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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reading through 2018


I started writing this our first week back to school when the sun had come out, the skies were blue, and we were mostly back to our routine - it was lovely. But the sky turned gray again, I got a bit overwhelmed with some kid-related stuff and didn't get a chance to finish this post. So I'm going to file this (along with many many other things recently) under "better late than never".

During the break, I had some time to look back over what I shared on Instagram and one of the things that brought me a lot of joy was sharing what I was reading. I shared more in my stories then I did in my posts but I shared at least one book every month. It is a habit I'm sure I'll be continuing.

Here are my favorite reads of 2018

Non-Fiction:

Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
I heard that this book was in tons of top 10 lists for 2018. It was Amazon's #1 book of the year - and for good reason. This wasn't just an over-hyped mega-seller, this was a really good book. I have heard that some people really loved it because it was a true story. I loved it because it was well-written, the pace was good, the tone is amazing. It's about Tara's life growing up with her religious fundamentalist extremist parents. Her education at home was completely neglected, she was used as child labor, she was abused by her brother and yet she treats this whole story with love and grace. She doesn't rant against a system or, for the most part, a person. She isn't trying to push for any kind of reform or legislation. She is just sharing her story. You can tell she has done a lot of work to forgive her family. In my opinion, it falls apart towards the end, and I felt a bit of bitterness creep in about some things that happened towards the end of the story. But overall I enjoyed this book a lot and it was one of the few that I finished.

I call this genre "horror memoir" and it seemed to be really popular this year. In this genre, the story starts with a strange but true childhood and usually ends with something in the neighborhood of happily ever after. I started reading a few and this one was my favorite. This book has been compared to Glass Castle which was recently made into a movie (which I loved and is now available on Amazon Prime) I also felt a lot of the same themes were in the novel The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. If you liked this book you may enjoy the memoir All The Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth which was written from a Christian perspective.

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
I received this as a Christmas present at the end of 2017 and it was my first book of 2018. It felt very much an "of the moment" kind of book - referenced a lot of hot topics, like the NRA and such. Not quite as much of a game-changer for me personally as "Rising Strong" but still very good. In her books, I see my biggest weaknesses and greatest strengths at the same time, and that is no small thing. I really want to read her next book Dare to Lead. If you have not read anything by Brene Brown I highly recommend that you just start, somewhere anywhere. My favorite is Rising Strong, others prefer to start with The Gifts of Imperfection.

Not Becoming My Mother - and other things she taught me along the way by Ruth Reichl
I read this little book in one long nap time and I enjoyed it so very much. It is the story of Ruth Reichl's mother and grandmother as an example of the bored, stifled, educated women. I felt like I could relate to so much of what these women felt. The bored housewife has become a cliche for a reason - and this book demystified it for me and put words to some vague feelings I have had over the years. It's been re-published as "For You, Mom, Finally".

Hourglass: Time, Memory Marriage by Dani Shapiro
I started reading a couple of other books in the short-memoir genre this year and this one was my favorite. I loved the feel of the whole thing. It's like a long, non-linear conversation with a dear middle-aged friend. You chat about writing, and listen to what it has been like for her to be a writer married to a writer with all of the ups and downs, successes, flops and the hope in between. This book is a peek into her home life and the light and shadow of happiness and sorrow, fear and bravery, strength and frailty of it all. If you liked "This is the story of a happy marriage" by Ann Patchett I think you'll love this one too.

Tell Me More - stories about the 12 hardest things I'm learning to say by Kelly Corrigan
This is one of my favorite books of this year. Of all of the books I'll be recommending on into the next ten years this is one of them. She writes about life and loss and the things she's been learning along the way using phrases that she has picked up like "tell me more" or "I don't know" "I was wrong" and also the power of not saying anything at all. She shares about her father's and her dear friend's illness and death and what she learned about love through that whole long season of grief. The essays are short and honest and I really really loved nearly every one of them.

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
I read some of this and it has been very good at helping me understand some of the why behind my kid's behavior. I feel like I've opened a new doorway into understanding my kids - and there is so much more for me to learn. Daniel Siegel has also written "No Drama Discipline" "Brainstorm" about the teenage brain and "The Yes Brain" just to name a few.

