Category Archives: books

My Life Painting

I have these three beautiful girls and an amazing hubby.  They truly rule my heart.

2014-04-02 14.33.01 2014-04-19 18.41.11 2014-04-21 11.26.35 2014-04-21 15.22.44

Any wonder why?  Being the wife and mama takes my breathe away.

When I was working outside of the home, I absolutely could not justify additional time away from my family.  I was away from them a lot of hours, I reasoned, that must fulfill my needs for me.

Then I came home to roost.  And my mind didn’t know how to balance me and them and us.  I knew there was this concept, self-care, taking time to invest in the heart and soul through whatever activities or ideas feed your life, out there.  I knew people who espoused it.  I respected those who did.  I just felt lost.

I began to look around…and wonder what self-care was really all about.  And as often happens, my heart was drawn to a fellow mama.

My friend A’Driane does an amazing job of seeking and embracing self care. I watch her carve out the time and I am jealous. Not in the petty, she gets self care and I don’t, but in awe that she values herself enough to do so.

I grew up with women who saw surrendering of themselves to their children as admirable.  One of my strongest role model did just that.  She was so involved in her kid’s life and she made it look so easy, watching her invest herself so heavily seemed like a wonderful model of motherhood.  She was, and is, an amazing mother.  I dreamed of being such a mom. *

I also grew up under Biblical teachings often twisted to prove women should lose themselves in their vocation as wife and mother–or be able to do it ALLLL!!! (Proverbs 31 Woman).  So, I threw myself into doing it all.

But this idea of self-care nagged at me.  Was there something to it?  Should it be part of my life?  Could I still be considered a good mom if I indulged myself in this idea?

Truly, when I heard about self-care for the first time in ‪#‎ppdchat‬,** the idea was so foreign to me that I brushed it aside as something I didn’t need.  I was stronger than that, than those who “needed” time away.

But my beautiful A’Driane challenged my misguided notions just by living intentionally.  I saw her with her beautiful family of three boys and a great hubby.  I saw her making time to eat well, I saw her making time to exercise, I saw her making time to paint and write and love herself.

And I knew how strong she was.  There was no way I could construe her need of self-care as indulgence or a sign of weakness.  The woman chases after three boys, keeping up with demanding schedules with honesty and grace.

I began to wonder if the truth wasn’t that I loved my girls too much to take the time for self-care, but rather I didn’t love me enough to invest in who I am, in who I want to become.  I realized I haven’t arrived at at the final destination of who I am just because I love being a wife and mother.  I haven’t completed my journey of growth, I am still a changing, emerging, me.

Sometimes being me means I am all mom, or all wife, all family, sometimes maybe it means something more.  Maybe it means embracing where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to be.

It’s time to blend it all, to create my own life painting.

Today, I’m here to invest in myself. I’m here to take baby steps.

I’m here to re-embrace my lifelong love of reading. I’m here to let the authors words wash my soul, feed my soul, rebirth my soul.

I’m here to embrace me and all that it means.


*That amazing role model in my life?  I have watched her grow and rebirth as her motherhood journey has continued and she IS an amazing mother, friend, woman.  She has strength and drive to spare for all of those around her.

**Please, if you are working through a postpartum mood disorder, check out the hashtag #ppdchat on twitter to get an army of women who are right there in the journey with love and strength for you.  You will find resources and help, love and compassion that you never dreamed possible.

Two Awesome Books –And I Know the Author

James and Jax

I’m linking up with my friend Jaime again this week.
The Hiccupotamus and The Chuckling Duckling are beautifully written and illustrated children’s books by Aaron Zenz.  I would say that even if I didn’t know the author/illustrator…but I do, which makes them even cooler.

I have known Amity, Aaron’s wife, since before they were dating.  We went to college together.  I remember when they started dating.  Then I lived around the corner from their first apartment after they got married.  They are an amazing couple!  But enough about them, truly the books themselves stand on their own merits.

The Chuckling Duckling is a great book that teaches kids animal names.  Names I had never heard, like Cria, which is a baby Llama, and the familiar, puppy, which is a baby dog.  The illustrations are spectacular.  This book is not only educational, it is cute!

And we can’t forget the Hiccupotamus about a hippo who gets, you guessed it, the hiccups.  His hiccups make a mess for a lot of his friends, so they set out to get rid of them…

The art and color in this one is breathtaking.  Some of the words are tongue twisters.  Trust me, you will love it!

Both are available on Amazon.  My friend Ali has an affiliate link if you are looking to do some shopping!

Book on CD–Outlive Your Life

James and Jax

We went on a trip to see my family this weekend.  That is a 5 hour drive each way.  I was going to work on the books I mentioned last week, but hubby had a better idea.  I bought him Max Lucado’s book Outlive Your Life:You Were Made to Make a Difference for Christmas last year, and his CD player promptly died in his car.  So he hasn’t listened to it yet.

