Why Biographies Matter

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My favorite genre of books is (well, besides cook books) memoir or biography.  I think they are important for so many reasons, but today I just want to tell you the most important one.

For believers, memoirs/biographies matter so future generations will know your life and what you believe.

In an age of social media, we often get so wrapped up in taking a pretty picture or engaging SEO stats, that we forget about what really matters.  This life is not all there is.  There is life after this life and that is eternal.  So, what we believe about Jesus and the Gospel in this life will determine (based on the grace of God) what our next life looks like.

Jessica Ronne, in her book, Sunlight Burning at Midnight, not only decided to tell her story, one mixed with pain and smiles, but decided to keep Jesus in it.  Since He is clearly the author of our stories, we need to know what He does in them.  What does His word say?  Where does He move us?  What does he bring to our lives that make us look directly at Him?

And what I’ve known now for the last 6 years is so true, in reading this book, and in living my life since those last 6 years: God is big enough to wrestle with us – when we bring to Him our questions, our misunderstandings, our unbelief.  As Aslan would say “draw near”.

Jessica is giving one of you readers a chance to win your own copy.  To enter: just tell me what memoir/biography is your favorite.

 

 

100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children

posted in: Books | 2

Our boys are 5 and 4.  And if there are a few things we’ve learned over the years it is that our boys are different…and our boys are always changing.

What works one day may not work the next and yeah, most of you will understand.

Some nights our evening family worship time (right before bed) works great. Other nights it is a complete disaster.  That doesn’t mean we give up.

It might mean we change things up a bit.

And this book right here has helped us change things up a bit.

In the morning, my mister gets up with the boys, get the older one off to school on the bus, then eats breakfast with the younger.  And this book has been a great addition to the breakfast table.  It shares a verse and a short devotion, perfect for his preschool attention span.

And you can use it in whatever way suits your family:

  1.  If you are homeschooling, you can trace the verse, have your kids journal this verse, memorize the verses, etc.
  2. You can write it on a home chalkboard for your kids to see throughout the day.
  3. You can read it together over a meal or at night.
  4. You can pray it over your children as they go to bed.
  5. You can journal these verses as their mama and give it to them when they are older for them to see how you prayed for them and how God answered.

However you choose to use it, know that it is the Word of God, and it is powerful to bring about change in your kids’ lives (and yours).

And you can win won from Tommy Nelson Mommies.  Just share with me which one of the above ways you would use if you had this book. I’d love to hear!

Thanks Tommy Nelson for this book and for the giveaway book.  All opinions are my own.

Looking back at 2017

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I’ve not always enjoyed having a birthday that was so close to Christmas.  Hint: most of the time we were out of school for my birthday which usually would be great, but that’s how I saw people and got anything for my birthday (other than from family), so if you were out of school most people forgot about it.

But, now I thoroughly enjoy it because it prolongs that year just a bit for me.  Most of my new year’s resolutions don’t start until after my birthday because you know, you want to eat cake! 🙂

So, 2017 wasn’t really a great year for lots of people, and it wasn’t a stellar year for me though it had highlights.

Let me first tell you about the highlights:

  1.  We bought a home.  We moved to the Augusta, GA area and were able to buy a home.  We had owned a home before but not since living in ATL, and now we can get settled.  I like being settled (as long as I get to travel).
  2. I was asked to do many cool lettering projects including a styled shoot which was published twice (here and here) and to letter t-shirts for a concert tour/album release.
  3. I surpassed my reading goal.

Ok, but really, 40 was not my favorite year.

I had to start again, again.  Building community at 40 is hard.  And ATL was hard enough as it was.  When you are 10-20 years older than most of the people in your same creative field, its difficult to feel like you fit in.  Social media doesn’t always help, but it also has been good to build community.

Fear was the word that permeated 40/2017.  Insecurity in my health (colitis flare ups, autoimmune diagnosis, weight gain).  Insecurity in my relationship with Christ.  Fear of failure as a wife and a mom.  Fear of how my boys will turn out.  Fear of not being liked.  Not in a 13 sorta of way, but in a 40 sort of way.  Fear of never being good enough to measure up to anything.  Fear of always being mediocre at everything I do.  Never excelling at anything.  Fear of loss: both my grandfather and my mom have been in the hospital and just sick in the last few months.

