Monday, November 13, 2017

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The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien, a book review

The Two Towers, the second bound part of The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien continues to follow Frodo on his journey to dispose of the ring that rules them all.

I do like this book, even though I thought I wouldn't based on my experience with the very old animated movie version of it, because it is easy to enter the tale and imagine the world of Middle Earth. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are pretty well established characters by the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. As a result, getting into the story, as it were, is very easy to do.

As I read, I wondered how many guys identify more with Frodo or Sam. I cannot really imagine any identifying with Gollum, though I certainly could be wrong. For me, I enjoyed reading more reading as an observer, rather than sort of 'being' one of the characters.

Because I haven't seen the live-action movie version of this book and it's been decades since I saw the cartoon, I have few visual interferences. I definitely prefer to read books before seeing their movie version because the movie in my head is way better than anything I've yet seen on the screen.


Have you read The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien? What did you think of it?

Monday, November 6, 2017

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Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, a book review

Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien is the first bound book of the The Lord of the Rings book. My brother just younger than me gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings for Christmas one year. He was head-over-heels in love with the book (which is incorrectly called a trilogy, according the author himself) and found out I hadn't read it yet. He read it before it was the crazy cool thing to do, I must add… about 25 to 30 years ago!

I neglected it all that time, thinking I would get to it at some point. Why? I guess mostly because I thought it was a guys' sort of story. I had seen the very old animated version of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so I wasn't too excited about the book version because I had not loved the cartoon movies.

After all these years, I decided to read the books my brother bought for me and started Fellowship of the Ring. In reading it and beyond, I have learned that I was correct in that it is very much a guys' read. Yet, I have not felt myself proved right in the distressing way I had anticipated. I thought the book (in three bound parts) would be tiresome and overlong. I guess there might be a couple times where it does feel a bit of that to me, but not as frequently as I expected.

Fellowship of the Ring itself begins with Bilbo leaving the ring he found on his journey with Frodo. Shortly thereafter, Frodo begins on his own journey and ends up with a group of other guys traveling along. Some of those companions are unlikely and certainly seem unfit to travel together. Still, they form bonds that only those who have traveled and/or fought together can truly understand.

By the end of Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo leaves most of the company and continues on with only one companion, which, of course, leads directly into the second part of the book which is bound separately.


Have you read Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien? What did you think of it? Make sure to tell me whether you're a girl or guy because I really think it makes a difference.

Monday, October 30, 2017

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The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor, a book review

The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor was a little difficult to get into at first for me. I kept with it, though, because a dear friend sent me the book so I was determined to finish it no matter what. As it happens, it is a wonderful story of change, hope, love, and faith. I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to anyone who wants to feel uplifted by a good read. Just give it a few chapters to get really good.

Kate either is or feels like she is a bit of a black sheep in her family. She is a career woman and has no desire to be any other way. She figures there isn't anything wrong with her extremely narrow and selfish lifestyle. At least, until she ends up back where she grew up as a result of a loss in the family and re-evaluates her priorities as a result of the loss and a find in the attic of her childhood home.

I really enjoyed this book. Especially the subject brought into the story by the find in the attic!  Religion and family become a large focus and the main character struggles with change.  It's so real and REAL!


Have you read The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor? What did you think of it?

Monday, October 23, 2017

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Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal, a book review

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal is a story about an eccentric woman, her family, and her serving woman's family. I thought this story was about one person… the character first introduced and from whose perspective the story seems to be told in the beginning. The story telling perspective changes throughout the story, though.  Even so, it was done well, so it was easy to follow.

I especially enjoyed the past of the eccentric woman, which is revealed as the story progresses. She starts out as a great mystery. By the end of the book she is less a mystery and more a beloved lady, at least to me.

This was an enjoyable story that I felt drawn back to when I needed to leave it for other work. It is adult fiction and I will not allow my twelve and ten year old daughters to read it any time soon. There is definitely adult material contained within. Additionally there are a few curse words, about which I was very disappointed.


Have you read Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal? What did you think about it?

Monday, October 16, 2017

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The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding, a book review

The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding is a mix of mythology and fantasy in the modern day. This is the second in a quartet, but I haven't read the first. I enjoyed this book a great deal. I read it in one day by reading during the night. It is a compelling story. My eldest daughter recommended it highly and agree, it's a good story. We look forward to reading more of the series very soon.

This story is about Connie who is a universal companion. Companions usually have a specific species to which they can mentally speak and interact. The species may be as mundane as canine. Or it may be as mystical and unusual as a unicorn.

Connie is unusual because she is the only universal the Society has become aware of for a very long time. Her abilities as a Universal Companion make her unique among the gifted. In this story, her great aunt, with the blessing of her parents, takes her away from those like her in an attempt to cleans her of her craziness. The great aunt is running away from similar within herself and the harm she did in her past. Connie will still have to face her destiny, even though her great aunt would have it otherwise.


I do recommend this story. Have you read The Gorgon's Gaze by Julia Golding? What did you think of it?

Monday, October 9, 2017

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Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien, a book review

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien is a really good final book in the Birthmarked series. I enjoyed it and felt like it definitely continued to deliver more of the engaging and enjoyable story about Gaia and Leon. What's more, this trilogy is a worthwhile read. There are challenging topics mentioned and faced, mostly related to birth since Gaia is a midwife. Abortion is the most controversial subject handled and that was, more in the second book, Prized, than this one.

