To Read, To Write, To Learn

I’ve been doing a lot recently. All of it has caused me to do one thing: think deeply.

I’ve been writing in a more creative way. Finished a manuscript for a novel, now working on my second novel, and have several short stories finished and some short stories in the works.

I’ve been reading a lot, and been keeping a reading list. As of today, I have read 14 books since January 1st, and am currently reading about 12 others. Audiobooks have helped me bulk up these numbers, and they totally count. If it counts as reading for my children when they are read aloud to, then it counts when I am read aloud to.

I keep this by my bed, with my favorite color pen at the ready.
This is where I keep all my quotes, book lists, and whatever else.
Also, The Literary Life Podcast is wonderful, I love it. (Not sponsored or anything, I’m just a fan!)

All this word consuming and creating has made me extremely thoughtful. I’ve read things I didn’t agree with, and things I didn’t think I agreed with until it was explained. I’ve read some horrific accounts, and some tellings of delightful tales.

The main thought that keeps running in and out and around my mind is this: Why?

Why did the author write this?
Why is this considered “good” or “bad”?
Why did I not enjoy this before?
Why don’t more people read this?
Why would someone do that (in the case of some non-fiction books)?
Why don’t I like this?
Why is this so hard to read?
Why do others think this is so hard to read (because it’s really not)?

Why, why, why?

I don’t have answers for many of these, but that hasn’t stopped me from asking the questions, postulating answers, and then badgering my husband with his opinions (he was a philosophy major, and still is a philosopher at heart, so he doesn’t mind).

Why do you read what you read?
What makes that genre or that author or that kind of story your favorite?
What stops you from reading?

Looking over my booklist two types of books stick out to me as favorites: old books, and detective novels.

Old books (my definition): anything written by someone who has been dead for at least 50 years.

Detective novels: crime solving novels, usually involving a detective, private or official.

Why do I like these so much? I’m not sure, but I know that I do. I love history, so I suppose that is part of liking old books. I love learning about people and places. There is nothing more mysterious and full of things we don’t understand than the past. Old books, even fiction, open up a world that is, for the most part, foreign to us. I find this delightful.
I think I like detective novels for the same reason. And, I like to feel smart, and solve clever puzzles, and feel a part of righting a wrong and doing justice, even if it’s fiction. There is something deeply human in detective novels. We see wrong and right very clearly on display. The fight for rightness, justice, meeting the tension of inadequacies, grey areas, and fallible good guys. Detective novels, and math, prove, in a way, the existence of objective truth. There is a reason why Agatha Christie is the best selling author of all time behind only the Bible and Shakespeare. We humans are drawn to truth, objective truth, goodness, and beauty. Books highlight this reality.

“The difference between nonfiction and fiction is that fiction must be absolutely believable.”

(possibly said by Mark Twain, but true regardless)

I wax poetic and digress into theology, philosophy, and pondering the gracious purpose of life. We have a title!

What are you reading? Has it got you thinking?

Soli Deo Gloria

What I’m filling up with

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit drained these days.
Turns out, even introverts need people!

My husband is home, and thankfully is still working. It’s a tricky situation in our little house, but we have found a sort of groove with it, and the kids have adapted.
What has been the hardest is being home, inside, and away from family. It’s especially hard on my kids, which breaks my heart.

This new isn’t normal. This will change, but we don’t know when, and man can these days feel long.
So, what do we do?

Fill up! and fill up with truth.

Here’s what I’m doing to help fill me up, and maybe it will inspire you to fill up too: (the first one daily, but the others are scattered throughout the week pretty much)

