Monday, April 24, 2017

Kid Lit Book Review: Super Narwhal


Some kids learn to read quickly and they jump into the deep end of reading and dive down just as deep and as fast as they can, devouring longer and longer books. Other kids are more reluctant readers. Reading is harder for them, they learn slower and are more hesitant to read for long stretches of time. I have struggled with my reluctant readers until they discovered the beautiful thing that is the graphic novel for young readers. With a few words on each page and engaging illustrations graphic novels turned my reluctant readers into enthusiastic readers, eager to find their next favorite book. The difficulty with this genre can be finding titles that are appropriate and finding titles with anything even close to educational content.

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt: A Narwhal and Jelly Book by Ben Clanton is a terrific addition to this genre. The illustrations and content are engaging, imaginative and in places even educational. It's a great book to gift your young reader. It is divided into four short "chapters" where best friends Narwhal and Jelly imagine that they are super heroes and also make up a story about a super hero waffle and his strawberry sidekick. You can pre-order it on Amazon now - it releases May 2
If you can't wait till then try looking for Narwahl: Unicorn of the Sea (A Narwhal and Jelly book) which is also super-cute and mildly educational. You can view a couple of pages on the Narwhal and Jelly website and download some super cute activity pages you can also check out his Instagrams.

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley.com for the purpose of this review. Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog! If you want to see what I'm reading to my kids right now then be sure to follow me on Instagram! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

what if my miracle is you?

It is beautifully foggy this morning. However this morning the boys woke up the baby thirty precious minutes early. This morning one of the girls are the very last bar that I was going to give the baby for breakfast. This morning I have basically done nothing but sit at my computer and cry.

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I have felt, for awhile really in a vague feeling at the back of my head, that I couldn't properly write my "brave" book until I got my "confessions" book finished and seeing as I am starting notes on a "delight" book I need to clear the decks so that I can continue to write properly. I'd been trying to get "brave" written, basically trying to merge my 31 days of brave  part 1 and part 2 but as I have been writing all about being brave with our stories I have been realizing that I am not being brave with my own.

I wrote a series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" back a couple of years ago and now I'm trying to turn them into a proper book. So here I sit, trying. I went back and read the first few posts I wrote back then. They hit me in my gut. I know that I need to write this now, because the truths I learned back then I am needing to re-learn right now. Shredding the "should", refusing to live in shame, rejecting the lie that I have to get myself together before I can come to God. These are all lessons I am continually re-learning. So here I sit typing through the tears.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

a post about writing

My life coach pretty much threw down the gauntlet. We were talking yesterday about my writing and I was complaining about my writing - it is at the very core of who I am, but it is at the fringes of what I actually do every day. I was hoping she would give me some kind of a magical cure for my conundrum and I don't know, maybe in a way she did - but what she said was "maybe, in this season, you don't really WANT to write." These words have lit a fire within me to prove her wrong.

I struggle struggle struggle to make myself do the things that I think are the most important. In some ways I'm not much of a fighter, I'm actually kind of a pushover and I give into resistance pretty easily. So setting boundaries on writing time (not just the very last few minutes of the day, or whatever the rest of my family doesn't need - like these ones) is murder for me. Laying down the "no" to whatever it is in order to say "yes" to writing is just. so. hard for me.

As I was brushing my teeth I had a mini-epiphany and it was long enough that I felt like I needed to write it down somewhere - thus the blog post. So here you go. Here are my top reasons why I'm not writing that are all in my head:

the lie of scarcity
I feel like I have about five minutes of quality time in which to write - whatever I write during those five minutes had better be "the right thing". Um, no. Exhibit A - Elizabeth Gilbert. She'd written a few things here and there about this and that before she published her unexpectedly, wildly successful book of memoir called "eat pray love" and now she has a very popular book on creativity called "Big Magic". She has written things in between these two big hits that have ranged everywhere from mildly successful to total flops. That wasn't wasted time. It's true that I'll make less progress if I work on a bunch of different projects all at once - but I don't need to put all of my eggs in the basket of this project I'm currently working on. It'll be accepted or it won't be. All I can do is write it and keep writing it. Then I'll move onto writing the next thing. One of these things might be published, or not. One of these things might sell nicely, or it won't. If I keep on waiting for "the one" that is going to land a movie contract or become a best-seller or whatever, I'll be frozen in fear. If I keep on waiting for that moment when I can sigh and say "yes, I'm not a total failure as a writer." I might need to grown that internally instead of longing for it externally. I have lost the exact words I want for this. I thin we know what this feels like - we desperately want someone to come along behind us and say "yes." to us. I'm kind of terrified that it I don't pick the right project to work on then I won't get that "yes" from the world that I want. So I'm trying to remind myself that over the course of my lifetime there is plenty of time to write, to write books that don't get published or that don't sell much. It's okay.