As a result of those subjects relating to birth, as well as due to the action sequences, and other mature topics, I won't let my twelve and ten year old daughters read this trilogy until they are sixteen or older. However, this story will provide a great backdrop for many conversations once they do read it.

One of the indications of a really good book is that it seeps into my dreams. My mind can't seem to let go of it even while I sleep and so the story comes alive in my dreams. This did not happen while I was reading the Birthmarked series. However, another indication of a well-written, enjoyable, and engaging story is that I feel unable to disconnect from it when I've finished the last book in the trilogy or series, as the case may be. Even though I moved into another book that was a continuation of a series I already know I enjoy, I couldn't stop thinking about this series. Since I missed reading the first before the second and third, I'm looking forward to reading it just because I want to learn more about the incidences alluded to in the second and third installments of the trilogy. Gaia Stone and Leon Vlatir definitely got my attention while I read about them… and maintained it even when I was done.

Obviously, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for mature teens and adults.


Have you read Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien? What did you think of it?

Monday, October 2, 2017

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Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien, a book review

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien is the second installment of the Birthmarked trilogy. It is a captivating read and feels like a many faceted jewel of a story! Additionally, because of the way in which the story is told and usage of unusual verbiage, one may feel smarter just reading it.

In this story, the first part I've read, though it's the second installment in the trilogy, Gaia, a sixteen year old midwife, is trying to keep her newborn sister safe and escape those who would take her. The community they enter is matriarchal and, perhaps, almost a perfect DICHOTOMY (?correct usage?? OPPOSITE) to the community in which Gaia was born. The women rule in Sylum.

The rules are extreme and the rulers unwilling to change. Among the problems Gaia faces, she is put in a position via which the subject of abortion is considered. I felt like it was handled relatively well (considering my very conservative perspective), but because of that mature subject matter and the handling of intimacy, my twelve year old and younger daughters will have to wait to read this trilogy.

I do look forward to reading the first part of the trilogy. I do recommend this story to mature teenagers and adults.


Have you read Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 18, 2017

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Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano, a book review

Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano is the second book in the Internment Chronicles. In this part of the story, Morgan and her friends continue to experience the new world to which they made their way. Some of the characters don't want to be there at all. At least one has an ulterior motive for making the trip. Most of them are outcasts. If all of them were outcasts and knew that leaving Internment was best for them, the story would be far different than it is.

This book continues the interesting premise, but also the story telling style that lacks vigor. I didn't feel compelled to return to reading, but had to remind myself that I enjoyed the story and wanted to find out what would happen to the characters. This is a strange reaction for me and I can't quite figure out why I feel this way about DeStefano's writing style.

Oddly, I found that the totally disconnected covers caused me a problem. For one, I started reading the second book before the first even though I had both of them because I didn't realize they were part of a series. Lately, at least, I've seen a continuity in book covers such that I've grown accustomed to knowing that books belong together without checking too closely. So, the completely different covers for Perfect Ruin and Burning Kingdoms threw me for a loop.

I recommend this series only to older teens and adults. It is full of many mature topics. My twelve year old and younger daughters will not be reading this series any time soon.


Have you read Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 11, 2017

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Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano, a book review

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is an interesting book that begins the Internment Chronicles. The premise is unusual: a piece of a planet has broken free of the surface and floats in geosynchronus rotation almost above where is broke free. Because of the small space available to them on their floating island, the people of this place establish very specific rules to manage themselves and their lives. Among those rules: married women can only get pregnant after receiving permission and the gender of their baby will be predetermined, the people will live a set number of years no matter what, and everyone grows up knowing who they will marry from birth.

The premise of this story is such that I wanted to finish the book, but something about the story telling wasn't super compelling for me. As a result, I found myself not rushing back to read more. So I do recommend this series, but reservedly. I do not recommend it for youth under sixteen. There are many mature topics broached.


Have you read Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Dare to Dream… Then Do it, What Successful People Know and Do by John C. Maxwell, a book review

Dare to Dream… Then Do It by John C. Maxwell is a wonderful encouragement. It's a small book in both size and length, but it packs a wallup with lots of lifting ideas, including profound quotes, and solid truths.

The chapter titles are: commit to your true dream. Ummm… YEAH! We all need to do this! Believe in yourself… yes. Must have belief if we will accomplish anything! Think differently. If we haven't been successful before now, we definitely need this one! Take action. Yep. Doing something is the only way to bring a vision/dream to life! Develop great people skills. Since no man is an island, we will definitely need to rely on others in some way, shape, or form… so learning how to interact with others is surely a necessary skill! Stay with your strengths… for the most part. I do believe in stretching to the limit to break out of old patterns! Never stop learning… absolutely necessary! Never give up… If the dream is part of your life's calling, giving up is simply not an option!

I enjoyed this little, easy-to-read book. I read it twice almost back to back and have had my three eldest daughters read it. I'll probably start reading it with my son (fourth child) pretty soon. Obviously, I recommend it to anyone interested in self-improvement!

Have you read Dare to Dream by John C. Maxwell? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 4, 2017

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Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, a book review

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi finishes the trilogy begun with Under the Never Sky. This final installment of Aria and Perry's stories is good. The two are, for the most part, together in this part of the story and working to reach the fabled place in which they can live in safety away from the destructive Aether storms.

