Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetFriends, it’s the dog days of summer. That’s all I have to say about that. Here are a few favorites to read/listen to while you position yourself under the a/c vent and ask your daughters to fan you with color sheets. (Maybe that’s just me.)

Hope Heals by Katherine and Jay Wolf: Oh, I loved every word of this story. Katherine and Jay’s story is one of resilience, hope, and belief in a faithful God. Katherine and Jay don’t sugar-coat the hard days, but they don’t wallow in them either. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and was reminded why it’s so important to tell our story. Our story of healing helps others heal too.

The Shoemaker’s Wife  by Adriana Trigiani: Based on the story of her grandparents, this fiction book tells of love, loyalty and perseverance. A sweet, sweet story.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: This was maybe the hardest book I’ve ever read. I can’t even come up with words to describe it, but the Amazon review says this, “A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.” It will be required reading for my girls one day. My eyes kept getting wider and wider as I turned each page, my stomach turning, until I remembered the old adage, “Once you know, you can’t go back.” That’s how I feel after this book. As a white person who is mom to a black girl in the year 2016, I cannot bury my head in the sand, pretend everything’s okay with racism in our country, or act like I’m not here for such a time as this. I must show a different way. I must be willing to learn and listen. I must ask the Holy Spirit to show me every prejudice in my heart so that I can bring those to the light and allow God to show me truth and light and love. And then I must put what I’ve heard and learned into action. I must use this one life I get to prove that love works. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Please read this book.

Grace for President- In our quest to add more books to our home library that feature people of various skin colors, I found this one. It’s such a fun one that teaches kids about the electoral college and how it works while cheering on Grace as she runs for president. (I know with the RNC and DNC going on recently, it would be easy to read something political into this, but this is just a book recommendation of a new book we got that we have enjoyed. I’m still praying through how I’ll vote come November.)

The Happy Hour Podcast with Jamie Ivey– My friend Katye recommended this podcast (over a particularly delicious quiche at Porcellino’s, I might add) and I’ve been loving it! It’s funny and light-hearted, but they also cover important topics and ministries and opportunities. I turn it on when I’m cooking dinner (or preparing another pupu platter) and it’s a fun end to my “work” day.



Friday Favorites (on Saturday)

Friday Favorites (on Saturday)

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Because it’s been that kind of week! After a crazy few weeks of travel and late nights and being off our rhythm, we are taking it slooooow this weekend. The only thing on our to-do list is a salted caramel apple pie that Lulu and I have wanted to make for months now. We’ve been waiting for a day where the weather has a crisp bite to it just like the apples we are excited to spin around the apple slicer. We’ve been eating bushels of honeycrisp apples and piles of sharp cheddar which Matt likes to cut into triangle slivers. I think it makes the cheese taste even better. And it’s perfect weather for curling up with a pile of books. Here are some favorites recently…

Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers: This three book series is an old one, but I finally listened to Heather and read it. (I think the covers of the books threw me off a little. I know, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover.) I hate that I waited so long, but these are great historical fiction. The first one was my favorite, but I really loved them all.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner: I had this one on hold from the library for a while. It was finally my turn to check it out right before we went out of town last weekend. I stayed up late and skipped a nap because I couldn’t put this one down. Another great WWII novel, and we already know those are my jam.

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer: A great companion to the movie War Room, this book is loaded with Scriptures to add to your prayer journal. I was highlighting and writing post-its all over the place.

Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri: Our Lottie Dot turned three on Monday. Big crowds aren’t her thing, so we had just a few of her friends over to eat pizza and Muddy’s Prozac cake last week. Her one request was a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. That Prozac cake was so delicious, and I hear it’s even better for breakfast. I wouldn’t know first-hand, of course. That’s just what I hear. I found this silly book at Costco about a pizza-stealing raccoon, and Lottie loves it. We’ve read it at least 872 times since Monday.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen: This beautiful story would make a great Christmas gift for any child. I love the storyline, and the illustrations are simple and gorgeous. Also, it makes me want to knit.