He suggested we listen to it on our drive.  I actually was a little bummed, but whined internally.  We started listening. 

It is fantastic.  It uses examples from the New Testament Church to talk about how they followed God, how he used him and changed them to change the world.  There are also a plethora of modern day examples of people using their skills, passions and hearts to impact hearts, people and nations.  It also challenges us to take our lives and impact others, to fill a need where we find one, to stick with our calling.

We got through 3 CDs, 1 to go.  I am yearning to finish it.  Now I have to decide whether to finish it on my own or wait for hubby.

I am also thinking about all we heard.  How can that change how I live my life?  How can I help the hungry, the homeless, the needy?  It made me think a lot about this post from Erica at Off My Mama Rocker.  It made me think how she is living the truth of Outlive Your Life through her love for this man, raising her children and her work as a birth doula.

That is how she impacts the world, how can I?  I dream of getting involved with Lauren’s work for mama’s with postpartum depression.  I’ve talked about her dream.  I haven’t forgotten and my mind still goes over and over it.  One thought that has come to me is, as I get better, getting involved at a local level in helping mamas with postpartum mood disorders. 

I envision a support group that involves meals.  People open up over food.  And what mama struggling with postpartum issues wouldn’t like to be pampered with someone else providing her dinner?  I don’t mean a potluck, because mamas at that point in life don’t need another burden or task, they need someone to care for them.  Food is a universal message of care, love and healing.

But how well do I need to be before I take on a support group?  What can I do in the meantime?  How can I help those in need?  How can I get my family involved?  How can we bless people in the name of Jesus in a practical, real way?  How?

How do you brighten your part of world?  What need do you have that someone else could help you fill?

If, by any chance, you would like to get ahold of this book, it is available through Christian Book Distributors.

94613X: Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference - Audiobook on CD Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference – Audiobook on CD

By Thomas Nelson

On Pentecost, the Spirit came down and ignited the hearts and minds of believers to preach the gospel and live out justice for the forgotten. Max Lucado wonders, Might it happen again? Does God still free hearts, minds and bodies from the ravages of sin and poverty? The answer is yes! He does it through you, and in Outlive Your Life he challenges you to make a difference that will last beyond your time on earth. Take a stand for children, widows, and families who only need an opportunity to live. Unabridged.

One hundred percent of the author royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion.

4 CD’s, Unabridged.

Books, Books Everywhere!

James and Jax Weekend Reading blog hop

I love books.  My family loves books.  My husband says I have a library.  He’s not far off.

Then I had kids.  I have been buying children’s books since before I met my husband and kept all of mine from growing up.

I buy the girls books. my family buys the girls books.  They have books.  Lack of books have never been a problem.  Storage is a whole different situation.  We haven’t had room for all our books since Caitlyn was first born…

Until today…

I have done very little reading this week, but I did buy a new book, one on how to lower your cholesterol.  I feel so old…but I found out this week that my LDL cholesterol is high…Ugh.

What have you been reading?

Reading Blog Hop

James and Jax

I used to fly through books.  One in a couple hours or, at the very least, in a weekend. I remember those days.  I even indulged myself in one of those marathon weekends while we were camping this summer. I felt guilty.  I buried my head in my book every chance I got.  It was a murder mystery.  Not at all uplifting but it was compelling enough to help me engage in something as I began a spiral back into the postpartum depression.  That book might have been one of the few things to help keep me from a second hospitalization.

Most of the time, books take me forever to get through now.  Kids don’t really like to let you sit and read and not pay attention to them.  And I’m too tired to read after they go to bed.  My choices are read, blog or run.  Right now the blogging or running get chosen most often.  I’m not as grumpy about being interrupted when blogging as I am when interrupted by reading, and the mind clearing I get from running is priceless. 

But I digress.  I have been slugging my way through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  On the surface, it’s premise seems like a light read, but it is anything but.  Ann walks the reader through her journey to see every day things worthy of praise and thanks, from the simple, the colors in a soap bubble, and the hard, the death of a child.  As we run toward the moon in abandon, or we talk our child through the anger in their heart.  As our thanks in all as worship and obedience to the Lord.

Her book is worth the work it is to read, but don’t be lulled into thinking making a truly meaningful list of 1000 things to be thankful for is an easy read or task.

You can get your own copy here

321910: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

By Ann Voskamp / Zondervan

Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace-bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing—and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.

Join me tomorrow as I continue my thankful list.

Book Report Time

I have an English and Journalism degree.  I think that is one of the reasons I am enjoying blogging, it allows me to use skills I do not always use in my everyday life.  At this point in my life, I do not always get to read a lot, but over the years I have read both Christain and non-Christian books, fiction, non-fiction, you name it, I’ve probably read it.