The violence and deaths are the form most of the mature content takes in this final book in the trilogy. My girls will definitely have to wait until they are older teens to read any of this trilogy. Thankfully descriptions of the fighting and deaths were not overly detailed or gory because I would not have finished the story if they were. I do recommend the trilogy for older teens and adults.

I have to say, more than other books and series, this story followed me into my dreams.  Very strange dreams they were.  This seems to me an indication of a good story... when my mind plays versions of it while I sleep!

Have you read Into the Still Blue by Veronic Rossi? What did you think of it?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! The Rubber Duck Principle: Quack Your Way to Happy by Jeanne Bice, a book review

The Rubber Duck Principle: Quack Your Way to Happy by Jeanne Bice is another good personal development and entrepreneurship sort of book.  The format is light and happy... like a scrap book of good thoughts and encouragement.  At least, that's how it felt to me.

I was surprised to find myself almost sobbing at times as I read the beginning of this encouraging book.  Seriously!  Jeanne Bice says it like it is and what she has to say, though some of it is said in other places, is said in such a way as to be deeply touching to me.  This is another book that I have added to my children's entrepreneurship reading list.

My eldest daughter has already finished reading it.  She did not complete the exercises as yet, but probably will have by the time this posts.  She likes that it's written as if the author is speaking to the reader.  She likes the way it's designed and she enjoyed all the positive sayings throughout it.

If you've read The Rubber Duck Principle: Quack Your Way to Happy, tell me in the comments what your favorite thing about the principle is without stating or rephrasing the principle (which would give it away and enable others to comment even if they haven't read it!).  Also, tell me whether you enjoyed the book and explain why or why not!

Monday, August 28, 2017

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Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, a book review

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi continues to follow Aria and Perry as they attempt to make their way through various difficulties so that they can be together. Aria ends up doing a lot of traveling and Perry practically battles to earn his right to lead the Tides, his tribe. Although many changes happen over the course of the story, Aria and Perry's feelings for each other remain a constant.

I like the premise of this series and found this second of the trilogy interesting and enjoyable. As with the first novel in the trilogy, my girls will have to wait until they are older teens to read this because of the mature subjects handled within it.

Have you read Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi? What did you think of it?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Loyalty is Love, How to Keep Your Clients Close for Life by Beverly A. Koen, a book review

Loyalty is Love, How to Keep Your Clients Close for Life by Beverly A. Koen, though specifically written for those in the house building business, has innumerable helpful and useful points for anyone in business.  The premise of the book is that customer service means customer retention, which then means repeat business.  This is definitely the goal for anyone with a product to sell!

I highly recommend this book.  It was relatively easy to read.  It did take me a while, since I had two other books working at the same time.  I have added this book to my children's require reading for their "class" which I call entrepreneurship.  None have begun reading it yet, so I'm not sure how well-received it will be by them, but I will make sure they learn what I found the most important bits and they will likely point out valuable lessons as well.

My Lilla Rose business efforts, being what they are, I have begun planning training for the ladies in my team.  The first book I would like them to read is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  I will review it also, in this series of business and personal development related reviews.  So far, I am planning for Loyalty is Love to follow 7 Habits.  It really is that good!  And since hair jewelry definitely means there's plenty for customers to come back for, I think it will readily provide insights to the ladies on my team (ANYONE who wants to keep their customers coming back!)!

Have you read Loyalty is Love, How to Keep Your Clients for Life by Beverly A. Koen?  What did you think of it?
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Self-Improvement Saturday! The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, a book reviewed

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a tremendous opportunity to grow in understanding of how to better negotiate life positively. I was challenged to shift my paradigm when I first read it and as I understand from someone whose read it a few times, this holds true with each reading! Not many books can do that!

One area that I seem still to need a great deal of work in is focused on is Habit 3… principles of personal management… particularly the Time Management Matrix. It's a four square way of considering activities and their nature. On the left, there are urgent activities and on the right are not urgent activities. The top boxes are Important things and the bottom 2 are not important things. The first square called quadrant one, which is the top left (both urgent and important) includes things like crisis, pressing problems, and deadline-driven projects. The top right, which is called quadrant two, (not urgent and important) includes: prevention, relationship building, planning, and more. The bottom left, which is called quadrant three, (not important and urgent) include: interruptions, some mail, some meetings, popular activities, and more. The bottom right,, which is called quadrant four (not urgent and not important) includes: trivia, busy work, time wasters, some mail, and more.

“Effective people stay out of quadrants three and four because, urgent or not,
they aren't important. They also shrink quadrant one down to size by spending
more time in quadrant two.
“Quadrant two is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with
things that are not urgent, but are important….” (p. 153)

Habit 4 is the other that impacted me in a deep and also good way. I believe I already felt to live this way, but it seemed I had more tools to do it after reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Think win/win is truly the greatest way to think and be in both intra and interpersonal relating! There's no reason, in most daily interactions, that anyone need lose!! What a wonderful world this will be when all know, understand, and live out the truth of win/win being the very best way to relate!

Have you read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey? What did you think of it?


Monday, August 21, 2017

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, a book review

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is the story of how Aria is expelled from the protective shelter that has been her home for her whole life and what happens to her after she's expelled. It is also equally Perry's story. He is among those who have always lived outside the protective shelter. The first time we meet him is when he intervenes to protect Aria.