The Dot by Peter Reynolds: Another birthday gift for our Lottie Dot, this one is fun and creative and inspires the artist within each child. This would make a great Christmas gift, and you could pair it with a set of watercolors and a pad of paper.

In the Meantime series by Andy Stanley: During my runs, I’ve been listening to this series. It is SO good! You can watch online or get the podcast. It’s all about keeping hope when our circumstances seem impossible.

Twistables crayons: I know these are made for kids, but they work great to highlight your Bible. They are nice and thick, leave a great mark, don’t bleed, and they come in all kinds of colors. And they don’t cost a lot! I keep one in my Chronological Bible, so that it’s always handy.

It’s time to go slice some apples and roll some dough. I hope this pie tastes as yummy as I’m imagining! Happy Saturday!

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

August, you are a bit like swimming with a strong undertow. There I am kicking and splashing about in the waves and suddenly, woosh, I feel like I’m getting sucked under. School is now in full swing, and the calendar feels much fuller. Last week, over spicy shrimp and sweet potato fries (and with a crisp unexpected August breeze) my bestie and I talked for a long time about margin and schedules and calendar and keeping sanity for us and our families. It’s a hard thing, a tension to be managed and not a problem to be solved my pastor would say.  But it’s one I’m praying about a lot–how to protect sacred moments around the dinner table and how to remember the Sabbath. I learned a long time ago that when you feel a strong undertow pulling you under it’s best not to fight and scream and freak out. Relax and hold tight, and it will spit you out into calmer water so you can swim again. Here’s to slow meals and good books and pouring into those around us.

Here are some favorites recently…

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker: The chapter on fashion will make you need Depends, and the chapter on the church will hit you in the gut. Jen Hatmaker writes with hilarity that cannot be matched, but her passion for loving well is what always gets me. (Also, the beef bourguignon recipe is a game changer. I’m making it for the second weekend in a row.)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: WWII stories are my favorite, and this one is so wonderful I would have finished it in one night if I knew staying up that late wouldn’t make me a complete grouch the next day. If you liked The Book Thief, I think you’ll love this one.

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor: Heather recommended this one, and she knows what I love. This is a beautiful story of love, loss, and family. Such a great read.

You and Me Forever by Francis & Lisa Chan: I read this one out loud to Matt on the way to Alabama a few weeks ago. Like all of Francis Chan’s books, he hits you hard in a no-fluff-this-is-what-it-means-to-die-to-self kind of way. It’s a different kind of marriage book, the kind that focuses not on two people but elevates the gospel and the mission to make disciples.

The Green Ember by S.D. Smith: This is our first read-aloud book of the year for school. We are only about one quarter of the way through it, but it’s a riveting story of two sibling bunnies Picket and Heather. It’s filled with lots of adventure, the words are gorgeous, and it keeps the attention of kids and adults alike.

The Frugal Paleo Cookbook by Ciarra Hannah: Whether you eat strictly paleo or not, this cookbook has a lot of easy, inexpensive recipes. Our favorite so far–the teriyaki stackers with grilled pineapple!

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman: A call to enjoy the ordinary moments of life, this book has me thinking. I sent this quote from Simply Tuesday to two of my best friends this week…

To sit on a bench is to keep company with Abraham who, along with Sarah, tried to control the promise God made of an heir. But God told him it wouldn’t happen by Abraham’s effort or planning. Instead, he took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Our part is not making the promise come true. Our part is to count the stars.

Last Minute Christmas Book List

Last Minute Christmas Book List

So, Christmas is one week away. You know that emoji with the big eyeballs–the one like a deer caught in the headlights. Yeah, I’ve been using that one a lot recently. I don’t need an elf on a shelf. I need an elf that runs errands!! Somebody, please tell me I’m not the only one.