So, when people ask me what I want for 2018 and 41: just please be better than last year.

For 2018: Peace is my word of the year.  I want peace in my relationship with Christ.  I want peace in not-striving.  I want peace in our home.  I want peace in my body.

My verse for this year you will find above:

Since God created the world and everything in it is upheld by his words and his power – there should be no chaos in it – only peace.

Isaiah 45:18

Smiths at the Rapids

Welcome to 2018.  A few days ago I had the privilege of taking some family photos for some friends who were in town.  The wife/mom/aunt is from here and I know them from Durham. Its fun when people come visit! 🙂

It was cold and I had the boys with but we made it work and had a fun time.  We ended the time with some play on the playground.

The Savannah Rapids is such a perfect place for photography.  Great lighting, different places and backgrounds, water, sun, wood, barn, perfect for family shots.

Books Read in 2017

posted in: Books | 1

Well, this may be the first year that I’ve ever set a book reading goal – and surpassed it!

So, next year I’ve upped the number by just saying “I want to beat this year”.  I’ve got some reading goals for next year, but that’s for next year – so stay tuned.

Below are the books I read in 2017 and the ones with the talk are the ones I enjoyed the most.

What was your favorite you read in 2017?

What are you looking most forward to with reading in 2018?

The Magnolia Story

Nothing to Prove: This was my first Jennie Allen read and it was what I needed at the time I read it.  I thought it was great!

Magic of Motherhood

Martha Washington: An American Life: This was the first in my First Lady bio books.  I really loved how it focused on her and not her husband.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

You Are Free

A Letter from Lancaster County

Fools Rush In

Between Heaven and the Real World: Definitely my favorite of the year.  I sobbed all the way through it and I’m not allowed to mention SCC’s name in our home I don’t think for a while.  So good! I love biographies!

Dreamland Burning.  Another great one.  YA.  Injustice.  Racial terror.

Dear Mr. Knightley.  First of three I’ve read by her this year.  And I really enjoy her writing.  Weaving faith, romance, literature, travel.  This one was my favorite

Gracelaced

The Bronte Plot

Winter Kisses

A Change of Heart

Trusting Grace

Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck

Seeds of Hope

Austen Escape

The King’s Locket

Hidden Christmas . Tim Keller.  Easy to read Tim Keller.  Fabulous look on Christmas.

Kinfolk Table.  I probably have notes on every page of this biographical compilation cookbook with stunning photography.

She Reads Truth.  If you need a book to encourage you in truth right where you need it, this is it.  But, word to the wise, don’t read it in public.  There were many chapters I sobbed reading it while on the bike at the gym.

Letters to Grief

Earth Psalms

Growing Up

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.  I love this.  Its a re-read.  And I’ll probably re-read it every year.

December Picture Books

posted in: Books | 0

I have really fallen in love with reading to my boys.  It is a sweet time on the couch or on their bed.  We read chapter books or picture books.

But, I also let them pick out many of their own books at the library.  They like to wander through the picture book section and find books that have dogs and fire trucks – at least for now.

I also like to get as many from this list.  It is super helpful.  I’ve not found we like them all, but it gives us new ideas and brings us new authors I wouldn’t have known about.

So, here are our favorites from December.  We probably read over 60 picture books.  These are our favorites because the boys picked these over and over.

Pirate Boy.  I’ve read this so much the last two months.  And it is mommy’s as heroes – so its a perfect one to read with your boys.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.  My boys laughed at the animals wearing clothes.  But, it talks about being who you are supposed to be. As believers, we don’t necessarily need to tell our boys to “be all that they can be” but we need to point them to God’s plan for their lives.

Can You Growl Like A Bear?

This was definitely the funnest book because they boys were acting out every animal in this book every time we read it!

Snowmen All Year: This is one we got from the RAR list.  And the boys definitely loved it.  Even if we didn’t see any snow this year.

Oliver Finds His Way.  A bear and a journey.  And talk of home.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

A friend of mine gave us this book, after we read it all weekend our friends were here. So fun!  Believe me!

 

Imperfect Justice

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I heard recently that if we are believers we have to think about and do something about injustice in the world, because our God is a God of justice.

This world will never be perfect in justice – for that we get to wait for Heaven.

But, Cara Putman, works hard to bring out these thoughts of justice in family relationships and family messes in her book, Imperfect Justice.  Being that I love legal thrillers in the movies and netflix, this was a good choice.