In this possible future, earth now has a layer of magnetic storm above the clouds. These storms wreak havoc when they touch down to earth, which they do regularly. Perry is sure the storms are increasing and his tribe needs to move. Although he thinks he should be their leader, his brother is.

This is an interesting and enjoyable read. I do recommend it for older teens. My 12 year and younger daughters will have to wait until they are older because there are some mature subjects brought up in the story.

Have you read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi? What did you think of it?

Monday, August 14, 2017

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Sever by Laura DeStefano, a book review

Sever by Laura DeStefano is the final book in the Chemical Gardens trilogy. In this book Rhine and Rowan are reunited and Rhine finds that her life since her kidnapping and her brother have been much more connected than she could have ever realized.

I like that Rhine and her brother are reunited and find it interesting that he has willingly participated in things Rhine would not. The end with all its unlikely revelations is really interesting. This book is definitely the most interesting of the three to me. Again, though, my girls will have to wait until they are much older to read it as it deals with many mature subjects.

Have you read Sever by Laura DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Go Pro: Seven Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional by Eric Worre, a book review

Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a NetworkMarketing Professional by Eric Worre is an awesome book! I felt a greater respect for my Lilla Rose and Young Living Businesses than before I read it, for sure. Why? Because I've felt frowned upon by others… and have definitely experienced friends and family not taking my efforts seriously. They seem not to believe my network marketing business is for real for whatever reason they believe it's not a big deal.

A business, to be for real, need not cost thousands and tremendous debt to begin and run! That is what used to be the only reality, but no longer! I am tremendously grateful that debt and thousands are no longer necessary!

This book helped me change my paradigm about network marketing. I definitely consider myself a Network Marketing Professional now. I certainly put in enough hours working my business to be taken seriously by anyone if they knew my invested hours… and so, at the very least, I must give myself the respect of taking myself (with all my unknown-to-others-efforts) seriously! What a gift to know I and my business are worthy of that (which I came to as a result of reading this book)!!

In addition to what I've gained by reading it, subjects covered in this book include, but are not limited to: prospecting, inviting prospects to understand products and opportunity, follow-up, training new distributors, and promoting events. I haven't listed everything Worre teaches and explains in this book, by a long shot! And I do highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to train their brain to think in new ways about their own network marketing business.

As for me, I love Lilla Rose and Young Living! They provide complimentary beautification tools and I'm grateful I found them when I did!

Have you read Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional by Eric Worre? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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my thoughts: on comfort zones

Comfort is such a sweet and wonderful word! I enjoy comfort, especially when it is accompanied by peace. I enjoy air conditioning because it is a sort of comfort. I enjoy a great many things simply because of their #comfort# factor.

As enticing and enjoyable as comfort is, by its very nature, it means things are pretty much the same as they have been. That's how things become comfortable… we are used to them.

When we keep doing what we've always done, we'll pretty much keep getting what we've always got. For the most part, this is comfortable.

Comfortable doesn't always equal good, even though it usually does mean easy. Easy isn't always (probably not even usually) good.

I have experienced a great deal of discomfort recently. Most of this, generally described and felt as a negative, has come as a result of making efforts to activate and run my Lilla Rose business. One particular event, though, was something I did because I'd been feeling like I should and since it seems I'm in a season of going outside my comfort zone, might as well add one more thing to the list of ways I'm stretching!

It's not easy. Nor is it enjoyable in the moment! Yet, as I consider what I've accomplished, I feel really good about it! Most of it would not have been possible if I'd simply continued doing what was easy for me.

So, here's to biting the bullet and stepping outside of my comfort zone some more!

Have you done anything that has required you to leave your comfort zone, lately? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, August 7, 2017

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Fever by Laura DeStefano, a book review

Fever by Laura DeStefano continues Rhine's story begun in Wither. She has left the questionable safety of the mansion with Gabriel and immediately they find themselves in a scarlet district. Her experience there is interesting. The rest of the story follows her efforts to find her twin brother, Rowan. I think the way she finds him by the end of this part of the story is really interesting and definitely a cliff hanger.

Again, this book deals with lots of mature subjects, so my girls won't read it until they are significantly older. I did like it. Perhaps even more than the first of this trilogy.

Have you read Fever by Laura DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone, a book review

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone was a tough read for me in a few ways.  First, I have allowed fear to stop me in my tracks innumerable times.  This has impacted my family in numerous detrimental ways... perhaps the most upsetting to me currently is the fact that I have stopped my children's forward movement with their business because I'm afraid.  And when I consider the fear in an objective manner, it's ridiculous.  Yet, I continue to allow it to stop progression.  This is unacceptable!  So, it's been tough for me to realize this lack in myself.  Sometimes... perhaps all the time, really... it's super important for us to realize somehow what we're doing wrong.  If we cannot see the problem, we certainly cannot fix the problem!!!

What else... So, the actual action part of the rule is also tough for me.  I mean, golly... I have six children.  Surely that explains why I don't get some things done... right?  Nope!  Not if I'm taking correct responsibility for my choices.  This is according to Cardone.  And, in my opinion, correct thinking.  My excuses will move nothing forward and benefit no one!  Least of all me and my precious family!!

