Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 in 12 Photos [Link-Up]


So even though we're still in the midst of the Christmas Octave and liturgical season, and I'm doing my best to stay in a celebratory and relaxed mood this week, there is definitely part of me that's so ready to start my New Year with lots of cleaning out, organization, and nesting for this little one!

But since we're not yet to the New Year, I think it's good for me to take some time today to reflect on this past year...the blessings, the challenges, the growth. To remember the past before looking ahead.

So without further ado, I'm joining Bobbi's link-up at Revolution of Love. Here's a little of what our year looked like:

January

I resigned from my position to start staying home full-time with this girl. So bittersweet
to leave my work family and a job I loved, but so peaceful to be intentional in my motherhood and follow what
I believed God was calling me to.


February

We had some crazy warm weather in February and took lots of walks and even played basketball!
G developed a scary side effect after one of her vaccines and it took many doctor visits and tests and treatment to overcome it. Definitely a rough month for us, but the sunshine helped!


March

I bought donut baking pans and decided this was the coolest thing ever. They have since been brought to many family/holiday gatherings and are fast becoming a fun tradition!


April

Lots of warm weather and realizing I could effectively hike and let the baby nap on me at the same time. I enjoyed exploring new metroparks with friends!


May

I began developing a deeper friendship with one of my neighbors (and baby G with her kids ;) ). C has been such a blessing in my life, with her heart for God and her passion for Christian marriage and motherhood. And the best part? We live a couple streets apart and can meet in the middle at the park. :)


June

These lovely flower baskets were such a triumph for me! I got them on clearance when they were scraggly and was able to nurse them back to health and beauty! We finally started transitioning G to the crib for naps instead of wearing her and I had more time to sit on the porch and enjoy the gorgeous weather and flowers!


July

A month of many "firsts"-- swimming, blueberry picking, picnics, traveling,
and HER FIRST BIRTHDAY! This was probably my favorite summer month, filled with family and friends and fun memories (except for our transition from cosleeping to crib).

August

We found out that G was going to be a big sister! We were immediately thrilled...she took a little longer to adjust. ;) 

September

I do love fall in the Midwest...we enjoyed bonfires, an apple orchard, decorating, picking out pumpkins, and more.


October

I started crocheting again and made these washcloths to go with some homemade soap for Christmas presents! I'm still going strong and have learned some new techniques as well! I added ear warmers and infinity scarves to my collection and hope to start a baby blanket soon!


November

We took an EPIC mini vacation to Amish country and brought along P's mom "Nana". You wouldn't think a vacay to Amish country would be epic, but it was!! We enjoyed swimming in our hotel pool, shopping, amazing Amish food, touring an Amish chocolate factory, and finally a huge Amish 'farm' that included giraffes, zebras, and buffalo that roamed free and CAME UP TO OUR CAR for food!! My husband fed a zebra, y'all, and we will never be the same. ;)


December

This isn't the best lighting, but this picture means so much to me. A movie night with the husband watching "It's a Wonderful Life." We got interrupted by a sick toddler who couldn't sleep, but even that just added to the reality that we have a wonderful life. We love and are loved. The mantle holds some greenery and the many Christmas cards we received from family and friends far and near. The three stockings are for our three babies-- one in heaven, one on earth, and one in the womb. Our hearts are so full. 

(Bonus)

My sweet neighbor captured this one. We ended up not using it for Christmas cards because the lighting was too bright, but G's expression is priceless!


I couldn't resist adding this one of little G at the manger in church on Christmas...a family tradition that started when I was a child myself. 

It's been a beautiful year. I've entered more fully into motherhood and found a more comfortable, peaceful place with it. I'm less concerned if I'm doing it 'right' and more concerned if I'm giving it my heart. I'm less concerned if she's meeting her milestones and more concerned if I'm mirroring God's love to her. Our community of church and friends has grown and deepened this year and I'm incredibly grateful for them, especially since we do not live near family. Yet I'm also so thankful for the many visits we had from and with family, the traditions and memories we've started and made. Life became simpler, smaller, and richer this year. I suspect next year will challenge me as we add our little babe to this side of the womb but I pray that the grace and growth I've received this year will help me rise to the occasion. Thank you, Father, for all these good gifts.



Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas blessings to you!

May each one of you prepare Him room and experience the wonders of His love this Christmas. Do not be discouraged if your holiday is less than perfect...focus on the perfect gift He gives us-- His very self. You are deeply loved. Thank you so much for reading my blog and journeying with me. Here's to the New Year!

Rejoicing in hope,

Laura

Part of our Christmas card this year


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Plan, His Plan

When my days get messy or crazy (which happens pretty often), I tend to look around and think, "I should have planned better." I'm a planner. I feel better making plans and having plans. (My husband is the opposite and it makes for an interesting marriage...but that's another story.)

Yet every once in awhile when I'm going through a rough time, I wonder...is the answer really that I had planned better...or that I need to let go of my plan? What if planning is not the same as preparing?

Two thousand years ago Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem with Mary being nine months pregnant. I don't know about you, but when I'm pregnant, I am all about the planning-- for the birth, the postpartum period, even learning the gender so I can plan ahead! If I were Mary and had been pregnant with the Son of God, I can only imagine the way my mind would have been spinning with plans to have the best birth ever!

But God was born in a stable. 

As I sat contemplating our manger scene the other day, I wondered what Mary had thought on her journey to Bethlehem. Did she have plans for her birth? Did she struggle with the way it seemed to be turning out? Jesus, the Messiah, being born away from home, in a stable with animals and only a few visitors.

Honestly, I don't think so. Because when I think about Mary's life and her 'yes' to God, in her mind it was always all about His plan anyway. She knew that preparing for His birth wasn't necessarily about making plans.

God wanted to be born in a stable. He wanted to show us humility, poverty, simplicity. To turn our views of success and holiness and salvation upside down. He wanted to become like the least of us so that every single one of us could be brave enough to get to know Him as Friend and Redeemer.

Instead of planning the perfect birth, Mary simply lived her days open to God's plan. Perhaps that's the answers to my days as well. While planning has its place in life and homemaking, too often I measure the success of my days with how much they corresponded to MY plans. What if instead I simply lived each day the best I could, but with an openness and eagerness to see God's plan for it unfold? It might be messy, it might be chaotic, it might not be what I hoped for. But it would be beautiful and peaceful, just like that Christmas night in the manger when Emmanuel was born.

