Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Making my to-do list work for me!

am a chronic procrastinator. Putting it off until the last minute has plagued me as far back as I can remember having deadlines to meet. School papers, 4-H record books, even holiday gift shopping- somehow, I am very, very good at postponing tasks until tomorrow.  I am also a self help book lover, so Glynnis Whitwer's new book, Taming the To-Do List, was a must read. The subtitle of Whitwer's book is how to choose your best work every day; that is defintely something I could use some help with deciphering in my life! Some days (most days) I feel like my to-do list would take me this life and beyond to actually accomplish. It's such an extensive checklist I have a hard time deciding where the best place to begin even is. After reading Taming the To Do List, I now have a much more realistic, workable plan and approach. 

  Glynnis begins by helping us understand just what procrastination is- the usual cycle it takes and how it can even be a sin. We then take a look at  some of the reasons behind why we procrastinate-out of fear or people pleasing, etc. The next chapter assesses what exactly we lose by putting off our responsibilities until "later." Whitwer expands into the cost on our character, our potential and even, our health. She uses some scientific evidence that is pretty convincing! 

  The book moves on to give some practical tips on how to actually combat our procrastinating tendencies. One of the first things we can do is cut out responsibilities we don't "need" to carry. We can set our self up for success by being at our best, physically, to think with clarity and focus. We can get enough sleep and we can avoid too much infoarion and too much multitasking.
We can give ourself grace and not expect perfection and form some better habits.  

 Glynnis leaves us on a positive, practical note-giving advice on how to become a better time manager and organize for our "best" work. She gives everyday, little changes we can implement to make our 
to-do list work for us. This book came at the beginning of a busy season that was starting to overwhelm. I am thankful for the strategies and encouragement Glynnis shares with us in her helpful book! 

I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The perfect book for changing seasons- of the year or of life!

I have found myself having a somewhat difficult time making the transition from summertime freedom to the regular routines of fall. Not only have I had to switch gears from flexible days of fun to structured days of commitments, Our family had also been preparing ourselves for the a job and lifestyle change that fell through. We had waded thru a long waiting period of planning and anticipation, expecting life to change pretty drastically come the fall. When that new chapter didn't come thru, I had to quickly restructure my plans to go on with the "same old, same old." In a strange way, a new book on change has helped me to transition to the fact that my life isn't really going to change after all!
Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong shares truths to carry you thru life's transitions. The book is broken up into three parts: Acknowledge, Accept, Adapt. First, Kirsten helps us understand the many faces change can take on and that they can be sudden or gradual. I appreciated the chapter Kirsten wrote on giving ourselves permission to be affected by change and that God wants us to honestly bring our feelings to Him.
Next, it's time to Accept the change-to realize God loves us and works everything out for our good and to just keep taking small steps forward in faith. Kirsten uses biblical examples of Abraham and Joseph to show God's faithfulness thru big change. We learn to find peace in waiting, security in our limitations and to hand our worries over to Jesus.

  And lastly, Kirsten helps us learn to thrive in our changes by Adapting. We are reminded of what a help and blessing good friendships are to us, especially in our time of need and weakness. It is a balm to our souls to hear someone say, "I've been where you are and I made it thru. You will too." . And then we learn from Esther how we need to ask "How will God use me in this?", instead of "Why did God allow this to happen to me?" Kirsten wraps up her inspiring book with the reminder that no matter what changes around us, Christ will always be our solid ground.
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The perfect bedtime book- God Gave Us Sleep

I'm so excited to add another title from the favorite kid's book series, God Gave Us by Lisa Tawn Bergen!  The newest book in the series is God Gave Us Sleep is just about the most perfect bedtime story you could ask for. We get to follow the classic bedtime predicament of every family- it's bedtime and Little Cub doesn't think it should be so! She is having just too much fun and, after all, she's a big kid and doesn't need that much sleep. As a mother, I love the patient and gracious way Mama Bear addresses Little Cub's many bedtime "Why's?".  From "why do I need sleep?" to "What if I have bad dreams?", Mama Bear gives answers every kid needs to hear. She explains how God designed the rhythms of the day-work, play and rest-and how sleep is a gift.(Don't us Mama's know that's a truth!)

 I also loved how the book played out how a Little Cub who doesn't get enough sleep makes for a grumpy, frustrated Cub, indeed. My oldest son gets so very emotional and irritable if he doesn't get the sleep he needs and I think this part of the book will be a great way to illustrate to him that every little one needs sleep, for his sake and everyone else's as well!

 I have been buying the God Gave Us books since before my oldest was born and just adore them. I read God Gave Us You to my oldest as a baby and broke the news to him of a younger sibling on the way by giving him, God Gave US Two. I love the whimsical way that these books weave biblically based facts with adorable stories that are appreciated by every age!
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

The beginning of my fall fiction binge

Fall means shorter days and wetter, colder weather. The workload slows down and I have more time for my favorite, cozy hobbies-like curling up on the couch with a warm cup of coffee and an engaging novel. My very favorite historical fiction author is Jane Kirkpatrick. I have been reading her books since I was a teenager. I so enjoy the way that she takes real women's stories from history and brings them to life, in a very real way. Plus, it's a huge draw for me, that as a fellow Oregonian, Jane's books are usually always set in Oregon. She weaves together the time and setting of the heroine's life with her inner life-her thoughts and feelings, victories and struggles. I am very impressed with the work Mrs. Kirkpatrick puts into researching the lives and personality of her heroines. Jane has a knack for making her characters vulnerable and believable. I come away from each of her books feeling like I have made a new friend from a different place and time. Here is how Jane herself describes her writing.
  Jane Kirkpatrick's latest book, The Memory Weaver, may be my favorite title of hers yet.