the lie of importance
This is a sister to the lie of scarcity - and this is the idea that whatever I write needs to be important. It needs to matter. Yeah, so I think I have got this out of my system at least most of the way. I used to be so hung up on everything I considered as a possible writing project had to be a Big Important Work of art or spirituality. Recently though I have read books that weren't Big or Important they were just middling works but they were helpful. Or I've read novels that were pure cotton candy for my brain and they were delightful. It's okay to be small and simple. Sometimes that's what is needed.

the lie of shame
I have been shaming myself about my lack of writing and I don't think I had even realized it - I was playing the loop about "how can you call yourself a writer when the only writing you do is a few words on Instagram. That's not what a real writer does. You are a fraud." and usually this is followed up with "You're going to fail. You'll never be good enough. You can't hack it." Or something like that. But my eyes are opening to how destructive a force this is. Shame is not our friend. Shame weighs us down. I was never once motivated to do something good by shame. Gentleness looks at a disaster of a day and "counts the wins" (as one of my favorite authors likes to say). Gentleness puts on the tea kettle and tucks me into bed and says "tomorrow you can try again". I can not say it enough how hard the last year and a half of homeschooling Josiah plus all of Grayson's medical drama. Writing has kind of fallen to the wayside. But other things deep inside of me have been growing. I get to a peek of them every once in awhile. Those deep things are the important things, and they'll get their day in the sun sooner or later.

I think that's all of the things I wanted to share tonight. It's super late so I'm going to bed. If you have something you'd like to share about this please send me a message via social media or leave a comment! This whole writing thing is hard. We could all use all of the encouragement we can get.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Humilty


Today started off pretty badly. I got hit in the head with a Ken/Barbie doll, and not just a playful whap in the face, no I walked into the living room just as one of the boys was launching him out of it and it hit me full-force at the top of my head hard enough to make me cry. And I guess because I don't cry as often as I maybe should I cried and cried and cried about this hit on the head. Thankfully I didn't respond in anger, I just sat there on my living room floor and cried.

Later I sat on my bed and I got out my journal and I started writing, to myself and to God. Because I am really stressed right now. We are heading into the final stretch of school and that's a hard transition for all of us, and we're heading into testing week, which is stressful, plus we are heading towards Josiah's first time doing standardized testing and that is a mental fight for me. I want Josiah to make me look good. Ugh - that is the ugly truth of it. I want him to validate my decision to homeschool him and prove that I haven't completely failed at it and if that could be declared on a paper in black and white that would be very nice. I know I'm wrong. I am trying to talk myself out of it on a daily basis and keep telling Josiah that he'll do just fine, but this mama is seriously loosing it inside. And to top it all off Daniel has a lot of job stuff going on, and I just feel done. Over it. There is too much to handle.

So I have been praying about how I've been feeling lately and writing in my journal about it and a few words slipped out that surprised me -  I feel like I shouldn't be this upset about my life. This made me do a double take. I HATE that word shouldn't. It is such an ugly word to me. Am I upset about my circumstances? Yes? Okay. Be upset. Don't be ashamed of my feelings! Yes, it's not the end of the world. Yes, it could be worse. But it's not nothing and it is okay to be upset and then move on.

The other thing that came out of this journal writing was the word humility. Which surprised me because I don't usually think of humility as being the answer to being stressed out. But after siting with this word for a few minutes I realized that there is comfort in knowing that I am not the center of the universe and my problems are not huge to God.

Humility means rightly knowing who you are. It means not thinking more highly of yourself then you ought to. I think it also means not thinking of yourself as more lowly than you are either. In the religious tradition I was raised in humility was venerated and sometimes I think it got distorted into a game of "how low can you go?" I don't think that is healthy humility. We shouldn't be puffed up with pride but we shouldn't be deflated with false humility either. Both are, I think, equally effective ways of sidelineing us to be effective in God's kingdom.

I closed my notebook and then opened it again and wrote these final words "I may be small, but I am seen." 

Those few words meant a lot to me and changed the direction of my day. I rolled them around in my mind. I am small, but He sees me, and He loves me. If he sees the birds who are sold two for a penny and he cares if one of them falls to the ground, how much more does He care about me?

A couple hours later Josiah came in from the backyard with the tiniest little wildflower. It was even smaller than the clover that is taking over our back yard. He said "I searched the yard to try to find more, but this is the only one like it that I could find. I wanted you to have it because I thought you'd like it." Small, but seen. I felt so much like this was not a coincidence.

I think that this is true humility - I know that I am small but I also know that I am seen and loved by my infinite God.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New page! #KindleDeals

I started a new page here on my little bloggity blog corner of the word web. If you follow me on social media you may have noticed that I've started posting more frequently about kindle deals for books I like or authors I follow. Once I see them I can not not share them! But I get that not everyone wants to have low-cost ebooks waved in their faces all of the time and also maybe you remember I posted something about some book you wanted to read but you can't find the link - voila now you can! And now I can post about these deals and sales to my little heart's delight! If you think you might want these updates going to your inbox at some point please fill out this form 




Read a review by Glenna Marshall
Still Waiting by Ann Swindell $7.86 Kindle /$8.27 paperback 


Love Lives Here by Maria Goff $7.39 Kindle 


This is my favorite of Emily's books!!! 