God-with-us. God with His plan for us.

His is with us this day. Do you see Him?

Friday, December 15, 2017

7 Quick Takes: Holiday Updates Edition

1. Ten days until Christmas!! Which means ten days left of Advent! It's been a good one. I'm sure it could always be better, but it's honestly just been really good. We have loved our new tradition (thanks, Cordelia! ;)) of lighting the Advent wreath at night and singing a verse of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" by the light of it. Even G tries to sing, it's so precious. These books have each played a part in my Advent as well:

So, so good! If you're thinking you don't struggle with anxiety or depression,
know that most of the book was actually more about being intentional with
your holiday season in order to stay peaceful and Christ-focused. 

Quote coming soon from the book on the right. Love me some Ann Voskamp.

2. I've had just enough events to enjoy the season without feeling too overwhelmed. It's been lovely. We went caroling with a few other families at a nursing home. Last night I went to a festive moms' group Christmas party. I hosted my book club's Christmas brunch. And last weekend we went to a "Friendsmas" party with several other families. This coming week has NOTHING planned, which feels like the perfect schedule for the last week of Advent. Extra time to slow down those last few days as this all-too-short Advent season winds down.

3. My brother came over yesterday and helped me bake holiday goodies. I froze most of them to eat during the "real" Christmas season, but I have to admit I kept a few in the fridge for naptime snacks! ;) We made Chocolate Toffee bars, Almond butter cookies, and Spritz cookies. Earlier in the week, I made Thin Mints to give to our neighbors...they are so easy (but a little messy!). You simply dip Ritz crackers into melted chocolate chips mixed with peppermint extract!! Then sprinkle a crushed candy cane on top for looks and some extra crunch. Tada!!


Yes, yes. I am THAT corny with the label: So glad we're neighbors...it was "mint" to be!

4. There's something very special about being pregnant at Christmastime. Here's a little bumpdate of me (from a few weeks ago...definitely getting more of a bump/blob since then! ;) and here's our little one's precious face from my recent ultrasound!! I still occasionally worry when the baby doesn't move much some days but overall I've tried to be better about entrusting this babe to the Lord and knowing every day with him/her is a gift, however long God gives us!
I love that gorgeous bed...my sweet niece let us sleep in her room for our Thanksgiving travels. ;)



That tiny nose and mouth...so perfec


5. I'm still crocheting a lot and am so proud of myself for actually completing my homemade Christmas gifts! ;) Most people got a crocheted washcloth with homemade coffee-scented soap, but I also made a couple infinity scarves and ear warmers. On the subject of crafting, my mom knitted these GORGEOUS stockings!! They are for our miscarried baby I and for little G. She's working on one for the new baby as well as ones for me and P. Can't wait to see them all hung on our shelf!


My first ear warmer


hashtag goals ;)

6. Can't be remiss about this little girl. She is so darn sweet lately. She's been sleeping better through the night, which helps too! She has learned to bow her head and pray before meals with her little hands clasped (and then we all sing Amen and Hallelujah), she "blesses" people on their heads with her hands (daddy taught that one), and she has learned to "feed" her stuffed animals with bottles. She responds to so many questions and commands but still only speaks a couple words. I'm overwhelmed by what a gift she is. So grateful.


She loves to smile and laugh like her mommy.

She has been extremely good about the Christmas tree but can't resist the Nativity. ;)
Some friends of ours recently gave her a Little People nativity, though, and that has helped. 

7. And that's a wrap! (pun intended, of course). I hope you all are staying warm and cozy this month and drinking all the hot chocolate. We currently have about an inch of sparkling snow on the ground and clear roads...if only if could stay just like this for awhile (except maybe a little warmer so we could go out and play). Happy 2nd week of Advent!




Thursday, December 14, 2017

When You Have Little to Give

I had planned my day carefully so that we could be ready in time. We were going to go as a family to a nearby "Presence for Christmas" event with Eucharistic adoration, speakers, and time for prayer as a family. I had been to one before and it was so beautiful and powerful. I was looking forward to going again.

But the evening found me and the toddler dressed up with nowhere to go. My husband had rushed in for a quick dinner with us and instead of going as a family, we decided for me and G to stay home because the snow was coming down thick and blinding, and warnings were all over about the slick roads. I'm extra cautious when pregnant because the smallest car accident can hurt such a fragile babe inside. I wanted my husband to stay home too but he had to be at the event for work.

So it was just me and G at home, and if I'm being honest, I was exhausted, bored, lonely, and frustrated. We made the best of it with early jammies and a movie, but after she went to bed, I sat on the couch and cried. It was silly, looking back, my little pity party. But it had been a long day at home and I had so wanted to go out for a nice prayer service and fellowship with others.

So I cried a little. And I prayed in the stillness with the light of the Christmas tree in the room. I prayed through my silly tears, telling Jesus that I had wanted to go to the elaborate event but that this prayer was all I could give-- at home in my pajamas, with a hungry tummy and a tired body and a grumpy mood. In the oddest way, it was sweet and healing and authentic. I was honest and vulnerable in my prayer. And I felt peace.

I couldn't help but think perhaps this was what the widow felt like when she gave her small coins in the offering (Mark 12:41-44). She gave from her heart and she gave all she had. She knew it wasn't much, but she gave it anyway.

By no means am I comparing my pitiful human weakness to true poverty...but perhaps we can all relate to feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, exhaustion, or loneliness. Perhaps we all know what it feels like to feel like you have nothing left-- physically, or even emotionally or mentally or spiritually. That what you have to give is not what you planned. The widow in the Gospel reading gives us hope that whatever we give can be more than enough. It can be exactly what God wants if it contains our very heart in total surrender.

Where in your life is God asking you to give? Prayer? Financially? Time for others? Fears or worries? Let's hold nothing back from Him this Advent but give from the deepest parts of ourselves, knowing that His loving hands will not only receive our gift, but will receive us in love and restore us to joy and peace.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

To Be a Womb

My precious baby is an active little one. I love feeling the movements and growing closer to him or her each day through that connection. My love deepens every day and I'm so grateful to be carrying this child beneath my heart.

