3 Christian Novels You’ll Want to Read

3 Christian Novels You'll Want to Read #chc #summerbookclub   Intelligent folk have long debated the merits and drawbacks of novels. I’ve already thrown my hat into that ring with my ode to reading, so I’ll just stick to this for now: a well-written novel can effectively reach you and teach you on a deeper level than any other kind of book could. When that book is written from a Christian worldview and remains true to Biblical truth, even more so. I’ve chosen for this blog post a few Christian novels that have spoken to me in such a way, books that challenged my thinking, brought me closer to Jesus Christ, and drew me deeper into God’s Word to understand His truth for myself. Not very many novels accomplish this, at least not at the level of the books I’ve chosen. The few books I will mention here are worth every minute of time, and every dime, you might invest in them. You will not feel in the least bit guilty when you’re finished with them!

1. Christy

I’ll start with a classic Christian novel, and really one of the earliest of its genre; it bridges the gap between an era when a large majority of novels were written from a Christian worldview because that’s just what the worldview was in general, and the era we live in now with a sharp divide between Christian and secular fiction. For many years in a row, I read Christy by Catherine Marshall over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday just to get my year off to a good start. I haven’t done that in some time, but this is one of a handful of books I do pick up and read again on occasion. Christy tells the inspiring story – based on a true story – of a young lady who answers the sudden call of God on her heart to go and love the unlovable. Her idealistic beginning is quickly tempered by reality, but her love for the people of God’s calling grew in its sincerity and intensity. So many scenes from the book run through my mind – the young girl who follows her around just begging for attention, the young man who lived in squalor and filth and the parents who saw no way out of that, the family driven by hate and fear that wanted her to stay away, and the young mother who passed away from a dreaded disease that ravished the community. There are parts of the book where I laugh out loud, and there are parts where I ugly cry with big fat sobs. And there are even parts that I underline and write down in my quote book, like this one:

What do you do when strength is called for and you have no strength? You evoke a power beyond your own and use stamina you didn’t know you had. You open your eyes in the morning grateful that you can see the sunlight of yet another day. You draw yourself to the edge of the bed and then put one foot in front of the other and keep going. ~Catherine Marshall

A beautiful love story is woven throughout the book, but it’s not the main focus of the story. And I can’t give away the ending because… well, you’ll just have to read it.

2. The Last Sin-Eater

The last …what? Yeah, I know… weird, right? It sounds more like a fantasy novel or something than a Christian novel, but that’s really what it’s called. And it really was a thing, back in the day among the hill people who emigrated to this country from Scotland. Most people are familiar with Francine River’s other more popular novel, Redeeming Love, but this one is my favorite of hers. The Last Sin-Eater starts out as if it’s just a story about a little girl who feels alone and lost, rejected by her family and her little world. But God sees her and sees the pain of her heart, and He uses her in a remarkable way to trigger change and healing in her, her family, and her entire community; in the end, the story is really about the deepest needs of our hearts and how they can only be met in the sacrifice made on our behalf by Jesus Christ. This book has many elements that work together to create a mesmerizing, spell-binding tale of guilt and tragedy, and the healing redemptive power of forgiveness and love: mystery, drama, secrecy, heavy burdens, mysterious visitors, and love from surprising sources. In fact, I believe this book is an excellent evangelistic tool for book-loving friends because it tells the Gospel beautifully within its pages.

3. The Price of Privilege

This is a recent addition to my Top 3 List of Favorite Christian Novels EVER, since I discovered it just a few months ago. In fact, this is the book that spurned my renewed interest in and dedication to reading because it was just. that. good. It’s actually a huge novel that’s been split into 3 books for easier reading: Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, and Price of Privilege. This serial book by Jessica Dotta is the most well-written contemporary novel I’ve ever read, period. It mimics the Gothic novel style of the early 1800’s, drawing the best out of that genre without succumbing to its maudlin sensationalism, balancing it with elements of Victorian style a la the Brontes and even a bit of Austen-like Regency. The intricacies of the plot line and the characters and the story they tell you are masterful. But the excellent writing technique is not the main reason I love this book. I’m going to be 100% honest and say the biggest reason I love this book is because I love the hero of the story, Lord Isaac Dalry. Seriously, you just need to read the book because of him. And honestly? I think the author intended for you to feel just that way because in my opinion Lord Isaac Dalry in this story is a type of Christ, illustrating Christ’s redemptive and sacrificial love for each one of us. After reading the entire series twice in a row, I decided that in addition to being a Gothic-Victorian-Regency novel, this book contains incredible symbolism worthy of C.S. Lewis. You can read my entire theory about this on my review at Goodreads. 

Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.

Summer Book Club #christianhomemakingcommunityJoin Our Summer Book Club!

Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian  Homemaking Community. 

3 Books Every Christian Should Read

3 Books Every Christian Should Read #CHC #summerbookclubFirst of all, let’s make sure the obvious is indeed obvious to everyone: The Bible remains THE Book of utmost importance to every individual, but especially to Christians. It goes without saying that we need God’s Word in our daily lives in the same way we need food and water. No other book is essential to life, and no other book can take its place. Having said that, some authors have been blessed with the gift of teaching and exhorting fellow believers through the written word. By their lives and their testimonies, they help us to better understand the truth of God’s Word, and draw us into a deeper relationship with Him. A well-written Christian book  always leads us directly to God and His Word and His truth. My requirements when selecting these recommendations for you were that each book remain true to Scripture in philosophy and theology, in addition to being well-written and easy to read. Beyond all that, it had to be used of God in my own life as a catalyst for change; in other words, life-changing. These are the books God has used most profoundly in my life to teach me more about Him, His ways, and His word:

1. Grace for the Good Girl

The Christian life is really a journey of grace: it begins with grace, it is driven and led by grace, it is followed and surrounded by grace, and it is ultimately finished and fulfilled by grace. If each of us breathed in and breathed out the grace of God each day, all day, what a different place this world would be! I didn’t really contemplate the role of grace in my Christian walk (sad, I know!) until I read this book. God used the truth in this book to make me aware of His grace already at work in me, and to show me how much deeper in His grace He wanted me to go. Eyes opened, blinders dropped! It was a huge turning point for me on my journey of grace, and I’m so thankful I read Grace for the Good Girl (which, incidentally, is written by fellow blogger Emily Freeman).  If you, like me, were raised in a good Christian family with devoted Christian parents, and you know everything that you are SUPPOSED to be, but you feel like you never quite measure up (or, let’s be honest, you just feel like a complete and total failure) to those expectations… you need to read this book. It is a must.

2. With Christ in the School of Prayer

This is by far the most informative and practical book I have read about the discipline of prayer. A classic from the early 1900’s, the format of  With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray appeals to my teacher heart with its clear outline and systematic approach. In it, Murray walks us through all of Christ’s teaching on the topic of prayer, meditating and expounding  on each verse individually until a full and complete picture of the true prayer life emerges. He closes each chapter with a sample prayer, illustrating the teaching contained in that chapter.

Although it was written more than a hundred years ago, the language flows smoothly, and its very readable for today’s audience. Truly a timeless classic every Christian should read!

3. Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God

For this third and final recommendation, I was almost forced to flip a coin! In truth, the books I vacillated between were really two sides of a coin: one discussed the difficulties and merits of a sacrificial life devoted to Christ, and the other portrayed the life of a person who chose that path of sacrificial living. In the end, I went with the latter, because even though I read it probably 20 years ago, it made such an impression on me that I still recall the lessons I learned when reading it. (For the curious among you, the other book I debated selecting was Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.)

