Friday, December 30, 2016

December Reads

From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage by Craig & Amy Groeschel: This book was gifted to me by a ministry mentor couple in early December.  This was my first experience reading or listening to anything by the Groeschels.  I aim to read a few marriage books every year so I jumped at the chance to dive into this one.  I thought this book was filled with some great, practical advice.  It was also very funny!  The five commitments mentioned in the book are: 1) Seek God. 2) Fight fair. 3) Have fun. 4) Stay pure. 5) Never give up.  These are all great commitments to implement in your life.  Personally I plan on working on number two and number three.  We moved this month and Brandon and I have both been working so hard.  We could definitely use a little more fun in our life!

The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice: Every December I try to read some type of Advent devotional as I prepare my heart for Christmas.  This book contained many good stories but did come across as a wee bit scholarly to me.  Honestly I did have a few thoughts of abandoning it but I continued.  I'm glad I did because I really think the second half of the book is much better than the first.  The book is divided into four sections: 1) Christ and Christmas. 2) The Virgin Birth and Christmas. 3) The First Christmas. 4) People of Christmas.

Ariel Custer by Grace Livingston Hill:  Are you familiar with this author?  My friend introduced me to her in high school.  Since then I've read a number of her books over the years when I find them at the library or a used book store.  At one time I had some vintage books (the kind that look adorable as home decor) that I found at an antique store.  They are all very typical and what I would call a feel good, vacation type novel.  Usually they are quite predictable much like a Lifetime or Hallmark movie.

Praying through the Bible for your Kids by Nancy Guthrie: I have thoroughly enjoyed every Bible Study and book that I have had the chance to read by this author.  I couldn't wait for the opportunity to review this book.  Ever since reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian I knew I wanted something to help guide me in praying for my children.  I think a mother's natural inclination is just to pray for good things to happen to her children.  (I care more about my children's souls then I do their happiness so I really want to move past that in my prayer life.)  This book is organized with one page for every single day of the year.  Just one page.  How practical!  It includes a Scripture, devotion, and a short guided prayer for your children.  I actually keep this book on my vanity and read it while fixing my hair or makeup.  Such a great book for any parent.  What better way to spend five minutes than in praying for your children?  Please note that I did receive this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review which I have provided.

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd: I ended up reading this novel while on vacation at the beach.  Hooray!  It was fantastic in every way that a Gothic novel can be.  This was such a page turner that I found myself staying up way past bedtime to read it.  Isn't that the true mark of a great book?  In the book Rebecca Ravenshaw returns from India to her homeland of England only to find that someone impersonated her in order to steal her inheritance.  The pretender ended up dying before her arrival but Rebecca finds herself untangling webs of lies for months.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore: When I found this book on the "New Releases" shelf at the new library I jumped at the chance to dive into it.  I've done a few Beth Moore bible studies and I was simply intrigued by the fact that she wrote a novel!  (It just seemed so out of character to me.)  While parts of this book were good it left a lot to be desired.  I really felt like the author went way too far in some of the things she included in the book.  For example: taking the Lord's name in vain is NEVER acceptable.  She could have easily said that the person cursed and the reader would have experienced the same emotion.  I also felt like the book was ridiculously long.  It moved a little too slow for my taste.  That said if Beth Moore does decide to write another fiction novel I will probably read it if I find it at my library.

Currently Reading:
Enjoy by Trilla Newbell
Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman
Mason Jar Nation by Joann Moser

If you would like to see a fun info graphic from Goodreads of all the books I read in 2016 you can click here.  This year I hit my reading goal!  What books did you read in December?  What was your favorite book you read in 2016?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This Week's Goals: The Week of Christmas

My bunch playing around at the St. Louis zoo a few weeks ago.  

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Set aside most "projects" this week to focus on celebrating Christmas with my family.  I'm still not unpacked but I'm going to try to put most of that on hold this week.  (This is actually a hard goal for me as I can't wait to finish unpacking!)  I'm looking forward to reading lots of books, playing games, and watching Christmas movies!
2.  Enjoy an at home date night with the happy husband.
3.  Brandon & I are planning on taking our kiddos on some fun outing.

4.  Make cookies with the children.  Evangeline received a sweet pretend mixer and she has been so anxious to bake with me!
5.  Sew two final Christmas presents.

6.  Write at least five thank you notes this week.
7.  Finish reading The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice.
8.  Spend time reflecting on 2016 and praying about the upcoming year.  I'm also hoping to spend some time writing in my journal.  I love writing in my journal but it has been collecting dust for the majority of the month.

Ministry & Friendships
8.  Enjoy meeting up with friends at a coffee shop.  We also have some out of town friends that I hope we get to meet up with.  
9.  Deliver handmade goodies to our the rest of our neighbors and our mail carrier.