But physically it's hard some days. I'm short of breath, I still feel sick at times. My energy level is just less, especially keeping up with a growing toddler on the move who still doesn't sleep well and loves to be held by her mommy. This week has been exhausting with a different appointment each day for one of us. My house shows it, with three piles of folded laundry still on top the washer and dryer, with dirty dishes along the countertops, with toys strewn along the floor amidst some last boxes of Christmas decorations.

It's hard for me to ignore it all, but no matter how hard I work, it's never finished...and sometimes I just have to sit down.

So I did. And despite my internal resistance, I prayed. I read my Advent devotional. And you know what it was about?

How we choose performance over recollection. We feel the need to do instead of be, even (or especially?) during the holiday season. Yet God calls us to the opposite.

Jesus observed, 'Without me, you can do nothing' (John 15:5). Yet we act, for the most part, as though without us God can do nothing. We think we have to make Christmas come, which is to say we think we have to bring about the redemption of the universe on our own. When all God needs is a willing womb, a place of safety, nourishment, and love. [...]we crowd Christ out with our fretful fears.

We are afraid to be still. We are afraid to be unproductive. We are afraid of "doing nothing," when the truth is often God is only able to do anything in our lives when we stop and allow Him the space through prayer, silence, and contemplation. 

My own body is teaching me this. My natural drive is to do and accomplish and it's so hard for me to sit when there are things to be done all around me. But in order to grow my child within, I have to stop and rest. Even when I'm doing nothing, so many amazing things are going on in my body to grow this little babe.

In the same way, in order to allow the Christ-child to grow within me, I need to pause and be still and give Him room. I need to be a womb for Him-- trusting the beautiful reality that by me 'doing' nothing, He is doing something.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Preparation

How is it a MONTH since I last posted?? And I'm not even on Instagram anymore!! Life is full in a beautiful (and challenging!) way with a toddler at home and a baby on the way...our community of church and friends has grown significantly in the past year...I have retreated a lot from the rush of technology...with all those factors I guess I just am on the computer less often! Which is a good thing, although I still have a bad habit of checking little things on my phone throughout the day--but Advent is coming, so it's time to shape up! ;)

On that note, I'm in total preparation mode for Advent beginning this Sunday. I'm definitely one that is NOT liturgically correct when it comes to the decorations and music and such. There's no way I can wait until Christmas Eve to decorate. I've thought a lot about it and have decided my happy balance is to go all out with my decorating that I love, the music that makes me smile, the baking that warms my heart and house...and consider it all preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Because it is. When a big party is coming up, we prepare for it, often well ahead of time. We don't wait until the last minute and stress out and do it all the night before. So I'm okay with my strategy. ;) (Plus when our kids are older someday, I do plan to have special traditions and celebrations for the 12 days of Christmas, so that they realize the difference in the church seasons).

I also recently learned that Advent is not necessarily a "penitential" season of the Church, but rather one of "preparation." So no gloomy or solemn faces around here, just quiet (um, or noisy sometimes?) hearts preparing Him room. However, since I know fasting does make room for more of God in my life, I'm planning to nix all social media in order to be still and know Him more deeply. I'm also hoping to finally get back to a daily habit of praying and meditating on the life of Christ with the rosary.

And now, despite this short and unorganized post, I'm going to go have some of that prayer time right now before the unpredictable teething toddler wakes up from a (likely short) nap. And I'm going to ignore all the boxes of open decorations and the crazy mess of the house in order to pray....because, you know, I don't have to have it all finished today. It's a season of preparation, not completion. ;)


Monday, October 30, 2017

What NOT to say when someone has a miscarriage

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I've tried to post a little something during this month each year in honor of our baby we miscarried two years ago.

As I reflected on miscarriage this month, I realized how incredibly difficult it is not only because of the grief you experience on a personal level, but because of our culture's confusion and insensitivity when it comes to life in the womb. If someone wants an abortion, our culture denies that the baby is a person, a human life, a unique individual. We callously state it's all about a woman's body and it's her choice and no one should judge or have specific opinions about it. We close off the matter entirely from each other. It's no wonder when a woman has a miscarriage, the world has no idea how to comfort her or how to offer respect and condolence for the unique little life she has just lost.

People say a lot of stupid things to a woman who has miscarried. And sometimes they say nothing at all. Here are four things NOT to say to someone who has a miscarriage...and a few thoughts on what you could do or say instead.

1) At least you can get pregnant and can have more kids. / At least you already have ___ number of kids.

These two go hand in hand depending on when your miscarriage occurred-- your first or somewhere down the line. Again this is our culture's predominant view on life in the womb-- that it's replaceable. One pregnancy is as good as another. Yet what a huge miss of the mark! Every conception results in a human being with unique DNA that has never been before and will never be repeated again. This is a unique human life. When a woman loses that life within her, she knows intuitively it cannot be replaced or repeated. That child was unique and the parents will never get to know him or her in this life. What to say instead: I'm so sorry for your loss. Acknowledge that this unique child's death was indeed a great loss, not something to be brushed over or replaced by other children. There are many organizations that sell sweet jewelry with a birthstone or engravings...these would make beautiful gifts to acknowledge the uniqueness of this child.

2) At least you were only ____ weeks along.

I get it. I get the sentiment behind this. We often think that the longer we know someone (or carry them beneath our hearts), the deeper we love them and the greater the loss. But you know what? Sometimes the earliest losses can be so deeply painful because we didn't get to have those moments and memories and we'll always wonder what might have been. This statement also suggests that human life becomes more valuable the bigger and older a child gets (something we see a lot of in abortion discussions...scary how much that has seeped into our view of life in general). I remember after our early loss having such a deep, tangible pain because my body was no longer carrying our child...I wanted so desperately to have more days, more weeks knowing he was alive beneath my heart. What to say instead: I'm so sorry for your loss. Sensing a trend here? It's always appropriate to give heartfelt, sincere condolences. A dear friend also asked my due date and remembered on the very date many months later to reach out to me-- that was so touching and amazing and rare.

3) Heaven needed an angel. 