Religious Non-Fiction:


The Most Beautiful Thing I've Ever Seen by Lisa Gungor
I wrote in my Instagram review of this book that it seems like my generation struggles a lot with questions of faith and that the response to these questions tends to lean either in the direction of certainty or in the direction of doubt - sometimes to an extreme on both ends. This story of deconstruction and reconstruction is just beautiful. I loved the way that it is written with artistry and compassion and self-revelation. I didn't feel preached at. I didn't feel like I was being sold something, an idea even. But I did feel more of the deep corners of my own story of doubt and deconstruction and loss and fear. I felt so very much a part of the growing gathering in the wilderness and it is beautiful. Her story was shared in a super clickbaity way by BuzzFeed that misrepresented her story and created some (unhelpful) controversial buzz around her book. I think whichever way you personally respond to your questions - either with certainty or with doubt - you'll find a helpful story in this memoir.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin
This book changed my life. In the way that the change of a quarter inch of trajectory eventually lands you in a completely different place. She's speaking right there into the space of the importance of small and ordinary and I loved it. Now I need to read the book she wrote before this one Falling Free. 

Everybody Always by Bob Goff
I won this in a giveaway on Instagram and I am so glad that I did! This is the first book I've read by Bob Goff and, to be honest, there were moments when I struggled with the extreme difference in personality between Bob Goff and myself (I was feeling pretty annoyed). But, overall I loved it. There were so many good chapters that I feel like I will re-read pretty soon.

Remember God by Annie F Downs
I've been following Annie for awhile now, and I was on the launch team for her book "Looking for Lovely" so I was pretty much going to read whatever Annie decided to write. This one was so good. I am thinking about re-reading it again already, it touched some deep and tender places in my heart. I still am not sure what I think about it and it has been a couple of months since I read it. This is what I'll say about it though - it is really honest in a way that we need in more of our Christians Women's Non-Fiction. Do yourself a favor - buy a copy and find out for yourself.

Preach to Yourself by Hayley Morgan
This one may end up in my favorites of 2019 too since I am in the middle of it, but I'm going ahead and including it in this list too since it has been just so good. We all need to honestly examine what we really believe and what we just say we believe but really don't. This book has been really helpful to me and I will for sure be recommending it this year.

Fiction:

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marissa de los Santos
This is one of my favorite novels of 2018 - it's about a woman who cancels her wedding on the day-of, after a conversation with an odd old lady - who ends up gifting her with her house! A house that no one has lived in for years and years, so obviously there's a mystery. If you like the fiction I tend to recommend, on the light and innocent side, you are going to love this one. I read it towards the beginning of 2018 and I was telling anyone who was asking for fiction recommendations to get this one. I loved the Narnia references, and while I'm typically not a fan of the multiple storylines style of novel I felt like it really worked in this one. The best friend/crush scenario worked really well for me as well, it is romantic and sentimental and right in my sweet spot. There is another novel by this author with the same cast of characters called Love Walked In I checked it out of the library three times and just could not get into it, however some of my friends liked it even better than I'll Be Your Blue Sky.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Luise Miller
It's about a young woman who escapes a fiasco in the city by taking a job baking at a small inn in Vermont. I was not too sure I was going to like this novel at first, but I had some time and so I gave it a chance. I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. It was, for the most part, a light, romantic read. I enjoyed the baking aspect and the building relationships between the main character and some of the supporting characters. If you enjoyed this book you might like The Patron Saint of Liars there are some similar themes (baking!) and the vibe felt similar to me. There is a follow-up book in the same small town in Vermont called The Late Bloomers Club. I share my thoughts about it farther down.

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood
Another book about a young woman escaping a life that she doesn't really want and finding a life that she does, this time in the wild and windy Upper Peninsula of Michigan. While I wouldn't say that this was my favorite novel of the year, it was definitely a light, quick, enjoyable read.

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
I had seen a good bit on Bookstagram about this, so I requested it from the library and once I started reading it was totally hooked. It's a YA novel about a girl in a fundamentalist church who is trying to escape her family and her abusive brother. The only problem is that her family has been the subject of one of the longest running reality TV series of all time. It is suspenseful, heartbreaking, and in the end, redeeming. I read it really quickly.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han
You can blame Netflix. You can blame my teenage daughter. You can blame Bookstagram friends. But really you'll have to blame my inner 13-year old for loving this series as much as I did. I wrote a review over on my woefully neglected fiction page.

Honorable mentions:


At the beginning of the year, I read Ready Player One and also Armada by Ernest Cline. Daniel and I saw the movie in the theater and really enjoyed it. If you liked the movie you'll probably enjoy reading this book too since pretty much every single plot point was different between the two. It was a bit adolescent male but I enjoyed it for what it was.

