Thursday, June 15, 2017

April & May Reads

April and May were simply full of fantastic adventures traveling to visit both family and friends!  Here are some of the books that I read the past few months.  

The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally & Sarah Clarkson: Sally & Sarah Clarkson are two ladies that I would simply love to have over for tea.  As I read through this lovely book it just felt like having sweet friends over curled up in my living room while we discussed all things pertaining to the home.  This book is simply delightful and provided so much encouragement.  It's definitely one of my favorites that I have read this year!

Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God by Courtney Reissig: I was so excited about reading this book that I not only purchased the book, I pre-ordered it!  It sure did not disappoint.  I loved this thoughtful book on the importance of work in the home.  Reissig encouraged me to think deeply about the importance of home work in light of eternity.  I found myself looking at my typical week and thinking through how I myself can be more intentional.  At first glance it may look like a typical stay at home mom book but it is anything but that.  What's unique and interesting is the fact that I think all women (regardless of their working situation) would benefit from reading this book.  I look forward to reading her other book The Accidental Feminist sometime soon.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer: This was my light, relaxing fiction read for the month of April.  (Unless the month involves an extended car ride I try to limit my fiction reads to one per month.  There is so much else out there that I want to read to help myself grow as a person.)  This book chronicles the tale of suffragette Emma Chandler who operates a women's colony that offers a fresh start for women in need.  An assailant tries to drive out the women who refuse and stand their ground.  Emma's old friend Malachi Shaw comes to town to lend a hand which only complicates the situation.  I enjoyed reading this book but I didn't find myself incredibly tempted to stay up late at night to finish it.

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis: As I've mentioned before on this blog, I have read nearly every book Beverly Lewis has ever written.  When I saw this Amish looking beach read at my local library I snatched it up to take along on my beach trip to Florida!  This story involves Sallie Riehl, an Amish girl who longed to see the world.  When the opportunity comes to nanny for a family in Cape May, Sallie jumps at the chance.  She sees a whole new world while enjoying the beach and wonders where she fits into God's creation.  This book was very typical of Lewis' novels but also quite enjoyable.

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaefer Macaulay: I re-read this book on our last flight to Dallas and found it so refreshing.  As Macaulay writes, "education is an adventure...It's about people, children, life, reality!"  The author talked a lot about the importance of one's home life in regards to education.  I absolutely love the practicality of the book and how the ideas can be used in any home setting around the world.  I wrote down a number of things that I hope to implement in our own home life this summer.

Read Aloud to Children:

Errand Boy by Edith Witmer: This book tells the tale of six year old Larry and his family who move to Honduras to tell the people there how much God loves them.  My children both enjoyed hearing the adventures of what life is like living in a new country as a missionary.  It was a wonderful way to not only spend time talking about life as a missionary but also to spend time together praying as a family for mission work in Central America.  Our family is blessed to have very dear friends who serve as missionaries in Mexico.  This really helped my children to see what life as a missionary is really like.

Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost: We enjoyed this sweet poetry book that I read aloud last month.  This heartwarming book chronicles the heart and strength of a family.  It was a neat book but I"m not sure both of my children really followed who was speaking.  The poems go back and forth between Lucy, Peter, Faith, and Uncle Arthur.  Honestly I'm really no expert when it comes to poetry.  At the conclusion of this book I felt kind of neutral about it.  That's not exactly the feeling that I"m going for when I finish a book no matter what genre it is.  I want a book to move me!  I'm going to have to seek out some good poetry to read aloud over the summer.

Teddy's Button by Amy Feuvre: This was an audio book that I purchased from Lamplighter Publishing for our nearly ten hour road trip to Arkansas to visit family.  It was fabulous and inspired fantastic conversations in the car.  I'm already saving up so we can purchase more audio books from Lamplighter in the future.  

Currently Reading:
When People are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch-(I've really been enjoying this book but it is definitely one that I need to read slowly.)