The thought part is also tough for me.  I've been struggling with this for years in one form or another.  Now, I just have to lay it out....  I've described my goals to myself.  My longest-term ones are, I think, appropriately gigantic.  And when I approach accomplishing them, I will add more that are out of the realm of possibility (or so I may think now).  That way I will keep to the 10x Rule!  hahaha

My problem with this book is the inappropriate (read: foul) language used a few times.  This is disappointing to me!  Before my children read it, a sharpie will mark through those pointless marrings of an otherwise very good personal development and business improvement sort of book.  I am adding this one to my children's growing stack of books for their entrepreneurship class, for sure.  I think anyone who recognizes the family/generational curse of *a belief of lack* should definitely add this to their personally required reading.  And, if you don't, it probably won't hurt to add it to yours anyway!

Have you read The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone?  What did you think?

Monday, July 31, 2017

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Wither by Laura DeStefano, a book review



Wither by Laura DeStefano follows Rhine Ellery from the time she is kidnapped from her regular life into that of one of three forced brides. She lives in a dystopian future in which people have messed with their genetics to such a degree that females live only until they are twenty and males only until twenty-five. It's a really interesting premise and DeStefano tells an interesting story within it.

My girls will not read it until they are significantly older since there are many mature topics mentioned and investigated throughout this trilogy. I liked it, overall, but there were points in each novel that moved very slowly for me.

Have you read Wither by Laura DeStefano? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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my thoughts: on becoming a master

Have you mastered a skill? Are you comfy calling yourself a master of anything?

As for me, I've long considered myself a “Jane of all trades, master of 1”… until recently. I don't think I said it pridefully at all. I just really did think I was quite good at crochet. Even a master crocheter.

Then the challenge. A friend asked me to make a particular hat for her granddaughter. I was excited about being able to do something for this sweet friend and set to the task. First, looking for a pattern. To not much avail. I found one, but it was in Russian and the English translation was missing key phrases and words here and there. Ugh!

Still, I felt sure I could figure the hat out simply by studying the photos of it. Ha!

Okay, so, I think I mostly did figure it out. But this challenge kicked my boodalicious bum up and down the street before I did! And it took me months! Yes, not all of that time was spent on crochet. But when I was crocheting, I was working on that bootybumkickingHat!

As a result of all this, I no longer consider myself a master crocheter. Oh, sorrowful day kalookalay! I return myself, head downcast and shoulders hunched forth, to the named rank of “Jane of all trades, master of none”.

Yet, I have hope that I may some day regain confidence in my skill… perhaps a new challenge that will not kick my boodalicious bum quite so long!

Have you ever felt yourself lose confidence in a skill you once felt masterful in? I'd love to hear about it… we can commiserate together!

Monday, July 24, 2017

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Demon King a Seven Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima, a book review

Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima is an interesting beginning to the Seven Realms series in which Raisa is living in the castle with her mother and being trained to become the next Grey Queen. Han Alister is trying to stay off the street, on which he was once a leader of thieves, and support his mother and sister. This is the beginning of their story.

Since I read the second and third installments of this series before this first part of it, I found it perhaps less interesting in some ways and more interesting in others. Less because I already know what happens to the two main characters and between them. More because it's interesting to see how the author laid out the events that lead to what I've already read.

This series is full of mature content. I knew my girls would have to wait to read this first part of the series based on the second and third parts I've already read. That is the case. I do recommend the series to older teens and adults. I particularly enjoy the appearance of the wolves and the meaning of them and Raisa's ability to see them.

Have you read Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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writing life: power in observation

Recently, I have been inspired by other home educating Mamas who have sough to improve their ability to do something simply by growing their ability to observe.

One Mama went from drawing a basic line drawing with some rudimentary shading to drawing a very lifelike image of the same thing a few months later. She simply grew her power of observation between the first and last efforts.

Isn't that amazing?! And what a lesson!

More than likely, any of us could grow in any number of abilities and do a great many more things by simply growing our ability to observe. There is power in observation!

There are some folks, like me, that require some explanation of things to really grasp them. For instance, I might see the same thing over and over, yet without a verbal explanation of it (if it's one of the skills that I have difficulty with, especially), I may not comprehend how to replicate what I have clearly seen! I can usually even describe what I've seen, but it's like there is a disconnect between that and comprehending HOW to do it myself.

My eldest daughter is not like me. She can watch something done a few times and then almost perfectly do it herself thereafter. What a gift!

Which are you? Or somewhere in between? Have you ever learned to do something simply through observation?

Monday, July 17, 2017

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Monument 14 Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne, a book review

Monument 14 Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne is the final book in the Monument 14 trilogy. It is a good conclusion to the story of Dean and the others of the 14.

This story continues to follow Dean, Alex, Astrid, Niko, Josie, and the rest until we know the majority of what happens to them during this time of cataclysmic changes and their aftermath.

I recommend this book only for older teens and adults. The subjects handled within are definitely for mature audiences. There is a horrific scene and a few upsetting ones that could be disturbing to tender-hearted youth and may not be appropriate at all for younger than sixteen-year-olds. I will help my girls avoid this series until they are sixteen or older.

Laybourne does a good job of describing what could happen after a series of seriously destructive natural disasters followed by the release of really bad chemical compounds. I think, in many ways, some of the things she describes would be worse than what she portrays, really. I did like most of this book and the series in general. I did not like the description of really horrific stuff, but I know many enjoy that kind of thing.

Have you read Monument 14 Savage Drift? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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my thoughts: on winning

What is it about winning that is so very… enticing? I mean, war is, at least in part, seeking to win… to the extreme. Winning an argument. Winning a prize. Winning is exciting, right?