Here are a few others I noticed...




Lessons I learned from painting my bathroom ceiling


If you are interested in my bathroom renovation part 1 you can read about it here. (It is on my old/photography blog.) Here is what my ceiling looked like when I started:


Pre-painting stage one: procrastination

In every form possible. Dither about if you have the right tools and if you have enough paint. Tell yourself that your husband would do a better job at it than you but then realize that your husband doesn't have the time/energy/interest in painting your bathroom ceiling. Decide to just go ahead and paint the ceiling. This might take 3 hours or 6 months or it might even take you a year. No judgment from me. Also if you are honestly not quite done with this stage or you've just visited this blog post because you're my friend just jump down to the end of this post, okay? Because there is something I want you to know... but if you are really going to get this thing done - read on.


Be sure to clear your area really well. I took the bulbs out of my light fixture and I'm really glad that I did. Anything that is in the bathroom WILL be covered in dust when you are done sanding. Seriously there is nothing in my life that has ever prepared me for how messy sanding ceilings is. I recommend eye protection and a face mask. Breathing in drywall mud dust is not pleasant. 


First - sand any rough spots with a sanding block
Next - wipe down with a dry rag.
Then paint the ceiling.
Consider hiring a babysitter.
Put on some happy music. I recommend the Trolls Soundtrack. That's what I listened to because it is my baby's favorite. We also listens to Ed Sheeran 
Maybe put your phone in a plastic bag.

Be sure to be safe with your ladder. Don't try to move it with your paint can in your hand. You might hurt yourself, or spill your paint. Don't try to paint directly above your head or too far away from yourself. Make sure that your area is properly ventilated.


These are the paint brushes I had. Surprisingly this weird little brush with barely a handle did an amazing job. I even used it to cut in. It lost a couple of bristles which was annoying but I will definitely hang onto this brush and use it for my next project. 

This is the paint I used - as you can see I bought it a awhile ago and one of my kids took the label off while it was sitting in my bathroom waiting to be used. What I do know about this paint is that it is paint + primer. This is important. If you don't use paint + primer you'll have to prime first but also the paint is a thicker consistency and doesn't drop as easily which you really really want for painting the ceiling. So I recommend when you go to buy paint that you buy a paint + primer. Also this was a terrific size can. If you end up buying a huge gallon of paint then be sure to pick up some kind of can to pour your paint into as you paint. That is a thing right?

Also here is a bit of big sisterly advice - know yourself - I was barely able to handle having my sweet baby in his bouncer and my kids in the other room. Don't invite someone to do this with you unless you know your extroverted soul needs the company. This introvert needed to do this alone. It got easier as I worked but I was Stressed Out as I got started. It is okay if you need to tell someone "no, you can't help." Also it is totally okay if you just send out a cry for help in social media and end up hiring someone or better yet, watch someone's kids so they can play with paint in your bathroom. 

My painting technique was basically the same as when I paint my nails - so basically like a 20 foot square manicure that I will have to stare at for at least the next year. But - really, if you can paint your nails, you can paint a ceiling, girl. And if you can't? Well, there is a first time for everything. Basically I dipped my paint brush in the can, wiped one side to minimize spillage and then painted next to the part I'd just painted until the two areas were blended and I tried not to go over the same area too many times once the paint had started drying. 

Don't get greedy - eventually you will feel a sense of urgency and start to get too much paint on your brush and try to paint too large an area at once. This is when you will start making the biggest mess and start wasting paint. Stop. Change your music, check on the kids, make yourself a sandwich, drink a sports drink, but DO NOT WASH YOUR PAINTBRUSH, like I did. Definitely not one of my gold-star moments. Just wrap your brush in some plastic wrap and let it sit for a bit then it will be ready for you when you come back to it.  You don't want to finish your ceiling with a 1inch brush - trust me on this. 

I found that while I was painting the wet paint looked really "streaky" but as it dried out I was shocked to see how much it smoothed itself out. 


Here is my paint brush once I was done. I am throwing this stinker away. It was less than a dollar and it is beyond gross now. 


So here is what all of this means to me - sometimes there is a mean voice in my head that says "who are you to ____" fill in the blank - pursue that passion, be her friend, chase a dream... and I listen to that voice more than I'd like to admit. But every once in awhile I have a moment like today when I tried something that someone else could have done better, but it needed to be done, so I did it. Today I did something that I felt totally inadequate to try, but I did it anyway. I knew that I didn't know what I was doing and there is a very good chance that there is a blog post out there that can tell you "the right way" to paint a ceiling but here is what I am going to tell you - I just did it. It's imperfect but it is done. And you know what? It turned out better than I thought it would! So the next time I hear that voice saying "who do you think you are?" I'll think about this day and remind myself that I am someone who did something hard and way out of my comfort zone. I got messy and I messed up in places but I did it. And that means something. 