The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee 

What books did you read the past few months?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

March Reads

Happy Spring!  It feels good to be jumping back into a somewhat more regular reading routine at home.  Here's a look at the books I read in March.  

Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard; Everyone is waiting for something.  This book was such a good reminder of that simple fact.  It never dawned on me as a young woman that I would find myself waiting on things for the rest of my life. In this book Howard writes about 5 different types of waiting: Waiting on a Bridegroom, Waiting for a Child, Waiting for Healing, Waiting for a Home, and Waiting for a Prodigal. I'm positive that all of the chapters (including those that didn't specifically apply to me) will help me to understand the waiting that my friends endure.  Right now I can think of at least one friend that is waiting on each of those five different things.  Howard gave much hope throughout this book and truly made my heart long for the day when Jesus returns.  Seasons of Waiting is probably my favorite book that I read in March.  I believe this was the author's first book but I sure hope she writes another!

Woman Code by Alissa Vitti: I actually picked this book up from our library last year and read the first chapter or so.  I was a little intimidated so I didn't end up finishing this book.  Fast forward a year and I was ready to try again.  I actually purchased the book this time so I could mark it up and keep it on hand for reference.  This time around I have really enjoyed it!  The whole premise behind the book is really syncing different aspects of your life around your monthly cycle.  I think cycle syncing is a really great idea.  I"m sure we would all agree that there are certain weeks of the month that just don't work for tackling big projects.  I've never given it this much thought or went so far as to schedule my month around it.  I'm 2/3 of the way through the book and look forward to implementing many of the author's suggestions and ideas.  I'll have to let you know in a few months what I think about the implementation.

Quick Tips For Busy Families by Jay Payleitner: This book was packed with over 100 different strategies or tips for raising great kids.  Most of the strategies are only about a page long so this is an excellent book to pick up if you simply hate long chapters.  Overall I thought most of the ideas were pretty good but they weren't really earth shattering.  Many of the strategies were things my own parents did for me as a child or things that we already incorporate into the Emerson family.  I did enjoy discussing some of the ideas with my husband to see what his thoughts were on the each suggestion.  Please note I did receive a review copy of this book from Bethany House.  All opinions are my own.

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins: Usually I don't pay that much attention to book covers but this one drove me crazy!  It looks so outdated.  It seriously looks like it is from the early '90s but it has a 2010 publication date.  That aside I thought the author had a lot of great ideas throughout the book.  Such a reminder to teach to my children's strengths and weaknesses.  Most of all I was reminded to make homeschooling work for my family.  The tag line of this book is "How your one of a kind family can make homeschooling and real life work" which really does a good job of summing up the book.  We are a young family (our oldest is only 7) and I can already see how our family tweaks different things to make homeschooling work best for our family.  I'd recommend this to any homeschooling family.

Read Aloud to Kids:
God's Promises by Sally Michael: We love, loved reading this book aloud in February and March as part of our Devotional Time.  It goes through a list of the different promises of God.  I think it is so important to teach young children specifically what God is like and the great promises that He has made for believers.  The chapters are the perfect length for our family.  At the end of each chapter there are related activities that you can do together, discussion questions, and a Memory Verse.  The chapters are poignant and use wonderful, age appropriate illustrations.  I'm looking forward to reading two more books from this series aloud to the children this summer.  We have also read God's Names by the same author.

Currently Reading:

The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson

When People Are Big and God Is Small by Ed Welch 

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer

Reading Aloud to Children:

The Bible in the Wall by H.J.D. 

Jessica's Journey by Hesbra Stretton and John Rhys-Davies

What books did your read last month?  Do you have any recommendations to share?  

Monday, April 10, 2017

This Week's Goals & Recap

Happy Monday friends!  I hope you all had such a fantastic week last week.  I made it safely home with both kids from our road trip to Arkansas!  Hooray.  I'll have lots more to share about it later in the week.  It was such a good trip.  Don't you just love that sweet photo above that I snapped the minute we returned home?  