This one drives me nuts for a couple reasons. First of all, humans don't become angels when they die. We become saints (hopefully if we go to heaven, that is.). I know it's cute to think of babies with angel wings but it's just not theologically sound or true. It sounds trite and superficial, however well-meaning it may be. The other thing is that heaven doesn't need anything or anyone. We don't understand God's ways or timing, so let's not assume we know that a mother lost her child because heaven needed it up there. ;) What to say instead...This may actually differ depending on your faith background. As Catholics, we believe in the Communion of Saints-- that those who die and go to heaven can pray for us from heaven in the same way we pray for each other on earth. So we believe that our miscarried children (knowing we would have baptized them had they lived) are in heaven, waiting for us and praying for us. For me, this was comforting to have others acknowledge. It further showed their respect for the tiny soul that had once been inside me, that my child's soul was eternal and his life has eternal significance despite the too short time on earth.

4) Everything happens for a reason. 

While it's true we have a sovereign God and nothing happens without first passing through His loving hand, this statement is so cliche and feels superficial. Kind of like something that someone says when they don't know what else to say. It's like a "shrug it off" type of statement. The truth is that we don't know why bad things happen sometimes...children die, people get cancer, hurricanes devastate. Yes, God is in control, but we also live in a fallen, broken world because of sin. So sometimes things happen that would not have been in God's perfect will. Yes, He permits them but He doesn't always cause things to happen because He had a "specific reason." Personally, I find much more comfort, strength, and hope in Romans 8:28 (an actual Bible verse instead of a cliche *wink*): "And we know that in all these things God works for good for those who love Him." We don't know why things happen, but we do know He will bring good from them. He is the Redeemer of all people and all things. What to say instead: God is with you in this. God weeps with you. God will bring grace in the midst of suffering. 

I hope this has been helpful on ways that we can weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Miscarriage is such a silent cross in our country. Don't be afraid to step forward with your time and your presence to someone experiencing one. Acknowledge their loss. Offer a meal or treat. Give a gift of remembrance. And best of all, remember their child through the years by mentioning it on or near the miscarriage date or due date.

Every single person is created unique and unrepeatable by our good God. You are. Your friends are. And every tiny person in the womb.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cozy Fall Reading: Book Reviews


I first read her well-known book The Lifegiving Home and mentioned it a few times on here and how much I loved it. So when I saw she had a new book called The Lifegiving Table that focused on food and meals, I was all in! I am such a fan of food and I've always connected it with celebration...when you have a party or gathering or even a friend over for tea, there has to be food! Author Sally Clarkson takes it a step further by connecting not only celebration with food but also spirituality. She explains how the warmth, comfort, and welcoming of a delicious meal can nurture conversation as well as evangelization. This is particularly important in raising our own families, but also in inviting others in (similar to my post about inviting the lonely). I not only loved the message of this book but also the layout and 'extras.' The first few chapters focus on the core message of the book. The rest of the chapters are divided into ways we can live this out (birthday meals, everyday meals, Christmas meals, meals on the go, etc.). Each chapter includes some devotional verses and questions, as well as practical ideas to put into practice. Sally Clarkson is fast becoming a favorite author/mentor for me, and this book affirmed that. Five stars.

[Thank you to Tyndale Publishing for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]



Two of my favorite books are One Thousand Gifts and The Greatest Gift (an Advent devo!) by the popular Ann Voskamp. She is a beautiful, beautiful word-weaver and her messages are profound. But somehow this book just didn't do it for me. Be the Gift is a gift-type book and collection of passages from previous books. The message is for all of us to be a self-gift to others (love the Theology of the Body implied there!) no matter how broken we feel. That by giving, we can not only heal and help others but ourselves as well. Her reflections are always touching and gorgeous, but this particular book just felt somewhat redundant which make the message lose some of its lackluster. It was also a bit confusing because the reflections were not separated by dates or chapters so you didn't quite know when you were in a new story or section (just a fancy capital letter beginning the story each time.). I think in some ways, this is still a rich book for meditation, and I love the 'extras' in it-- space for journaling your giving, ideas of intentional ways to give, and even some cute tags to add to food gifts for others. But overall, I found myself less drawn in than I usually am with her books. 3 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Book Look Bloggers for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]


Last but not least, I've mentioned how crafty I've been feeling lately and I ordered this book to go out on a limb and see if I can master a new skill: watercolor. The title itself was tempting: Everyday Watercolor, Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days. Honestly, I love this book. But honestly, it's much more in-depth than I anticipated. I think my best explanation would be that yes, you could learn to do watercolor in 30 days but it would be more like taking an actual course for those 30 days rather than slipping in a quick chapter and five minutes each day, if that makes sense. So the book is still EXCELLENT and I really look forward to learning, but it's not quite going to be the short naptime activity I thought it might. I envisioned learning some quick stroke techniques to be able to paint pretty flowers and leaves around some calligraphy quotes. But instead the book covers not only strokes, but also principles such as hue, saturation, value, shadows, gesture, volume, background and foreground, and much more. Again, I think it's a great resource and I love that they divided the concepts into 30 days, but I would definitely be aware that the book is very thorough and technical as well. I would give it a 4 out of 5. 

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Sunday, October 22, 2017

God Places the Lonely in Families

"God places the lonely in families." -Psalm 68:6

This verse. I can't get it out of my head. I don't even remember when I read it, but somehow it's been on my mind and heart the past couple months and that's usually a pretty good sign the Holy Spirit put it there. 

But what does it mean?

I'm now married, living in our cozy home, raising a little girl and ready to welcome another baby in the spring. My life and my heart are full in a beautiful way. Because of my family. 

We are meant for family. God Himself came to earth in a family with Mary and Joseph. Even in the Trinity, we see the family image of Father, Son, and Spirit. The first created humans were a family with Adam and Eve and their children. Obviously, family is a pretty big deal to God. 

On this worldwide Mission Sunday, I'm thinking about my own family's mission. And you know what keeps surfacing? Perhaps my family's mission these days is not so much to go out, but to invite in.

We are so blessed with the love of each other in our little family. Companionship, conversation, faith, warmth. In our broken world, not everyone has this. And without family, life can be so very lonely. God knows this, and so I believe He asks those of us that do have a healthy, loving family life to invite in those who are lonely. God wants to place those people in our family. This includes:

The single woman yearning for children, uncertain of her place during so many upcoming holidays that often center around children. She needs to be included, not only with your children and the fun activities, but as a friend and equal with her own valuable experience for you to learn from.

The person struggling with same-sex attraction yet trying to live a chaste life and follow the Church's teachings on human sexuality. They need so greatly for the Church to BE family to them, to welcome them in with love and grace and belonging. 