Are we pre-wired to seek to win? I think we are, honestly. The thing that is misunderstood in this plane… because we are in a fallen state… is that one person doesn't need to lose for another to win.

Stephen Covey is the main one I know in our modern day who coined the term #win win#. Even though we are in this fallen world, we are not required to be of the world in the way it thinks and does things. It is easy to fall into thinking that there can only be one winner (like the Highlander)… but God's way is so much better and, by far, preferable.

There are some instances when one winner is really necessary. Like in a race. Or in a game. And similar. Yet even in those instances, we are able to choose to celebrate together rather than the winner lauding it over the other(s).

I think it takes greater strength, courage, and character to help others feel like winner even though they may not have officially won the game, or prize, or race, or whatever.

What do you think?

Monday, July 10, 2017

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Monument 14 Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne, a book review

Monument 14 Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne is fast paced and easy to read. I started it in the evening and finished it before I fell asleep. The action and my care for the characters kept me hooked til the end. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

In this second book of the series, we learn more about what happens to Dean, Alex, and the rest of the 14 children we came to know in the first book. One group out on the road, their progress is tracked through Alex and in the bottom of the page marks the miles. Dean and the four with him remain at the big box store and the day count continues to mark their lives on the bottom of the page when the story is about them. I like that denotation at the bottom of the page. It makes it really easy to differentiate and give a sense of place and time while reading.

As with the first, I will not have my girls reading this installment until they are significantly older. There is one intimate scene. Not as detailed as the one in the first book, but definitely older teen to adult entanglement issue. The gore was less detailed than the first, which was a relief to me.

Have you read Monument 14 Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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writing life: it takes time

I love to write. Usually it comes pretty easily… especially when I sit down to write some of the stories of my life for my family. My novels take a little more effort for me to sort of submerge myself into the given world of whichever story before I can write what I feel like it something good for that story.

Time.

I have been using most of my time lately focusing on building my Lilla Rose business again. And I've had a few good paychecks as a result. Those are definitely encouraging. Still, all the time I've spent on my business efforts (and efforts to help my children with their business, too!) takes away from time I could spend writing.

Still, I work on my business stuff because I hope to earn enough through these efforts to accomplish things around our property, provide some things for our children, AND self-publish some (or all?) of the stories bumping around in my head.

Also, my business is good practice, really. I've done enough reading to know that Indie Authors (self-published) must market themselves to achieve any sort of success in selling their works.

So, all this time spent on Lilla Rose is valuable for more than just earning dollars! Though, we will definitely put those dollars to good use. I am also learning valuable skills for marketing my novels! In these ways I can see part of why Heavenly Father was nudging me to get back to my Lilla Rose business! He is so awesome!

Monday, July 3, 2017

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The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb, a book review

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb is described as a 'supernatural romance' on the cover. Through the first third to half of the book this description was not realized at all. By the end it is. It is a very tasteful romance with little physicality.

Calder chooses something no other fetch has chosen and then must make amends to return to where he belongs. I'd never heard of a fetch, so learning about that role is part of the story and was very interesting to me.

I do like this novel and recommend it, though it moved really slowly for me in the beginning. Reading the whole thing was worth my time, though I did wonder a few times if it would be. My twelve and ten year old will be allowed to read it if they want to.

Have you read The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 30, 2017

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Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, a book review

Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, illustrated by the same, is a simple picture book for children. A little fish invites the reader to follow him as he swims around seeing other fish. The text describes the fish it sees.

The illustrations for this story make it enjoyable for little children. The words are few, so without the art, it wouldn't be much. The art is very colorful, big, and bold.

My children really enjoy looking at this book and ask for it repeatedly. So, it is worth having for the children because they find it so enjoyable.

I would not have bought it, but am happy to have it for my kiddos.

Have you read Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins? What did you think of it?

Monday, June 26, 2017

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Supernaturally by Kiersten White, a book review

Supernaturally by Kierten White is a good continuation of Evelyn's story which began in Paranormalcy. Again, my girls will have to wait until they are older to read this series. But it could be appropriate for those older than fourteen.

I like that Evelyn begins to realize some changes she needs to make in her approach to thinking about things in this book. She is less vapid throughout, but especially by the end. Her fighting skills are seriously lacking, especially compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thankfully Evie doesn't have as much need for them in this book as the last.

Have you read Supernaturally by Kiersten White? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 23, 2017

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Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, a book review

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, illustrated by the same, is a fun story about a Texan armadillo. It is also a little less about cowboy boots, the armadillo's mom, and brothers.

The artwork for this story is really fun with lots for little ones to look at as a parent or older sibling reads to them. The pictures are primarily bright reds, blues, greens with plenty of browns mixed in. One of the things I enjoy so much about these illustrations is that it gives a feel for Texas, probably mostly western Texas, and the cowboy culture. Another thing I enjoy and appreciate is that the secondary story of the armadillo's mom and brothers looking for him is illustrated in smaller artwork at the outside of each page once the main armadillo has wandered off. Those parts of the artwork definitely add a great deal more than what the text describes.

My children really love looking at this book and ask for it repeatedly. They will readily sit and look at it quietly many times over. That, in truth, is the best recommendation for this book's artwork!

The story is good, too. The voice is very easily Texan, which is fun… even more now that we live in Texas. However, we enjoyed this story very well while we were still in Florida. Florida also has many armadillos and cowboys, in case you didn't know.