When I first sat down last night to think about my goals I had all sorts of lofty ambitions.  Then the Holy Spirit worked on my heart.  This isn't the week to deep clean my basement.  Of all the weeks of the year this is the week to celebrate and remember.  Christ has Risen from the grave!  This week I hope to take extra time to walk slowly through the days leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection both with my children and on my own.  I hope you take some time out to do the same.  

Goals from Two Weeks Ago:
Marriage, Mothering, & Family:
1.  Go on a real (out of the house) date with Brandon.  He won't be traveling with us this trip so I want to make sure that we spend some good time together before I head out.  I'll be gone a total of 6 days.  I'm super thankful we were able to squeeze in a date night before I headed out of town.  Our date didn't turn out quite as I had planned but we ended up having a blast.  Let's just say Groupons and Putt Putt golf sometimes don't mix.  
2.  Road Trip to Arkansas!  This will be my first time traveling this far alone with two children so I will also be spending a lot of time prepping for this trip.  I've made the trip to Arkansas about three times a year for the past 8 years but I'm still a teensy bit anxious about making the long drive alone.    It was awesome!  
3.  Finish reading God's Promises by Sally Michael.  (Have I mentioned how much I simply adore this series?  It's so good.)  We will be starting another book from this series after Easter.  

4.  Spend at least an hour working on organizing the basement.  I realized that I really have a long way to go.  There are still quite a few boxes which aren't unpacked.  
5.  Sew a birthday gift which also includes a trip to the fabric store.  (I gave away the large majority of my fabric stash before we moved.)  I ended up making a hard shell sunglasses case.  It was a little tricky but I"m pretty happy with how it turned out.  I would like to make one for myself sometime before the end of summer.  
6.  Leave for our trip with a clean house.  This is an area that I usually struggle with but I simply DO NOT want to come home to a messy home.  It's super awesome coming home to a clean house.  Kudos to my super awesome husband who picked up after himself and washed all the dishes before I came home!  
7.  Vacuum out the inside of our van and wash the outside.  It's amazing just how much fun a seven year old boy can have at the car wash! 

8.  Continue working through Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God.  (I also need to do a little catch up work this week.)  I worked  on it but I had a hard time staying caught up while on my trip.  I'm hoping to really grow in the area of making devotions a priority while away from home.  

Ministry & Friendships:
9.  Catch up with a friend on the telephone.
10.  Spend time visiting with my friend Laura who lives in Nashville.  We'll be spending two nights at her house on our way to Arkansas.  It was fantastic.  My friend Laura and her husband are just the best hosts!  I felt right at home and my kids had so much fun!  

This Week's Goals

Marriage, Mothering, & Family:
1)  Celebrate the Risen Savior with my immediate and extended family!
2)  Carve out extra time to spend discussing the glorious wonders of the Gospel with the children each day.  We are using the "Resurrection Eggs" this week alongside reading selected passages from the Gospels.
3)  Take both children to the dentist.
4)  Attend gymnastics and soccer practice.  Eli had an absolute BLAST at his first soccer game last week!

5)  Intentionally involve my children more in cooking.

6)  Finish reading one book this week.
7)  Spend extra time in prayer and catching up on my Bible Study.
8)  Workout three times.  I walked a ton on our trip but I'm ready to get back to a regular workout routine.

Ministry & Friendships:
9)  Attend a dinner party at a friend's house.
10)  Continue to intentionally invite others to our Easter Eggstravaganza outreach at our church.  We will of course also be attending and I just can't wait!

What plans do you have for this week?  Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

This Week's Goals and Road Trip Plans

I was pleasantly surprised last week when Evangeline decided to be my building helper.  We had such a great time building this raised bed.  She handed me screws and even helped me hold the boards.  I can't wait to harvest some fresh veggies!
Happy Tuesday friends!  Here's hoping your week is off to a fantastic start.  This is an exciting week at our home because we are prepping for a road trip to Arkansas!  Woohoo!  Spring break is in the air!  I can't believe we haven't actually been to Arkansas since last July.  Our fall was packed with our Disney trip and then we ended up moving after Thanksgiving.  Thankfully we have seen a handful of our Arkansas family on numerous occasions but I haven't seen my three nieces in forever!  I can't wait to see Eli and Eva's face when they see their cousins again!  I'm sure that will be worth the 9 hour drive!  In the mean time here's what goals I will be focusing on this week!  

