End of the Rope?

“I am at the end of my rope!”

“I just can’t do this anymore.”

“This isn’t working for me.”


These are statements that while some of us might not say them aloud, we have surely thought them more than once.

It can be something little that sends us “over the edge”. It might be a comment that someone makes that sends us there. It could even be well intentioned.

What are some ways to combat this feeling?

I don’t think I have the answers. I have seen the results of the feeling when you are up with a child in the night and they just won’t sleep. Or that child that refuses to eat, no matter what you put in front of them. The other one that is angry, because his dad is gone, but he is taking it out on you, because you are the one in front of him.

Then there are the more drastic things.

Your child died.

Your husband left you.

You were injured severely.

It gives us that feeling of helpless anxiety when you can’t change the reality you are in at the moment.

When you can’t go on, see what you can do.

What is something small you can do to change the situation?

Can you feed your kids? Can you give someone a hug?

Sometimes the small things make the difference!


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Shelter of the Most High Connilyn Cossette

Reviewed Martha Artyomenko




About the book:

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?

My Review:

A story set in ancient times, I found myself totally enthralled with it from the first few pages. I wanted to just keep reading, but I also didn’t want to finish because I was enjoying it so much.
I found the setting so intriguing, as well as the people, possibly ancestors from Sicily that found themselves intermarrying with the Hebrews.
This author does such a great job of weaving a tale, you will want to buy every book she writes as it comes out. I know that is my plan!

I obtained this book for review from the publisher. The opinions are my own.

You can purchase this book from any booksellers or Amazon.

Shelter of the Most High

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Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko


Book Description

Auschwitz Lullaby brings to life the story of Helene Hannemann—a woman who sacrificed everything for family and fought furiously for the children she hoped to save.

On an otherwise ordinary morning in 1943, Helene Hannemann is preparing her five children for the day when the German police arrive at her home. Helene’s worst fears come true when the police, under strict orders from the SS, demand that her children and husband, all of Romani heritage, be taken into custody. Though Helene is German and safe from the forces invading her home, she refuses to leave her family—sealing her fate in a way she never could have imagined.

After a terrifying trek across the continent, Helene and her family arrive at Auschwitz and are thrown into the chaos of the camp. Her husband, Johann, is separated from them, but Helene remains fiercely protective of her children and those around her. When the powers-that-be discover that Helene is not only a German but also a trained nurse, she is forced into service at the camp hospital, which is overseen by the notorious Dr. Mengele himself.

Helene is under no illusions in terms of Dr. Mengele’s intentions, but she agrees to cooperate when he asks her to organize a day care and school for the Romani children in the camp. Though physically and emotionally brutalized by the conditions at Auschwitz, Helene musters the strength to protect the children in her care at any cost. Through sheer force of will, Helene provides a haven for the children of Auschwitz—an act of kindness and selflessness so great that it illuminates the darkest night of human history.

Based on a true story, Mario Escobar’s Auschwitz Lullaby demonstrates the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity—even when all hope seems lost.

My Review:

While this story breaks a lot of the rules of what a successful book must have, it truly is an incredible story based on truth, to give us insight into the experiences of people inside the camps. It is successful in its own right because of that!

I found it especially heart-wrenching as you see so clearly that the guards, doctors and others didn’t really believe they were doing anything wrong. In fact, they believed they were doing right. It reminded me of many of things I see in our society today, where people defend treating others with inhumane treatment simply because others agree with it.

While not really a book to read for a happily ever after story, it shows the bravery of those that went before us and teaches such valuable lessons. I would say even if you are one that likes to pretend bad things do not happen, this is such a valuable piece of history, while being an easier read than some placed in this time period, I would recommend it.

 I review for BookLook Bloggers

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The Passion of Life

What is your passion?

I was asked this question yesterday. I almost didn’t hesitate in my response, as I answered what I love to do.

However, as I thought about it more in the quiet moments of my work hours, I realized I had not answered correctly.

What am I passionate about?