Oswald Chambers:Abandoned to God was one of my few high school reading assignments that I actually enjoyed (which is not to say that my reading assignments were that bad… only that my rebellious heart automatically resented reading anything I was forced to!). “Enjoyed” is really the wrong term – I was quite enthralled by this book and it impacted me for life. Oswald Chambers is, of course, the author of the famous devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest“, as well as several other lesser-known devotionals. He lived out the principles that he laid out in his famous devotional, which was actually taken from his sermons as a YMCA chaplain in Egypt during WWI. Chambers’ devotion to His Lord inspired me as a teenager to live my own life accordingly: even if you’re not a big fan of biographies (I’m not to be honest), I highly recommend this one!

And other suggested reading…

It occurred to me as I wrote this post that it was difficult for me to narrow my choices down to 3 specific books mostly because I have quite a few favorite Christian authors who all have multiple books I can recommend. I’ve been challenged and inspired by every book I’ve read from these authors:

Additionally, I highly recommend the following authors for theologically sound and well-written books on Christian subjects:

There are a lot more worthy authors, to be sure, but those are my personal recommendations.

Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.

Summer Book Club #christianhomemakingcommunityJoin Our Summer Book Club!

Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian  Homemaking Community. 

Top 3 Classics Everyone Should Read

Note: This post contains links to books available at great prices on ThriftBooks and Amazon. Thanks for supporting Authentic Simplicity!3 classics everyone should read #chc #summerbookclub

Because previous generations were considerably more verbose and eloquent than our own, classic literature can sometimes be difficult to slog through. Besides which, some of you can probably recall tortured hours spent forcing yourselves through required reading for high school American and British literature classes, and the resulting horror left by the trauma is enough to cause you to swear off classics forever.

How do you feel about classics? Do you love delving into books that have stood the test of time, or do you prefer more contemporary reads? I’m somewhere in the middle: I love a good classic that I can sink my teeth into, but I also love reading contemporary novels, particularly ones by (select) Christian authors.

As a child, I was introduced to great children’s literature authors such as Frances Hodgson Burnett, Louisa May Alcott (Jack and Jill was my favorite novel as a child), Beverly Cleary, Mary Mapes Dodge (Ahhh, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates!), EB White, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and many more.  As a young teenager, aside from my school reading assignments, the first real “adult” classic book I read, I remember quite well: It was an abridged version of Les Miserables, and I was transfixed! I read a few American authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edith Wharton (Age of Innocence I read first, after watching the movie, which is excellent), but quickly found that my favorites were all Brits: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Thomas Hardy, to name a few.

Narrowing down my list of favorite classics to just 3 is pretty much an impossible task! There are SO many wonderful books out there waiting for a brand-new audience. Decisions, decisions! In the end, I’ve decided to offer you 3 obvious favorites that you’ve probably already read, and then 3 less popular (but just as wonderful) companion suggestions to go with my favorites. And I might not be able to constrain myself to just 3. Ahem.

1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables
Victor Hugo

This one’s a no-brainer for me, personally. It was my first “adult” classic, as I said, and it remains my favorite. I’ve read it multiple times, memorized the musical, and even though I don’t read French (don’t speak it, either!), I own an antique copy of Les Miserables in its original language. Yeah, I’m a little obsessed. And why not? Les Miserables is a classic for excellent reasons: it’s an eternal tale of good vs. evil, but even beyond that, it’s a tale of justice vs. mercy. It’s an epic illustration of the spiritual truth that righteousness and mercy are not exclusive… and that God can redeem even the hardest heart and the most horrible situation, IF we let Him. Key word being IF. The main character, Jean Valjean, demonstrates vividly how God can shape and mold a life that exudes both righteousness and mercy, and use that life to touch other lives in beautiful ways.

In my very humble opinion, no life is complete without having read Les Miserables. At least twice. (Although, I do give you permission to skip the chapter about sewers. I promise you, there’s nothing in that chapter that will benefit your life ever. I forced myself to read it so I could say I read the *entire* book… but I totally wish I had that hour of my life back. Just trust me.)

…and also Hernani, by Victor Hugo

Works of Victor Hugo, The: One Volume Edition: Poems, Novels, Stories of Crime, Dramas & Essays
Victor Hugo

And once you’ve read Les Mis (as all fans affectionately call it), try one of Victor Hugo’s plays on for size. It’s considerably shorter than his massive epic novel, and filled with brilliant sparkling dialogue. It’s kind of like the French version of Shakespeare, only it’s set in Spain: it’s swashbuckling and ever-so-dramatic and really just a lot of fun. In short, nothing like Les Mis. Like I said, read Les Mis first because that’s more important, but then read Hernani. Good stuff.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre (Puffin Classics)
Charlotte Bronte

Again, everybody knows this one; it’s another no-brainer. In fact, you probably already read it for your high school literature class. If you somehow escaped reading it during the course of your life thus far, remedy the situation immediately and go read Jane Eyre right now. Your life will not be complete until you do, as everyone who has read it understands perfectly. Because, seriously. Mr. Rochester. That’s all we have to say!

But to pursue the issue further, I’ll also say this: Jane Eyre is a classic story because in the end, it’s about how a good girl finally gets what she deserves. It takes her a long time, and she has to go through more than any person should ever have to, but she manages to maneuver all that life throws her and still keep her integrity intact. Good girls win in the end!

…but even more importantly, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (The World’s Classics)
Anne Brontë

But since you’ve probably already read Jane Eyre and you know all that, you need to read a lesser-known but probably better-written (at least according to some folks, me included) book written by Charlotte’s sister Anne. I might be partial to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall just because I share the author’s name, but honestly, the book is amazing. Again, it’s about a good girl who does her best to live with integrity in the face of terrible odds, including a worse-than-no-good husband who lives only for himself. She treats him far better than he deserves, and exemplifies true Christ-like love in the face of his terrible treatment of her. And, in return, eventually she is rewarded her measure of happiness. It’s a beautiful but tragic story, heart-rending and convicting. It’s my favorite Bronte book. 

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

I’m a serious Jane Austen fan. I’m an Austen completist, meaning I’ve read every single thing she wrote, except for maybe all her letters, just so I can say I’ve read everything she ever wrote. Chances are, you’ve also read Pride and Prejudice, which is her most popular novel, and for good reason. Aside from the fact that the writing just flows, making it an easy read, Pride and Prejudice is so incredibly popular because of its characters; they’re flawed and full of foibles, but ever so lovable, likable… and totally relatable. You see echoes of Jane, Lizzy, Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Bingley, and Charlotte in the people you know and love in real life. Probably you don’t see a lot of Mr. Darcy in your real life acquaintances, but that’s because he’s one in a million.

So, yeah, maybe the real reason we all love Pride and Prejudice is Mr. Darcy. Upon further reflection… Yes. Definitely. 

…and then Mr. Knightley, I mean, Emma

Emma (Modern Library Classics)
Jane Austen

But Mr. Darcy is not Jane Austen’s only swoon-worthy hero. I have a little bit of a crush (OK a big one) on Mr. Knightley, too. If you’re not aware of him, you’ll find him in the pages of Emma, Austen’s 3rd most popular novel (Sense and Sensibility is in between those two, but it’s not my favorite). He’s just such a good guy, without the stuffiness of Mr. Darcy, and he loves Emma so tenderly. Being something of a busy-body and a would-be matchmaker, while at the same time not wholly self-aware, she can be kind of difficult to manage, let alone love. But Mr. Knightley brings out the best in her, which is the way every romantic relationship should work.

So right after you read Pride and Prejudice (if you haven’t already), read Emma next. You’ll love it, I promise.

4. BONUS: Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina (Penguin Classics)
Leo Tolstoy

I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of Russian classics, even though I lived in Russia for a few years. This is admittedly a failing on my part, because Russian literature is generally highly regarded by the folks who know about this kind of stuff, but … I just can’t.