I read the new-release The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller (author of City Baker's Guide to Country Living) and I enjoyed it but I felt like it was not as good as the former book and it did not take advantage of the world and characters that were built and established in the first novel. Overall, underwhelming and yet, also enjoyable.


Fiction that I didn't finish:

There were plenty of novels I started but didn't finish (I'm looking at you Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) I'm not going to list them all here, just a couple that I feel are worth mentioning:

A Man Called Ove -  So this one has got more adult language and triggering topics than I usually read but the style got me. No wonder this series is such a phenomenon. What I read I thoroughly enjoyed. I checked the movie out of the library to see how it ended.

Unsheltered - Barbara Kingslover
I have to preface this by saying that I still consider "The Poisonwood Bible" to be my favorite novel of all time. I checked out Unsheltered from the library but didn't get through it in the week I had it and so I didn't finish it.  I found most of the characters only mildly likable and I struggled to see where this whole thing was going and got muddled a bit with the multiple plots in multiple time periods. Overall, I enjoyed what I read but I realized that I like to read novels that I can get through quickly and this was not one of them.

The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah
I read this during the winter in early 2019, mostly in the bathtub. It was lovely. But the pace is so slow. Another testament to the truth that I like to read short, fast-paced novels at the moment. One day I will have more time to read and one day I will luxuriate in novels like this one. It's about a girl, her mom and her dad who is suffering from PTSD and who decides to move them out to the wilderness of Alaska.

Books I didn't get to this year that are still on my TBR list:

TBR= To Be Read. The list is so long y'all. So very very long. Here are a few that I really wanted to read but didn't get to for one reason or another:

Dare to Lead - Brene Brown
The Four Tendencies - Gretchen Ruben
Everything Happens For a Reason (and other lies I've loved) - Kate Bowler
It's Not Supposed to Be This Way - Lysa Terkyrst
Infreakferitility - Melanie Dale
Finding Holy In the Suburbs - Ashley Hales

A few trends things I noticed about my reading this year:

More non-fiction. 
While I read non-fiction every year, some years are lighter than others. Looking back over this list I am happy with the number of non-fiction books I read. It shows me that I had more mental capacity this year than last!

Less Christian Women's non-fiction.
At the beginning of 2017, when I decided to start reviewing books on my blog and posting more intentionally about what I was reading on social media, I quickly realized that I was going to have to narrow my genre. I simply could not read and review every book that interested me in every genre. So I limited my review requests to primarily Christian Women's non-fiction (non-fiction books about Christian faith/spirituality written by women. Often listed as Christian Living/Women's Issues). I read and reviewed a lot of Christian Women's non-fiction and helped with several book launches in 2017 which was wonderful. I got to see behind the scenes of the book publishing industry a little bit more. I began some relationships both with authors and with book reviewers that I hope will continue. In 2018 I only helped launch a couple of books and it was a nice change of pace. It was an intentional choice as I was getting ready to launch my own book, I also got to read more of what I wanted to read and felt a little bit less pressure to read only what was just coming out.

A few goals for next year:

Are you still reading? We must be best friends or something. I think this blog post is going to get my own personal award for longest blog post between the dates of January 2018 and January 2019. But, since you're here...

More backlist titles
In 2019 I plan to read fewer new releases and more of the titles I've been meaning to read and haven't gotten to yet. There are so many new releases coming out all of the time it is hard to keep up with it! I also want to re-read some favorites. When you are constantly trying to read all of the newest titles there is a lot of urgency, and therefore anxiety, around reading and that is not how I want to feel about reading, so yay for not keeping up!

More diversity
One of the things I noticed, as I compared what I read to what some of the people I follow read, is that they were much more intentional about seeking out more diverse authors. One of the benefits of reading is that we get to see the world through someone else's eyes and so making an effort to widen the circle of authors we're reading is super-valuable. I'm also wanting to be more intentional about reading more widely as far as depth, style, and genre - especially more poetry this year.

More blog reviews
I really do enjoy blogging a lot, even if it is tricky to find the right kind of time to get these written. I want to blog more book reviews and try to keep up with my read-watch-listen posts. I've started keeping better notes in my bullet journal so I'm hoping that helps!