Max Lucado is one of my all time favorite Christian authors.  His style is very easy to read, his topics are both timely and timeless.  The word illustrations he chooses are phenomenal.  My favorite of his is

921285: No Wonder They Call Him the Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross No Wonder They Call Him the Savior: Experiencing the Truth of the Cross

By Max Lucado / Thomas Nelson

Max Lucado takes you through the drama of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ-bringing to life Peter’s denial, Pilate’s hesitancy, and John’s loyalty. Relive the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, from the foggy garden of Gethsemane to the incandescent room of the resurrection.

No Wonder They Call Him Savior leads you up the hill of mankind’s highest hope and reminds you why He deserves to be called our Savior.

  And today, is having a sale on his latest book  

920691: Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

By Max Lucado / Thomas Nelson

On Pentecost, the Spirit came down and ignited the hearts and minds of believers to preach the gospel and live out justice for the forgotten. Max Lucado wonders, Might it happen again? Does God still free hearts, minds and bodies from the ravages of sin and poverty? The answer is yes! He does it through you, and in Outlive Your Life he challenges you to make a difference that will last beyond your time on earth. Take a stand for children, widows, and families who only need an opportunity to live.

One hundred percent of the author royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion.

Either one of these would be an amazing Christmas present. For you or someone you love.

What to Do with Holidays

I am still loving blog hops and this week I am hopping back to We Are That Family for Works for Me Wednesday.

What Works for Me this Wednesday?

My 5? Friday post led into a bit of a discussion on holidays and how we as  Christian parents “handle” them.  I thought I knew, before I had kids, what I was going to do if I ever had children.  I was NOT going to celebrate Halloween.  No Santa Claus and no Easter Bunny.

Here, I am 3 kids later, so how has that worked out for me?

My kids go trick or treating.  They want to know what Santa is bringing them.  So far so good on the Easter bunny though we do hunt for eggs.  We just don’t refer to how they got there.

Why may you ask have I gone back on everything?  Partly because I can not control every influence over my kids.  They have friends who celebrate all of those things.  They watch TV where all of those things come up and even books they see cover these topics as well.

So instead of banning things, we choose items within them that need addressed.  For example, we do not watch shows with witches at Halloween nor do the girls dress up as witches.  And this year we figured out a very basic, understandable explanation for them.  We don’t watch or celebrate witches because witches don’t love Jesus.

As for Santa Claus, we consider him something fun at Christmas time, but not the focus.  As I commented in my post on Friday, we have found a cute board book to help us explain Saint Nicholas was a real person, but Jesus is who we celebrate at Christmas.  I included a link to the book on for those who might find this resource useful.

I found a similar book for my girls called What is Easter by Michelle Medlock Adams.  It talks in simple kid language about all of the things we see at Easter, the bunny, the pretty clothes, and gives them their place, but focusses on Jesus as the real reason.  This one is not currently available on, but many amazing resources are.  In case I have you thinking about Spring, here is a place to search for items you might find useful.

Easter Search

In looking for the Easter Books, I found a couple I might have to get my hands on for Thanksgiving.

But that is what Works for Me this Wednesday. Hop, pun intended, on over to We Are That Family to see what works for others this Wednesday.  Really, you have got to see her WFMW post.  You will thank me.

Boycotts, Do They Work?

What do you think of boycotts?  Do you think it matters to companies if you don’t buy their products?  I do.  I remember learning in high school economics class that each dollar I spend it a vote.  A vote that I can give to one company or another, it is solely at my discretion.  And that is before e-mail, social networking and blogging became such a big part of our everyday culture. 

Yesterday, via Twitter, I heard about a grassroots effort to get to remove an offensive book for pedophiles from their website and sales.  Within a few minutes of originally hearing about the book and the proposed boycott, I saw probably 10 more “tweets” about it, including information on how to contact the CEO by snail mail and e-mail to let him know what I thought of selling books “for” pedophiles.  And believe me, I sent an e-mail right away.

It seems almost daily I receive an e-mail from a group asking me to boycott a particular company for what they do support or have refused to support.  Some of them I agree with wholeheartedly, others I decide to, for lack of a better word, ignore.

But this one is one I am not going to let pass.  I prefer to use other websites, including  Here is just one link you can use to search them right from my page:

keyword search


Others I have not let pass are when companies tell their employees not to say Merry Christmas or refer to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees. I mean, come on, that is just ridiculous.

I know from, not only that long ago economics class, but also from my job, that what we do and say with our money speaks to companies. And this is one area too where what I say matters. People hear your complaints about a company much more loudly than your compliments, though, they do hear both.