With a select few notable exceptions, the main one being Anna Karenina. It contains all the elements that hinder me from enjoying Russian literature in general (it’s huge, it has a very large cast of characters that can be difficult to keep track of, it’s rather pessimistic in its realistic approach to life, it has a tragic ending, and it can be dry reading at times), but even so, it manages to be one of my favorites. It takes you on the journey of a young woman who loses her moral compass and begins to make choices based on what pleases her, and you clearly see the effects of those choices on everyone around her, and eventually, the toll they take on her personally. It’s sad and it ends in a horrific tragedy, but the fact is there’s no way a story like that can ever end happily, whether in real life or in a book.

But Anna Karenina is much more than a cautionary tale: there’s romance, there are characters both deep and shallow, there’s an intriguing glimpse into historic Russian society, and an even more intriguing glimpse into the famous Russian soul.

…and then there are the short stories

If you’re not quite up to the challenge of Anna Karenina (no judgment here!), you must try some of Tolstoy’s short stories. In particular, I recommend What Men Live By, How Much Land Does a Man Need?, and Where Love Is, There God Is Also.

5. Oops. One More.

Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables, No. 8)
Montgomery, L.M.

This one’s for the girls in your family. Or for your inner girl. It’s innocent enough to suit a young lady, but insightful enough to appeal to a grown woman. The book I have in mind is also a culmination of books and, although it stands on its own, is really meant to be enjoyed upon the background of its predecessors.

The book I’m speaking of is Rilla of Ingleside. I’m sure you are very familiar already with the classic book Anne of Green Gables by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Many people don’t realize that an entire series of books follows Anne of Green Gables, chronicling her life after her girlhood years with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert: her years at college, her teaching career, her romances and eventual marriage, and her children.

The final book in the series, Rilla of Ingleside, comes full circle and details the coming of age years of Anne’s own daughter Rilla (short for Marilla). I’ve never read another book that so accurately describes the thoughts and emotions of a young girl slowly growing into a young lady. I read it when I was around the same age as the girl in the story, and I identified so much with many of her inner wonderings and struggles. However, Rilla’s story is set against the turbulent backdrop of the first World War, and as such, Rilla encounters situations that force her to grow up much faster than the average girl of my generation. It’s a beautiful story and I love it almost as much as I love the original book in the series.

OK. I’m really done now. Those are my top 3 (er… 4… or 5…. or more!) favorite classics that I think everyone should read regardless of their preferred genre.

What books would you add to my list?

Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.

Summer Book Club #christianhomemakingcommunityJoin Our Summer Book Club!

Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian  Homemaking Community. 

Where to Buy Books {For Cheap!}

Where to Buy Books for a great price. #chc #summerbookclub I’m so glad I don’t live back in the day (really, not so long ago, only a couple generations removed from our time) when books were a luxury, only affordable for the well-to-do. I’m grateful when I realize that I can read a new book every day if I wanted to, unlike women of the past who read and re-read the same book because it was the only one they could access.

In fact, such a situation seems so far removed from me that it’s hard to fathom, and yet I know such a time existed in reality (and still does in many parts of the world). There is no reason the average American cannot educate themselves today, given the ready – and cheap – access we have to books of all kinds.

Even so, the price of books can be daunting, especially if your budget is tight and you’re looking at hot-off-the-press options. If you, like me, can’t afford to shell out $15-20 for each new book that hits the market, read on to find my tips for affording your reading habit.

1. Adjust your expectations.

Ultimately, you won’t be able to read every bestseller that comes on the market if you’re on a tight budget. If your budget looks like mine, you won’t even be able to read the latest books from your favorite authors as soon as they come on the scene.

But you can still read… and read a lot! While there’s certainly a plethora of junk books that aren’t worth your time, you can find plenty of worthy reads that don’t demand top dollar. Just adjust your expectations and maybe your tastes; be willing to read offerings like last year’s bestseller, classic novels from 100 years ago or more, great reads from more obscure authors, and other less expensive options. 

If you really want to read the latest novel, get hooked into your local public library system. More than likely, there will be waiting lists for the most popular books, but libraries generally order many copies so you can get your hands on the book pretty quickly, all things considered.

2. Go digital.

Yes, I know, there’s nothing like holding a book in your hands, and honestly, there are some types of books I really hate reading on a device (cookbooks, for example, or reference books of any kind). But because of the lower overhead costs, digital books are considerably cheaper than their hard-copy alternatives, so I almost always choose the digital option, especially when it comes to fiction and classics.

And you don’t have to buy a fancy Kindle to read eBooks, either. The Amazon Kindle app is free and works on almost every device, including smart phones and computers. Christianbook.com also has a free reader app.

3. Follow digital deal listings.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the Free & Cheap listings on Amazon Kindle, so I prefer to follow a few different services that notify me of book deals that might interest me. Here are a few services you might consider:

  • BookBub sends you daily emails with the top one or two book deals in categories you select. This has been my favorite service because it really does send me only eBooks that are likely to interest me. I’ve read some really great books for $2 or less using this service.
  • EReaderGirl.com highlights book deals specifically for women, many of them Christian. You can sign up to receive regular email updates so you don’t ever miss a great deal.
  • Spirit-Filled Kindle features Christian books. What I like about this site is that they don’t just post any and all Christian books available; they only post ones they have read or their readers recommend.
  • If you’re on Goodreads or Facebook, search for groups that discuss and share genres you like to read. If the group is active, chances are they frequently share deals they come across that other group members might like. There are even groups that exist solely for the purpose of sharing great book deals.

4. Buy used books.

Books, like cars, lose their value quickly. (Unless, like cars, they’re antique. Then they start getting expensive again.) And, like cars, the sage advice remains: Always buy used. I don’t even know the last time I actually bought a brand-new book. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only brand-new books I own are ones that were given to me for birthdays and Christmas. Other than that, I only buy used.

My favorite places to buy used books are:

  • Thrift Stores: Talk about ridiculously low prices! Thrift stores receive TONS of books and so are typically quite desirous of keeping a steady rate of turnover going, henceforth they often price their paperbacks at $0.25-0.50 (or less) and hardbacks at around $1. You’ll have to dig for a good book, but trust me. You’ll be happy you did.
  • Library Sales: Most libraries have an ongoing sale of used books, even if it’s only a shelf in the corner of the library entrance. They are also typically quite inexpensive, usually around $2 for most books (more for specialty books). Most libraries also typically offer an annual book sale where they have boxes and boxes and boxes of books available for pretty cheap (depending on the library system and the organization that puts on the sale). These sales are particularly a good place to find children’s books.
  • Garage/Yard Sales: Sometimes people try to charge too much for their used books ($5 for a hardcover cookbook? Really?), but you can also find some really good deals. Depending on your tastes in books, it might be difficult to find someone with books you actually want to read, but once you do… it will make you very happy.
  • Used Book Stores: Used book stores are often pricier than the other options I’ve listed, but they also often have a store credit program, which makes them more affordable. Typically, it works this way: you bring in used books (perhaps ones you’ve bought for $0.50 at the thrift store) that they purchase from you by giving you store credit and you use that store credit to buy books that you really want to read. The trick is to bring them books that they know they will sell: best-selling novels from 10 years ago probably aren’t going to interest them much.
  • Once again, there are Facebook groups in various genres where members can post books they want to sell. You can post your own books that you no longer want, or buy them from other readers at a discounted price.
  • ThriftBooks.com: I recently discovered this site and it has become my number one favorite place to buy used books. If you buy $10 or more in books (most books are priced around $3.59, so that’s approximately 3 books), shipping is free. Plus, any book with a “Deal” tag on it qualifies for their package deals: 2 books for $7, 3 books for $10, 4 books for $12, additional books $3 each. I always try ThriftBooks first if the book I want is not available in a digital copy, or is one that I’d prefer to have in hard copy. I also always compare the price of a digital book to the price at ThriftBooks; and if it’s just as good a deal, I’ll go ahead and get the actual hard-copy one. All the books I’ve purchased here have been in excellent condition and I’ve been very pleased with the speed of shipping (not as fast as Amazon, but hey, who is?!).