The elderly lady who lost her husband a year ago and whose children live far away. She needs your family to welcome her in and show her she still has so much worth and purpose and wisdom to share. 

God has adopted each one of as as His children (Romans 8:23, Ephesians 1:5) and has made us a family in the Church. For those of us who also have loving families we live with (whether it be your spouse or your parents), let's respond to God's call to allow Him to place the lonely in our families. Don't be afraid to reach out and invite someone in to your everyday life-- your meals, your trips, your holidays, your mess.

It may not be the greatest-reaching mission like those evangelizing in other countries. But to one lonely person, by simply inviting him or her into your loving family, it's life-changing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Quick Takes on a Monday

(Because I wrote these on Friday but the internet wasn't working when I tried to post!)

1. This has been such an exhausting and crazy week and it’s not over yet. P continues to be busy with his job, working lots of late evenings and an occasional Saturday (including this one) and is just swamped mentally even when he is home. It’s definitely our sacrifice as a family for the ministry and working for the “least of these,” but I often have to remind myself to do it joyfully and willingly.

2. However, it was neat to see God gently speak to me about this at one of my mom’s group book clubs this week. We’re doing Bishop Robert Barron’s study Untold Blessing: Three Paths to Holiness and in the video, he was talking about when Jesus fell asleep in the ship while the storm raged and the disciples were going crazy. Bishop Barron said that we all are a ship and when we get busy and focused on too many things and we lose Christ as our center, we are allowing Him to ‘fall asleep’ within us and we lose our calm. The storms come and we get anxious because we’re simply relying on ourselves to make it through. We need to wake up Jesus within us and give Him the central focus in our lives once again and we will find that “no storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I’m clinging.” It was SO beautiful and I was not the only mom touched by it. It was such a beautiful and convicting reminder that HE is enough in my life right now. He is with me in all the hard moments when I’m holding down the fort at home and I can be calm and at peace even with the craziness around us right now.

3. We had an overnight guest last night, a mission director. She is possibly coming for dinner tonight as well. Though I was a little nervous about it all (morning sickness still hitting me hard all day!), it turned out really well and I enjoyed meeting her and talking with her. We even had a little God-ordained chat on a drive today about relationships and it was neat to see God use some of my past brokenness to minister to her in a current situation. Last night we all went with her to a pro-life fundraiser banquet and it was great to dress up and have dinner served to me (shallow, I know) and have G behave pretty well, too.  The speakers were great, too. ;)

4. My mother-in-law is arriving today for the weekend. She’s always really sweet and helpful and it’s nice to have the company. G is still in a somewhat clingy mood (I saw a tooth popping through yesterday!) but I’m hoping she’ll warm up quickly to her nana so I can get some extra breaks and rest—um, or clean out something? Haha. That minimalism book is motivating me!

5. And remember how I was wanting to craft? I bought some Sugar and Cream yarn today on a great sale!! I’m pretty sure I’ve decided to crochet a bunch of rustic washcloths and then make some homemade soap bars to go with it as gifts this year. Another book that I’m reading for the book club I host had a mind-blowing chapter on how in the modern world our minds work so much more than our body (esp since modernism/industrialism) and there’s been a subsequent increase in workplace (and home) depression because of the body’s lack of movement/skill/innovation/etc. Because we’re created body AND soul, God intended for us to use both, to work with our hands in addition to our minds. The whole chapter was INCREDIBLE and I can’t even summarize it in a few sentences. She said mental work has great value and importance (she’s a writer, after all!) but that if our work is somewhat sedentary, to make sure we are engaging our bodies outside of work rather than succumbing to screens in the evening. Anyway, it really made me want to craft even more. Now to find my crochet hooks.

6. Children update: G is just super fun these days. We have our hard moments of course (sleep, picky eating, and such) but she is such a doll and I love seeing her little personality, her humor, and her creativity in playtime. She’s my little partner in crime each day and we have so much fun. As long as I’m not feeling sick, these are sweet times we’re enjoying before our new baby comes and we transition yet again. That being said, we heard little baby’s heartbeat at my appointment this week and it just makes me fall in love all over again. We could even hear a few kicks on the Doppler. So precious. Can’t wait to feel this little one move in a few weeks.

7. We’ve had a mix of weather this week—some cold, rainy day and some warm, sunny days. It’s a reminder that winter is coming and it makes me want to take advantage of any and all of the nice fall days and get outside as much as we can!

Tell me about your past week or your upcoming weekend! What books are you loving? Is your ship going through storms or calm right now? Where do you think is an area you can use your body to be more healthy/creative?  


Linking up with Kelly!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

My October Front Porch Tour!

So I'll start out with the disclaimer that my porch is nowhere near being "Pinterest-perfect," but having it clean and decorated seasonally has brought me so much joy this month and I wanted to share it with you! I asked my husband to sweep it a few weeks ago and he went all out with taking furniture off and cleaning every inch! There were so many cobwebs prior, you would have thought we were decorated for Halloween. ;) But now it's a lovely place to sit during naptime with a cup of cider and some books! I wish you could join me to sit a spell!

I found the pumpkins at a neighbor's roadside sale, the corn was given to me by my mom,
and the mum was a $3 Walmart steal. ;) I have since switched the yellow "R" on the door
to my fall wreath once I knew the little berries on it wouldn't fall and be choking hazards.

The rug was a gift from our wedding...still looking pretty decent after two years! ;)


These yellow mums are just so bright and cheery!! I love that I can see them from the inside of the
house through the window, too! They were from the local farmer's market and I have to say
I've noticed a big quality difference in them from my Walmart variety. ;)


This cute little guy was salvaged from a free box at a garage sale, haha! My husband thinks
he's creepy, but I think he's rustic-ly charming!


Thanks for stopping by! Come again soon!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Currently // October

Joining Anne and Dana for a Currently link-up today! Here's what I've been currently...

Styling // unfortunately NOT my hair...I really need to come up with some tried-and-true styles for everyday. I love my hair straightened or curled for the weekends but day-to-day the messy bun and I tend to be together.

Saving // Very little. I've been on a minimalist kick and loving this book about minimalism for Christians/Catholics. Don't get me wrong, The Life-Changing Magic had its merits, but some of the New Age parts just weirded me out too much, plus some of it was just unrealistic for a married momma. I'm really appreciating Sterling's views on why minimalism is important-- even a calling-- for a Christian.