Have you read Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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writing life: when it gets hot, part 2

Have you ever chosen to live without central air and continued to work in the heat? I sure would enjoy hearing from you if you have! Whether your experience is similar or totally different! Make sure to let me know if you are someone who prefers hotter or cooler weather. That definitely does make a difference.

You see, I used to believe I loved winter. Most of the homes I lived in while I was growing up had central air and heat. So, I thought I loved the cold weather because you could always put on extra clothes and blankets. While this is still true, I have learned that I do not prefer either the extreme of cold or heat. I love the temperate days of spring and fall!

The heat of summer, though, still has the most difficult-for-me to endure temperatures. I have felt as though I would melt a few times, in all honesty. When the heat is combined with more than mugginess… with wetness hanging in the air, I have experienced oppression. Just to be clear, I refer to the last definition of oppression, which is: mental pressure or distress. Seriously! I believe it was sort of a perfect-storm-for-Tori (PSFT) situation that came as a result of the actual weight and pressure that abounds when the temps skyrocket and the weight of water in the air combine in #just# the right (or wrong!) way.

There have been a few days when I accomplish very little as a result of the “PSFT”. I freely admit those days are more frequent when I've been preggie than at other times! Though I am not proud of it, I have a tendency to be a bit weaker when preggie than when I'm not.

Have you experienced any personal difficulties with actually working because of the weather? Please share!

Monday, June 19, 2017

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Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, a book review

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is the beginning of a series about Evelyn, a teen who bags and tags supernatural beings. In my imagination she looks a bit like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Evelyn lacks the series fighting skills of Buffy. In fact Evelyn in Paranormalcy, compared to Buffy, is rather vapid. Thankfully she does begin to change before the end of this novel.

I did enjoy this novel, though I won't have my girls read it until they are fourteen or older. Some of the paranormal creatures would likely be a bit nightmare inducing to my girls. Also, the way that Evie is so very self-centered might be more of an example to them than how she's changed by the end of this novel.

Have you read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 16, 2017

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One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, a book review

One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch, is an unlikely, but sweet story. And since, by now, maybe you know my predilection for rhyming children's stories, if you are familiar with this one, you might guess that I really enjoyed it.

My children and I really enjoy the artwork that both attends to and expounds upon the text of the story perfectly. If I could have Karen Hillard Crouch illustrate for me, I would. Something about Hillard's watercolor art is very compelling. I enjoy her use of muted colors, even though that is not usually my preference for children's book illustrations. And the varied layout is well done and appealing.

The rhyme and rhythm are really well done in One Enchanted Evening. So, it is easy to read out loud again, and again.

All about bugs getting together for a ball, this story focuses mostly on the queen spider. And a field mouse knight. The unlikely pair attend the ball together, just for fun. Apparently, the mouse is sought after throughout the kingdom. Spider queen says yes and they attend and dance the night away. At the end of the story, the two get married and the last two pages end with sweet rhymes about love. The second to last, has a few overarching and true couplets about love while the last page directs us:

“So if you're wishing for true love
what's important, it seem,

is to accept

all the difference…

and to share

the same dreams.”

While that finale is truly wonderful and, of course, true, you really are missing out if you don't know the rest of the story. I highly recommend this book. It has a sweet tale of a mouse and a spider. Even more wonderfully, it puts poignant truth into the story in a fitting and easily way to which most anyone can relate.

Have you read One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch? What did you think about it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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my thoughts: on owning a business and writing

Writing can be a full-time job. Running one's own business can be a full-time job. Combine the two and you have… chaos! Or, at least, the potential for it. What it means is you have to get more organized and prioritize activities daily and sometimes throughout the day.

Those who are already published, may find that is all they need to earn what they want to earn. Most writers, even those who are published, make around $10,000 per year. If it is a supplemental income, read: spouse has a job that pays most of the bills, that may well be enough.

As for me, writing has not moved into the “paying” phase yet. Therefore, and because I have goals that outstrip my husband's income, I work at home as an Independent Lilla Rose Stylist for myself and help my children with their business. I have a great deal to manage without writing and business running, so I'm becoming significantly better at organizing and prioritizing.

Planning and scheduling (especially social media and blog posts) have become exceedingly important to me. For some things, posts are scheduled out as much as a year in advance. Doing so relieves me of a great deal of “daily” work, which results in a much calmer homeschool mama.

Basically, though, it really just gets more challenging. Add more to one's plate and the plate gets heavier… sometimes that's good, but not always. I suppose that is as it should be… as one matures, life gets heavier and at least a little more difficult. However, if either the writing or the business running are necessary for any given reason or set of reasons or important enough to the person doing them, then the owner/writer will make it work!

Do you write and run your own business? I'd like to know what you do! What's your genre? What's your business?


Monday, June 12, 2017

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The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston, a book review

The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston is a good book. I did not absolutely fawningly love it. I do not highly recommend it to other conservative Christian Mamas. However, if you, like me, consider yourself a city girl striving to go country, there is much that you will recognize and commiserate with in the pages of Ralston's story about her own move from the city to the country. She is unabashedly (as we all should be about our own beliefs) liberal and proclaims her opinions frequently within the story. If such would bother you, do not read this book.