 5. Borrow from friends and family.

So my oldest sister has a reading habit that she can afford to indulge. And since we have some overlapping tastes in reading, I’m pretty much guaranteed to find something of interest when I browse through her stacks (and yes, she has stacks upon stacks) of books. I’ve also borrowed and traded books (even on Kindle) with other friends and family – it’s a great way to read a book that interests you but you’re not necessarily planning on adding to your library. And hey, if you decide you do want to add it to your library, you can certainly purchase it for yourself later on.

Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.

Summer Book Club #christianhomemakingcommunityJoin Our Summer Book Club!

Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian  Homemaking Community. 

Click on the links below to read what other bloggers have to say about reading:

Make Time to Read

Make Time to Read #chc #summerbookclubThere was a time not so very long ago (actually, it’s pretty recent history), when I believed that reading was a luxury enjoyed by those who had more time on their hands than I did. My sisters and friends would talk about this book or that book and I’d think, “Man, I wish I had time to read!” Not that I never read – that would have been sad indeed – but I didn’t read very much. I either read in stolen moments here and there (like in the only room in the house where a person has a little privacy if you know what I mean), or I’d binge-read late into the night and regret it the next day.

Then one day, I happened to read a really really really really REALLY good book (more on that book in another week or two), and suddenly my love of reading came rushing back to me and I remembered what I was missing. From that point on, me and my Kindle (and Thrift Books and library sales and my own neglected bookshelf) have been inseparable and I’ve been reading several books a week (have to make up for lost time, you know).

So if you’re in the place where I was not so very long ago, I have good news for you: yes, my friend, you DO have time to read. You just have to make the time!

If it helps you, this is how I made time for reading in my life.

1. I realized its importance.

Reading became a priority when, about a week or two after I started reading regularly again, I was amazed to find that my spirit was more settled than it had been in a long time, my relationship with my husband was better than ever, and I was enjoying myself immensely. It had been a really long time since I had felt so relaxed and at peace, and I’m pretty sure that reading played a large part in that. When talking about it with my husband, he agreed that he could see a difference in me when I spent more time reading, and he encouraged me to continue.

From that point, I consciously made an effort to read more, and I gave myself permission to do so. It’s not a chore for me – I love reading! – so it’s not like I have to force myself, but I do have to overcome that mommy guilt if I ever feel like I’m neglecting other tasks for the sake of reading. Acknowledging the importance of reading in my own spiritual and emotional well-being went a long way in assuaging that persistent mommy guilt. 

2. I deleted Facebook from my phone.

Back when I kept telling myself I didn’t have time to read, I had Facebook (and Candy Crush) on my phone. Guess what I was doing every time there was a lull in conversation or I was waiting in line somewhere? Yep! Facebooking or crushing candy. After a while, Candy Crush became boring so it wasn’t as much of a temptation… but there’s ALWAYS something new on Facebook and I could get lost on there for hours!

One day, for reasons that had nothing to do with the current topic of conversation, I decided to delete Facebook from my phone and save it for whenever I was actually on the computer. In terms of time management, it’s the best thing I’ve done in a really long time. I should have done it ages ago! Suddenly, all the time I used to spend on Facebook (it must have been hours) was now freed up for other, more worthier pursuits… like reading. Make time to read. Bring your books with you. #CHC #summerbookclub

3. I keep my current book with me wherever I go.

As a child, this is how I managed to read copious amounts of books in short amounts of time: I always ALWAYS had a book in my hand. Nowadays with smart phones, tablets, and Kindles, it’s super easy to always have a book at your fingertips. I even have a medium-sized purse that fits almost all paperbacks, so I take real books with me everywhere I go, too. That way, if I’m waiting around somewhere for somebody or something (which happens surprisingly a lot), I whip out my book (or smart phone or tablet) and start reading away.

4. I read whenever I can.

I’m learning my limits on this: for example, when The Boyz are crazy in the backseat of the van, I can’t read. (I hope it goes without saying that in this scenario I’m the passenger, not the driver!) I have to engage with them or they will start doing things that make my eyeballs pop out of my head and wonder if they’re really human and if it’s possible they actually came from my body. Either that or I will start screaming. So I’ve learned that while riding in the van is a great time to read, it’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not a good idea of The Boyz are in a mood. 

I also have a strict rule for myself about not reading when eating out or at the dinner table. Mostly because I want to teach my boys not to always have their nose buried in an electronic device when spending time together, and it’s my job to set the example for that.

Otherwise, I squeeze my reading into available moments like these:

  • in the bathroom (the perennial favorite of busy moms everywhere)
  • in the bathroom (not only when I’m taking care of business but when I’m doing my hair or getting dressed or slathering myself with oils, I have a book propped up so I can read it while I’m busy)
  • riding in a car or other transportation (except for when The Boyz are crazy or we’re having good conversation)
  • waiting in a hair salon, doctor’s office, at school, etc.
  • in the evening before I go to bed
  • when I’m cooking (I prop the book up and read it whenever I’m standing still long enough. This is also a good opportunity to take advantage of audio books.)
  • watching TV (I try to stick to watching it during commercials because it drives my husband crazy when I try to read AND watch a TV show at the same time. I kind of see his logic. But sometimes a book is just that good, you know?)
  • at nap time (I’m a preschool teacher. Yay! for nap time!)

DSC07223-B5. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks.

I’ve discovered that audiobooks really aren’t my thing, but sometimes it’s the only way to get reading in. The problem is that if  it’s a book no one else in my family is interested in (which is probably 99.9% of what I read) then I have to wear earphones which makes me very inaccessible to the needy people in the house (which is all of them). Plus when my mind is not actively engaged in the reading process, my mind tends to wander and daydream and collect dust bunnies and I end up missing half the story. Consequently, I’ve discovered that the only time audiobooks really work for me is when I’m in the kitchen cooking or washing dishes.

You, however, might find that audiobooks are the perfect solution for you!

Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.

Summer Book Club #christianhomemakingcommunityJoin Our Summer Book Club!

Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian  Homemaking Community. 

Click on the links below to read what other bloggers have to say about reading:

Why You Should Read {And Not Feel Guilty About It}

Why You Should Read - it's not a guilty pleasure

As a child, I was the textbook image of what people are thinking when they use the phrase “avid reader”. I have a horrible sense of direction – can’t find my way out of a paper bag, and no kidding! – because from the time I could sound out words, I brought a book with me everywhere I went, especially in the car. I can remember pleasant days spent in my room lying in all sorts of crazy positions on my bed, reading, reading, reading, and laughing out loud hilariously at Beezus, Henry, and other characters in Beverly Cleary’s stories. I was always in the middle of reading one book or another, and always had a book close at hand (or in my hand!).

This trend continued throughout my elementary years and on into high school, where I read a steady diet of mostly classic novels, with a few biographies and Christian fiction novels thrown in for good measure. In my late teens, I lived in Moscow, Russia, and I used the hours and hours of riding on the public transit system to read, read, and read some more.

Fast forward to the time when I started working full-time… and then got married and had my own house to keep… and then children came on the scene. With the exception of the time I spent breast-feeding my little ones (hey, that’s some great reading time, there!), I found that I rarely had time to indulge in my favorite pastime. Or, at any rate, I felt so pressured by all my responsibilities that seemed more important that I rarely took the time.

