Jeffers discovers that a brain implant intended to treat his cancer is really a device to control him, forcing him to commit terrible crimes. Now he’s being manipulated by an evil crime syndicate and a crooked cop.

What if free will isn’t? What if your every move is predestined? If you kill, are you guilty of murder?

Want to get inside the head of the author? Here’s an interview!

Tell readers about your writing journey. How did you get started?

I’ve loved to write stories since I was a kid and studied novel writing in college. I completed five unpublished novels, mostly for youth, before I began Fatal Illusions, my first published novel, in the spring of 2002 in conjunction with a Writer’s Digest correspondence course on novel writing. In January 2006, literary agent Steve Laube, a well-known and respected voice in Christian fiction, responded enthusiastically to my book proposal and asked to see the entire manuscript. Of course, I was on cloud nine. Though he ultimately declined to represent me, he kindly gave me eight suggestions on how to make the novel publishable.

Energized, I followed his advice and got to work, but I still couldn’t find an agent or publisher. A year later, I contacted Kregel Publications, not about my novel but about opportunities to edit books from home. The managing editor noticed on my résumé that I had written several unpublished novels and asked to see my latest project. Kregel accepted it for publication in August 2007. God opened a door I never could have opened for myself.

What other novels have you written?

My first novel is Fatal Illusions (Meaningful Suspense Press). The sequel is The Tenth Plague (Kirkdale Press). Both are available as paperbacks and e-books.

What gave you the inspiration to write Kill Order?

My dad, Larry, passed away from brain cancer in 2011, and several aspects of his cancer journey kicked off the initial story idea. One key detail involved a medical procedure; the doctors agreed to remove as much of my dad’s brain tumor as possible and replace it with medicinal wafers intended to fight the existing cancer. My mind began playing the what-if game. What if the doctor implanted something else, something that could monitor or even control my dad’s life? The story’s premise grew from there.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

When I was a child, I began writing wildly imaginative pirate and fantasy stories. My first handwritten story was a fantastical tale about Captain Kidd’s spyglass. In high school, I also wrote and finished an unpublished novel called Down with the Ship. It’s such an Agatha Christie copycat that I laugh whenever I peruse it, but emulation is how a lot of authors get to be where they are today. Those were the early projects that inspired me to take novel writing seriously. When I won a high school award for creative writing, I wondered if God wanted to do more with my love for fiction. In college I won more writing awards, and though I studied journalism, I took as many creative writing courses as possible. God opened doors from there, and I’ve never lost my love for fiction writing.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse that resonates with you?

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (ESV). I’ve always loved this verse, and my wife and I included it in our wedding ceremony.

If you could go back in time and give advice to your younger self, what would that be?

Writing the story is only half of the project. The other half is finding out what readers like to read, crafting the story for them by following publishing standards, and writing the story to the best of your ability. Then remember that publishers can take a very long to decide whether they want your work. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep going and waiting.

What is the hardest part of the creative process of writing?

I rarely have difficulty coming up with story ideas and even an engaging premise, but getting from the beginning to the ending is a circuitous path that can sometimes come to dead ends. The hardest part of novel writing, in my opinion, is choosing the right path that comes out at the right ending. There are so many moving pieces and critical decisions along the way that the writer can become paralyzed, overcome by too many choices. If you’re an indecisive person, you’ll never succeed as a novelist.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Authors write what they like to read. When I was a kid, I devoured Hardy Boys books—yes, even my sister’s collection of Nancy Drew. While growing up, I read Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Ray Bradbury, and Madeleine L’Engle. Eventually I gravitated to suspense fiction by authors like Frank Peretti, Terri Blackstock, and Mary Higgins Clark. I grew weary of whodunits and preferred suspense novels. I like novels that grab me around the throat, keep the pages turning, and never let go until the final period. Suspense novels filled with plenty of action and conflict captivate me like no other books I read, though I also have a fondness for good literature, fantasy, history, biography, true crime, and science fiction.

What was the hardest part about writing Kill Order? How long does it typically take you to write your novels?

The ending was tough to write. While I’m typically an organized plotter, I took off the training wheels on this one and let the story glide where it and the characters wanted to go. The journey became both fun but scary. I had the premise and some plot developments in place, but how the story concluded took more work than I expected.

I typically take at least a couple of years of evenings and weekends for the actual writing of the book. But that doesn’t count the time needed to shop the novel around through my agent and then wait on a publisher before and after the contract; the publishing wheel turns much more slowly than most readers realize. I wish I could write more quickly than that, but that’s the reality for me, since this isn’t my full-time gig.

I noticed that your branding on your website is for “meaningful suspense.” What inspired you to write these kinds of thrillers and suspense novels? Also, could you please tell us what inspired your “clean fiction guarantee”?

I began reading Christian novels in junior high and soon gravitated to suspense. Back in the day, an inspirational thread was a staple in Christian fiction, and I believe a Christian novel can do more than simply entertain. These days many authors are leaning toward writing clean, moral stories but avoiding overt Christian content. I’m a believer that the inspirational content should stay (hence “meaningful suspense”). Books can encourage and even challenge readers’ thinking while taking them on a roller coaster of a ride. The “clean fiction guarantee” came about due to the rise of objectionable content in some Christian fiction. My fans were expressing disappointment to me due to content issues when they tried books by some Christian authors. I felt it was time to declare where I stood, and many readers have appreciated my guarantee.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I have been blessed with a wonderful home office. Though I often like to write in other locations, this is by far my favorite place. I can close the door, shut out life’s distractions, pray, and become immersed in my story. Now and then, if I need a break, I can glance out the window and delight in God’s creation.

What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I’m currently enjoying Mind Games by Nancy Mehl. I especially enjoy a good thriller, whether Christian or secular. Some of my favorite authors are Steven James, Terri Blackstock, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and Brandilyn Collins. I like how they weave story threads together and craft their scenes in ways that keeps the plot moving forward. Their books are great examples of what works in suspense writing. I learn so much simply by reading their novels.

What is the best part of your author’s life?

I love hearing from readers who went to work tired because they stayed up too late finishing one of my novels. If I kept them immersed in my story and entertained, that’s a score in my book.

Do you have any new writing projects on the horizon?

I’m almost finished with the first draft of the sequel to Kill Order and hope to have something ready for my agent sometime this fall.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

When I was a kid, for a while I wanted to be a ventriloquist and had a “dummy” named Andy. But then I got braces and could no longer talk through my teeth like I used to. Andy sadly went into storage.

Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

  1. The amount of time each book requires from start to finish. Included in this is the long wait time from publishers.
  2. The continually changing rules in writing and publishing. Just when you think you know what publishers are looking for, your agent tells you something else.
  3. Book marketing. One cannot guarantee sales. I wish a book release was like the movie Field of Dreams. “Build it, and they will come.” If only it were that easy. There is almost an equal amount of work in just promoting the book.

On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

I get most excited about the creative process when a plot development I never saw coming unexpectedly presents itself, taking the story in a new but stronger direction. This epiphany has happened to me several times.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post! You can pick up your copy of Kill Order right here!

adam1Adam Blumer fixes other people’s books to pay the bills. He writes his own to explore creepy lighthouses and crime scenes. He is the author of three clean Christian thrillers: Fatal Illusions, The Tenth Plague, and Kill Order. A print journalism major in college, he works full-time from home as a book editor after serving in editorial roles for more than twenty years. He lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia. He works with literary agent Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.