Marriage, Mothering, & Family:
1.  Go on a real (out of the house) date with Brandon.  He won't be traveling with us this trip so I want to make sure that we spend some good time together before I head out.  I'll be gone a total of 6 days.
2.  Road Trip to Arkansas!  This will be my first time traveling this far alone with two children so I will also be spending a lot of time prepping for this trip.  I've made the trip to Arkansas about three times a year for the past 8 years but I'm still a teensy bit anxious about making the long drive alone.  
3.  Finish reading God's Promises by Sally Michael.  (Have I mentioned how much I simply adore this series?  It's so good.)

4.  Spend at least an hour working on organizing the basement.
5.  Sew a birthday gift which also includes a trip to the fabric store.  (I gave away the large majority of my fabric stash before we moved.)
6.  Leave for our trip with a clean house.  This is an area that I usually struggle with but I simply DO NOT want to come home to a messy home.
7.  Vacuum out the inside of our van and wash the outside.

8.  Continue working through Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God.  (I also need to do a little catch up work this week.)  

Ministry & Friendships:
9.  Catch up with a friend on the telephone.
10.  Spend time visiting with my friend Laura who lives in Nashville.  We'll be spending two nights at her house on our way to Arkansas.

I'd love to hear what goals you have for this week!  Do you have any tips or advice as I prepare for a long road trip alone with kids?  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

February Reads

February was such a strange month for reading.  I worked my way through only two books.  Usually the middle of winter is the time of year that I really devour books.  One of those books was actually a Bible Study that I just finished.  I love hearing Bible Study reviews just as much as I enjoy hearing about different books that others read so I am including them here.  

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple:  I picked up this adorable book in December at a lovely little book store just a few miles from the beach.  I thought it looked like the perfect beach read but I didn't get around to reading it until this month.  We spent a lot of time at the beach in December but I didn't read much.  I was too busy exploring with my kiddos to kick back and read.  I honestly think I bought this book based on the cover.  The title is just adorable!  This book tells the tale of a teenager named Bee who comes to terms with her imperfect mother named Bernadette.  Her mother is quite the complex character.  I'm not sure why but this book just wasn't for me.  I had a hard time getting into it but I finished the book because I really like closure.  Anyone else like that?

Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy by Beth Moore: One of my first goals when I joined our new church was to get plugged into a Bible Study.  I love studying the Bible with other women so I was super excited to take part in this study.  I knew nothing about this study before I cracked open the front cover.  (It's actually been a really long time since I worked through one of Beth Moore's group Bible Studies.)  Most of the six weeks I spent working through this study I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant.  It was really good but man it was so fast.  I'm definitely someone who enjoys sinking my teeth into a book for literally months.  Overall I enjoyed Entrusted and Beth Moore's writing style is just lovely.

Currently Reading:

Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard

Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner

When People Are Big and God Is Small by Edward T. Welch

Woman Code by Alissa Vitti

Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette

What books did you read last month?  Do you have any recommendations?  This month I'm specifically looking for children's audio book recommendations.  The kids and I will be going on a 9 hour road trip to Arkansas alone! I'd love to hear your favorite audio book recommendations that won't drive me crazy in the car.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

This Week's Goals

I just finished up my current Bible Study on the book of 2 Timothy this afternoon and man am I fired up!  I just keep thinking: set some goals, get your work done, enjoy your family, and work hard to further the Gospel this week! Here's what I'm focusing on this week:

Marriage, Mothering, & Family:
1.  Eli starts soccer practice this week!  This is his first time playing and I'm so excited for him.  I also need to take him to the store to buy some related sports equipment before practice.  Eli and Eva are also continuing with gymnastics and start a new session this week. 
2. Read three chapters of God's Promises by Sally Michael aloud to the children this week.  This book is fantastic and I"m hoping we can finish by the end of the month so I can let my sister-in-law borrow it when I see her.  We have also read the first book in this series entitled God's Names.  
3.  Enjoy an at-home date night and spend some time intentionally chatting about life.  

