A Letter From Lancaster County – a Review

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I remember almost 20 years ago, my first trip to Amish County.  I traveled together from St. Augustine for a wedding of two of my dear friends in northern Indiana Amish Country.

Our borrowed mini van cruised into a country of small stores, pretty house lit with candles, and wagons that were pulled by horses.  It was certainly idyllic and different from tourist beach land where I was from.

Since then I’ve been a fan of most Amish fiction, some of the books good enough to rope me in during the first chapter, compelling me to keep reading it until I finish.

Kate Lloyd’s A Letter From Lancaster County was one of those.  I finished it in about 3 days and found myself really identifying with both of the main characters.

I think that’s what a good fiction does.  It pulls the reader in and makes you want to be in the setting, joining in on the conversation.

Her fiction tale of two sisters, an aunt, and a love interest of course, helps you think about marriage, singleness, death, life, living, and adventure pulls you in and helps you think about your own life.

For a married reader, I do find it hard to read romance fiction, even if I have a happy marriage, because it takes any romantic thoughts pulls you away from your spouse to another man, which never good.  So, while this is very light in romance, I would still caution readers to guard your heart.  Its not going to ruin the story for you to skip to the next chapter!

Thanks to Litfuse for the book.  All opinions are my own.  You can win some goodies by clicking on the above link!


The Magic of Motherhood (a review)

posted in: Books, mothering, parenting, Women | 16

Ok – I’m not really a coffee fan.  My mister wishes I would be, so we could sit at places and have cheap drinks (regular black coffee) and talk for hours on end.  But, the drinks I like are 5$ so not quite as cheap.

But, I might go drink coffee after reading the Magic of Motherhood.  Let me explain.

When you go to coffee with a friend, a true friend, one who shares your worldview, who champions what you are doing, who rejoices with you in the good, who encourages you even on the hard days.  Or maybe its not coffee, but you have a margarita at their house, or enjoy some chips and guac together, or eat a bagel together, or a cupcake…friends you are comfortable with.  Yeah, those friends…

That’s how I felt when I was reading The Magic of Motherhood.  I felt I was chilling with some close friends, friends who were able to share whatever was on their heart, knowing that they shared the same biblical worldview as me (value of their children, value of being a mother, knowing that God loves them and has a great plan for their lives, knowing that we can’t do this thing called motherhood without the Gospel).

These friends knew they wouldn’t face judgment or shame for sharing what was on their hearts.  These friends knew I would encourage them with truth.

My favorite genre of books is memoir/biography.  I love the fact that the authors of memoirs feel the freedom to share what has gone on in their lives (the good, the bad, and the stuff you’d like to forget), and not feel that they would be punished for it.  They were sharing what was going on in their lives so that others might be encouraged or learn from their lives.  In biographies, we often learn that the people we look up to or admire don’t (or didn’t in some cases) have it all together.

In today’s Christian circles, we often feel like we have to put on a show to others like we have it all together.  Or, we have to couch everything in quoting Bible verses so people will think that our hearts are saturated with truth (which they hopefully are but sometimes we do this just so people will not see the hurt in our hearts and any doubts we might have).  When it comes to parenting, I’ve had experiences of shame and judgment when I’ve shared the struggles that I’ve had with motherhood.  And I’ve experienced shame because my kids don’t always act perfect in public.

The Magic of Motherhood was like just sitting, reading, knowing I wasn’t alone, knowing that God is in charge and brings good, and we do go through hard stuff as mothers.  And we won’t like every moment of it.  And not once did I hear “the days are long but the years are short” or “enjoy every moment of it”.  I read about real mamas who were sharing real struggles, real joys, real moments.  And they even talked about their jobs and their husbands – knowing that when we are mamas life still goes on outside of our children.

If you are needing some encouragement along the motherhood journey, this is a good quick encouraging, non-notetaking, read.  You can sit with a cup of coffee, in your yoga pants, and you don’t have to have a pen.

Thanks Tommy Nelson for this book.  And you can win one – just tell me something you find fun about motherhood.

Life Creative (a review)

posted in: Books, creatives, mothering | 1

One of my favorite questions to ask moms is : what do you like to do, you know, besides being a mom?

That question can be controversial, but I really don’t mean for it to be.  What I want to know is what is inside this woman, other than being a mom.

We all know that with being a mom comes a ton of love, responsibility, and fun…but not lots of time for ourselves, or our former selves.  Motherhood has to be selfless – which is really hard, I’m learning.  And I’m not great at that – but God is teaching me in his generosity that that is what I need.