  1. Bible – There is no way I, or you, or anyone on the planet who can make it through life, much less through stress, suffering, change, hurt, brokenness, without God’s Word. (I’m currently reading through Exodus, and seeing how God provided for his people is amazing, even through the law!)
  2. Sufficient Hope: Meditations and Prayers for Moms by Christina Fox – Having a solid, bible central devotion has helped me immensely. This book is perfect because it’s relatively short, full of scripture, has questions at the end, and has a prayer written out at the end of each little chapter. The prayers are my favorite, because they are so solid, often praying the words of scripture, and give me words to pray when I’m out.
  3. Friend-ish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion by Kelly Needham – Maybe an odd choice for being secluded away from friends, but man has this time also revealed some of the idols that have crept up in my heart, especially in the area of friendship. This has been a very convicting, and comforting book always pointing to the truth.
  4. Risen Motherhood Podcast – Hands down, my favorite podcast. No matter what, these ladies are always pointing to the truth of the gospel, from make up, to marriage, to parenting, and everything in between that falls into the realm of motherhood. Go listen. So good. The resources page on their website is also fantastic.
  5. Journey Women Podcast – In the same idea and purpose as Risen Motherhood, but aimed at young(er) women. Topic and interviews to encourage and point women to God in our journey through life.
  6. Foundations Podcast with Ruth and Troy Simons – This is centered on biblical parenting, and I have just started listening to this with my family (husband and kids).
  7. Biblicaltraining.org – I’ve listened to a few good classes and seminars for free on this site. I love learning and this free resource is great for that. They also have some certificates you can earn (these are not free).
  8. “Marks of a Healthy Church”, teaching series by Ligonier Ministries – This has been a balm to my soul, though I’m missing my church soooooo much right now, I’m enjoying this series about church. Ligonier Ministries also has a ton of other free teaching series, and other resources too.
  9. Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This is what I have been reading to my children everyday at lunch time, and they remind me when I miss! They are into this routine of ours. Their little hearts are anxious and scared in this time too, recounting promises, hope, and truth of Jesus is just what they need now, and all the time! It helps Mommy’s heart too 🙂
  10. Any/all music by Keith and Kristyn Getty and/or City Alight – definitely favorites right now for our whole family.

There you have it!
I’m also reading some fiction for book club, an audio book for fun, and have at least three more books I’ve started, and set down for now. Trying to be better about finishing what I begin. 🙂
What are you filling up with?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Praise deep in the woods… or cave.

Psalm 57

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! Selah

My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts-
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

It’s a weird time. People are afraid, acting in ways they never thought they would. Children are home, stuck inside for the most part, and driving their parents up the wall!

Yes, I chose to quote an entire Psalm, because right now, more than usual, context matters. David wrote this song of praise while running for his life, hiding in a cave. If you’re familiar with the story, this is the cave where Saul comes to, ahem, relieve himself, and David is hiding in the shadows close enough to be able to kill him.
Saul had been pursuing David, to kill him. David, legally, had the right to defend himself, and his men, and strike first. What does he do instead? He sneaks up, while Saul is- um- yeah, and cuts off a piece of his clothing. Then, when Saul leaves the cave, David and his men emerge and show the cut piece of clothing, showing how close Saul had come to death, except for David choosing to show mercy towards Saul, and love to God.

Let’s be clear on a couple details here:

Saul was the man God had allowed to be king of Israel. Saul was the government David was called to submit to and obey. Saul was pursuing David, because God had anointed David to be king, taking his favor from Saul.

David did not pursue becoming king while Saul lived. He never raised up an army to take over the kingdom. Actually, David supported Saul, fought along side him, served him.

This context of the brokenness in David and Saul’s relationship, magnifies the dependence and strength of David and God’s relationship.

David relies on God.
Why? Not because of who David is, not what David has done, not what David has refrained from doing, not what David will do, but because of who God is.

David’s situation is not the best, he’s hiding for his life in a cave.
The situation of the world currently is not the best, many hundreds of thousands of people are effectively hiding for their lives in their homes (much better than a cave, but you get the point).

But God is…
Merciful
A Refuge in the Storm
Most High (none is higher!)
Fulfiller of Puposes and Promises
Savior
Just
Steadfastly Loving and Faithful
Exalted
Glorious!

Because God is, We can be…
Steadfast
Joyful Noise Makers
Awake and Alert
Thankfulness Shouters
Praise Singers
Glory Heralds

This crazy time reminds me of this song (it’s just constantly playing in my head!)

Grab and Go Mini Purse

Big time Mom Hack coming your way!
The-purse-within-a-purse technique, or “mom essentials kit”. I started doing this when I was pregnant with my third because I didn’t want to carry a diaper bag and my purse all the time. I would take out my wallet, keys, chapstick, sunglasses, and maybe a pen or one other random item and stick it in the diaper bag. Great idea, right!

Problem became when I would switch back to my purse something would get left behind in the diaper bag. Hard to do a grocery run peacefully after the kids go to bed when you leave your wallet at home in the diaper bag! Introducing the Mini Purse! (I know, it’s typically called a clutch, but I like “Mini Purse”!)

Check this out! How convenient is that?

This little Brahmin clutch is just perfect! Yes, I really can fit all of that in there!

I searched all over Brahmin’s online store, but I COULD NOT find my exact clutch. But I did find a couple other options:

Disclaimer: None of the following pictures belong to me. All pictures below are from the corresponding links provided for each product.