I particularly appreciate how she describes the process of becoming the lavender queen. It's interesting and enjoyable. Even more interesting is the end and how her work with lavender turns out. So, while there are many things I didn't enjoy or appreciate, I do think it's an interesting story and worth a read.

Have you read The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 9, 2017

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Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, a book review

Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Williams, is a good book for emerging readers. There is a good deal of repetition, which, of course, will help with word recognition.

As for the artwork… the bunny looks like a bunny and the others animals look like you'd expect. I don't see much of a style peculiar to Williams, unfortunately. The art does fit the story. It also explains some of the text well. So, it accomplishes its purpose, for sure.

The story follows a bunny who is looking for a new home. He stops to ask a robin where it lives and knows it cannot live in a tree. It asks a frog and a groundhog as well as knows it cannot live where they do. After leaving the groundhog, the bunny comes across another bunny. The two end up living together in a hole in the ground.

It is a simple story and relatively easy to read. It would not be the kind of story a mama would necessarily love reading over and over again, though. So, if that's the kind of story you're looking for, make sure to pass this one. However, if you'd like your children to learn that bunnies live in holes in the ground (which is true), then this will be a great addition to your children's book library.

Have you read Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

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writing life: when it gets hot

If you didn't already know, my family and I live off-grid. I'll have a series about our experiences starting sooner or later. Suffice it to say, for the purposes of this post, that we have a small solar energy generation system, so we choose to live without certain amenities that most folks consider necessities. Admittedly, many of those amenities are almost necessities once you live with them long enough, but most are not actually necessary to sustain life. Thankfully we do have running water. And hot water. Those two amenities are “necessities” to and for me.

We choose to do without central air. Really, the only air moving we have is when we choose to use it are the fans we have. Most of the time, if it's hot, instead of using fans, we go outside. Amazingly, perhaps, it's almost always cooler outside… in the shade, of course.

One of the unexpected difficulties of being a writer and business owner in my situation (off-grid, choosing no central air) is the intolerance electronics have to the heat! Did you know? Have you experienced an overheating laptop, tablet, or phone? I've literally worked with these devices on cold pads I've jimmy-rigged together so that I could continue to work. Some days I do interpret electronics overheating as my break time. But if I did that all summer long, I wouldn't get any “platform” maintenance done, much less writing anything in any of the works in progress I have going. There would be no social media updating or checking on my down-line via the internet without the electronics that so disdain the heat!

Thankfully, I do have enough scheduled ahead in much of my platform and other business social media that I don't have to worry about taking a break for a day (or few) here and there. It is definitely important to schedule ahead to be prepared!

Have you experienced any unexpected difficulties as a writer or business owner because of the heat?

Monday, June 5, 2017

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Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale, a book review


Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale is an enjoyable mystery romance. I started it in the afternoon and finished it before I fell asleep for the night.

Charlotte might just remind many a Mama of themselves. She, however, is far more financially successful than I have yet to be. Still, her vacation taking is perhaps a fulfillment of many ladies fantasy: to submerge into the idealized world of Jane Eyer.

Neither the mystery aspect nor the actual story are surprising. Yet even though I figured out the mystery before it was revealed on the page, I thoroughly enjoyed the author's story telling! I highly recommend this book for adults. Especially adult women. I will not allow my girls, 12 and younger, to read it until they are significantly older.

Have you read Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 2, 2017

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Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, a book review

Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos is a wonderful children's picture book about making a soup. It is especially wonderful because of the way the story easily teaches the reader some Spanish words and what they mean. It is a story with a good deal of repetition like 'The Farmer in the Dell'. So, the story is told and one or a few words originally in English become Spanish in the repetition. In the back of the story there is a pronunciation guide and definitions of each of the Spanish words, just in case you didn't know what they meant via context clues in the story.

This is a wonderful book for the library of those who want their children to learn Spanish bit by bit. I hope to add it to our library.

Have you read Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos? What did you think?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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my thoughts: on work

I believe we are here in this life for many reasons. This life is one of purpose. To think or believe otherwise is downright depressing. A grampa of mine thought there was nothing beyond this life… and probably nothing before it. He died a while back. I wonder if he's found out otherwise? It is entirely possible that he doesn't realize he's dead, if he's wrong. I figure if I'm wrong, I'm none the worse off. However, it seems to me, if he's wrong, he is a bit worse for the lack of faith.

Again… my love of tangents has again surfaced.

Could it be, that one purpose of our life here on earth is to cultivate love of various perhaps unnatural loves? I think it is! Since God is Love, I believe He wants us to love all that is good – even though we might, in our carnal nature not love it easily.

One love I believe we are meant to cultivate and nurture, is the love of work. Now, I'm not talking about obsessive workaholic type work. I'm really talking more about choosing to love that which sustains us and enables us to live independently, productively, and helpful to others.

To work only for the sake of earning money is a sorry state of affairs, in my opinion. Doing so is, in truth, a manifestation of loving money. While money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is! So, working to make more money when it isn't beneficial (or has become the focus above independent living, productivity, and service to others) ends up being a form of sin.

On the other side, we find ourselves lazy, dependent on others for all that sustains life, unmotivated, and also in our carnal nature: sinful.

The happy medium in this situation is to love work and do it with a cheerful heart. However, the work we should cultivate love for is not just the work one does to make money. Dishes. Sweeping. Laundry. Washing the floor. Repair work of any and every kind. And so much more!

Do you think we are meant to cultivate and nurture a love of work?