Also - this counts as an arm day, okay? 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Brave is the new Beautiful by Lee Wolfe Blum

Brave is the New Beautiful by Lee Wolfe Blum arrived in my mailbox on an ordinary Monday morning. I had seen it earlier, popping up around the corners of my Instagram feed and I was super interested - the cover is beautiful and the title draws you right in - but I wasn't exactly sure what the book was going to be about. Brave was my word of the year both last year and the year before so I knew I needed it, whatever it was. So I curled up in my reading corner of the couch and started reading and I read it in between homeschooling my boys, and I read it for a bit before my big girls got home from school, and I read a bit more before I started on dinner and I read a little bit more after my boys went to bed and I read a bit more after my husband went to bed until at 1am on Tuesday morning I had read Brave is the New Beautiful cover to cover.

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This book is a collection of stories of extraordinary bravery - stories of women who have suffered and lost, battled and been broken but through it all, one way or another, they chose to be brave. To speak up instead of hide in silence, to love instead of wilt in despair, to hope when hope grew dim. These are not stories tied up with pretty bows and happy endings. These are the raw and real stories of women who have lost their children and been abused, suffered through cancer and through a crisis of identity, women who have come out with their faith in-tact, maybe a bit shaky, but still there.

The point of all of these stories is that beauty isn't about a number on a scale, or a size on the tag. Beauty isn't found in following the latest trends or fad diets. Beauty isn't even about what we manage to squeeze into our little squares on the internet. Beauty comes from within and true beauty is found when we choose love over fear, in all of it's many forms. Beauty is when we bravely choose to be ourselves.


"So many of these women didn't see themselves as brave or beautiful... along the sidelines of the headline news are inspiring tales of bravery hidden in the mundane details of women's everyday lives - women who make the decision to get up every morning and keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing what is good and right despite the crises and turmoil and dilemmas life tosses at them. These are women steadily making the decision to step out of the boat to walk on the water. Women choosing to take off their masks and live their most authentic life." 

Intertwined between these stories of bravery in the middle of life's epic storms there is a quieter story, the story of Lee's own choices to be brave. Honestly - her story was my favorite part of the book. Her meditations on bravery in the middle of her ordinary struggles powerfully resonated with me and as she shared about her struggle with comparing herself to others, her fight against the pull to prove her worth, and her struggle to mask her own awkwardness and neediness, even from God I saw myself more clearly. Oh there are so many places that I have underlined with stars and hearts and exclamation points in the margins.  I was trying to pick a quote to share here and there were just too many to choose from. So go get yourself a copy or oder one here - and you'll know what I mean.

I received a copy of this book for review. Links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Book Review: Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker

Friendship has been one of the most powerful forces in my life, and my friendships with other women have influenced who I have become second only to my husband and kids, but friendship, especially friendships with other women, aren't always easy. In fact it often is the opposite of easy. Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker dives into the heartbreak and glory of friendships by sharing the stories of her failures and successes in friendship.


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I love that in Never Unfriended Lisa-Jo Baker is honest about the messiness of friendship but she is also hopeful and practical. This, for me, is the trifecta of Christian women's writing. Honest, Hopeful, & Practical. This isn't just a series of meditations on friendships with no "now-what?" this is a practical how-to for navigating the minefields of friendship.

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The essence of the book is this - how do you become the friend you have always wanted? How do you become the friend that is "never unfriended" because you are that friend other women have always wanted. Ever chapter of Never Unfriended is relatable and easy to read yet powerfully insightful and I wanted to highlight practically every page.



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I received a copy of this book as part of the launch team. Links in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cookbook Review: Food52 Mighty Salads


Salads are, in my opinion, one of the most perfect foods. They only take as much time to prepare as you choose to put into them, and if you have the right ingredients in your fridge you can whip up a perfectly balanced meal in minutes. Salads are also easy to modify for my food allergies, which is important to me. This cookbook of salads far exceeded my expectations. With salads in many categories - leafy salads, non-leafy salads, hot salads, cold salads, salads that are vegetable only and also salads where meat is the starring ingredient, bean salads, grain and pasta salads, salads perfect for a complete meal and salads that would be a perfect side dish.One of my favorite aspects of the Food52 Mighty Salads cookbook is the photography. I love it when a cookbook has really good photography and have a hard time bringing myself to seriously consider those that don't.  The Food52 website is known for it's beautifully photographed food, so my expectations were high for the photography in this cookbook and I was not disappointed. You can pre-order the Food52 Mighty Salads Cookbook here.

via: Food52
I was given a digital copy of this cookbook to review. 
Links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog! 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cookbook Review: Good Veg


I spent a couple years in my teens as a vegan, eating primarily raw foods, and then last year our family spent nearly a year eating a vegan diet. My husband wanted to try it and try it we did!  We ate some really cool foods and some really awful ones. All of this to say I have a really special place in my heart for vegan and vegetarian cookbooks and this one gets all the huge heart eyes. It is stylish, it is chatty. It has knock-your-socks-off beautiful photography. I have been looking at a lot of gorgeous cookbooks lately and I have not fallen so head over heels in love with a cookbook as I have with this one.