This Mini is slightly larger than mine, and mine does not have any straps:

Or this Clutch, which is a little smaller than mine, but very close:

Since Brahmin is what I have, I thought I’d show you that first.
Although you can’t beat Brahmin for style and quality, it is a name brand, so it’s not always in the budget. Trust me, I get that.
So, I searched around online for some “budget friendly” options that will serve the same function, and get the similar style too.

Here’s what I found at good ol’ TargĂ©t!

These three fit the function and style best, and I love that Target price!
Left: Women’s Soft Pouch – Universal Thread™ for $9.99
Top Right: Classic Snakeskin Wristlet Pouch – A New Day Brown for $12.99
Bottom Right: Clutch – A New Day™ Cognac for $12.99

At the time I looked at this, all three were available online. You can also check online to see if the Target near you has them available. If it isn’t there, but at another close by, they can ship it to your store for free!

Enjoy friends! Shop, organize, style, and #momhustle for God’s glory!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Finding My Style – A New Beginning

This post needs a little intro.

The last time I really felt confident about my personal style was when I was in college, about 5 years ago.
Since then, I’ve gotten married and had three kids. A lot has changed for me in a relatively short time. I am in a very different phase of life, and my college-student-style no longer works for me now as a mom-of-three-littles.
So, yesterday, I took my sister shopping with me to figure out my sizes (I have never actually shopped in women’s and didn’t know what size I am!) and get a better idea of what my style is.

After our trip, we decided two things:

  1. My style has definitely changed to something more “grown up”
  2. It’s still a work in progress!

I have a better idea of what I like, what is out there, and what fits me, but I haven’t really nailed it down yet. Maybe I never will, but that’s fine with me, because that keeps me from settling and pushes me to keep being creative.

I am not a big shopper, but I love a great sale, and there are some really good ones going on right now, including the Nordstrom’s Annual Sale coming up next week!

Here’s what I found that I liked:

First up, Francesca’s (which is having an online only sale of 30% off full-priced items site wide, and is having their semi-annual sale. You can really get some good deals on clearance items with this sale.)
This is my sister’s go-to store, so this was her pick to start us off. She pick out this top and mini-skirt. She really wanted to see me in a jean skirt! I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The fact it’s a mini-skirt and I’m bending down to take care of my kids all the time is a big reason why this length is a no-no for me right now. The shirt, however, I loved! The style, the material, and the color were a yes for me.

Up next, Nordstrom! (Their Annual Sale is coming up next week!)
My aunt worked at Nordstrom for a long time, and I kind of grew up shopping here with my family, so it’s kind of a favorite of mine. I feel pretty comfortable browsing here, and I like a lot of what I see.
We found pants at Nordy’s. I’m a fan of cropped, green pants apparently! Love the style of both the cargo pants and the printed drawstring pants. They are a bit on the casual side, comfortable, and cute.
The shirt looks cute, but, for the record, it is partially see-through (which is why I was trying on the black) yet the material traps your body heat and within ten minutes I was uncomfortably hot!

Finally, was Loft. Whenever I pass this store, I love what I see. I’ve just never been brave enough to go in and really look around, like to was “too grown up” for me. Well, lesson learned, I’m grown up enough for it, and I loved what I found here! It was definitely motivating to see that they were having a huge sale, too. Extra 60% off sale items! Yes, please.

Clearly, red and polka dots were the winners at Loft. I liked the polka dot wrap skirt as soon as I saw it, and once I put it on, I was in love.
The shirt is also a wrap style, not too low cut, and the flared arms just won me over. Oh, and the polka dots and stripes together? Yes, yes, yes.

Okay, now for the shocker (well, shocker for me). The last time I wore flared pants I was a pre-teen, and I hated the style. It made me feel even more awkward and skinny, like a literal bell. Hated it.
So, when my sister picked out these bright red, cropped, wide legged pants for me to try on, I was super hesitant. I almost just said “no, forget it, not putting them on”, but I did it. You know what? I liked them!
They make me look taller (rather than skinnier), hug my form in a flattering way, and I even liked the bright red color on me. Now, go figure they are a best seller at Loft too.

Thanks sis for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

I learned a little about myself on this little sister shopping trip, too.
I learned:
I like to be creative with clothes.
I like to shop for myself.
I tend to like a more sophisticated style, but comfort is still of primary importance to me.
I like the way I look in red.
I am a size smaller than I thought.
I need to work on my mirror selfie game.

And I should even seek to dress for God’s glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!