More tracking
This year I want to do a better job of recording what I read - what I abandoned, what was okay, what I loved! I'm using the Goodreads app on my phone and so far that has helped. I'm also jotting things down in my bullet journal as I go.

More books on writing
I wrote my first book this year. I'm proud of the fact that I did that, that I put myself out there in that way and shared my story the way that I did. But I know that my writing could be a lot stronger. I didn't read any books specifically about writing this year because while I was in the middle of writing my weird brand of perfectionism was raging. 

Well, that's all for now folks! If you have any questions about any of the titles or want to chat about a book we both read please do not hesitate to send me an email or a direct message on social media.



Thank you for reading my blog posts. The purpose of the links in this post is so that you can easily see the product I'm referencing. Some of the links as affiliate links. If you make a purchase using this link I make a small commission and you pay the same price. I hope that this post inspires you to read more - even if you are requesting your books from the library! 




Monday, January 14, 2019

My Word for 2019: Discipline



I have chosen a one word for the year for the last few years. I chose the word brave for 2015-2016, which I blogged about quite extensively, and delight was my word for 2017-2018. I didn't choose a new word in 2018 because I felt like 2018 was side B to 2017 and I had only just gotten used to it being 2018 when we turned the corner into fall. All four of those years were nothing like what I thought they would be. Each of those years had been their own flavor of very hard and with a heaping dose of it wasn't supposed to be like this. And so, in an act of rebellion, I'd decided to give up on the practice of praying for a word for the New Year, at least for this year, when suddenly this one word just suddenly dropped into my heart one morning and clicked into place - and so I have a word for the year - and it is discipline.

Here is what I mean by the word discipline - for one thing, I mean adopting practices (especially spiritual ones) that bring strength, and also noticing and changing my heart posture to bring joy. Discipline - practices, and postures that bring strength and joy. This is my word for the year.

I grew up using the vocabulary of "spiritual disciplines" but I've started reading some books about ancient "spiritual practices" and the mentality seems to be different - I'm still new at this and it's hard for me to articulate the difference - but after a long season of re-learning how to think about and practice my spirituality/faith it feels good to also be re-learning the spiritual disciplines/practices of a more mature faith.

One of the practices that Daniel & I adopted last year was the weekly date night. We go out every week, no matter what. Some nights it has been dinner and a movie, some nights we just drive around and listen to a podcast. Some nights I have not wanted to go - I've felt numb and foggy, or I've felt raw and fragile and I just want to hide in my comfy spot on the couch. But over these last months of weekly date night, we have accumulated an emotional reservoir that has been worth it. Not every date has been memorable, we don't always have intense emotional conversations or feel a deep connection on every date, but we spend the time together, and we catch up with each other, and we have received what only spending quantity time together can offer a relationship.

I want more of these practices in my life.


I learned about the value of noticing and adjusting my heart posture at the beginning of the school year. I was reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places in car line every day, where I was feeling a lot of big feelings. Mostly hating car line and the nearly two hours in the car every day. It was wearing me down and there were days I'd literally be crying because I was so frustrated and exhausted with this. There were a couple of things I could do about this - I could take my kiddo out of the charter school he was loving and have him ride the bus (and I honestly did think about this) or I could change my attitude towards car line. So I started making "rules" for the car line: this was my time when I did not do anything I "had" to do in car line, I only did things I wanted to do, or that brought me joy. Mostly that has been reading. Occasionally I spend that time emptying out my inbox or scrolling through Instagram and I've used that time to work on my next project. Grayson spends that time napping (happy toddler= happy life) and Eli spends that time reading quietly. We have experimented with bringing his electronics into that time but mostly that has backfired. Now, as we turn the corner into the second half of the school year car line has become my favorite time of day. Sometimes I find myself looking forward to that time and rushing towards it because I know that I can finally get some peace and quiet and do some reading and Bible Study.

One of the things I've started noticing my heart posture has been about feeding my family - that it's been mostly resentment, exhaustion, and burn-out. I don't like having to pick what we eat, and I don't like the time I spend in the kitchen. Often I feel scatter-brained, and bored in the kitchen and rush through. I love good food but I hate eating. I resent the fact that I have to eat every single day and I suppress feelings of hunger with coffee. I seriously dislike all of the decisions that are around food, and all of the divided opinions around the subject of nutrition. But I also have three teenage daughters and we all are working on making healthy choices about food. So I am trying to remember that these ordinary places are holy ground and I have started listening to podcasts while I prepare dinner. I put one air-pod in since I can't hear the audio well enough with just my phone's speaker over running water, sizzling onions, and whatnot but I also don't like to completely block out what is going on in the other room because I depend on being able to hear the kids more than see them when I'm in the kitchen.  I choose short, mostly light-hearted podcasts that I don't mind pausing often and it is lovely. I have even found myself looking forward to making dinner because I enjoy that time so much more. Change of posture brings tweaks of behavior and changes the way the whole thing feels.