In Good Veg there isn't a photo for every recipe but all is forgiven because of the style of the rest of the photography and the superior style of the whole layout. This is the exact opposite of a cookbook with twenty ways to make a quick chicken dinner with ingredients you have on hand. There are a good many out of the ordinary (my ordinary anyway) ingredients and plenty of dishes I'd never heard of. But the appeal of making a vegetarian banh mi is really strong. These recipes are made with an eye out for the vegan and most are gluten free without a big neon sign screaming "I'm health-food".

Is it okay if I say this?  Good Veg is a cookbook that makes veggies look sexy in the best possible way. Some days, when you are sick of the same pasta and peas, you need a book like this that gives you hope to try something new and exiting. Maybe it will become a moment hilariously gone awry but maybe it will become the discovery of your new favorite food. It is available for pre-order now and will be in stores on April 4. I received a digital galley from NeyGalley.com for the purpose of review. Links in this post are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog!! 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

my irrational fear of grocery pick-up service

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I have a confession - I have an irrational fear of the grocery pick-up service.

What this is, in case you don't have this in your area, is the option to order groceries online and pick them up at the store (in our area Kroger & WalMart both offer this service). I was so excited when I first heard about it because I can not even number the times that I have had kids fall asleep in the car or sick at home and wished that there was a drive-thru grocery store. However until this week I simply could not get myself to try it.

Here's why - for one thing I have anxiety about new technology. Every iOS update makes me feel a little tight-chested and my husband has to practically demand that I try new things. It's slightly maybe a little bit ridiculous but it is what it is (is this what getting old feels like?!). Also I have heard that it is easier to order using a desktop computer and generally my attitude about all things online is that if I can't do it on my phone it isn't worth doing (can I get an amen?!). Plus you also have to pay with a card and I usually pay for my groceries with cash and you have to order more than $40 worth which considering I have a family of eight is not hard to do but it has been a mental hurdle for me. But I think probably the biggest reason why I haven't tried it is the whole planning ahead thing. You have to order hours (or the day/night before) you are ready to pick up and that has been a huge huge hang-up for me.

Here is another confession -  I usually go to the grocery store every day. I hate the idea of dropping my entire week of grocery money at the beginning of the week and I like leaving the store with some money in my pocket, knowing that if something comes up I can cover it - and you know what - this worked really well for me before Grayson was born. I would just quickly bop into the store with Eli on our way home from the park or the Library or wherever we had been while everyone else was at school but now with three boys it works a lot less well. I was spending at least half an hour every day grocery shopping (or traveling to/from the store) plus there was a lot of mental space being taken up worrying about what I was going to buy/make for dinner. Recently I have been trying to consolidate my free minutes and grocery shopping for the entire week has been my #1 time saver.

Last week I posted a picture on Instagram bragging celebrating another week of groceries bought and a friend of mine commented that she has been working on getting better at this too and has started using Click-List, Kroger's grocery pick-up service. I confessed that I just haven't been able to get up the nerve to try it and she challenged me to try it - and write a blog post about it. So here I am.

Last Monday I tried Click-List for the first time. And guess what? It didn't kill me. I didn't remember everything that I needed because the website is not super-well organized or easy to navigate for the first time, also I didn't sit down with a super-detailed list and that didn't help, but I sat down at my computer before the boys started their school work, pre-shower and in my pajamas, and I ordered my groceries while the boys danced to the Trolls Movie Soundtrack. We drove to the store on a rainy Monday afternoon to pick up our groceries and the boys didn't have to walk through the rainy parking lot or squeak their sneakers up and down the isles. I did not loose my ever-loving mind while trying to check out. Overall it was a win.

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And that has got me thinking - I had this irrational fear of Click-List and the more that I didn't try it the bigger the fear grew until it was completely out of proportion to how difficult it was to use this new service - I wonder where else these irrational fears have been growing? That article I haven't gotten around to writing and submitting because I don't want to deal with another rejection email, or even worse the non-response. The text message I didn't send. The conversation I'm only halfway open in because I'm not sure the other person can deal with my honesty. What am I saying yes to because I'm afraid of saying no? What am I saying no to because I'm not sure I could handle a yes? 

This week I tried something new that seemed overwhelming and yes it was new and a little stressful but it was okay. This week I said yes to something overwhelming - and survived. This week I sent a text I was afraid to send - and everything turned out fine, maybe even better than fine. This week I was afraid to say no and let all of my little people crowd into space I should have saved for my writing. This week I was afraid to say yes, even just to myself, and wimped out when I should have exercised some self-control. That's life too. That's part of the growing process. I'm practicing something new, so I'm not perfect yet, but that's okay. I'm learning to make better choices for myself and not let fear make my choices for me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

on waiting well

Today I spent the day in Atlanta with my little sister Abi. She is wonderful. And that is an understatement.