I tried to be on my game and get our Christmas shopping done before Georgia was born because I knew it would be crazy afterwards. I got most of it done, but I will have to trek out to Target this weekend which should be enough to send me right over the edge. I did approximately 97.3% of our Christmas shopping via Amazon Prime. I’m convinced it was a mom who came up with the genius that is Amazon Prime. I shop in my jammies and then magically 48 hours later it arrives on my doorstep–yes, please!

Books are my very favorite gift to give or get, so I thought I’d share my all-time favorites from this past year in case you need a last minute gift for anyone.

Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker- Read it with a box of Kleenex and preferably when you’re not pregnant, post-partum, or hormonal–oh wait, that’s never. This one is excellent and would be a great gift for any mom you know and love.

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst- I have recommended this book to everyone I know. It is packed with so much wisdom and encouragement and would make a great book to read for the start of a new year.

The Antelope in the Living Room– This one will have you laughing out loud and may cause the sweet lady doing your pedicure to look up at you and wonder. Whether you’ve been married one day or a million, this one will keep you rolling.

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan- This is the book I was reading at the beach when we decided on Georgia’s name. It’s a wonderful memoir of the relationship between mother and daughter.

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith- For anyone who loves to make their home an inviting place for family and friends but knows perfection is never possible, this book is for you. It’s filled with gorgeous pictures and pretty enough to stay out on a coffee table.

Savor by Shauna Niequist- This one isn’t actually out yet, but since I love, love, love everything Shauna writes I am super excited about it. Shauna has a thing where you can pre-order the book and receive some recipe cards to gift now and the book to follow in the spring. That’s the gift that keeps on giving, Clark. (Much better than the jelly of the month club!) This one is a book of short devotions combined with recipes. Perfect for anyone who loves to cook (or eat!) or just loves great writing.

It Will be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst- For the little ones, this one is a new favorite. Fear is something every kid faces whether it’s being afraid of the dark or coping with mom and dad’s divorce. The illustrations are beautiful and the story quite meaningful.

Good luck with your last few days of Christmas prep and if you should find yourself a little stressed… remember, Chick-fil-A has peppermint milkshakes right now! (Says the mom whose child ate a candy cane for breakfast this morning. So maybe don’t listen to me. Or at least don’t judge me–wink, wink.) Merry Christmas, friends.

In Italics–Antelopes, Monastics & More

In Italics–Antelopes, Monastics & More

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetYou’ve heard me lament this frigid winter we’ve had, but it does create lots of time for burrowing under blankets and reading books. The other night Matt and I had a little extra time on our date night so we swung by the local bookstore. I am the complete opposite of a hoarder in almost every area of my life. When Lydia isn’t looking I throw away most of her drawings. (I’m not heartless. I keep the sweet hand print ones, but we can only have so many color sheets of Cinderella before I start to lose it.) I routinely go through the girls’ toys and our closets and give stuff to Goodwill. And I will probably be in trouble if the IRS audits us one day because I can never remember how many years you’re supposed to keep stuff and so I end up shredding it. (Thank goodness Matt saves the most critical of documents.) But when it comes to books, I can’t get enough. While Matt was looking  through the bookstore Saturday night, I took pictures of a dozen different books so I could come home and add them to my Amazon wish list. Yes, I might have a problem. But fortunately, he does too.

A few favorites from the past month…

The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle– I’m starting with this one because if you are married, you MUST go buy this today. I loved Melanie Shankle’s first book Sparkly Green Earrings, and this one was just as great! It is the type of book that will have you laughing out loud and perhaps your husband will wonder if you put something in your tea. (Side note: I have historically had an aversion to abbreviations in text messages–LOL, TTYL, ROFL–but my bestie loves to use LOL when she texts me so now I’m a bit endeared to that one. This book will definitely warrant a LOL.) And in the middle of all that laughter, there’s real truth for wives. Love, love, love this book. (Also, her blog is hilarious too.)

Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr- Switching tone completely, I read this one in early January as I began my journey with my word Behold this year. This book is one monastic’s journey to live mindfully throughout her day. I am pretty sure I highlighted every other sentence on my Kindle. This book is rich with meaning and purpose and an invitation to pause. I am repeatedly going back to this one during my journey to margin and Sabbath and rest this year.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple- This novel is quirky, funny and a touch sarcastic and it’s set in Seattle, one of my favorite cities. This satire has a different writing style, but after a few chapters I found myself really enjoying the style.

Feathers from My Nest by Beth Moore- I started this one the same day I happened to move our wooden high chair, the chair both girls have now used and the same one I used myself as a child, to the garage. Which is to say, I read this one with a wad of toilet paper next to me. This is Beth Moore’s story of their family and the lessons learned and shared as her children were growing up. Moms, especially young moms like me, this one will be a blessing.

For the wee ones… 

Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden- This was a Christmas gift to Charlotte from my dear friend Em, and it quickly became a favorite. This is my current go-to baby book for shower gifts. We read it one billion times a day.

Press Here by Herve Tullet- Lydia’s Christmas present from Em, this book is fun and interactive, great for kids who don’t like to sit still. (Which is what? All kids, right?)

Otis & Sydney by Laura Numeroff- I first came across this book at the library last year, and I just loved it. It’s the perfect birthday gift for a special friend, be it a friend celebrating a first birthday or number 33.

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead- We found this one last month while we learned about birds, and Lydia and I quickly labeled it a favorite. It’s the sweet story of Vernon the frog and Bird, who doesn’t say much but will make you smile.

In the ears…

A few people have asked what I listen to when I’m running. I usually listen to podcasts, and my favorites are Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley and the Catalyst podcast. I first listened to Andy Stanley’s Comparison Trap series last year, but he is doing it again this year so it just popped up on my playlist again this morning. Maybe you don’t struggle with this at all, but I struggle with it BIG time. This whole series hit me hard and deep.

That’s what I’ve been reading and listening to. What about you??

In Italics

In Italics

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe Book Thief– As we finished brunch at Perennial Virant for Matt’s birthday, we couldn’t decide what to do that afternoon. It was snowing outside, little snowflakes, like someone was sprinkling glitter from the rooftops. We had been all over the city and it was too cloudy to go up the Sears Tower like we had originally planned so we found a theater showing The Book Thief and hailed a cab. I had finished the book the day before we left for Chicago, and ten pages in The Book Thief secured its spot as my favorite novel of 2013. The book is haunting and raw, and Markus Zusak’s personification left me spellbound. The movie is also great though, of course, there is some complexity, a few story lines, that didn’t make it in the movie. I am one of those book nerds who always thinks the book is better than the movie, and that remains true in this case. But the movie is excellent and the book is a must-read.

Catching Fire– We finally saw Catching Fire (and thanks to a Malco gift card and $5 Humdingers shrimp on Mondays we had a date night for $15)! I’m a huge Hunger Games fan. I read all three books basking in the sun on the deck of a cruise ship with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean in my periphery so my memories with The Hunger Games are a bit biased… and salty. It’s rare for a movie to capture the imagination of a book as creatively vivid as The Hunger Games, but they did a great job with it. And I always love it when the characters in the movie resemble the ones I’ve fashioned in my head while reading.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott- This one was a Christmas present from Matt that he let me open early. For anyone who loves to write, this book is a  a not-so-gentle nudge to be an honest writer. I’m reading this one slowly, letting it pierce and prick me, disturb and disrupt me. It’s uncomfortable like sand in your swimsuit, but sand and swimsuits usually mean there’s a surf swelling close by.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott- Also a Christmas present from Matt, I actually waited for this one. Written in 1999, this book captures Lamott’s trademark gut-level honesty. Throughout the book, I found myself gritting my teeth and wondering, “Can she actually say that?” Which I sort of loved. I remember feeling the same way when I first read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. And it’s why I love Going Public stories at our church, souls bared, truth surfacing, honesty palpable. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. (Heads up: there are some four-letter words in this one and a few other things that, like I said earlier, made me grit my teeth. But I love how God finds us in the messy. I feel that is Anne Lamott’s life story and mine too.)