Now? I still work full-time, I’m still married, I still have a home to keep, and I still have 2 young children, but I’ve rediscovered the joy of reading. I’ve also discovered that the benefits of reading go far beyond mere pleasure and I no longer feel guilty when I make the time to read. In fact, I’ve learned that it’s a priority for me, right up there with keeping the house clean and getting dressed in the morning. With the modern convenience of Kindle (and a larger purse where I can stuff a paperback if necessary), I always have a book handy to read in stolen moments. 

My challenge to you is this: no matter your season in life, make time to read. I look back regretfully on those intervening years where I consciously made the decision not to read and to focus on other things that demanded my attention, and wish I had taken the time to read.

Why do I think you should take time to read? Personally, I feel like the benefits of reading a good book go far above and beyond the mere pleasure it brings to passing time.  I would go so far as to say that aside from spending time with your Heavenly Father and your earthly family and friends, reading books is the best thing you can do for your mind and your spirit. Why You Should Read - it's not a guilty pleasure

1. Reading relaxes the mind.

And this is a good thing! As women (many of us wives and mothers), we have a constantly running mental list of things to do and things to worry about. That constant track resounding in your head serves a good purpose (otherwise, how would anything ever get done?!) but it gets tiresome. It depresses, it weighs you down, it stresses you out, and it leaves you in a cranky, irritable state that no one enjoys – not even you!

I’m not saying you need to eliminate this mental process from your life – like I said, it serves a worthy purpose – but you absolutely do need a break from it. A break from your never-ending responsibilities gives you a chance to re-charge and attack those responsibilities with renewed vigor when you return to them. Life is a beautiful rhythm of work and rest, and you need to develop the habit of resting your brain and relaxing the internal pressure that you place on yourself.

 Reading provides a wonderful way to temporarily silence this running mental track that exhausts you physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Not all books are suitable for this purpose – books about dieting, housecleaning, or child-rearing, while valuable for other reasons, will probably have the opposite effect! In my family, we call books that provide a mental escape “brain candy”, i.e., damaging if you make it a steady mental diet, but pleasurable and not harmful on occasion. Brain candy books are kind of short and fluffy – just a light story without any real depth that gives you a mental break and a chance to recoup your thoughts for dealing with real life and its real troubles. 

But brain candy isn’t the only type of reading that relaxes your mind – anything that directs your thoughts away from their usual well-run course of dishes to do, bathrooms to clean, homework to supervise, menus to plan, will serve the purpose admirably. I like to intersperse brain candy with other selections that have benefits beyond relaxation.

2. Reading informs the mind.

Now this is a given, and it doesn’t only apply to non-fiction. Even a well-written piece of fiction can inform you about a time and place that is otherwise foreign to you. I’ve learned about Philadelphia Quakers during the American Revolution, the earliest settlers in the “wild west” (prior to the Louisiana Purchase) and all that they faced, turn-of-the-century immigrants and the struggles they endured, the life of a Caribbean pirate in the 1800’s, silk farmers in India, Jews in the time of Christ, medieval lords and peasants, and many more, all from novels. A well-researched novel (sometimes a novel makes me so curious about a time period or a place that I research it to see if the book was really accurate) can teach you more about history and foreign cultures than any course you could take at school.

Books such as these can make you aware of situations – political, religious and social – that you never even thought about, and can help inform your views about them. A really good book explores various aspects of the topic at hand so you can have a good understanding of the issue and come to reasonable conclusions about it. Why You Should Read - it's not a guilty pleasure

3. Reading develops empathy.

A well-written book can also delve into the mind of a person in a very different situation in life from your own, and give you glimpses into the heart of another person. However fictional that person might be, you can gain understanding about the driving forces in their life that lead them to make decisions you wouldn’t otherwise understand. Right now, I’m reading a fictional book about a woman who escapes an abusive husband. It’s a situation I have no personal knowledge of, and reading a book about it doesn’t make me an expert by any means, but it does help me understand what that kind of life is like for the women who have to go through it.

Reading doesn’t replace actual experience when it comes to real-life issues like this, but it does help create empathy within you for others who deal with struggles you will never face. In my opinion, that is one of the most powerful gifts that reading can give – to take the chance to walk in another person’s shoes for a while, if only in your imagination.

4. Reading challenges you.

Depending on the type of book, the challenge can be physical, spiritual, or emotional. Non-fiction books can challenge you in your work, your child-rearing, your scheduling, your relationships, your diet and nutrition… anything, really! There’s a book on every subject, so you can certainly find one that will challenge you to be your best in every area of your life.

Even fiction can challenge you spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Well, good fiction can. This is where you need more than brain candy! My most favorite books are the ones that challenge either the way I think, the way I feel, or the way I relate to God and my fellow man. These books are the ones I will re-read.

God calls us to do everything in our life heartily – our very best – for His honor and glory. A good book will challenge you to do just that! Why You Should Read - it's not a guilty pleasure

5. Reading connects you to greater minds.

The wonderful thing about God’s creation of humankind is that each one of us has our own working brain, and the thoughts within our mind are privy only to ourselves and to God unless we choose to share them with others. Each one of us thinks in a different way from everyone else, and we all benefit from the glimpses of perspective we receive when other people share their thoughts either verbally or via the written word.

The wonderful thing about the invention of books is that we have access to the great minds of previous generations. Because of the written word and its preservation through the ages, we can learn about those who have gone before us and all that they learned and experienced. In this way, each generation is able to build on the knowledge of previous generations… and if we heeded what they were telling us, we could  avoid a lot of heartache and evil.

I tend to think of the greatest minds in historical terms, because I feel that the test of time is the greatest of all tests in determine the quality of one’s thoughts, but books can connect you to today’s great thinkers and communicators as well.

6. Reading sharpens the mind.

There’s a caveat here: if you just read, mindlessly accepting everything that passes your eye, there will be no mind-sharpening. Or precious little, at any rate. The sharpening of the mind occurs when you read actively, engaging your mind (this is why brain candy needs to be kept to a minimum, or you’ll have brain softening instead!) to discern whether what you’re reading is true or not. 

To read actively, you must ask yourself while you’re reading if what is being said is true or not. Weigh your own knowledge, understanding, and experience against what the book is conveying to you, and decide if you agree or not. What makes the author draw the conclusions he or she draws? What leads a character in a story to make the decision they make? Is God glorified in what is being read? Or is evil lifted up?

This applies to fiction and non-fiction, by the way. Anything that goes into your mind needs to pass a filter that weighs the truth of what is attempting to be absorbed. This can be an exhausting practice but it is essential to get the most out of what you read. And when you read critically in this way, it will sharpen your mind, even as it relaxes you and brings balance to your busy life.

So, busy mom (or college student, or full-time working woman), make some time in your schedule to read! Don’t think of it as a guilty pleasure, think of it as a necessity for your life. Nourishing your mind is just as important as nourishing your body, so do yourself a favor and make time for it.

Want to see what I’m reading? I’d love to see what YOU’RE reading! Join me at Goodreads, where I keep track of books I enjoy (and even books I don’t)! I’d love a sneak peek onto your bookshelf, too.

Summer Book Club #christianhomemakingcommunityJoin Our Summer Book Club!

Some blogging friends and I are going to spend the next six weeks talking all about reading… and sharing our favorite books with you! Follow our blogs to join in the discussion and find some new favorite books to love. We’ll also be chatting about our blog posts – and the books we love – in our Facebook community for women, Christian  Homemaking Community. 

Click on the links below to read what other bloggers have to say about reading:

Does English Seem Like a Foreign Language Sometimes?

