book review || the wingfeather saga

My husband loves to read and always has multiple books going at once. He tends to be a slower reader, so when I see him reading a book that he can barely set down, and which often results in several midnight or later nights for him, I know that I, more than likely, need to add that book or series to the top of my reading list. Such it was with the Wingfeather Saga. Our good friends had introduced us to the series and J was the first of us to pick up the book and try it out. It wasn't long into his reading that he started to tell me, "Babe, you've got to read these books." And on my list they went.

So a few months ago, I cracked open the binding of the first one, and it was only a matter of paragraphs before I knew this one had me. The creativity of Andrew Peterson to create this world, these characters, the depth of this story line!? It astounds me. As it was when I read the Harry Potter Series I continually found myself just struck by the imagination and thoughtfulness and attention to every detail that an Andrew Peterson or a J.K. Rowling pours into every ounce of their writing.

These 4 books in the Wingfeather Saga follow the stories of three siblings and each one of them will endear themselves to you in their own unique way. The characters in this book are so diverse, each fascinating in their own right. The stories behind the story are weaved together in the most artistic way to create this world and the lives in it. The landscapes of this book are terrifying and the kind that dreams are made of. The writing as a whole is simply beautiful -- it pricks every emotion and it brought me to tears multiple times. The way he writes of the themes of redemption and sacrifice, forgiveness and courage, love and hope is profound to me in the case of a novel. Truly, what a gift to write like this.

These are books that J and I cannot wait to read aloud with Anna Kate one day. These are books that will sit on our bookshelves for years to come and be very well-worn. These are the kinds of books that, for me, as also in the case of dear Harry, I was so sad to close the last one, and because of that, I can't wait to come back to again one day.

-- The Wingfeather Saga -- 

 Book One: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness 

Book Two: North! Or Be Eaten

Book Three: The Monster in the Hollows

Book Four: The Warden and the Wolf King

Happy Reading, my friends!

a "little" bookshelf

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -- Dr. Seuss

Books, books, and more books. The collection is ever growing in our home, which I love, as the smell of a new book and the feeling of breaking open its binding are the happiest of sensations. Pouring stories into AK's mind and heart has been an important piece of our everyday parenthood since we were putting her crib together. Books are constant companions, tools for our mind and our imagination, friends that are always near. Getting into scrapes with Anne, walking across the English countryside with Lizzy and Jane, wandering into magical Narnia with Lucy, fighting for justice with Atticus Finch; I've done all these things and these characters are beloved in my heart. I want AK to know these people, to have these adventures, to be inspired to always be learning more, to see heroes and heroines, and to come away with a greater love for the written word.

Sitting down and reading with Anna Kate, watching her discover the characters and stories that I know and love already or falling into an entirely new story together, is one of the dearest parts of motherhood for me. And when she stacks book after book on itself and plops down on the couch next to me to read every single one of them, my mama's heart swells. She's coming to love these stories, too, and I always want to be handing her more.

This list is just a few of the favorites that we started our bookshelves for AK with. Some I have loved since childhood, as well, and some we've come to know just in the past year. There are countless more that I would put on a list for you, but let's start here with these few dear ones. 

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey // It's gentle and full of the sweetest simplicity, and every time we read it AK and I dream about living on the coast one day, chasing seagulls and digging up clams for dinner. 

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall // One of the best stories ever put to paper. Childhood come full circle in the sweetest possible way.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney // I have loved this book for years; her travels, her work, her little cottage by the sea, and the lovely thing she does to "make the world more beautiful." Miss Rumphius would be the dearest kind of lady to know.

Corduroy by Don Freeman // a classic that I think must sit on every child's shelf.

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman // 7 kids, insanely picky eaters, an exhausted mama, lessons learned, a happy ending, all wrapped up in delightful rhymes.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans // The whimsy of the illustrations in the Madeline books feels, to me, like Paris must feel: dreamy, fanciful, full of art. 

George Washington's Cows by David Small // Hilarious and happy. A lighthearted piece of "history." ;) 

James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot // Some of the most tender, gorgeous stories from the heart of a faithful British veterinarian and the illustrations are at the top of some of my forever favorites list.

Our Corner Grocery Store by Joanne Schwartz // This was a library find that was read about 136 times in the span of the few weeks that we had it, so it had to become a staple on our bookshelf. It's delightful. 

Paddington by Michael Bond // Truly, what's more charming than a bear who travels to England from darkest Peru with suitcase full of marmalade??

