The Next Right Thing- a review

Emily P. Freeman’s latest book, The Next Right Thing, is one I am confident I will pull off my shelves and re-read for years to come. For the past eighteen months or so, I have listened to her podcast of the same name, with my pen in hand so I could quickly write down her drops of wisdom that she consistently brings to her show.  I was thrilled to read this book and slowly take part in the practice of learning to personally discern my own next right steps.

This book is packed with goodness.  Emily covers topics from listening well, creating space and practicing presence, to wearing comfortable pants and waiting with hope.  Emily’s relatable honesty inspires readers to take a step back and evaluate their own decision making process and how that might be improved.

In Emily’s own words, “this is a book about making decisions and it is also a book about making a life.”  Emily’s beautiful writing, wisdom, discernment and poignant encouragement made this a deeply personal and delightful read.


**Disclosure: From time to time Revell Publishing sends me books to review.  The opinions offered above are one hundred percent my own.


Crack Yourself Up- Jokes for Kids- A Book Review

This book is a delight.  My family has spent hours passing the book around, cracking each other up with these delightful, funny and clean jokes. This year, my daughter entered the realm of eating her lunch at school every day and on the days when she wants me to pack her lunch, I love to write her a note and include a little joke from this book.   My daughter loves it!  She has enjoyed being the joke teller at her lunch table and always comes home with funny stories of kids laughing and other jokes she learned as a result.  We have found this book to be abounding in good clean fun for all ages and would highly recommend it!

*Revell Books sends me titles from time to time to read and review.  The opinions disclosed in this review are entirely my own.

I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire – A Book Review

Reading I will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire by Melba Pattillo Beals is like pulling up a front row seat to history.  Melba writes vividly about being assaulted in the hallways of her Little Rock, Arkansas high school during the Civil Rights Era.  She writes with striking bravery and courage about her experiences growing up in the South as well as being a young, professional black woman in America.  Her experiences were extremely eye opening, and her lifelong journey of courage and faith under extreme pressure is inspiring.

Beals shows that when you place your life in God’s hands and surrender to His plan, there is no telling where He will lead you.  I found this book hard to put down and impossible to forget.  Everyone who seeks to understand the Civil Rights era of American history into present day from the viewpoint of a black woman will be astonished by Beals’ vulnerable recounting of her story in this book.  I would highly recommend this book.


I want to note that Revell Publishing provided me with a copy of this book for the purpose of review, but the opinions expressed are completely my own.

Losing Isaac: A Book Review

It seems hard to believe that we are already into 2018.  I just finished reading my latest book for Revell publishing called, Losing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse.

I had never heard of this particular author prior to reading this book, but let me tell you, she can spin a good story.  She has a long history of writing for Southern Living Magazine and is well versed with life in the South (always a favorite setting of mine).

I truly enjoyed this novel.  This is a story about family, connection, race, friendship, social barriers and overcoming life-changing obstacles.  The relatable characters draw you in and Fraser Luesse leaves you wanting more of life in Glory, Alabama.  This is her first novel and I personally hope it is not her last.

Disclaimer: Revell Publishing provided me with this book for the purposes of a review, but the opinion expressed above is entirely my own.

Fiercehearted: A Book Review

A couple of months ago, I was offered the opportunity to review Holley Gerth’s newest release, Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely” for Revell Publishing. While they graciously offered me a copy of Holley’s book, the following opinions are all mine.

I had to force myself to read this book slowly because I simply did not want it to end! In Fiercehearted, Holley shares with vulnerability, her personal stories and struggles with the purpose of encouraging us in our own. I love reading Holley’s books because it truly feels as if she is sitting across the table, sharing her heart over a good cup of coffee. Holley’s relate-ability shines in Fiercehearted.  Her writing causes you to look deeper into your own story and realize you are absolutely not alone on this journey through life.  In Fiercehearted, Holley offers her friendship, her truth, her tears and her triumphs.  You will love this book. Don’t miss it!


*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links 

31 Days of Writing Again: Thankful Thursday

A few things I’m thankful for this week:

  1. tired kids who go to bed easily
  2. time to myself in the evenings (after kids are tucked in)
  3. a cold snap that finally makes it feel like fall
  4. new to us children’s museums to explore
  5. picnics
  6. beautiful leaves falling down all colorful
  7. parent teacher conferences
  8. online inspiration
  9. trunk or treats (my fave!)
  10. cousins with kiddos the same age as ours
  11. flannel sheets
  12. exciting world series games that keep me up way too late!

31 Days of Writing Again: Recipe

In a few weeks time, we are going to host our second Thanksgiving at our house. This kind of thing gets me excited. I love to research new recipes and how-to’s for roasting the perfect turkey and new ways to prepare everyone’s favorite dishes. There is something comforting about the Thanksgiving meal.  Familiar foods, beloved faces around the table and lots of stories and laughter to share. My mom has always been a “use the same recipe” person when preparing the feast, but I love to switch things up.  I am all about keeping the usual staple sides in play, but I love to try different ways of preparing old favorites. For me, it keeps things interesting and a bit out of the box.

I love cooking and tinkering but there are times when I love a good tried and true recipe where the outcome is all but guaranteed if you follow the listed steps and add the suggested ingredients. Being a parent is different though.  It is full of the unexpected,  often exhausting and despite one’s best efforts, the outcome is rarely guaranteed.

I am constantly wondering if things are going to turn out okay or if I am messing my children up. There are times when I wish God would just give me a simple “recipe” for raising good kids so I would have some sort of guarantee about how this is all going to work out.  Occasionally, I think it would be nice to have an ingredient list for the right kind of discipline, a measurement for the perfect amount of freedoms and choices along the way, and an exact how-to for all of the really tricky situations in life. Mix it all together and viola- you have raised an outstanding, kind, good, loving person; an upstanding and contributing member of society.  If only it were that easy!