10.  Sit down and have a budget meeting with the happy husband.  (Not a part of our at home date night.)

What goals do you have for this week?  Are you traveling to visit family?  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas!  We just moved (as in we moved less than a month ago) so we are sticking close to home this Christmas.  I'm looking forward to sharing more frugal ideas, organization hints, and tips for intentional living in the following weeks.  For now I'm making memories and savoring the moments.  I hope you are as well. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fall Reads

I still can't believe I took a three month break from blogging.  I had every intention of sharing but our life has been so crazy the past three months.  We went on two separate vacations (including Disney) in the month of September so I had plenty of time to read to my heart’s content!  The above photograph only includes about half of the books that I managed to read in September and early October.  I accidentally returned the rest of the library books before I snapped a picture!  Then I found out that we were MOVING to a new town!  I'll share more about that later but for now here are the books I managed to read this fall.  I read ZERO books in the month of November but I hope to add reading back into my life sometime this month!  

True Companion: Thoughts on Being a Pastor's Wife by Nancy Wilson: This dear book felt as though I had invited Mrs. Wilson over to visit for an afternoon of fellowship where I asked her a myriad of questions.  It was delightful and chocked full of sound, godly advice on blessing your husband.  For those of you who might not be aware I became a pastor's wife the day I said "I do" at age 23.  One of the best pieces of advice I was given early on is the fact that my marriage is very unique because I am married to a minister.  It has its own sets of challenges that other couples don't face.  My marriage also gets to experience many joys and special blessings.  I really enjoyed reading Wilson's book and would recommend it to anyone whose husband is in the ministry.  

Wee Alphas by wee society:  Although not technically a book, I found this assortment of postcards to be simply delightful.  There is one for each letter of the alphabet.  I think the children and I will be using them to surprise some cousins and friends with snail mail sometime later this month!  What’s more fun than receiving a cute postcard in the mail?  I think they would also be cute used as nursery decor.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of Wee Alphas from Blogging for Books.  All opinions are my own. 

The Wish by Beverly Lewis:  One of the things I really enjoy about Lewis’ books is the fact that they are so similar.  Every once in a while (and usually while on vacation) I’m in the mood to curl up with one of her delicious Amish fiction novels.  This one was no different.  I read it while on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains and it was just delightful.  In this book Leona seeks out her friend Gloria after Gloria and her family mysteriously disappear after her father is expelled.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Bethany House publishers.  All opinions are my own. 

Mrs. Lincoln's  Dressmaker by Jen Chiaverini: As a history nerd and seamstress I found this book absolutely fascinating.  It details the life of modiste Elizabeth Keckley dressmaker and personal friend of Mary Todd Lincoln.  Born a slave, Ms. Keckley earned her freedom by the skill of her needle and lived life as an accomplished black free woman.  This historical fiction book was a delight to read.  

Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends by Rachel Anne Ridge: While the story line of this book was adorable it left me longing for so much more.  If I am going to shell out $13 for a “Christian children’s book” I really expect the book to be oozing with Jesus.  Is that snobby?  We own oodles of books but if I choose to purchase a children's book brand new it has to be absolutely stellar.  The last page of the book does include Proverbs 11:30 but I just had much higher expectations for this book.  I think this was the first Christian children’s book that I have ever reviewed and I just expected that the book would be similar to many of the other Christian books that we have in our home library for our children.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim: I knew from the back cover that this was a book that I would enjoy.  It marries two interests of mine: Amish/Mennonite living and bio-ethics.  As if the issue of surrogacy was not complicated enough, Beth Winslow finds herself in the midst of difficulties when early tests indicate possible abnormalities.  Not willing to terminate the pregnancy she escapes and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus.  There she spends the next 20 years of her life hiding from her past.  Her own past comes back when a young woman named Amelia arrives.  This book was fabulous.  So good in fact that I laid awake in our tent (we were camping in the Smokies while I read the book) and simply could not sleep.  I really should have just finished the book then but I thought my head lamp would wake everyone up.  

Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield: This book was fascinating and so challenging.  I was first introduced to Rosaria Butterfield while listening to a series on  Revive our Hearts broadcast.  Mrs. Butterfield challenged me to think about current issues in light of the Gospel in such a fresh new way.  I look forward to hearing more from this author in the future.  I would recommend this book to anyone and I have no doubt that it will prove to be one of the most insightful books I read in 2016.  

Books I'm Currently Reading:
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore (her first novel) 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift 

Books I Abandoned:
Homeschooling with Joy 

What books did you read last month?  I would love to hear any of your suggestions!  I'm planning on exploring our new library sometime this week.