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson // The "Bear" books were a Chick-Fil-A kids meal discovery that won a spot in AK's heart a few years ago and have sat on our shelf ever since. There's a whole sweet little collection.

It's just a handful of a list, but it is a beautiful place to start. 

Happy Reading, dear ones!

titles for 2017

One of my favorite pieces of gathering together my thoughts and plans for a new year is the compiling of my new year book list. I am sure that pile of new reads has to be one of the most delightful things the world has to offer.

"Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book." ~ Jane Smiley

I haven't set a particular number of books to read this year, though I would like to. I have, however, set one goal: I shall not buy another book until I have made good progress through the stack that has come to collect on my desk and nightstand over the past 6 months. With a list of titles such as these I already have much goodness to savor. So hold me to it, friends. I must be strong.

So here is my list as it stands now (not necessarily in this order):

1. None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

3. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino

4. Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler

5. Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs

6. Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman

7, The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

8. Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch

9. Everyday Talk by John A. Younts

10. Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr

There are other titles that whirl around in my head as possibilities for the days ahead, but I'm sticking with these 10 as my beginning. And I'm quite happy with them.

Right now I am reading.......

The second book of the Wingfeather Saga: North! Or Be Eaten -- it reminds me of Harry Potter in its incredible creativity and imagery, yet told with such real emotion and wisdom. I've never seen my husband read a book series so quickly!

 Praying the Lord's Prayer by J.I. Packer for our January women's bible study at church. Here's a nugget from the first chapter: "Conversations with parents or wise friends whom we love and respect, and who are ready to help us by advice and action, feel neither pointless nor tedious, and we gladly give time to them -- indeed, schedule time for them -- because we value them, and gain from them. This is how we should think of times of communion with God in prayer......" Oh, what wisdom! Plus, he threw in the phrase higgledy-piggledy in the second chapter.....what could be more delightful?

 Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder as we are walking this new road with our sweet one. So grateful for those who study our minds and bodies and who are eager to use their knowledge to help.

And I am going to begin checking off my new list by picking Missional Motherhood back up. I had started it back several months ago, but had to set it down as life demands hit hard. I can't wait to read this gem. I've heard only lovely things about it.

Sometime in the next few weeks I'm going to share with you all what drives my decisions to read the books that I do, but for now I will leave it here. 

What books are you looking forward to reading this year? Do you have any suggestions of must-reads that need to go on my book list for later in the year?

"I cannot live without books." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Happy Reading, lovelies!

 

book review || seasons of waiting

"God's discipline through waiting is good for us and will lead to deeper peace and good fruit in our lives.

Waiting exposes our idols and throws a wrench into our coping mechanisms. It brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God. God doesn't waste our waiting. He uses it to conform us to the image of his Son.

But sanctification is not the only purpose God has in mind when he takes us into the school of waiting. When we wait, God gives us the opportunity to live out a story that portrays the gospel and serves as a kingdom parable."

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This book, you guys. This wonderful, rich, timely book. There's about 501 things I could say about what a gift it has been for my heart to read this book and be left in complete awe at the Lord's timing in it all. This theme of waiting has resounded heavily in our lives for several years now, but this past year the waiting has held particular significance for me. The significance has come, most especially, I think, because my heart roots are being shaken and stirred; shaken to get rid of those nasty awful sins that continue to rise up and stirred to gain a more deeply rooted trust in my Father. So picking up this book for me couldn't have come at a more timely moment, and I've no doubt the Lord knew that. 

My favorite thing about this book is how the author, Betsy Childs Howard, writes with the most beautiful thread of an eternal perspective woven throughout all the pages. She balances so well the truths of present suffering and eternal hope. She writes with understanding, reminding us that grief and longing are not sinful in and of themselves: "Contentment and grief are not incompatible states. Just as we weep over violence and death and sin, it is appropriate to weep over a womb that has not born a child. All is not as it should be. The pain of infertility should send us deep into the goodness of God for comfort. You can find contentment in the mercies of a tender Father as you grieve the barrenness of your womb. Grieving at the brokenness of this world points beyond to the life to come." (This is from the chapter on Waiting for a Child, but I believe it carries over to whatever form of "waiting" we are facing.) The grief, the longing, are real, heavy, overwhelming struggles (look at David in the Psalms), but they can drive us to our gentle Father for the comfort that we need (again, look at David) and point us to eternity where we will know perfect satisfaction in His presence, all our longings satisfied.