My life has been filled with many wonderful things. It has also been filled with many moments of pain.  In both of those times, I have found that my passions became small and at times, I could not even articulate what I enjoyed, let alone had any type of passion. That sounds really bad. It does, because it was really bad. I will spare you the details.

So, what did I discover was my passion?

I have many things that I enjoy. I love literature. I love reading. I enjoy writing. I thrive on visiting bookstores, discussing books and living through the experiences of others to educate and learn.

So while I said that my passion is reading and writing, I realized that in truth it more about the passion of learning and helping others not only desire to learn, but to enjoy experiencing the process. This extends far beyond just fiction, which is a big love of mine. It extends to childbirth, to education, and the reason I write on Quora. 


It is why I love volunteering my time when I don’t have extra time to give.  It is why I seek to offer service in many ways on a weekly basis for education and building the community.

It is why I am there for my kids even when it is hard to get everything done.


I believe that if I want to complain about the abuses in life, I need to do something about it, to change it on the most basic levels. It means starting with the small people that get overlooked in every aspect of my life.

It also means I get a bit worn out at times. Sometimes you feel like a superhero, but most of the time, you feel like the gum stuck on someone’s shoe. You might have been good at one time, but now you are nothing more than something to be scraped into the garbage.

So, how can you combine your passion with your work? How can you prevent yourself from being swallowed up by your passion until you are too tired to follow it anymore?

For me, I am finding that step by step, setting some good guidelines for yourself to follow is so important. If there are not guidelines in life, we fail.

-Make a plan

-Don’t try to be the savior for everyone, let others help out as well

-Watch out for the “White knight syndrome”.

-Realize that it is okay to fail sometimes

-Follow your passions, but make sure you don’t let them drive you. Always realize it is okay to make a U-Turn.

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The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



I obtained this book from NetGalley. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Homeschool Enrichment Classes

For the past few weeks, I have been very busy. My life has taken some major turns and twists, but I am keeping it full.

One of my life challenges was to teach enrichment classes to other homeschoolers! It has been a fun challenge and I have really enjoyed it.


In the middle of the first class day, my aunt dropped off boxes of books for me to sell. I have sold a few boxes, but still have several to get out of my living room.

Below, we learned the Chemistry of fat by demonstrating it with making butter cookies, as well as the importance of following a recipe carefully. Messing up the order your ingredients are mixed can change the chemical makeup of your dough. We are loving using Guest Hollow’s Kitchen Chemistry.


I am also teaching an American history through fiction class. Last week, we had skits acting out some of what we had learned.

I am also teaching an outdoor PE class with yard games to a large group of children. That gets rather exciting and I get a little exercise too. I am thankful to have some helpers.

We started out with some stretches to warm up and end usually with Duck, duck goose as everyone is a bit tired!

We have read Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow already and will be moving on to “Sarah’s Land” by Ann Rinaldi in the next section. I am working to come up with fun, hands on activities that really cement American history into their minds during the hour I have. Last week, besides the skit, we examined documents from the time period and tried to relate to the authors of them.

In all the changes that take place, it is always good to know that perhaps you can share your talent!

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History Through Fiction

Seems backwards, right?


Fiction is fiction. History is the story of what happened in the past. The two should not cross.

Yet, every homeschool teacher will tell you as they look at curriculums like Sonlight, My Father’s World, Beautiful Feet, Winter Promise, and so many others that their children learned history best by reading fictional books about historical happenings.

Can you teach history using fiction? I would say the answer is a resounding “YES!”

This year I am teaching a supplemental class learning history through fiction. We are concentrating on American history. I find myself as I am wrapped up in the planning, more and more excited about the books we have to read, and wishing there was more time in the year.

I was thinking, if my voice was not so annoying and pipsqueaky like, that I would love to visit and talk on something like a You Tube channel about my favorite books. However, I am sure my voice would so annoy people, that I thought maybe instead that a series of photos, reviews and maybe short clips would be better.

Which would you rather see?