360/365 - 09/23/10 [365 Days @ 50mm] - Alphabet Soup
I admit it. I’m totally a phonics geek. I love the phonetic aspect of language, and I love the challenge of untangling the mysteries of the sound-spelling relationship of the English language. I get practically giddy when I contemplate the various spellings of the long sound “a”, and I happen to think that homonyms are all sorts of fun.

You, too?

Or maybe not so much?

No matter which camp you’re in, you’re going to love this book that I discovered recently: It offers jewels of spelling insight that will delight the most decorated spelling bee contestant while at the same time clearing up mysteries of English phonetics that have left the rest of us scratching our heads in puzzlement our entire lives.

Uncovering The Logic of English, written by Denise Eide, answers the following questions (and more!) that have been plaguing you:

What’s with all the silent “e’s”?!

(With only a few exceptions, each silent “e” serves a distinct purpose.)

Are there any actual rules governing this language or is it just a big jumble of exceptions?

(There are definitely rules, and not as many of them as you might think; and they are far more consistent than they seem at first glance.)

Why do I have to add an “r” to “prefer” before adding the suffix “-ing”, but not when adding the suffix “-ence”?

(The answer lies in the accented syllable.)

Denise Eide walks her readers through a logical progression of the rules that govern our oft-maligned language, wording each rule in the clearest language possible so as to avoid confusion and generalizations. You won’t find such pithy statements as “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking” in this book, because that’s simply not true. I mean, have you ever encountered words like “niece” and “launch” that totally defy this frequently quoted but grossly inaccurate “rule”? It’s not that “niece” and “launch” are exceptions to the rule; it’s that the rule is wrong.

Denise takes the confusion out of the rules and states them accurately and clearly. In doing so, she proves that the exceptions to the rules are not nearly as frequent as we have often been lead to believe: In fact, she asserts that the 30 rules she has compiled in this book govern 98% of commonly used English words, leaving a mere 2% as true exceptions. 

Uncovering the Logic of English was, for me, a quick and fascinating read. I did not agree with absolutely everything stated in the book; there were some phonograms not listed that I thought should be included, and  once or twice, I thought it would be easier to state certain words as exceptions rather than creating an entire rule around them. But even so, I believe that every English speaker (and English writer and reader!) should read this book. Maybe even a couple times! You will no longer be confused by the seemingly irrational spelling patterns that have developed through the centuries, and will gain an appreciation for the logic that does indeed exist within the phonetic system of English!

If you homeschool (or teach) and have students that struggle with spelling and/or reading, then you need this book. I am confident it will be of more help to you than any other spelling or reading resource you might find.

Uncovering the Logic of English is available on Amazon.com for $13.60, or you can get the Kindle version for $7.99.

Denise Eide has also authored a cute little children’s alphabet book called Doodling Dragons that takes the time to teach the multiple sounds each letter can make in a simple and engaging way. Most alphabet books stop short with each letter’s most common sound, but this book briefly illustrates all the sounds each letter can make. The Boys find it funny and interesting, and it’s short enough to keep their attention from beginning to end.

Disclosure: I received both of these books for free at a conference, but was under no obligation to write a positive review. I was just really fascinated and wanted to share it with you. 

Dealing With the Side Effects of Cancer Treatments

Touched by Cancer - a series at Authentic Simplicity Have you been touched by cancer? Maybe not you personally, but a close friend or family member? Then this series is for you. In honor of a dear friend of mine who was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, I dedicate this small space of the internet to spreading hope and compassion in the face of a terrible disease. Hope for prevention and treatment, and compassion for those suffering. Please share the posts in this series with anyone you know who has been touched by cancer.

Cancer. It is a word that brings fear to the depths of your soul…especially when it is being experienced by you or a loved one. I know this fear that can grip you. We have experienced cancer in our own family several times. My family has always approached it differently than most and sought natural help for cancer and chemo side effects.

I am always happy to share with others information that may help them on this new and frightening journey, but am careful not to overstep any boundaries. You have to know someone well and sense if they are open to your suggestions. If you put the information out there and they want to know more, they will ask. If not, they have made the decision that they believe is best for their family.

I was 13 years old when my mom told me she had breast cancer. I had no idea at the time how bad it was and how close I came to losing her. She had stage 4 breast cancer. The doctors gave her 6 months with chemo and radiation.My parents had always sought out alternative practitioners when possible. This was no exception. So, they went to Mexico for treatment. This was before all the options there are in America now. She did have surgery and a little chemo, because her cancer was so bad that even the natural doctors recommended it… on a smaller scale. Thankfully, her side effects from chemo were not as bad as most people experienced.

I am very thankful that I still have my mother with me…24 years later. My brother recently experienced thyroid cancer and beat it naturally.

Hopefully you will find some things to help through cancer, chemo and radiation. Although I believe that cancer is largely preventable, many people still choose the conventional route for numerous reasons. Conventional treatments usually overload the system with many toxins.

To help the body deal with the side effects of these toxins, there are things that can be done to help detox and relieve the side effects of cancer treatments:

Water ~ Drink lots pure water. This is the most natural way to flush out toxins. Add fresh lemon or a pure, therapeutic grade Lemon Essential Oil to boost the immune system and stimulate the lymphatic system. Other beneficial essential oils are Grapefruit, Tangerine and Orange. Add 1-2 drops to water during the day. These oils are high in limonene and effective against cancer and help to boost the immune system. Peppermint Oil will give you energy and stimulate the immune system.

Detox Baths~ Epsom Salt baths are very beneficial. Toxins are flushed from your system as your body absorbs the magnesium it needs to help heal. Add baking soda to the bath to make your skin smooth, while neutralizing the effects of radiation. Apple Cider Vinegar added to the bath helps soothe sore muscles and joints. Add Lavender Oil to help you relax. Rotate with a Bentonite Clay Baths using Living Clay to help pull out toxins and heavy metals.

Boost the Immune System~ All of these things in this post will help boost the immune system, which is crucial to healing. A supplement that can help is Inner Defense~ an oil blend of Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, and Citronella in an Olive Oil Base in capsules. Frankincense Essential Oil is also very beneficial to boost the immune system, calm the nerves and may kill cancer cells. It can be taken internally, rubbed on the feet and problem area. *NOTE~ the only oils that I am referring to are Young Living Essential Oils due to their pure, therapeutic quality.*

Alkalize the Body~ A person who is going through cancer, chemo, or radiation has a very acidic system, which makes the body even more susceptible to disease.

  1. Eliminate Sugar & Processed Foods~ Sugar feeds cancer. Stay away from artificial sweeteners also. Use Stevia, an herb, to sweeten drinks or food. Avoid white flour and food coloring. Our bodies do not know how to deal with these chemicals.
  2. Eat Raw Foods~ Avoid meat during this time, especially red meat. Eat lots of green vegetables~ have a salad with every meal and use a lemon/olive oil dressing.
  3. Drink Green Juice or a High Quality Green Nutritional Drink~ It is important to feed the body what it needs as it is fighting cancer and dealing with side effects. Juicing is the best way to help the body heal and get rid of toxins. The “greens” are so beneficial~ spinach, kale, parsley and cucumbers. Add in ginger and carrots. It is not always possible to make high quality juices, nor does the person feel like the effort involved. My brother used Nutritional Dreams three times per day. It is a green superfood drink that you mix with water. It is flavored with stevia and peppermint, so it is yummy. It is a normal part of our routine to keep us healthy year round.
  4. Ningxia Red~ an antioxidant drink that helps reduce the acid in the body. Helps with heart and liver function as it energizes and fortifies the body.

Ginger ~ Ginger helps nausea and vomiting. Put it in a smoothie or make a tea from it.