I want more of that.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Weekend recap vol 4

This week has been exhausting.

DSC_1812

My daughter took this photo of me yesterday and I really love it.


What I've been thinking:

This week was my brother's birthday. In the years since he died, I expected that the loss would grow easier. Instead, it's been harder. I have been grieving for all of the things he missed in all of the years he has been gone. I found myself wanting to rush through the grief - like it was a lake I had to cross -and I wanted to speed-boat my way across the lake. I wanted to say to myself "self, I will give you one day to be sad about this but tomorrow you've got to move on." Yeah, that totally didn't work. Instead, I had to simply let myself be sad for as long as I was sad. I had to go more slowly and work harder to be gentle. Eventually, the week got better. I feel better and ready to move forward.

What I've been reading:

I'm still reading my pre-release copy of The Ministry of Ordinary Places and I don't want it to end. It's been so good. So challenging to my ideas about poverty and privilege. It's exposing my discontentment, insecurity, and big fears.  It's been one of my favorite books of this year so far in the women's Christian living category. Check out the pre-order gifts and download the first chapter here.

A Man Called Ove - has surprised me with how much I have enjoyed it. I'm late to the party on this one but I can see why these novels are so beloved. It's unlike anything I've usually read. It's hard to describe. I love how simple the writing is. Sensitivity warnings: it's got quite a bit more language than what I usually read or recommend, however, I feel like it's consistent with the character and I haven't found it offensive though I feel like some readers will. Also, one of the main themes of the book is the main character plotting his suicide. So far each attempt has been thwarted and my general feeling about this story is that he will rediscover his desire to be alive, but I could be wrong. I'm still only 1/3 of the way through it.

What I've been listening to:

Lady Antebellum's new album Heartbreak. Blame it on Annie Downs mentioning them (again) on Instagram and a piece of my heart that never moved on from my love for country/pop music. This album has been so fun to listen to and I especially love the song Big Love In a Small Town. Especially since they are from my "small town" and while some of the details of the song are countryfied it's still so heart-wrenching.
Most of the week I've been listening to Sleeping at Last's collection of songs based on the Enneagram types. I've also been listening to their album "The Spring"
I've also been throwing it way back with a little bit of Simon & Garfunkel. My favorite album is "Parsley Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" mostly because it's the album my dad played when I was little.

Self-Care:

This week I've been taking care of myself by buying pre-packaged salads and smoothies -  I could make them, I know, but sometimes a good choice is better than nothing.
I've also been enjoying the #10thingstotellyou Instagram challenge.


Sometimes these posts will include affiliate links. Sometimes they won't. The purpose of the links is so that you can quickly and easily find the products I'm referring to and add them to your lists. If you happen to click an affiliate link and make a purchase I get a few cents in commission. I'm supposed to let you know that ;)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

weekend re-cap vol 3


Hello lovely friend,

Thank you for taking a moment to pop into my little corner of the big wide internet. I really do appreciate you.

So this week things went very differently than how I expected them to go. My husband had to go out of town suddenly on Sunday and has been in and out of town. This will possibly be the new normal for awhile and there's nothing really that I can do other than hold down the fort and be a good listener. This has been surprisingly exhausting emotionally.  So I'm over here a bit like an exposed nerve, all big feelings, and raw emotions.




What I have been reading 


I have done very little reading. I hated all of the novels I checked out. I have a couple of books that I need to finish up to review, but my inner rebel is fighting hard against my demanding/accommodating side. That being said. I have no books to recommend this week. Sorry.


What I have been listening to 

Today it was Annie Downs podcast "That Sounds Fun" interview with Jonathan Merrit and it had me in tears. I listened to it this evening as I made dinner, and I was laughing, crying and nodding along the whole way through. Now I need to read his new book.  (Speaking of new books you can also pre-order Annie's new book and get a code for a FREE audiobook.) While we're on the topic of books to pre-order (or is it only me?) you can pre-order a copy of Hayley Morgan's new book Preach to Yourself is available for pre-order and her pre-order bonuses look amazing. You can also download her free devotional Pennies are for Wishing - trade your shiny faith for real spiritual riches.