All that time in the car by myself was also wonderful. It's about a three hour drive there, a little less because we met closer to mid-town in the coolest place called Ponce Market. If you're thinking about taking a drive into Atlanta I recommend it. So Very Cool! We enjoyed a delicious lunch together and we browsed the trendy market stalls and I took my first trip to Anthropology! Anyway, what was I saying? Lots of time in the car. Right.

So lots of time in the car is wonderful for me. It's lots of space to continue a train of thought, not something I get a lot of these days, I have at least four new blog posts to write but this one is the most important one, the one I need to say out loud, right away, so you can hold me accountable.

It's about my writing, and it's about waiting and it's about contentment. 

Waiting is normal. 

Noah waited for rain.

Abraham waited for the fulfillment of God's promise of a son.

Joseph waited in prison for the fulfillment of his dreams.

Moses waited in the desert while he waited to lead his people out of slavery.

David waited on God's timing to become king.

Jesus waited to begin his ministry until he was 33, even though he understood his calling, at least a little bit, when he was only 12.

Paul waited after his conversion before he began his mission work.

Each of theses stories in the Bible have really difficult seasons of waiting.
Some of these stories are an example of waiting well.
Some of these stories are an example of waiting not so well.

Noah worked faithfully while he waited.

Abraham took matters into his own hands to force the prophesy to come true.

Joseph kept practicing his gifts and eventually during that long time learned to forgive so he was ready to be a leader when his time came.

Moses seems to have given up on his calling and was hiding in the desert he basically says "please pick someone else" when God finally calls him up.

David honored his leader, even though he was truly awful, even though God said he'd be next.

Jesus was obedient and submissive to his parents.

Paul waited then exploded onto the scene and had a huge impact.

What about me? 

Over the past couple of years I've embraced my identity as a writer and a teacher, but in the middle of that I've been struggling with the waiting. I've been struggling with the "you need to grow your platform" line. Struggling with that a lot actually. Struggling with the "what now?"

This morning I was drying my hair, getting ready to go, listening to the album by Amanda Cook that I've been listening to on repeat for the last year. This song came on

 "You are not a tyrant king. 
You do not delight in suffering..." 

and I broke down.

Here is the heart of the matter - sometimes I feel like God is holding out on me. I know that He says no good thing do I withhold but I see this good thing, and I feel like it's being withheld.

But a good thing for the wrong reasons isn't a good thing.
And a good thing at the wrong time isn't a good thing.

Here is one tiny little piece of understanding I am getting about contentment. Contentment is the belief that God is not holding out on me - He is not withholding anything that would be good for me. When I see something that I think would be good but God is saying no, or not right now, I can rest content that God is not holding out on me. He is not keeping me from something good. He sees the end from the beginning. He knows what is best for me. So I can cease my striving and trust in God's timing. And ignore the lie of the ticking clock that says I'm running out of time. I'm actually running into my time.


Today I got a new vision of waiting. A vision of a vibrant woman - a woman who writes because that is who she is. She publishes on her blog and on community blogs because that is how an online community is formed. She is reaching out and growing a community of support around herself. She is supporting others and they are supporting her. She is thriving. She's not obsessed with numbers or traffic or platform or reach. She is setting boundaries for herself - she needs the time to write, but writing and blogging hasn't taken over her life. Writing is not crowded out or crowding out everything else. She's speaking truth, hope, light, and love and she's honest about hurt and heartache and confusion and mess. She's committed to honoring the image of God within herself and she trusts Him with whatever outcome that means. She's not scrambling (or scrabbling) for attention, but she's not hiding in a corner either.

This is not an image of me. Um, no. I'm over here all worried and stressed out and trying to figure out the next ten steps. I think God is calling me to chill out for a hot minute. Be present. Focus on what needs to be done and learned right now. Trust Him with the future, whatever that might be.





Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Brave: But Why?

I don't know if you have heard me say this before but I am terrible at ending  things. I am pretty bad at ending sentences when I speak. I'm super bad at ending rants once I get started. I am super-majorly bad at ending blog posts which is why I have a metaphorical stack of drafts stuck in unfinished thought-land. Here is a finishing thought though, because I have spent the better part of the last two years thinking and writing about what it means to be brave and the thought has felt unfinished till now. Here it is. Are you ready for it?

God is calling you out to be brave but not only for yourself.

He didn't call me out onto the water, into the deep places with Himself, just for me. It was for me a little bit for sure, but that wasn't the point. He didn't call me to walk out onto the water just to have a religious experience or to get a spiritual high. He called me out and began to teach me what it meant to be brave because that is who he needs me to be within His body.

I have had this growing thought, and this growing sense of urgency, that He wants us to fully understand that He made us each unique and it is amazing really that we each carry this splinter of the image of God. But we need to show up as that piece of the image of God within His body.

If God made you to write - write! This world needs your words and your friends need you to open your mouth and pour out encouragement and wisdom. If you write music - God gave you that gift and we need your art now more than ever. If your gift is hospitality - we need places to speak and sing and worship and gather. You are so valuable in the community of faith. If your gift is organization or administration - girl I love you so much. I need you in my life.