Stop Using Synthetic Personal and Cleaning Products~ Our skin is the largest organ. When we put chemicals on our skin that we would not eat, we are adding to the toxic overload in our body. Avoiding using antiperspirants. These contain aluminum and is very damaging to our body. Try to find a natural deodorant or use coconut oil and lavender oil.

Exercise~ Although one may not feel like exercising. It is very important to help cleanse the lymphatic system. T-Tapp is a 15 minute fitness routine originally designed by Teresa Tapp to help cancer patients deal with the effects of chemo. Her mother died of a brain tumor and she had a desire to find a way to help people. It was discovered that is was helping heal from the inside out. It cleanses the lymphatic system, boosts the immune system and gets oxygen flowing through the body. Inch loss is a plus! The lymph system has to have help to cleanse itself…ie T-Tapp, rebounding and body brushing as recommended through T-Tapp. T-Tapp is now used by all ages and health situations, not just cancer and chemo patients.

Emotional Health~ The emotions play a huge role in our healing. A person experiencing cancer is on an emotional roller coaster. Fear, dread, anger, sadness, worry, guilt all play a part of this roller coaster. Our thoughts can be as toxic as pollutants or the cancer itself. It is important to take every thought captive and not be controlled by them. Prayer, reading scripture, meditating on worship music are the most important helps in this. A book I highly recommend is Who Switched Off My Brain? by Dr. Carolyn Leaf. It is full of helpful tips and scripture to learn how to deal with emotions and thoughts. Essential Oils that are helpful in this area are: Valor, Peace & Calming, Joy, Harmony, White Angelica, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Hope.

Get Plenty of Rest & Accept Help~ Two things that are very hard to do. Rest when you need it. This is very important for your body to heal. Accept help, even though it may be hard to do. Now is the time to focus on your health and getting better. If people offer to bring meals, help with the children, clean your house….let them. Accept the gift.

I hope that these suggestions will help you or someone you know in this journey of cancer. Start with one or two things and add to them as you can. Any step you take toward your healing is better than nothing.

Disclaimer: This isn’t intended to diagnose, treat or cure any condition. This is for educational purposes only. Consult with your doctor.
Mary is a farm girl and homeschooling mom to 2 sons. She has been married to her sweetheart for 14 years. She is passionate about her faith and family and strives to find balance in home life, farm life, homeschooling, and healthy living. She blogs at The Encouraging Home where she tries to encourage others and offer a variety of resources for life. She also helps to educate people on the health benefits of pure essential oils through her Young Living Essential Oils business, beautiful skin through Nerium AD, as well as help other moms establish a home business. Mary hopes that you will find a place of renewal and refreshment when you visit her blog, as well as many help from the many resources she has researched for you.

4 Ways to Prevent Cancer {Touched by Cancer}

Touched by Cancer - a series at Authentic Simplicity Have you been touched by cancer? Maybe not you personally, but a close friend or family member? Then this series is for you. In honor of a dear friend of mine who was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year, I dedicate this small space of the internet to spreading hope and compassion in the face of a terrible disease. Hope for prevention and treatment, and compassion for those suffering. Please share the posts in this series with anyone you know who has been touched by cancer.

Annually, ten million people are diagnosed with some form of cancer, and approximately seven million die from the cancer. Cancer is alarmingly on the rise with numbers increasing each year. I believe this calls for a reason to stop and evaluate our modern-day lives. If cancer is not something contagious, but a disease that develops in the body, is there a way to prevent it?

One of the biggest culprits is poor diet.

Years ago when cancer was rare, people depended on wild food, fresh fruits and vegetables that they grew for a large portion of their diet. These foods contained living enzymes and nutrition. Today our food comes from the nearest drive-thru or a box off a shelf, which contains almost no nutrition.

Suppose you filled your car with rocks, dirt, or jet fuel? Would you expect it to run correctly? We all know the car would have major problems! When our body does not have the proper nutrition that God designed for it to have, our bodies will not be o.k.. Poor nutrition leads to poor health, which results in disease and possible cancer.

So what does a healthy diet look like? The ideal diet is all organic, and at least half being raw foods; never going to a fast food restaurant, never purchasing something in a box…. This kind of diet is not realistic for most. I encourage people to start where they are and do what they can.
Do you eat out all the time? Begin making homemade meals more often than buying something from take-out.
Do you eat things from a box often? Start making most meals from scratch.
Do you never eat fresh fruits or vegetables? Train your body to eat and enjoy fresh food. Work toward eating at least 50% raw.
Do you eat whatever, not considering with what’s in it? Learn to be an ingredient reader. Avoid foods with harmful ingredients like MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and aspartame.

Many people get discouraged because they can’t jump straight into an ideal diet; don’t be. Start where you are and begin making changes. You will notice a great improvement in your health as you work towards that ideal diet.

Cleanse yearly.

Because of environmental toxins and toxins from personal care products, the average person has a very serious need to detox on a regular basis. It is said that the average person carries 10 lbs. of waste in their bodies! Cleansing the body clears toxins, and creates an environment that is more resistant to disease.

The cleansing order recommended by many health-care professionals is:

I also love to take bentonite clay baths! Bentonite clay pulls toxins and heavy metals from your body, leaving you feeling so refreshed and clean!

Exercise faithfully.

We’ve all heard for many years how important it is to exercise, and that’s because it is! Exercise rejuvenates cells and gets the lymph system moving.

Rebounding is considered to possibly be the best exercise for rejuvenating the lymph system. Rebounding is simply jumping on a mini-trampoline. This exercise not only increases the lymph flow, it also strengthens the immune system and gives more oxygen to the blood. It is recommended to rebound 10-15 minutes a day.

Add healthy herbs and supplements to your body.

A few suggestions are:
Coconut Oil
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red Clover

Green Tea

Indian Gooseberry/Amalaki

I personally love making different mixtures of herbs into teas! I keep at least a gallon {sometimes two gallons} of tea in my fridge all the time for my family to drink often.I also enjoy a cup of hot tea in the winter months! Flax and coconut oil are great to add to oatmeal for its amazing health benefits!

What natural things do you do to help prevent cancer?

Jill is a
Christian and has been married to her dear husband for 12 years. She’s
a homeschool mom of 4 and is thankful for God’s goodness in her daily life. As a certified family herbalist, her passions include reading and researching about health and home remedies, and sharing
with others the knowledge she gains. You can find her blogging at and connect with her on and Pinterest.

My Simple Preschool: A Touch of “Unschooling”

Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone do simple preschool at home.

No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning! 

Having come from a very traditional schooling background with an emphasis on classical education and a splash of Montessori thrown in, “unschooling” really isn’t on my radar as an educational alternative for my children. However, I think there is great value in being intentional about discovering what interests and intrigues them, and then developing those interests in an educational setting.

That’s why, after Bible, Phonics, Reading, Handwriting, and Math, we have a subject I like to call “Other”. It’s very purposefully left vague so that we have the freedom to explore different topics of interest throughout the year without being restricted by a topic like “Science” or “Social Studies”. Preschool is the perfect age to explore a variety of subjects because children are like curious little sponges, always desirous of soaking up knowledge about the things that catch their eye.

The possibilities are literally endless, and depend entirely on your child’s interests and what is going on in your life at any given time. Here are some ideas of topics we’ve pursued and/or intend to pursue soon.


You can incorporate holidays into the other subjects by choosing worksheets, games, and reading materials that reflect the holiday in question. But you can also choose to focus on the holiday a little more specifically, and learn about its history and the way it’s celebrated today. For example, Thanksgiving is coming up in the next couple weeks, so we’re going to spend some time learning about the Pilgrims and Native Americans and the First Thanksgiving. We’ll read some books, do some crafts, and focus on the quality of Thankfulness over the next week and a half.
Preschool Veggie Picking Field Trip


Preschoolers are so curious about their world, and it’s a great time to take advantage of that curiosity and explore it in depth. Any number of scientific subjects can be taught at their level with field trips, books, movies, crafts, experiments, and more.