Searching // For fun, family-themed trick-or-treat costumes! We don't really celebrate Halloween, but we do love All Saints' Day as well as trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is a huge, family-friendly place with lots of young kids and the neighbors go crazy for trick-or-treat night. This is the third year we've lived here and we've created a tradition of inviting my side of the family for it. Right now my top pick for cuteness and simplicity is a 'money bag' costume for G and 'robber' costumes for me and P. ;)

Picking // A recipe to make for an Oktoberfest we were invited to this weekend. I'm so excited because I've been wanting to go to a fall party and this one sounds fabulous-- lots of families, hosted in a barn, and includes a bonfire and hayride. I'm pretty sure I'll be bringing a pumpkin dump cake as a dessert to share.

Making // I want to be making Christmas gifts, but need to find the time, energy, and money, haha. I've lately just had such a desire to do crafty things again...like soap making or crocheting or scrapbooking crafts... This season has got me with all the heart eyes for the upcoming cozy holidays-- and the accompanying food and crafts and traditions.

What are you up to this month??

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hello, Fall! {Bucket List}

Our Fall Bucket List 2017

Hanging out at the apple orchard this year!

I've really enjoyed creating bucket lists for the past few seasons (you can see my summer one here!). It helps me enjoy the uniqueness of each one and think outside the daily grind. I've definitely learned to keep them simple and realistic in this season of life, but sometimes the little moments are even more precious than the wild and crazy things! Here's what we'll be up to this fall (I may have already gotten excited early about the fall and crossed off a few things we've done the past week or two):

Burn a fall-scented candle
Go to a pumpkin patch
Visit an apple orchard
Make applesauce
Make turkey-pumpkin chili
Decorate pumpkins
Host a bonfire
Have a popcorn and movie night
Decorate our porch
Buy a mum or two
Go to a fall festival
Wear a cozy sweater
Crunch in the leaves
Drink apple cider
Take a family photo

What are you looking forward to in this new season?

Monday, September 18, 2017

What I've Been Reading


This was such a neat, unique book. It's somewhat of a 'prayer guide' for your daughter. Each chapter has a specific topic (her identity, her heart, her mind, her sanctification) and then subcategories within that (that she be pure, kept, content, undivided). Within the chapter, the author shares some thoughts on the particular issues or needs, a prayer for the mom's heart, and then several prayers for the daughter, with a blank to insert your daughter's name and make the prayer your own. It may seem silly or unnecessary, but the prayers are so beautifully written and I found myself thinking of all sorts of things that I want to pray for my daughter that I would not have otherwise thought of. This book reminds you that the spiritual part of parenting is even more important than the practical side, yet it's so easy for us to get lazy in that area or to be satisfied with 'the basics.' The only thing I'd add or improve would be adding women saints to inspire the girls or intercede for them (especially Mary as a spiritual mother and role model!), but the book is not Catholic. 3.5 out of 5. :)

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for my complimentary review copy. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]


This book pretty much rocked my world. I found myself reading it the same pace as a fiction book rather than a nonfiction. Katie's story is incredibly fascinating to me. I was deeply impacted by my own mission trip to Haiti several years ago, but I'm in awe of how her one mission trip inspired her to return to Uganda and live there (over ten years now!) and adopt 13 children as a single mother (although she has recently married and had a bio baby too!!). It's so radical, I couldn't help but want to read more about this girl. I have not read her first book but now I want to. I have a feeling I'd like this one better anyway, though, because she shares a lot about how she and her faith have changed and matured in the ten years. Her message transcends time and place and I had tears several times with the way she inspired me in my own relationship with Jesus, to go deeper in relationship, to trust in the hard, to be patient with His plan. The subtitle really sums it up well: "Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful." 5 out of 5. 

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary review copy. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Salsa of all Salsas

And this picture is exactly why I'm not a food blogger, y'all.


Ok, so not really about the "salsa of all salsas." When it comes to salsa, different strokes for different folks, you know? But this particular recipe is my favorite, so I'll share it with you anyway. It's a thicker style rather than watery and it has a rich, tomato-y taste as well as a kick of black pepper. You can modify the peppers to use more or less banana peppers or jalapeno peppers (swapping with green peppers) to change the heat. I would say it's medium as is, although if you leave the seeds in the jalapenos that might take it up to hot. Enjoy!

Amy's Mom's Salsa (gotta give credit where credit is due, haha!)

12 cups diced tomatoes
4 cups diced peppers (1 cup banana,1 cup jalapeno, & 2 cup green pepper)
2 cups diced onions
2 tsp red pepper seasoning (crushed red peppers)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
6 tsp salt
3 6-oz cans tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
3 tsp black pepper
 
Combine all ingredients and boil 5 min.

This is how many containers it filled for me-- the smallest container is a 2 cup bowl
so you can see it makes quite a bit! The 'measuring cup' is actually a large mixing bowl (8 cups, maybe?)



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Currently // September

New month. Almost a new season. September days are lovely. A quiet, subtle ushering in of the fall. Our weather is slowly changing but cooling down sooner than usual. I'm starting to think of book clubs and bowls of soup and picking apples and all the plaid. Here's what else I'm up to currently:

celebrating: with gratitude that our baby had a healthy heartbeat and was measuring right on track for growth. I know pregnancy can seem so natural and simple and resilient for so many people, but for us having experienced a loss before, we just don't take anything for granted. Every milestone is a celebration! We loved seeing our little bean and his or her precious heartbeat!

watching: Nothing. I'm still in the first trimester exhaustion phase and I go to bed shortly after the toddler. I miss staying up with my husband and our Poldark episodes. Hopefully by the time season 3 airs, I'll have more energy to stay up.

welcoming: people into our home despite the lack of perfection. We hosted two college-age missionaries from the Culture Project for dinner and overnight on their way east for training. Tonight we're hosting a national speaker for a last-minute dinner before his talk in our town (quite the feat with my "all day" morning sickness and finding out he is on the paleo diet! ha!). It's been a blessing to me to learn how to open our home with a loving and welcoming spirit even if the food or the decor or the cleanliness isn't exactly how I'd like it to be.

preparing: for all things fall. Mentally I'm preparing, that is...I could really get a move on with the physical prep-- like switching out summer clothes for cooler weather ones, stocking the pantry for soups and comfort food, outdoor work. I'm also starting to look for a new orchard or pumpkin patch to visit! Can't wait!

photographing: the occasional moments. Nothing fancy. But it's good to catch the little moments to remember. I was off instagram for the month of August and it was interesting to see that I sometimes failed to capture the little moments like I do when I post on instagram. I've always liked the way that particular social media encourages appreciating the little things in an ordinary day.