 The enveloping story of Eliza Spalding Warren, set in Oregon Territory in the mid 1800's. The child of missionary parents, Eliza grows up along side Indians she trusts and loves. But when tragedy strikes, her family is forced to leave and feel betrayed by the people they've come to serve. Yet another disconcerting blow comes when Eliza's mother dies soon after. In the wake of so much loss, Eliza is left to find her way, while expected to be her demanding father's ministry assistant and raise her younger siblings. Feeling weighted down and hopeless, Eliza finds herself wooed away by a man with all the right words to say to a young woman who is only used to being valued for what she can contribute not who she is. Eliza enters her marriage knowingly na├»ve about some of her husband's character, but determined that it is better to start her own life than forever just being her father's helper. As Eliza faces the challenges that come with growing up, expedited by marrying very young, she only wishes her mother was still on earth to give her the advice she desperately needs. Then enters the intriguing element of having passages from her mother's diary interwoven thru out the chapters of the book. Eliza finds that her mother was a real woman with real struggles and how she found strength in the Lord.
 This novel was the perfect way to start my fall reading binge! I've got some other great titles I'm working on and can't wait to share about in the coming weeks!
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A new children's book to start our fall off with thankful hearts!

 I love snuggling up on the couch with my 3 boys and sharing a good story together. It makes my book loving, Mama heart proud that they are always begging for "just one more" book at story time. So, What a better way to celebrate the changing of the season into a cozy, reflective time of year than to acquire some new, quality kids books? I'm so excited to have Thankful by Eileen Spinelli to add to our fall book rotation

What a simple, yet deep child's poem book with delightful illustrations to bring it to life. Thankful reminds children (and their parents!) of some simple, everyday occurrences that bring joy and gratitude. I especially appreciated the way the illustrations brought life to the lines of the poem. The sweet scenes of a family sharing mundane, yet special adventures together made me love this book all the more!

I think this is my favorite line of the poem and illustration. This is an example my boys and I could relate to. We had such a  good and bonding time growing a garden this year. We learned together to work hard and be thankful for the food our garden provided us with!

 I am always working to instill everyday gratitude into my heart and the little hearts I am nurturing in my home as well. I know this book will be a great reminder to us and become a favorite around thanksgiving time.

I recieved this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Making it Home- A story we can all relate to

From a young age, I have been an avid reader. I adore the escape of getting lost in a good book-whether it be the excitement of a fictional world or the enveloping experience of seeing the world thru someone else's eyes via a good memoir. Growing up, it was very common for me to have stayed up half the night to finish that book that was just too good to put down. Then I grew up, got married, had kids and life's demands seemed to outweigh the value of curling up with a good read. But lately, I have intentionally been making time in my life to read, even if only for a few minutes a day. I find I am refreshed and more ready to tackle the everyday challenges of my life when I have stimulated my mind with an outside perspective and other's experiences thru a good book. My latest read has done just that and more- Making it home-Finding my way to peace, identity, and purpose by Emily T. Wierenga had me hooked from page one and I just had to keep reading to see where Emily's story took her.
  As a young wife and mother doing my best to follow God's leading in my life and, somehow, be all that my family needs and deserves-I could so relate to Emily's joys and struggles. I found myself chuckling in understanding at the messy joys of motherhood and knowing the pain of wrestling thru some of the trials Emily shares about. I found connection with Emily's story thru our similar backgrounds and even current life chapters.

 I really enjoyed the structure of this book-It is broken up into sections that correspond with different chapters and roles of Emily's life. It felt like an even more intimate read, getting to "know" Emily from her childhood onward and watching the journey to who she is today. We both grew up in Christian homes with imperfect, but loving parents who did the best they could to give us the foundation we needed for life. I could relate as Emily shared of having to find your own identity thru and even apart from your family and making your faith your own. She is painfully honest at times, about how even with all the best of intentions, sometimes parents let us down and how we can carry the fear of doing the same into the parenting of our own children. I really appreciated that Emily doesn't just leave the blame at her parent's feet though, but shares of their combined journey of forgiveness, grace and ultimate understanding.

 I enjoyed the sweet glimpse into Emily's marriage to a good, Christian man who loves her unconditionally and leads her towards the Lord continually. I smiled as I saw so much of my marriage in their story- two young people, madly in love, growing up and figuring out life together. I saw reality and grace in her sharing of both her and her husband's weaknesses. How they sometimes hurt each other and fall apart but they always find their way back to each other; To me, that is what a good marriage is all about.
 Emily's stories from the trenches of motherhood rang very true to me as that chapter of life is very much currently where I reside as the mother to 3 little boys. My heart felt her fears and triumphs as she shared of the exhausting privilege of raising her own boys. To shape little souls stretches you in a way I have never know before and Emily gives that experience a voice all mothers can understand.
  Making it Home is filled with every day snapshots of Emily's life that she weaves together in such a way to convey a much bigger picture of what God has done in and thru her. I really appreciated her humble approach at sharing her heart with her readers. I don't necessarily agree with all of her spiritual views (I.E. God giving her specific, prophetic messages about her life) but it is her story to tell and she does it in a graceful way. Emily shares a quote from Susannah Welsey- "I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified." I feel that was Emily's message in sharing her life's story and it has been an encouragement to me as I am in the midst of filling my own little spaces.
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.