I started listening to the podcast From the Front Porch and if you are a book nerd like me you probably already listen to this one, but on the off chance that you don't go try it out. I loved their episode about PG lit because that is very much in my lane.

I have mostly been listening to my "Confessions of a Roadkill Christian" playlist this week which contains an awful lot of throwback tunes like "Held" by Natalie Grant and "I Am" by Nicole Nordman. I even threw it way back and added "Somewhere In the World" by Wayne Watson. I cry just about every time I hear that song now.


Instagram's "sponsored post" algorithms got me, and I am so here for it. They found my weakness - trailers for artsy movies. I got so many good ones in my feed last weekend. One of my favorite lines from the trailer for the upcoming movie "The Favourite" is this one: "I am on my side" I've added it to the stock pot on the back burner of my mind and am still sorting out if I love this line or hate it. I'm kind of thinking I love it because as someone with a generally peaceful (aka passive) personality being on my own side is something I don't always practice well.


In book news: 

Okay, I know that in Vol 1 of my weekend re-cap I said that I was not going to share book news in this space. I meant what I said at the time. Today I have just a tiny bit of book news.

I feel a bit like the boy who cried wolf. I have said "it's done!" so many times before. But the files are off at Amazon waiting to be reviewed and it is possible that my book will be ready to purchase within the week. We'll see. If you want the BIG NEWS of when my book is finally ready to order you want to sign up for my newsletter.



I pretty much want to just push the book into somebody's hands and say "this isn't mine anymore" and go hide under a rock. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart - that is for sure. Neither is memoir-writing. It's just so very deeply personal and at the moment I am so very aware of how imperfect my book is. I wish I could have told my story more vividly, with more detail. I wish I had been maybe less preachy. If you'd like to preview the first couple of chapters you can click here and get a preview of my book. And if you are praying for me and my book at all please pray for me as I tackle the study guide that I've been trying to write since, like last November. If you feel like being my guinea pig and looking through the study guide for me and giving some feedback - DM me and I'll send you a file ASAP.



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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Weekend re-cap: vol 2

Welcome to weekend re-cap vol 2. Where I attempt to leave little bread-crumbs of encouraging thoughts and book recommendations...


This week began with a long weekendand celebrating Grayson’s 3rd birthday. I went into labor with him, ironically enough, on Labor Day and it felt so fun to celebrate his birthday on Labor Day, (even if his actual birth-date isn’t till later in the week). We were given tickets to a small water park called “Splash in the Boro” in Statesboro, GA and it was a magnificent day. The park was just small enough that I felt confident that no one was going to get lost, and Daniel and I were tag teaming like pros. Everyone was happy. I went on exactly one ride and screamed involuntarily the entire time. I’m glad I tried, but I loved sitting with Grayson at the splash pad in his six inches of water and being an anchor to my family.

When we were discussing going to the water park I mentioned to Daniel that it might not be a good idea because we were heading into the weekend pretty worn out and I worried that it might be too much to have a big fun day in the sun. While I’m super glad we went, I feel like I was right about the exhaustion levels at the house.

This week I have had moments of feeling super frustrated with myself because of how exhausted I have been. Like I just want to roll my eyes at myself and be all like “really? Really. You need an entire week to recover? What is wrong with you?” I wrote a whole book (albeit a short one) on shame. Yet I still find myself shaming myself. But the answer comes like a gentle, fierce mother “nothing is wrong with you or your need for extra rest. This is how you are and how you are is fine.” 

What I’ve been thinking... 

Changing my posture towards the ordinary moments of my day. 

Last week I found myself practically in tears over the agony of car-line and I began to pray that God would give me grace, wisdom, revelation and strategy for this season of my life to know how to transform those moments into something life-giving rather that life-draining.

Yesterday as I began looking around the corner of my day I found myself looking forward to getting into car line. Grayson has been napping, Eli has been reading quietly. I read a book or catch up on emails or even just scroll through Instagram. It’s quiet, it’s calm and it is becoming one of my favorite moments in the day. I haven’t changed a lot or practiced this “change of posture” perfectly. But the little change has made a big difference.