Your gifts are important in the body and so are your passions and your uniqueness. Now more than ever diversity is an asset and not a liability and Satan is hell-bent to convince us it is the other way around. The truth is if you are the most intellectual person in your group of friends then they need you to be fully yourself and not hide behind trying to fit in and if you are the most artsy or the most charismatic or the most liberal or the most conservative then we need you to be you fully and beautifully and uniquely you. We don't need all the intellectual Christians to gather together in a bubble talking and agreeing amongst each other we need them scattered and bumping into everyone else and shining their splinter of God's image into our lives. We don't need all of the liberals or conservatives all huddled together agreeing with each other we need them working shoulder to shoulder in love shining brilliantly into this dark world. We need to learn about the true unity and that take an awful lot of bravery. True unity doesn't happen in the context of uniformity. Gospel-fueled unity happens in the context of diversity and that is a tough transition to make.

Now, more than ever, it is time for us to rise up out of our distracted discouraged daze. I know you might not be seeking the spotlight but is there a chance that you are so busy not seeking a spotlight that you're not being a light at all? Could you be denying the God-splinter inside of you that the rest of us need?

It takes bravery to put yourself out there. Bravery to be criticized and misunderstood. Bravery to be ignored and unrecognized. But it is the most needed bravery there is. God is calling this generation of women to embrace the bravery He offers to us. He is calling us out onto the waters. He is calling us out away from the safe places, away from our comfortable spaces, out into the deep places with Him. He is calling us out into the scary and the hurting, but He is calling us out into something beautiful, He is calling us with buckets and buckets of love. He is calling us, to come fully alive to who He is calling us to be.

So who am I to stay hidden in the corner? Who am I to be always quiet? Who am I to keep myself safe? Why do I think that it is okay to get stuck in my busyness and distraction and ignore the image of God within me?

I know it is easy to get beaten down by life - by the need to pay the bills and get the kids to bed on time and get to our places and keep up with out people. Life is exhausting. But it is time to rise up. It's time to rise above our plethora of excuses, no matter how good they might be. It's time to embrace the bravery God extends to us. It's time to start practice walking in bravery and see where it leads.

Not onto us but onto God be the glory.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kid Lit Book Review: Good Morning Superman

Links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog! 



From the author of Bedtime for Batman comes an adorable book about the morning check list. Our tiny Super Hero and his grown up counterpart get up, go potty, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack a bag and head out for the day. And that is it. The language is super simple. Not simple enough that my early reader could read this to himself but not complex enough that I would want to read it over and over to my little super-hero loving guy. What this book has going for it is some super-adorable pictures that my 5 year old said he enjoyed. If you have a kiddo in that stage where they need only a few words on each page - this is a good book that will captivate your child's attention. Even if it's just for five minutes!  You can pre-order a copy here. It releases on March 1.



I received a digital copy of this book to review from NetGalley.com
Amazon links are affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog!
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Kit Lit Book Reviews: Don't Dangle Your Participle

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog! 


Don't Dangle Your Participle is a delightful supplemental book to demonstrate proper grammar. The illustrations are delightful and engaging. While the sentences given as good grammar could use some improvement they are a springboard to writing prompts and demonstrate a principle that might be difficult for some students to understand.







I received a digital copy of this book to review from NetGalley.com


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Thursday, February 9, 2017

in the wind and waves

Life, right now, is a storm.

It's crashing waves

it's a cold and biting wind

whipping my hair around my face

stinging my eyes,

it's visibility of about one quarter inch.



It's a lot.

It's not just one thing,

and it's not just my story.

It's just overwhelming.



It's been tears before breakfast,

it's been looking around myself and thinking

what am I supposed to be doing right now?

It's reaching down into the deepest parts of my faith

it's reaching up into the deepest parts of Him.

It's reaching out to let my people know what's going on with me

it's taking a deep breath as they pray over me.

It's this song:


I'll be honest, the synth in this song won me over first. 
Did you know the whole new album can be found on YouTube here?


It's worship music on repeat,

repeat,

repeat.

It's breathing in trust.

It's breathing out peace.

It's taking today one moment at a time

and doing the best I can

even if it's not checking off every item on the to do list.

It's Jesus, the one you love is heart-sick. 

And knowing that He weeps with those who weep.



I don't have the security of any one certain outcome

I do know I can be certain that my God my Father will never let me go

I don't have a timeline for things getting any better.

I do have security in God's love for me

and I have a hope that for all of this...

something good is coming.



So I can take one brave step at a time,

I can choose love when I want to choose to act in ager

or fear.


I can seek the face of my Daddy God

where I see Him smiling

proud of me

even if my attempts often fail

and choose love.


Love.

Always love.












Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday mini-Bible Study: not what I was planning on



I sat down at the computer to write something else altogether. I pulled up Bible.com to copy and paste today's verses into my blog post and the site totally glitched out and did not give me the verse I searched for - it gave me the verse I needed for today.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) 

The NLT translates these verses "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"  I don't know about you but there is a whole lot going on over here that is the farthest from peace. I need my mind to be stuck on Jesus. I need my thoughts to be fixed on God. I need my trust to be in my Heavenly Father and not on my problems and stress and struggle.