4.  Have our house inspected for potential damage from the tree that landed on our roof.  (I'm not anticipating damage but just wanted to make sure since I can't actually see our roof.  It is really high up so I'm not going to risk climbing onto the roof.)  
5.  Spend at least two hours working on gathering tax information.
6.  Order new lamp post and light fixture from Home Depot.  

7.  Finish reading Seasons of Waiting and begin reading another book which is yet to be determined.  Any suggestions?    (Perhaps a nice long visit to the library is in order.)
8.  Exercise three times.  We just joined a gym last weekend so I'm hoping to get in some great exercise this week.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Spend time catching up with a friend on the phone.
10.  Attend a women's conference at our church this weekend!  Yipee!  I'm super excited.  It's been a while since I've been able to attend a conference specifically geared towards women in person so this will be quite the treat.

What goals do you have for this week?  Did your home have any damage from the storms and tornadoes from last week?  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

February at Our Home

We love family fun days!  After enjoying a Madcap puppet show we enjoyed dinner at Brandon's favorite IHOP!
 We have now been in our new home for three months.  Our hearts are beyond thankful at the Lord's good gift of blessing us with a home that we love so much that is so close to Brandon's new job.  When we began looking for a home I doubted that we would be able to find what we were looking for but the Lord had other ideas!  I'm still amazed that we found this little haven so quickly.  It is our prayer that God would use our home to bless and encourage all who enter it.

This month Eva has been obsessed with art.  She spends hours drawing,
painting, coloring, using pastels, and even this aquadoodle mat.  
 This month we enjoyed a wonderful visit from Brandon's parents who came all the way from Arkansas.  It's always great to see Nina & Poppy Steve.  They haven't seen our home since the weekend we moved in so it was neat to show them the small progress we have made.  We've also been discussing a partial basement finishing but Brandon and I can't seem to agree on the layout design.  (We are currently weighing the pros and cons of an open layout.)

We have both chosen to invest first in others so honestly our progress with the house is going a little slow.  The majority of our house is unpacked but I really haven't touched the boxes that are in the basement.  (Sounds like a great weekly goal huh?)  When given the option to organize something or spend time building new friendships I am opting to spend time with friends.  I'm thankful for the many people who have made us feel so welcome so far.  We have enjoyed play dates and one of the best super bowl parties ever.

A sweet collage from one of our first park outings here!  If you look closely
you can see that Eli is wearing his sister's helmet.  We still haven't found his!
 As part of getting more involved in our community both children have enjoyed taking gymnastics lessons.  Evangeline's occupational therapist actually recommended gymnastics since we were ready for a therapy break.   I have been so pleasantly surprised to watch Eva at gymnastics!  She is a completely different little lady.  Eli has also loved the challenge and Ninja Warrior aspect of his gymnastics class.

The month of February has felt like such a whirlwind with the crazy weather we experienced.  We enjoyed both snow and days that felt like summer.  One day it reached 81 degrees!  I have lived somewhere in Kentucky my entire life and I can't remember a February this warm.  We have enjoyed playing at three different parks and look forward to exploring the other parks that our city has to offer.
We had a great time visiting the zoo with friends this month.
I think a big part of me is still holding out for a nice big snowstorm before Spring hits in a few weeks.  February ended up being a weird month.  Eva was sick for a week and then I also caught a bug.  Thankfully we are all feeling better now.  I also didn't really read at all which is so out of character for me!  I think I'm ready to tackle a few house projects and squeeze in as much fun as possible this month!

Here's to a wonderful month of March friends.