So let your voice be heard, write those letters, e-mails and tweets; and make sure you cast your economic vote. Let a company know you will not support what they are doing by writing, then follow through by spending elsewhere until you see a change.

You may not be able to change the “whole” world, but you can influence your corner of it!

Reading a Minute at a Time

So, have I mentioned I have three little girls?  In case I have not, let me say it again.  I am the proud mama of three little girls.  Most of my reading is limited to the directions on how to put together a new toy or a book at bedtime.

But today I am going to try and tackle reading a book.  I want to read The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman.  I actually read it several years ago while my hubby and I were dating.  It was very interesting.  It described me, as an only child, very well.  And it described my hubby, who is the youngest, quite well.  As Dr. Leman notes in his book, if there are several years between siblings, a child can end up with characteristics for their number in the birth order and sometimes so things that seem like an only or first born child.  It was amazing to see how my hubby, who falls in that category, fit exactly what Dr. Lehman said. 
My favorite was the part where it said mom’s of last born sons would do well to find a first-born for him to marry.  (My hubby had not yet proposed and I wanted him to soooo badly!  I was looking for anything to reassure me.)

And all of this information is from my memory of reading this book 6+ years ago.

Now that I have three kids, who are in a birth order, it seems like it might be time to read it again.  Challenge #1 to this plan is to coral the aforementioned kids to get to the library to get the book…so stay tuned to see how the reading goes…

So got to the library…only one meltdown by Sue…okay, only one in the library, we won’t count the ones in the car…those will be our little secret.

Sue reading a book outside the library 9/16/10

But we got lots of books.  And I got an older copy of The Birth Order Book.  Now to read a bit at a time.

Caitlyn checking out what her book is all about 9/16/10

You can get it in paperback or as an e-book

734061: The Birth Order Book, Updated Edition The Birth Order Book, Updated Edition

By Dr. Kevin Leman / Revell

This updated edition of The Birth Order Book, a classic bestseller, offers key insights into how birth order affects personality, marriage and relationships, parenting style, career choice, and children. Paperback.

6523EB: Birth Order Book, The - eBook Birth Order Book, The – eBook

By Dr. Kevin Leman / Baker

Whether you’re the firstborn, a middle child, or the baby of the family, your place in line can influence who you are and what you do! Explore the effects of birth order on personality development, marriage, parenting style, and career. Dr. Leman’s bestseller will help you recognize, understand, and overcome negative tendencies shaped by family environment.

The big announcement, kid style

So I was thinking maybe people were tired of my blog, but today I got a topic “request” (thanks Jessica!).

I think I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that we didn’t tell Caitlyn she was going to be a big sister before Sue was born.  Caitlyn was only 15 1/2 months old when she became a big sissy, so it didn’t seem necessary.  We just went and had the baby, then daddy brought her up to the birthing center.  Here is a picture from that first meeting between the girls:

She cared more about the balloon and apparently the baby’s feet than who that was in there…
But this time the girls are 3 1/2 and 2, so it seemed like we should tell them; I had thought we would wait longer so it didn’t seem so far away to them, but people were starting to ask them if they were excited for the baby, and frankly, I was getting excited about telling Caitlyn, so we decided after the ultrasound to break the news. 
I got a book from Borders that I remembered reading as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.  (Did you know that was published in 1974!)  Saturday night, for our night-night book I got that out and daddy got the video camera. 
First we read the story, then we talked about new babies.  I asked them if they would like a new baby (glad the answer was yes), Caitlyn declared “everyone would enjoy it, but there is no bed for it.”  So we talked about the baby could sleep in the cradle Sue used to sleep in (Caitlyn said Sue was boring).  Caitlyn first declared we should get a girl baby, a sister, but then decided we should get a baby and a sister (mama stopped that thought). 
I asked Caitlyn if mommy’s belly was getting bigger, she said yes.  “Why is mommy’s belly growing bigger?” mama said, Caitlyn said, because you have a baby in there.  Then I showed them the ultrasound pictures.  Sue said, “that’s silly.”  And laughed a few times.  We talked about it being a long time til the baby came, not until summer time near Caitlyn’s birthday.  Sue’s reaction was to pat my shirt and say “baby nurse.”  Maybe she will be okay with sharing mama!  (okay, you mom’s out there, let me hold on to the dream til it is shattered by reality)
The girls have been really cute, telling people about the baby.  I had a midwife appointment this week and when I got home Caitlyn said, “where’s the baby?”  I explained the baby was still too little.  Then she said, “Mommy’s belly is getting REALLY big.”
Lovely.  Thanks kid!
It was really fun to tell the girls and has been fun to talk to them about it since.  Now, let’s see how many times I get asked in the next 20 weeks, “Is the baby coming yet?”  “When is the baby coming???”