One of the ways God wired me is in creativity.  Actually, that is one of the reasons my husband said he married me – is because I’m fun – I love to be creative and think outside the box.  I also love to do that in my motherhood journey.  I love to try new recipes – all the time.  I go all the time, taking my littles with me to new parks, or library story times, or just to a new aisle in Target.  I love reading books with them and letting my boys be in the kitchen with me – or in the yard with me learning about new bugs (oooh, gross), or new flowers that seemed to have popped up over night.  It is never ending.  I don’t like boredom, whether in life or in motherhood.

And I love to be creative in my personal life too.  I have loved photography since high school.  Loved to cook since college.  Loved to letter and write for what seems like forever.  These are things that still excite me.  So, they are also things that fuel me.  How do these things help or help me engage in motherhood?  Well, I love to take photographs of our every day – or of our special days.  I love to cook for my family and for other families.  I love to letter to help me meditate on the Word (to help my heart) or to give to others, or to help with our family finances.

Life Creative is a book written by two women who seek to encourage moms to not only be creative, engaging with their creative side (and we all have one because we are made in the image of a creative God) but to also encourage moms to encourage their kids to be creative.  We may not be talking about painting and cooking.  Creativity can take on many different forms and be used in many outlets.

Whether you are struggling to find your creative outlet, think your kids are getting bored, or are maybe struggling to decide how to use your creative gifts right now (especially in the throws of motherhood), this is a great book to encourage thinking and discussion.  I would read it, discuss some of it over coffee or tea or wine with a fellow mom, and also, discuss some of your thoughts with your husband – who I hope will encourage you to use your creative gifts.

Litfuse, the group that gave me this book to review, is also hosting a giveaway for you and a Facebook party!

Total Family Makeover (a review)

posted in: Books, parenting | 0

As my kids get older, I think I start to notice all of my expectations of parenting get washed away.  When I was growing up, we lived in a neighborhood with mostly family, went to a small church where we really only interacted with 1-2 families, and I went to a Christian school and really don’t remember doing things as families with anyone.  Of course we had friends, but it wasn’t essential in our upbringing to surround ourselves with community and family.

When I get to college that all changed for me.  I surrounded myself with families and loved them and learned so much, but it wasn’t until 20 years later that I had a family of my own.

I now want to do a couple of things in family/parenting life:

  1.  Make sure my mister and I are always on the same page especially in our calendar and parenting.  This is so crucial to success.
  2. Surround ourselves with those who are ahead of us, but also with us in our stage of parenting – and who share similar grace and parenting styles.  Community is so important.
  3. Pour grace into my husband and my children.  I think the main way I do this right now is through asking forgiveness each time I do something wrong (which is often).

In Total Family Makeover, Melissa Spoelstra, tackles some important topics on how you can work toward a more discipleship centered home – because isn’t this our most important task as parents – to raise those who will Lord-willing seek after God because of HIs grace?

If you normally don’t read book introductions, read this one.  She hit the nail on the head.  Sundays are usually the day I feel the worst as a parent.  My kids disobey walking into church, or don’t obey me in childcare, or always need discipline.  While seemingly most around me have perfect children and I feel are always looking at my with disdain or disapproval.  I know this isn’t the case, but I always feel like a failure.  She tackles this and is so encouraging.

The areas of discipleship she highlights in this practical book: praying together, Bible time, mentoring, church community, serving, rest, giving, and evangelism.  All of these are personally important, and definitely are important for your family.

My one suggestion = read this book.  Maybe read it with your husband, or just give him your takeaways.  Pray together and see which area you can tackle first.  Its like if your house is a mess and you try to clean the whole things at once, you’ll get discouraged.  I would start with one thing and then go on to the next.  You’ll see God reward your obedience in these areas with success and grace.  He wants our families to be more Christ-like!  He is for you in this endeavor!

This post is sponsored by Litfuse who gave me the book.  All opinions are my own.  And you can win a great prize pack for a fun family night (think free pizza and books and games!)  Enter here

Teaching Your Children the Power of Snail Mail (a review)

posted in: Books, parenting | 0

Those who know me know I love snail mail.  I think I always have, pen pals when I was younger, getting mail from my Mom when I was in college, and now writing letters and surprising people with a note or letter or fun little gift.  It just makes my day to give!

I want to instill gratitude and snail mail love in my boys.  What better way to do that?  Here are some tips:

  1.  Find cute stationery themed for boys or girls.  Blogging for Books sponsored this post by sending me Wee Alphas – a book of cute and original animal post cards.  I love them.  They not only help my boys learn the alphabet, but it will be fun to use to write postcards to people as well.  But, for us, it is going to be room decoration in the next house we live in come January.  (Another good thing about Wee Alphas is that all the postcards are attached in an accordion book and you can rip each out as you go – so you don’t lose them.)
  2. Help them know what to write.  Whether your children know how to write or not, you may need to help them know what to write.  When writing thank you notes, or even letters (especially to grandparents), you may have to coach them.  This is also a great way to teach them gratitude.
  3. Make it a habit.  Maybe write one letter a week, especially older children, write letters to older men or women in your church, have them ask questions that will help them seek after God.  Older men and women in the faith will be a great encouragement to you and your children.  (I digress).  Seriously though, making letter writing a habit might instill this in them when they get older.  And, you can have fun field trips to the post office to meet the postmaster, talk about where mail goes, and look at the cool mail trucks (my younger loves them).