  • Animals – Kids LOVE animals. You can group animals by their habitat (farm, jungle, desert, etc.), or by their classification (mammal, bird, reptile, etc.). Or you can just start with whatever animal in particular your child loves and go from there. Your child will love to learn about things like life cycles (for example, egg-larva-caterpillar-pupa-butterfly), habitats, diets, and other aspects of the animal kingdom.
  • Weather & Seasons – We actually just wrapped up a “unit” (if you want to call it that!) about the weather and seasons, and My Certain Little Someone found it all very interesting. We learned about how the sun affects the seasons and weather, and about the water cycle. We learned about the four different seasons we experience in our hemisphere, and what kinds of weather to expect in those seasons. Since we were learning about autumn right when the season changed to autumn, we spent a good deal of time learning about why and how leaves change color, as well as some very basic scientific information about pumpkins and apples and how they grow. We also took the time to read a rather lengthy – but very interesting – book about Johnny Appleseed, which we both enjoyed very much.
  • Plants – So much can be taught and experimented with regarding the growth process of plants, especially flowering plants and those that produce fruits and vegetables. Hands-on opportunities abound with this subject, so much so that you could probably spend an entire school year focusing on this topic alone. Even if you’re not a green thumb (Hey, I understand!), you can still experiment with growing beans in a jar or planting seeds in eggshells. And if all else fails, plan a field trip to a local farm and learn about how food is grown!
  • Transportation – I don’t know about little girls, but both my boys are fascinated by any kind of transportation! Race cars, trains, plains, boats, motorcycles, trucks… you name it, they love it. We read books endlessly about them, but one of these days, I’m going to take some time to learn about some of the basic scientific aspects of how vehicles move. Like, for example, the fact that wheels are round. Or that planes have wings (and helicopters have blades). Or maybe why boats don’t sink (most of the time).


By “community”, I mean the people and institutions that make our modern world go around: firemen and fire engines, the postal service (my Certain Little Someone went through a stage where he was VERY inquisitive about how mail got from one place to the other), farmers, police officers, traffic lights, etc. Most of our education about these matters has taken place outside the context of our school time, but we’ve intentionally taken advantage of opportunities like visiting a local firehouse at their open house, and taking a ride on a train in a nearby city, or visiting local farms during special events. And, of course, we read lots of books from the library about things like garbage collectors, and construction workers, and police officers. Lots and lots. Those are pretty hot topics for little guys, apparently!

Current Events

Some of my friends took the time during this past election season to teach their little ones the very basics of the American system of government and elections. Of course, there’s not a great deal a child this age can understand, but at this point, it’s mostly about introducing a subject to open the door to later learning. Other major events could include:

  • The Olympics – History, science, math. geography, and physical education can all come into play here. My Certain Little Someone was SO fascinated by the Olympics this past summer; he even developed an interest in Michael Phelps!
  • Natural Disasters – Hurricane Sandy, anyone? This is a great time to learn about extreme weather, as well as the importance of community and service to one another. Depending on where the disaster occurs, you can also teach some geography!
  • Local Events – Perhaps there’s a bicycle race in town one weekend, and it piques your child’s interest. Or maybe an Irish festival, or the county fair. Each such event is a great opportunity to expand your child’s knowledge about his world, if you just take the time to explore it in depth a little more.

montessori preschool world


By “geography”, I mostly mean getting a taste of different cultures, and creating an awareness that there is a great big world out there outside the limited experience of your child. Preschoolers are only just beginning to understand that whole concept, and maps and globes will mean very little to them. However, they will be fascinated by the dress, food, language, and customs of different countries, and it’s fun to teach, too!

Arts, Crafts & Music

Little kids love to get crafty! And learning to use scissors, tape, glue sticks, paint brushes, markers and crayons are all important fine motor skills that need to be developed. And the crafts do NOT have to be extravagant. You’d be amazed by the simplicity that delights a child!

Music likewise does not have to be anymore complicated than listening to music or singing children’s songs. Learning about different types of instruments would be very interesting to most little learners. Hey, you can even experiment with making your own instruments!

Art can also be explored at this age. Don’t be afraid to take your child to an art museum (just don’t expect their interest to hold for TOO long!), and point out some different types of art, like sculpture versus painting for example. Children have so much fun learning about primary and secondary colors, and experimenting with mixing them in different mediums. Read a children’s book like “Katie Meets the Impressionists” or watch the short movie “Linnea in Monet’s Garden“.


It’s not as stuffy as it sounds. Truly, the English language is blessed with a bounty of beautiful children’s literature that delights, fascinates and educates. Fairy tales, folk tales, tales of imagination and fancy, rhymes and poems… the possibilities are endless. In fact, I would say that it’s impossible for any child to experience the depth of English literature available to them. A few categories or genres stick out to me as excellent ones to explore during the preschool years:

  • Mother Goose – Rhyming is an important element of pre-reading development, and will aid in better reading, writing and spelling later on. Plus, you can have a lot of fun with these (frankly, rather odd) little ditties.
  • Jan Brett – Jan Brett is my favorite current children’s author because she intentionally reaches out to her audience and engages with them. She’s got all kinds of activities on her website that you can incorporate into your schooling. Plus, her books are so full of amazingly detailed drawings and whimsical characters that it’s hard not to be drawn into the stories whether you’re a child or an adult. (Although, I will say that my DH is not fond of her books. He says they have no point. And he has a point. But I still love them!)
  • Winnie the Pooh – I am going to be very firm with you here: NOT the Disney variety. Please. I beg you. The original is superior in every way: language, art, whimsy, and even humor. Winnie the Pooh has got to be one of my favorite classics of children’s literature, and I absolutely love A.A. Milne’s writing style. It might be a bit much for 3-year-olds, but my Certain Little Someone (who is 4 now) is capable of enjoying the real thing now, which makes me very happy.
  • Beatrix Potter – As I mentioned already, kids love animals, and Beatrix Potter’s stories are replete with adorable animal characters who are very relatable to small children.

The How-To

The only question remaining is, how do you go about teaching these subjects? Thankfully, that’s pretty easy. Don’t waste your time planning out lengthy lessons that will only bore your small child. Instead, choose  one of the following activities to participate in each day on any given topic until you’ve exhausted your resources… or your child is exhausted!

  • Books – The library is where it’s at! The librarians at the children’s desk are always more than happy to help you find books on any given topic at your child’s level of understanding. Thankfully, these days, there is a picture book for just about any subject you might ever consider researching!
  • Crafts – A quick google (or Swagbucks) search will likely yield tons of craft ideas for any topic you desire. If all else fails, you are sure to find an appropriate coloring page somewhere!
  • Printable Worksheets – Likewise, workbooks, activity books and online printable worksheets abound on various topics, especially more popular ones like animals and plants.  Scholastic is a great place to start.
  • Hands-On Activities and Experiments – For some subjects, this will be easier than others, but for the vast majority, you can probably come up with simple activities yourself. For example, when we were learning about fall, I cooked up a pumpkin, then cut it in half and we looked at the cross-section of the pumpkin and talked about the different parts inside the pumpkin. And of course, we ate some yummy pumpkin stuff! Remember, it doesn’t need to be complicated.
  • Field Trips – If at all possible, go to where the real action is. Experiencing something is the best way to learn about it!

I could go on and on about ways to enhance your child’s learning by taking advantage of his or her natural curiosity… but I think you get the general idea!

Other posts in this series:

PhonicsPhonics, Part 2ReadingReading, Part 2HandwritingMathDays of the WeekBible“Other”