Linking up with Anne and Lowanda. Would love to hear what you're up to currently!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Seven Quick Takes // Happy Fri-yay!

1. My sweet girl is down for her nap and went to sleep relatively quietly. I hope our next baby is a better sleeper, but I wouldn't trade our G for anything. Just now I had one of those heart-melt moments when I looked at her asleep in her crib. She's just so beautiful and I can't believe she's ours. Yeah, all the heart eyes. :)

2. It's been a stressful week with a lot of pregnancy symptoms and some bad lab results. I had low levels of progesterone with G but mine are currently even lower than they were with her despite me being on maximum treatment. That's always discouraging and I can only hope baby is still alive and well and safe in there. My ultrasound is next week and that will (hopefully) be an encouragement that all is well. I was telling my husband how I understand the reality (and beauty!) that our children are gifts from God and His first, that He loves them more than we do, and that the goal for all of them is to be with Him in heaven someday...but when the fear of miscarriage taps at my heart, I realize how desperately I want to meet and know our baby here on earth first.

3. We have two missionaries coming for dinner and staying overnight with us while they make their way out East to a conference. They are from the Culture Project (check them out if you've never heard of it! SO fabulous!) and it will be fun to meet them and talk with them tonight! It's also been awhile since we hosted people for either dinner or overnight, so even that sounds fun. I'm busy getting fresh towels and little chocolates to put on their beds. :) #bedandbreakfastwannabe

4. I went to the dentist today for the first time in 2.5 years! That is the LONGEST I think I've ever waited between appointments-- my poor hygienist!! ;) No excuses, but it just took me that long from getting married and moving to finding a new local dentist. They were so great, though! Being a nurse, I always have high expectations for healthcare workers and they did not disappoint!! From the receptionist to the dentist, everyone was SO nice and caring and thorough. I think that's somewhat rare these days so I was so delighted. Plus my teeth are squeaky clean...time to start taking better care of them. On that note, do you have a favorite toothpaste? I prefer the natural stuff, but I just think baking soda and coconut oil might be too hard on my teeth for daily use...

5. I'm in JEANS today!! It is September 1st and feeling like FALL!! We didn't even hit 70 degrees today and there's a brisk wind. It's kinda crazy! I'm ready to make all the soups and brew all the tea and light all the candles now! But a part of me is sentimental and not quite ready to say farewell to summer. I didn't even make it to the new community pool!

6. So I've been reading this book and it's been very inspirational!! It's occasionally intimidating (the authors lived abroad a lot and seem to have endless money for projects/hosting/etc.) but I LOVE their emphasis on creating a warm and inviting home for your family and guests, and creating memories and moments for your children that will nurture them into a healthy adulthood. Have you ever heard of Sally Clarkson? She reminds me of Emilie Barnes. Quaintly old-fashioned yet full of some good wisdom.



7. I've been invited to several book clubs this fall in addition to hosting my usual one. Two of them are moms' groups and it's SO tempting to join because you can never have enough fellowship (plus one has free childcare!), but they're also 30 minutes away and I'm afraid of overcommitment this fall, especially since I'll still be in the first trimester. I'd be part of a total of four book club/Bible studies. ha. How do you balance stepping out for opportunities without overcommitting to stuff? 

Have a happy weekend, friends, and enjoy the holiday!! Oh, and I haven't forgotten about that salsa recipe...coming soon! ;)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Quick Takes

1. Hallelujah, we have internet again! Okay, so we were only without for a couple days...but it's nice to have it again! ;) We've had the same internet company for two years and twice they have tried to increase our rate but somehow we have continued to get the same promotion. This year, however, no go. They weren't having any of our sweet talk. So we cancelled! Ain't nobody got time for paying double the amount. At least not us. My neighbor had told me about a different company that was almost HALF the price of what we were currently paying! Yay! I switched but obviously everyone else did too because it's going to be two weeks until they can install it...but our generous neighbors are letting us use their Wifi until then. I just love our sweet Mayberry town and neighbors.

2. Speaking of neighbors, a random neighbor invited our whole neighborhood to her Pampered Chef party this weekend. I think I'm actually going to go! I don't think I really need anything for our kitchen, but I've always enjoyed Pampered Chef parties, and it might be fun to meet some new ladies from the neighborhood! Despite sometimes being pricey, there are a few PC thing that I LOVE-- like my glass mixing bowl or my potato peeler. What kitchen products do you like, Pampered Chef or otherwise?

3. And while we're talking about the kitchen...I am CRAVING homemade salsa. And not just any recipe, but my favorite recipe I make every fall. It's from my friend's mom and we've been making it for probably twenty years now!!! It is SO good and I've never tasted anything like it. Today I mixed up the spices and tomorrow I'll head to the farm market to get some peppers and tomatoes. Mmmm...I can't wait. I think I'll eat a bowl of it for each meal, ha!

4. On the cravings note, I'm really starting to feel all the preggo symptoms. Which is interesting with a toddler around. Thankfully, both her pregnancy and this one it's relatively mild, just uncomfortable. Like nausea, short of breath, and fatigue uncomfortable. But it's manageable. Most of the time. And when it's not, I just lie on the floor and let her crawl on me, haha!

5. Tonight we're headed to a surprise birthday party at good ol' Chuck E. Cheese! Despite what you may think, it's actually a party for an adult! ;) They disguised it by telling him it's a birthday party for a two-year-old, but little does he know when he arrives that we've all gathered there for his 30th birthday!! I haven't been there in years, but it sounds fun to see friends, play games, and have some (likely cheese-less?) pizza. :)

6. My husband is hitting one of the busy seasons of his job. The fall holds 40 Days for Life Campaign and Respect Life Month so he generally has lots of events and talks scheduled. In addition this year, he's has masterminded and organized and led a core team to host a diocese-wide conference on the problem of pornography. Matt Fradd is coming to speak and I really think it's going to be a powerful conference. We've already felt some of the spiritual warfare surrounding it all, and I know God will use this to free many people from such bondage. So proud of my hubs, but please pray for him and all the team and all those who will attend.