The next verse in my crazy mixed up search results was this:

"Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength they shall mount up on wings like eagles they shall walk and not be weary they shall run and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (ESV) 

I need these words like I need the air I'm breathing. I need my strength renewed. I need strength to keep on loving in difficult situations.  I need my hope renewed.

So this morning this is my mantra - I trust YOU Daddy God. I trust Him will all of my mess and junk that I woke up with. All of the weariness and heartache and struggle. I trust Him with it. I welcome His peace, His strength, His hope. I give up trying to figure it out. I trust Him. I'm listening for His voice in the middle of my chaos. Trying to get my heart and my mind still and quiet even while my body is chasing around a 15 month old baby and two homeschooling boys.



Feel free to share these pictures on your social media pages or save them to your lock screen. 







The font is called "moon flower" 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekend link-up

Some people have said that blogging is dead and for awhile I have believed them. I don't any more. Blogging is still here and here to stay, at least for awhile longer. It's changed a lot, at least it feels that way to me, but it's still here...

This year on my blog my one goal is to give more than I ask and one way to do that is to provide a place where we can link up to read each other's posts. I know we do that in Facebook groups sometimes, am I being old-fashioned? Maybe. But here is a place to leave your link - you can link to your favorite post that you wrote this week, or write a post with links you've found and random bits of life, because I find that it is often the random bits that connect us, that make us feel like actual friends out here on the big wide world web.


Read
This week I finished "Today will be different" by Maria Semple and it was so very good. I honestly enjoyed it from cover to cover and highly recommend it if you're looking for some clean, interesting, new fiction.

Watch 
My husband and I have started watching Colony. Season one is on Netflix and Season two is airing now. It's about a family after an alien invasion - cool thing is - no one has ever seen the aliens. It's a good mix of emotional + action for us. It's a solid PG-13/ TV-14 but the romantic scenes aren't in every episode.

Listen
Don't hate me but I've been listening to musicals lately. Into the Woods and LaLaLand on repeat. I have especially been enjoying this one. If you haven't seen the movie LaLaLand yet - go now. It's so good. I was worried my husband wouldn't like this style of music but he loved it. Into the Woods is my daughter Emma's favorite movie of 2016 (that's not when it came out, that's just when we watched it).

(P.S.)
 Speaking of favorite movies - my oldest daughter Beth would say her favorite movie of 2016 was Arrival. It has just come out on DVD and I can not say enough good things about this movie. It was not as scary as I was worried it might be. It's suspenseful at times but never full-on scary. It's romantic but not gushy it's really smart and amazingly well done.


Reading with the boys
I have been feeling, for a couple of weeks now, that we had the space in our days for audio books. I have tried before to check out audio books from the library and we never get beyond disc one. Until this week. We checked out the audio book version of The Dark Talent: Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians  (here's a link to the audio book version it is actually book #5 in the series) and we have enjoyed it SO MUCH! And best of all we are already on disc 4 of 5! I wasn't sure I would like it after the first chapter but we have enjoyed it a lot. It is so hard to find books that are both appropriate and interesting for my 3rd grade boy who is an advanced reader. This one fit the bill. Now we want to go back and request book one.

New Books
In the world of Christian Women's non-fiction we have a delightful new arrival! Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen just hit shelves and from the preview on Amazon that I read it is such a gem.

Also, if you have not seen these already on Facebook Rebekah Lyons is releasing the book You Are Free soon and is offering a video series with some amazing guests - Ann VosKamp, Christy Nockles, Jess Connolly, Lysa Terkeurst, & Rachel Meyers. You don't want to miss this.

Blog Posts
I am giving away a copy of the new book Moving Forward here.

I wrote this blog post about What to do when skies are blue because as someone who suffers from the gray fog of depression a blue sky day is something precious.

My friend Jessica wrote this beautiful piece for when you feel like you are sinking.

Modern Mrs. Darcy is one of my favorite blogs. She wrote a post about decaf coffee that I saved, and thought I'd share. I never thought I would be an "unleaded" coffee drinking but I have had a growing caffeine intolerance and Grayson seemed to sleep poorly when I drank a lot of "real" coffee. So here I am. Drinking decaf coffee. This list of places to get good decaf coffee was wonderful.

Emily P. Freeman is offering a new printable on her blog! It's a What I've Learned printable organized by season. And if you're into bullet journaling, or like me are a trying it out this year, the post is fantastic. 


Your Turn
What have you been reading/watching/listening/cooking? I would really love to hear about it! Link up your post below:



The purpose of this post is to let you know what is going on in my life and share what I'm enjoying if you buy these books on Amazon through my affiliate links in this post or if you request them at your local library or borrow them from a friend the only thing I hope is that you find a good book (or movie or TV show) and enjoy reading/watching it.