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Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanna Bischof

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko



My Review:

I know that when I pick up a book by Joanne Bischof, to expect something different.
This one did surprise me a little still. I loved the fact that one of the main characters was deaf. I felt for him with his struggles through the book.
The food descriptions will make you crave the recipes and send up signals begging for biscuits, apple butter and berry pies. But overall, this book, like this authors others, don’t expect everything to be cut, dry and over the top romantic. The characters have pain, struggle in their relationships and have to seek to get through hard trials.
Romantic? Yes, I guess you could say there are romantic moments in the story, but it is not the main focus.
This book touches on some of the social injustices of the time period as well. It is well written and one that will leave you thinking!

This book is available on kindle, audio and in print from Amazon.

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain” 

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Giveaway! The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham


Want a chance to win a copy of this book that just came out in July?


Read the following interview to find out how!

Everyone has a story but not everyone has a story like Em. Before ever riding the orphan trains she endured life on the streets of New York. Hardened by a life of survival she expects little from her future and only dreams of reuniting with her sister. Life for women in 1881 is restrictive in many ways but to be a woman that is plain and uneducated is far worse. But Em has grit and heart, two ingredients that combined with kindness allow Em to blossom.

A gunshot wound is her ticket to freedom. Broken and grasping for life she enters the town of Azure Springs, Iowa where for the first time in many years she is greeted with friendliness and compassion. But a soul that has been beaten down for so long does not recover all at once. Her journey to happily ever after is marred with pain from the past, uncertainty and hardship.

We all have character strengths and though she believes her only strength is her ability to survive readers will discover that her strengths are many. Em touches the lives of the townsfolks at the same time they are reaching out to her. Their eccentricities excite and awake her to living and not just surviving. With their help the bedraggled Em learns to smile again.

For the first time the illiterate and unwanted Em begins to believe that there might be more for her. Books and letters free her mind. The kindness of the townsfolk awaken her dreams but can the tenderness of the sheriff free her heart?

Pick up a copy of The Hope of Azure Springs to join Em on her journey! Leave a comment answering the following question on this post to enter the drawing as well.

Has foster care or adoption impacted your life at all? If so, how?

Visit Rachel Fordham at Facebook.com/rachelfordhamfans
And at Rachelfordham.com


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The Truly Important things of life…

What is truly important to you?


Is it your job, your house, your kids, your family?

What do you hold in highest regard?

I do a lot of observing of other people. I see families that are close to one another, but seek to portray absolute perfection to others. I see other families that show their flaws, are open about their shortcomings, and don’t let it stop them from seeking to be better. I see those that spend time with others as well.

This last month my grandmother was ill, and passed away in the middle of the month. The funeral was last weekend. I spent several hours sitting by her bedside. I was reading or just observing, sometimes visiting with other family which she said made her happy. It took more emotional strain to know that she may not have long with us, but in the end,  the time was worth giving up. I left my meetings, my garden, my children, all things that were important to me to spend time.

We live in a time of culture where spending time is anomaly. We push achievements. If someone fails, we badmouth them or avoid them. We don’t seek for change and success.

Instead I see people focused on the latest fad or diet. Everyone has kids, little ones that are not eating normal diets. In fact, if someone does not have a million food restrictions they are the unusual ones. It is totally a first world issue, and most of the time science is not being used in these many food restrictions. But it does appear to help some people. But again, I noticed that this can limit the time those people spend with others. Their time is spent cooking, avoiding others that eat foods that they cannot eat, and working hard to just focus on what they can eat. The social isolation of people, down to young children is tremendous right now. Or if you eat normally, you feel odd that you can eat a slice of bread and cheese.

If you are someone that has to restrict your food choices, make a conscious effort to not isolate yourselves. Work to have an alternative food so that you can join in social activities occasionally. If you are introverted by nature, it can be easier to just isolate.

I realized though, the gift that others bring into our lives is something we should cherish. We may not realize how little time we have left with them. A 23 year old young woman died this last week, and another person lost their 28 year old cousin. While my grandmother lived a long full life, it still did not seem long enough.

You never know when you will lose someone. If you can spend time, do it. It may mean picking berries alongside them or unpacking boxes for a friend. It doesn’t always have to involve talking. =)


Who can you connect with this week?

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