Obviously, life does not work this way, and nor would I actually want it to. I treasure the fact that God has given me two completely unique little people to steward and guide- who adhere to no recipe. I also can appreciate how He has graciously not locked me into a certain way of parenting or scripted my interactions.  Sure, I would love a little guarantee or glimpse of how they will turn out as human beings, but I would not trade all of these daily adventures with them, for all of the “recipes” or guarantees in the world.

There is something comforting about things being familiar and the same when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  But when it comes to children, families and parenting, I’m thankful for the unexpected blessings and surprises along the way- the ones that are never planned, but always a part of God’s ever elusive “recipe.”

31 Days of Writing Again: Preparing

Just like the squirrels outside my window are preparing for winter, I have been preparing for all the next couple of months will bring.  The next several weeks are going to be busy ones for the kids, and my husband’s work is going to be extra busy, which means my life will be especially busy not only keeping things going on the home front, but preparing for the holidays and helping support everyone else in their work and activities.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m married to an amazing man and we have great kids who are on a solid routine, so in those respects, I’m not feeling overwhelmed.  But I am a bit worried about how I’m going to care for myself in all of it.

Making the time to care for myself when I’m busy caring for others feels really challenging for me and does not come naturally. I struggle with guilt, and have the nasty habit of feeding my emotions.  Its helpful for me to intentionally think of proactive things to do for myself rather than roll the dice and hope for the best. I always feel better when I’m taking care of myself- who doesn’t? Yet, I am guilty of never making self-care a priority.  I truly wish it was not such a challenge.

I have been trying to think of ways that I can keep my own cup filled as I’m racing to try and keep everyone else’s filled at the same time.  Some of the things I have thought about trying are meal prep/planning, carving out time for exercise, giving myself manicures, going to bed early in order to read my book, or taking a relaxing bath. All of these things are not huge in and of themselves, but if I am able to make them a reality, they would be huge for me.

As 2017 begins to wind down and we brace ourselves for the rush of the holidays, I’m struck again by the nudge to prepare- to think ahead and have a plan.  Not only in respect to our budget, getting gifts purchased, and plans solidified, but most importantly, thinking of ways to keep myself on track with my eating and self-care throughout the madness.

This year, I’m going to work hard at preparing my heart and spirit, to finish this year with reflection, clarity and purpose. There is beauty to be discovered in every season- even in the hard and ugly parts that require effort and a little extra preparation.

31 Days of Writing Again: Thankful Thursday

I can hardly believe the end of 2017 is just around the corner. I’m starting to get itchy to begin my year-end reflections and start dreaming about all of the possibilities for 2018. One thing I know for sure is going to be on my list do to more of is to practice the discipline of gratitude. So today, I’m doing some of that here on the blog. May your eyes be open to all of the goodness and giftings God offers every day.

369. Learning (slowly) to sew

370. Family hikes

371. A glimpse of my kids holding hands

372. Audio books

373. Road trip picnics

374. parades

375. stormy afternoons

376. the dark shadow of mountains at sunset

377. Big boy bed smiles

378. writer friends

379. a dry basement after a massive storm

380. green backpacks with white stars

31 Days of Writing Again: Expiration Date

The first taste is always the best. Whether you are sipping your first cup of coffee in the morning, or taking your first swig of a sparkling water in the afternoon. That first sip is always the best. Most weekday mornings, I return home from dropping my kids at their schools and make myself a second cup of coffee to enjoy in the quiet.

I fully admit, I’m one of those types of coffee drinkers who enjoy their cream with a splash of coffee. This morning when I was returning the half and half to the refrigerator shelf, I noticed the expiration date on the carton and the date on the back up carton on behind it. (I told you, I was serious about my cream!) And even though both containers have a ways to go before they expire, it got me thinking.

What if we had expiration dates? I’m not talking about the day we die, I’m talking about expiration dates for our usefulness in life or for tasks we are assigned to do in order for them to have maximum impact. What if there was an invisible date stamped on us that only God could see where after that date passed, we were no longer useful and he just tossed us aside or said, “Never mind, I’ll just use someone else.” Isn’t that an awful thought?

I sat and pondered this for quite a while as I sipped my coffee this morning. I’m so thankful that we serve a God who never gives up on us- even though we might give up on ourselves from time to time. He never tosses us aside if we make huge mistakes in life and refuses to call us hopeless or useless. Basically, as long as we are drawing breath, he has a use for us in His Kingdom and his Word repeatedly tells us that it is never too late to begin again. He has a purpose for our lives and a future he wants to bestow upon us.

I’m thankful my passion and desire to write did not “expire” when I allowed it to sit idle for several years. I’m grateful that my life story did not “expire” when I thought I would never get married or have a family. I’m so happy that God continues to challenge and grow my experiences and interests even though it often feels like my “adult brain” has “expired” from too many games of Candy Land or episodes of Chuggington.

He is the renewer of our hopes and dreams. He never wants us to give up hope or just “expire” and be or feel tossed aside.  Our God has purpose for us every day even as we get old and gray. There are people around us and generations behind us who need our wisdom, our shared experiences and our enthusiasm for living to be passed down.

Thankfully we serve a God whose purposes and plans for our lives never expire. As I’m working on emerging from a difficult season in my life, I’m so grateful that I do not have an expiration date on my usefulness in life and that it is never too late to get started- again.  God’s timing is always perfect.  His goodness and grace towards us are forever, and thank goodness forever never expires!