All In by Mark Batterson- While the black-eyed peas were simmering, I read this one New Year’s Day. It’s a perfect book to start the new year. When I turned the last page I felt like I do when I take that first step outside to go running and it’s 17 degrees. That cold air greeting makes you feel alive, daring, courageous. This book does the same. (This one is $3.79 for the Kindle edition as I’m typing this.)

Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith- My mom got this book for Lydia for Christmas. It’s a sweet story with beautiful illustrations. It reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit, the book I always begged my Grammy to read to me during summers when I was little.

Also, I saw on Facebook where Beth Moore has a ton of books available in Kindle edition for FREE until January 10th! To find out more go to If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for free and read it on your iPhone or iPad. Yay for free books!

I snapped this picture of the Library at the Public Chicago where Matt and I stayed for our trip. The cozy fire, the creamy Carrera marble, the original tin ceilings… we wanted to move in. On a slightly (very) unrelated note, when I go to hotels with fun toiletries I put them away in my bag each day so they will leave more the next morning. Then Matt and I start quoting the Friends episode where Ross and Chandler go to Vermont. Maple candy, anyone?

Good times, great reads, enjoy!

Fall Reads

Fall Reads

charlotte pumpkinHappy Halloween! It’s been raining all day here, the perfect kind of day to snuggle up with my wee goblins and read lots of books. Or Momma reads while one dances around in her Snow White dress and the other pulls all the books off the bookshelf. You know, whatever works.

A few favorites in our stack right now for the girls…

Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy – We got this one for Charlotte’s birthday to have everyone leave her a little birthday message. I searched and searched for good pumpkin books since we were having her party at the pumpkin patch. Finally, I found this one and I just love it. The illustrations by Pablo Bernasconi are whimsical and the story is captivating. A new fall favorite for sure.

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo & Harry Bliss – Matt’s sweet aunt manages Square Books in Oxford and she sent us a personalized signed copy of this book for Lydia’s second birthday. Such a special gift and such a great book. We watched the Tale of Despereaux based on another book by Kate one night recently, and it’s incredible as well (It’s on Netflix too!)  I love how Kate writes books kids love while stretching their minds and capturing their imaginations.

Tickle Time by Sandra Boynton – We are huge fans of Sandra Boynton’s fun and happy books. A sweet friend gave Charlotte Tickle Time for her birthday and Charlotte will hand it to me to read over and over and over. We also love Fifteen Animals and Moo, Baa, La La La. These are great gifts for a first birthday or first Christmas.

And a couple I’ve loved reading recently…

The In-Between by Jeff Goins – The tagline reads “Embracing the tension between now and the next big thing.” I have a thing with waiting. I don’t like it. But God keeps bringing this theme into my life, so I know He must have something for me to learn during the wait. This book caused me to reflect on the wait and the journey instead of focusing on the destination.

Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt – I got this book on my Kindle for my recent trip to Florida. I felt particularly proud when I bought it because I had indeed packed light for my trip. In an effort to not give Delta $50 for my bags I managed to get everything I needed into a carry-on bag. I almost took a picture to send to my dad because I knew how proud he would be of my packing job. In a world that says bigger house, better car, more clothes and newer gadgets, I loved reading Allison’s story of a life-changing trip to all 50 states and learning to live with less baggage.

Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist- I’ve read this book a dozen times, and I’m reading it again. Every time I pick this one up, my eyes are opened to the extraordinary moments of life happening all around me . This was Shauna’s first book and one of my all-time favorites to read over and over again.

Settle in, hopefully with Reese’s pumpkins in one hand and a great book in the other. Here’s to a happy and very rainy Halloween!