How do you encourage your children to write letters and/or reach out to others who are older than them?

All opinions are my own.

Experiencing God Through His Names (a review)

posted in: Books | 0

Experiencing God Names

I will never know God as fully as I can.

I definitely won’t know him perfectly this side of heaven, because of sin.  Even in Heaven, God is eternal and so big – that every day in heaven (which will never end) will bring me new wonder of God – so I will always be in new wonder of him. I can’t wait.

This year, as I’ve been reading through the Bible (I’m in Joshua), I’m writing down in the margins of my ESV journaling Bible all the ways that I see God as He has revealed Himself to me.  It is beautiful to see and know that God is the same God today as He was in the days of Moses, Joseph, and Job.

Sheryl Giesbrecht has written a really good study on the names of God.  She takes God’s character and let’s us know how we can experience it in our lives.  I found it helpful as I’ve been walking through the Bible to find out what the meaning of some of these names are.  And they are short – so you could do a month study on the names of God, and add this to a little journal, a quiet time, and knowing God more in his perfection.

I hope you pick this book up and find out more of God’s beauty.

Thanks Litfuse for this book and all opinions are my own.

Love That Boy: a review

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

You certainly need to find people you can trust to recommend books to you – and when you do, always read them!

Not many books make me laugh, cry, and challenge me on almost every parenting area.  And also one that makes me re-place my hope in God because I know this parenting journey is tough and I can’t do it on my own. Love That Boy is a must read!

I love history and the American presidency, so when I knew that was a backdrop to this parenting book, I knew it would be a winner.  And it didn’t disappoint.

You don’t have to have children with special needs in order to gain insight into your children through this book.  But, every parent will gain insight into themselves, their children, and even their parents.  They will be able to see how other parents parent through new lenses.  You will learn what is important to you in how you raise your kids – even if you didn’t know it in the first place.

The only sad thing about this book: there was no hint of Christ.  And even though I can’t save my children, I can’t make them place their hope in God – I can aim for that end.  I can show them the gospel.  And I do believe, if I didn’t have that hope – then this book and the whole parenting journey would be incredibly futile and depressing.

Thanks Blogging for Books – incredible choice!

Southern Spirits (a review)

Almost inevitably, when you mention food in the south you hear talk of fried chicken, okra, and apple pie.

And when you talk about spirits in the South, you here bourbon and moonshine.

I minored in history in college, wanting to be a history teacher, but that didn’t last long (when I had to do so many lesson plans), but I still loved history.  And that is one of the reasons I chose this book, Southern Spirits, to read.  I also liked new recipes but more importantly it was so I could learn the history and culture of different forms of alcohol in the culture that made them what they are.

If you like history and your drinks – then pick this one up.  Thank you Blogging for Books.

Good Night, God : a review and giveaway

posted in: Books | 3


Good night times in our home can be challenging, and rewarding too.  It is the end of the day, but there are some nights that my boys are still wired.  It seems they get done with dinner and just want to jump on the beds.

So, we love sitting on the edge of the bed and reading together.  It really is a sweet time and one I enjoy.  It also allows me to breathe from trying to get them to calm down so I can get there pjs and diapers ready for the long night.

A new book that I just received from Tommy Nelson is Good Night, God.  It is a sweet board book, perfect for little hands (many ripped pages in our home) that has wonderful delightful thoughts and prayers about God and to God.  Some of the truths that it tells your littles about God is that He protects, gives peace, covers you in love, shows kindness to you, is always with you, and many others.

While this book doesn’t cover every aspect of God’s character (which book does, except maybe a systematic theology), this is a great started for knowing the character of God.

If you would like to win one of these for your kids, please just tell me one of the characteristics of God you love teaching your children.

Tasting Rome: a review

posted in: Books | 0

It is no secret that one of the best parts of traveling is learning the culture.  And I think that the best way to do that is by eating the food.

Yes, food is a crucial part of traveling for me.

And in this new cookbook, Tasting Rome, I feel like I can travel to the city through the photographs and the recipes and the history.  While there may only be a few recipes that I want to try to make at home, I think this book for me helps me experience a country I might otherwise never be able to visit.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for this book.  All opinions are my own.