So, if you love justice, Christian fiction, and a well-written legal thriller, this would be a good book for you.  And if you haven’t read the first book in the series, don’t worry – this one is a good stand alone.

Thanks Litfuse for this book.  All thoughts are my own.

Seeds of Hope

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I’ve read a lot of fiction this year.  And mostly, I’m a non-fiction/biography person.  But this year has taken up a lot of mind space and heart space, so when the heart work is heavy, I want to get lost in a good story.  And if you choose the right fiction, you can still do heart work while reading an engaging story.

One of the genres I’ve been enjoying is Christian Amish Fiction.  And the latest one was Seeds of Hope.  I really enjoyed this.  Going back and forth from English world to Amish world, Barbara Cameron weaves a good story with yes, a predictable end, but there are twists and turns along the way that you wouldn’t expect.

One of the things I love about Amish fiction is entering into a world that I don’t know much about it – but is still real.  Dystopian books are very popular, but it is hard for me to get into those because they are so far from what is real now.  Amish living actually is right now, just not where I live.  So, it is interesting.  Not ideal where everything always works out, but just a bit of change from my norm, city-life.

Thanks to Litfuse for this title.  All opinions are my own.

Googling Church

posted in: random | 2

As I sit in a cozy local coffee shop in the heart of Augusta, having moved here almost 5 months ago, I think about all the times we’ve moved.

Since we’ve been married, 6+ years, we’ve moved quite a bit.  Our stories and our moves have not all been our design, but we know that God writes beautiful stories. Ones that will help us be more of who He wants us to be.

And each church that has been a part of our journey in these 6 years of marriage and family life, has indeed had a lasting impact on my soul.

And if you are a church leader or even just a church member who loves their local church, you want new comers – new city dwellers to be able to find your church, so your church can be a tool that God can use to leave a lasting impact in individual’s lives and family’s lives (like mine.

And when we moved to our new home, we had connections.  Coming from the ministry world, two seminary degrees under our belt, we knew people.  But, what do you do if you don’t know anyone.  Do you just google “church near me?”

Church leaders – do you want the unchurched to find your church?  They may not come first to a great event near you – if they do, how will they hear about the event?  Maybe they will hear about it from the neighbor who lives down the street?  Maybe they won’t live near anyone who attends your church.

My friend William Wright has thought a lot about these questions: about church, church life and community, reaching the lost, how the digital age can be a help not a hindrance to your church, how your website speaks a lot for who you are as a church.

As a church in the 21st century, almost a complete digital age (really who uses the yellow pages anymore?) this is what William says: “Unfortunately, churches lag behind many times when it comes to technology. Many churches today do NOT understand that their front door has changed locations. When ANY person has ANY question on ANY subject they simply “Google it”. The same is true when it comes to looking for a new church home.”

We need to be ready to use tools that are within our reach – to reach out to the lost.  Yes, relationships matter.  And yes digital technology matters.

Digital Rocket is a great resource that you need to avail yourself to.  Learn how “google it” can work for you.

The King’s Locket

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I’m always eager to get good books in my boys’ hands.  And for boys, I can’t anticipate that they will love Anne of Green Gables and Little Women.  Though they might.  And I will read those books to them (or have them watch the movie.)

But, as they get older, they probably would like stories that contained adventure, battles, journeys, animals, and heroic tales.

The King’s Locket I think would be really good for young boys, a short chapter book that is an analogy of the themes in the Gospel story.

The story of a family dwelling in perfection.

The Fall of someone who wanted everything for himself.

The adoption of those outside the family.

The betrayal and hurt of going outside the realm of good.

The rescue that the Prince had to engage in to defeat the sinful presence.

The welcoming home celebration.

And even the groaning of all creation under the weight of the sin that crept into everything.

I loved the conclusion of this book: adoption, wholeness, celebration, glory, beauty, friendship.  Just what the Heavenly Father anticipates for His adopted children.  These things we may not experience here, especially in their fullness, but we can anticipate.  And wait with eagerness.  And teach our kids how to anticipate well.

Thanks to Jacob for passing this book to me.  Your kids will like it – especially as a read aloud. It gives you opportunity to talk to your kids about biblical themes from a short chapter book filled with lovely illustrations.  It would be good for a family read aloud and would capture even young readers.