7. And finally, some baby photo dumping. Here are the latest shenanigans in our daily life:

We cook together.


We do laundry together.


We, um, dry dishes together?


And then we chill out together. ;) That smile, though.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Work of Creating a Home

There's no place like home. A safe, comfy, beautiful haven where we can let our guards down, relax, and enjoy ourselves. Where we can make memories with loved ones. Where we can be refreshed before going back out into the crazy and chaotic world.

But now that I stay at home full time with a baby-turning-toddler, I'm realizing how much work it takes to keep our home a haven! Oddly enough, it seems that the more often I'm home, the harder it is to keep it clean, warm, loving, and welcoming!

This past weekend was one of those where I was shamefully nitpicky to my poor husband. To be honest, weekends at home can be challenging for me these days. I've spent a long week of making and cleaning up messes and taking care of G, but my husband has spent a long week of working hard as director for his ministries. We're both exhausted but there are still meals to be made, messes to be cleaned, and a mini energizer bunny to keep up with. There's a tension inside me know both he and I desire a break, so who deserves it more?? (I know, I know. I'm not proud of these feelings, just keeping it real!). If I see him lying on the couch, I feel resentment building up inside, thinking he should be helping me do all the work around the house (and don't get me wrong, he often does help!).

Yet one day as I was driving alone in the car, I was reflecting on the situation and a totally different perspective settled in. Yes, it's a lot of work to create a home, but it's also a blessing to have that as a job! Like any job, there are exhausting moments, discouragement, frustration, and such. But what a satisfying feeling to know that because of your efforts, other feel comforted, welcomed, and restful. When my husband is lying on the couch, it's not that he's being lazy. It's that my efforts to create our home have given him a safe space to rejuvenate after his long days working hard in ministry. What a gift that I can provide that for him! It's so funny how just a change in perspective can change your whole attitude. Seeing things this way helps me to see my work as a gift, a privilege, even *gasp* a joy. It's rewarding to know that even the most mundane work that I do (dishes, laundry, meals) is sustaining a life-giving place for my loved ones to flourish.  While my husband will continue to help me around the house (grateful!) and while self-care and my needs are certainly an important balance to have with homemaking, I'm finding a renewed energy in my role. Instead of seeing the endless and monotonous, I'm seeing purpose and art.

Whether we're single, married, or mothers...whether we live in an apartment or house...whether we have lots of money or very little...I believe all women have the gift of an innate ability to create a home with beauty, comfort, and security. What are your favorite ways to create 'home' in your space?




Saturday, August 19, 2017

Announcing...

Little Miss G has a new role coming next spring. As you can see, she is still adjusting to the idea, but my husband and I are thrilled! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

This and That on a Monday

-I took a walk a few nights ago with the dog after the baby was in bed. Normally I'm ready to crash on the couch and read or watch something, but I'm so glad I made the choice to get out-- I forgot how much I LOVE summer nights!! It's so still and quiet except for a few neighbor kids playing. The sky is huge and the stars and clouds make one so reflective. It was a great night to think and pray and reminisce. I remember so many summer nights when I was single. I loved to dream and think and pray while watching the night sky, sometimes alone or sometimes with a friend or two. And here I am, married and with a baby. It's crazy how life feel like it's going slow and then all of a sudden you look back and wonder where ten years went.

-We got a bike seat installed for Little G and we took it for a spin for the first time. So fun to be on bikes again! G wasn't quite sure what to think but she had some smiles so I'm going to say she cautiously liked it.

-Our weekend turned a little sour because G had a cold and P had a stomach bug. Sadly, we missed a family reunion because of the sickness, but I have a feeling a weekend at home after all our traveling with be good for us health-wise anyway.

-As much as I love summer, I do love the structure and routine of fall. I'm looking forward to my book club starting back up as well as a couple other events that I might try to make more part of our schedule in the fall. And then of course there are the apple orchards and pumpkin patches (all the heart eyes!!!)! Look for a fall bucket list post soon. ;)

-Our local Aldi is closed for six weeks! How will I survive?? haha. Are you an Aldi fan? I'll manage with Kroger in the meantime (and I have to admit it will be nice to not have to bag my groceries while feeding the babe puffs) but I can't wait until the remodeling is finished and I can go back to my favorite grocery.


How was your weekend? What's new with you?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Book Reviews



I was first introduced to Jane Austen when I was in junior high and I was hooked. Since that's been over fifteen years, I've not only read all of her novels, seen most of the movie adaptations, but have also enjoyed spinoffs and Jane Austen themed books and movies as well. Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge is a modern take on Sense and Sensibility. It followed SandS very well, where it was easy (and fun!) to see who was who and what plot twists mimicked the original, but it was also unique and had its own enjoyable and original plot. Most of the time I read with a happy, amused pace but occasionally I have to admit I would get a little bored or it would feel somewhat predictable or even silly at times. I definitely appreciated the Captain in this modern version much more than the Colonel in the movie! Overall, it was a pleasant fiction book and I'd recommend it, but don't expect it to be a page turner. :) 3.9 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my review copy at no cost. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]




This is a lovely, gift-type hardcover book with reflections on motherhood from not only Nichole Nordeman but also several other well-known women. There are beautiful real-life pictures on each page, great writing, reflection points in each chapter, and space for journaling. This would make a fabulous baby shower gift. I haven't read all of the book, but I've been impressed by the authenticity of the writing. It's neither a fake, fluffy depiction of only the sweet parts of motherhood but neither is it about fighting through the dreadful trenches of motherhood. It's a great mix of the reality of the beautiful and the reality of the hard. I've already been brought to tears a few times, and definitely nodded my head several. I used to listen to Nichole Nordeman years ago in her first gig as a Christian music artist. I didn't realize she had gone through some rough times, including a divorce. It made me really sad to read her book knowing that she was a single mom. I don't mean that in a judgmental way, but more in a way that my heart just saddens anytime I hear about motherhood after a broken marriage and how tough that would be. Despite that sad reality, Nichole seems to treasure her children and motherhood and writes in such a beautifully real and relatable way. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my review copy at no cost. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]