I’ve been trying to put into practice a habit of writing down what I do to take care of myself. It might be eating an apple or sitting outside in the morning. Simply writing it down is helping me see the little golden pockets of goodness in the middle of the mess and making a list about what is going well in my life is a much better list than everything that has gone wrong today.
What I’m reading:
The Ministry of Ordinary Places - I have been reading this in all of the little pockets of time and this book feels like something that is doing something deep and beautiful down deep in who I am. It's been so good so far. I'll write a full review when it comes out. You can give a gift to your future-self and pre-order it on Amazon.

Speaking of pre-orders there is a new book coming out from Annie Downs called Remember God and I can not wait to read it.

I just got a big stack of Library holds from the library so prepare yourself - next week my reading section is either going to be epic, or empty because I will not have been able to make a decision on what to read first.

What I’m watching: 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor - watched this documentary with Daniel and it brought back all kinds of childhood memories. I grew up watching Mr Rogers Neighborhood every day and I literally cried when the movie was over. It brought up all of the good memories from the best part of my young life. It made me re-think what I’m allowing to influence my children, especially what they watch, and it reaffirmed the difference that just one person can make.

The Great British Baking Show - I've been watching this on Netflix after we get home from car-pool and before I head into dinner-prep mode (or at night before bed) and it is just my speed. It touches on my inner anglophile and is a kind, quiet, human-drama driven show. Plus, baking. Yesteday I got bought some bread flour and dry yeast and could barely even make decent dinner rolls... I did initially really miss the original hosts, however now that I’m nearing the end of the show I love the quirky personalities of the new hosts and, of course, am 100% personally invested in the outcome of this next bake.

What I’m listening to: 

Lauren Daigle - I’ve been listening to her single “You Say” for weeks and finally got to listen to her new album. It reminds me a lot of Adele in all the best ways.
Sleeping at Last  album "The Spring". It's been on repeat all week long.


Favorite Instas: 

The comments on this post were just wonderful






Dear People going through things which you cannot share, 〰️ You are NOT alone. 〰️ Don’t be deceived by the shiny posts you are scrolling past. A put together picture does not mean a perfect life. So many are struggling under a crushing weight—even those with shiny looking lives. It’s tricky territory because these days, in these spaces, we share so much. We are authentic + vulnerable (buzz words, after all). However, there is a good chance that there are portions of our story in which we cannot share. Because . . . our stories are never our own. Some of you are struggling with someone else’s story because it affects you greatly, because you love deeply (yet it is not your’s to tell). 〰️ When we go through immense stress or crisis or circumstances that we cannot share it can feel very isolating. Like the whole world is still spinning and carrying on as usual, but for you it has titled, off axis, and you wonder if anyone even notices. 〰️ If this doesn’t make sense, then it won’t. But for some of you it will make great sense and I just want to tell you today that you are not alone. I notice. I may not personally know you or know your story, but I recognize that your world has shifted. I empathize with your pain and the hard work you are putting in to process the pain and become a stronger person. 〰️ You are meant to become stronger. Not shinier. 〰️ There is nothing wrong with shiny. I love shiny. I post a good amount of shiny photos. Beauty, in many forms, has helped to heal my broken-heart. Beauty, after-all, is what God offered us at the beginning. 〰️ But shiny is not the goal or the marker that tells us we are doing well or that life is normal, as it should be. The older I get the more I realize that life is not normal. My goal is no longer to appear normal or shiny but rather to have a healthy heart and become stronger than I was the day before. Strong people aren’t concerned about appearing shiny. The are concerned about being a light to the broken—noticing them, calling out their breaks, so they can, then, call out their breakthroughs. 〰️ Broken one, who may not be able to share what has broken you. I see your break. I also see your breakthrough!
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To all my worn out mama-friends. It is okay to not be okay today. It is okay to be utterly exhausted. It is okay to say “I’d love to, just maybe next week.” It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to order pizza for dinner, or whatever brings some comfort and ease to tonight. It’s okay to put on a movie and snuggle. It’s okay to need to get out of the house for a bit. It’s okay to not be firing on all cylinders right now. It’s okay to not be all guns-blazing. It’s okay to just sit here for a bit. It’s okay that you’re wondering how you are going to get it all done. It’s okay if some things get left undone. It’s okay to just need to cry for a minute. It’s okay to not have words for all the feelings of today. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and exhausted by the good good things in your life. It’s okay to need to pause in the middle of it all, just to catch your breath.
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This is me at 18 years old, not long after my oldest was born. This morning I had some thoughts about what I wish I could say to that young mama and I finally found a moment to write them down. They’re not all profound, I just figured that since I can’t go back in time to tell my younger self I could still share in case anyone younger is listening... 1. You know more than you give yourself credit for. You know how to listen to yourself. You know how to listen to your baby. You love your husband with an ocean of love, deep and wide. I know you feel like you don’t know anything, I know that your heart longs to hear the words “you’re doing a good job” but instead the words around you are “too much” and “not enough”. Let me tell you something - you are going to mess some stuff up, you are going to change your mind and change directions more than once. You are a very imperfect person, but you are a really good mom. You know more than you give yourself credit for and you need to have confidence that you are a really good mom, doing the best you can, which is all any of us can do. 2. You know less than you realize. Why do you feel like you “ought” to have arrived? Or that you “ought” to know everything you need to know? In your twenties you are an expert at nothing, student of everything. Be a good student of motherhood, life, love. Embrace this season of learning. Ask questions. Gather mentors. Look for ways to help the older women, stop being so ashamed to ask for help. You need it. It can be hard, the women around you seem so busy. Don’t give up. Keep asking, keep seeking, keep inviting. 3. You are beautiful. 4. Eat the ice cream.
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One Thing I’d Like to Know: 

Last week I asked - to Pumpkin Spice or not to pumpkin spice and I loved reading your answers! Here is my answer: I LOVE pumpkin spice. I am just not a fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (If I want a treat (or have a reward) I'll order an iced caramel macchiato or a hot salted caramel mocha.) Give me all of the candles, muffin breads and what have you. I make pumpkin spice muffins often when the weather is cool enough (so, like in January). Once the Pumpkin Spice Kim's Cupcakes go on sale my Thanksgiving has been made.

This week's One Thing I'd Like To Know: do you listen to other people's playlists? If you do where would you want it to be? I have got a public playlist on iTunes (for my book) which you can add to your playlist library. I'm thinking I could make one on Spotify as well but I’d love to know if that is something you’re really into... or not.

Also... this week Grayson - who has up to this point only been marginally interested in potty training, (and trust me, the feeling is mutual, what with all of his bladder surgeries - I figured it would be horrendous) has decided to potty train himself. I have heard of this happening but it has never, ever, not once in my history of potty training his five older siblings, has this happened to me. He has been stripping himself down every day so I've put him in some underwear and randomly try to remember to ask him if he needs to pee. It isn't going great, but it's also not been too horrible either. If you have any tips - I'd welcome them - there's always more to learn!

These posts will usually include Amazon links - sometimes they'll be affiliate links, sometimes not.  This post contains affiliate links. If you happen to buy something I've linked to I get a small commission for the sale and you don't pay any extra. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Math of Motherhood

Have I told you lately? I am in a crazy season of motherhood. At our house, we are currently both practicing driving and about to wean the baby. I have two in High School, one in middle school, one at a charter school, on is homeschooled and then there is the baby, who turns two today. There is no way to say this simply or quickly. I try to shorten this for the sake of the person listening to me - lots of kid in lots of different stages. Okay? 

But the reality is that this is crazy for me. A lot of the time it feels normal. This is our normal, right? A lot of the time this even feels beautiful - because it is. When everyone is getting along and my older ones are helping out and my younger ones are being snuggly and cute - it is magic. Then there are other times when I catch a glimpse of our life and I think - whoa, our life is crazy. 

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of clarity, I realized that I have been really frustrated lately and mostly that is because of this one thing: the math of motherhood.

I want two plus two to equal four. News flash - it doesn't. Most days two plus two equals one today, maybe another one in a couple of weeks. In the moment ugh it feels so unfair.

I want love plus understanding to equal reciprocated love and understanding. I love my kids fiercely. I try to understand them. I give them boundaries because I love them and I want what is best for them. I want them to be their best selves. I want to help them to get out of their own way.

They don't see this as a perk. They don't get it. Because they are kids duh. I have had to release the expectation that my kids are going to understand me. I want one plus one to equal two. I want two plus two to equal four.

In motherhood - that's not the case, like ever. Two plus two equals one today, another one in a couple of weeks and then another one, and another one, and another one, and another one...

The math of motherhood is a long game. It is an investment that yields long, slow returns, but the returns far exceed the deposits.  Two plus two equals one today, one tomorrow, one the next day and the next day... it does not equal four. It equals more than four. Just not today.