One of the lines that J and I have often repeated to each other throughout the past year, in particular, is, "I want to wait well." How I loved that when I opened up this book one of the first sentences I read was: "God wants me to learn how to wait so that I can wait well, even if my waiting continues for the rest of my life." He wants us to learn to wait well, by His power and grace, and with the knowledge that He isn't going to "waste our waiting", but has purposes beyond even what we can see right in front of us (1 Cor. 13:12).

I set this book down feeling as if a friend had come alongside, put her arm around me, and just spent a few hours speaking truth to me. Truths about the character of God, the seen and unseen purposes of God, the way He intimately knows me and loves me, and the opportunity for my story to be a canvas for His glory to be seen by the world around me. There is beauty to be found in these painful seasons, dear ones, because we have a God who loves us so well and remains steadfastly on His throne. 

This book is a wealth of help and encouragement. Truths of comfort and clarity spill out of the pages. Betsy Howard writes that way; a gentle voice of firm truth, and I love that. We need that. It's all I can do to not just buy boxes full from Amazon so that I can hand them out to everyone I come in contact with. It's a gem of a book, my friends. You must, must, must read it.

"I still struggle with wanting God's gifts more than I want him. But I'm grateful that God continues to withhold some of his gifts in order to satisfy me with himself. The presence of God in the darkness of our trials is a small foretaste of the presence of God that we will know in the eternal light of his glory. It is in the absence of God's gifts that I learn the Giver himself is the greatest gift of all."

Happy Monday, friends! I hope it's a sweet one for you.

*Seasons of Waiting on Amazon

book review | treasuring christ when your hands are full

"When your eyes are fixed on the horizon of eternity, it affects your vision for motherhood. We need to have eyes to see a view of God that is so big and so glorious that it transforms our perspective of motherhood. In the context of eternity, where Christ is doing his work of reigning over the cosmos, we need to see our mundane moments for what they really are --- worship. In the daily (and nightly) work of mothering, we're given dozens of invitations to worship God as he reminds us of the hope we have because of his gospel."

When I read this paragraph in the introduction of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full I anticipated ending this book with close to half the book underlined. I wasn't wrong. This is the best book for a mothers heart that I have read. You must, must have this book on your shelf.

Gloria Furman comes alongside as a gentle, truth-filled, humorous friend, linking her arm through yours, reminding you of the greatest truth we know, the one that is our hope and help in every way. She focuses our hearts on the thing that is our foundation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and wisely and lovingly recalls to our minds that we must treat it as that foundation, constantly reminding ourselves that we are fully and wonderfully made to be dependent on Him. She is real and authentic, writing as a friend. So many times I found myself wishing I could sit at her kitchen table and just talk to her, sharing my heart and hearing hers. Her writing is a treasure.

I told a friend today how I set this book down and realized that I was walking away from it encouraged and refreshed not only as a mother, but as a woman. This book pounded on my heart, in the best and most needed ways, in regards to every part of my life. That is why I love it. It's about treasuring Christ, and that is something that should never be restricted to one area of our daily existence, but should be the theme that runs through every piece and aspect of our being. 

Read this book, my friends. I promise you will mark it up as much as I did.

cold weather reading || for the littles


The littles need a cozy days reading list, too. It could be miles long, so I'm breaking it up into a couple of lists, and even then I'm wishing I could have added about 15 more titles just to this one. I had to stop somewhere, though, so consider this your starter list.

It is so sweet to introduce your littles to all the worlds and adventures you experienced growing up, don't you think? 


Little House in the Big Woods: we are trying this one out on our road trip to Texas this weekend. I imagine being peppered with questions as the "big woods" take shape in a little 4 year old mind.

Anne of Green Gables: one of the best and dearest.

Charlotte's Web"you have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "that in itself is a tremendous thing." 

Little Women: it's worth every 816 pages. 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: this is one that I imagine reading all together in a few years. wintry nights, pjs on, sipping cocoa, getting lost in that magical world of Narnia.

Winnie-the-Pooh: the most quotable bear in all the world.

Boxcar Children: this was our first go with a chapter book and AK was fascinated. it was neat to watch her put all the pieces together with the extra bits of imagination that must be used when the pages aren't filled with pictures.

Mr. Popper's Penguins: it's just a fun one.

Little Bear: we've been reading these to Little for a long time and she now likes to pick them up and read them to herself. observing that is one of the sweetest sights you'll ever see.

More to come, my friends. After all, you can never have too many books.

 

cold weather reading


Chilly days season has arrived and I'm giddy. I love what these days mean......blankets, cable knit sweaters, hot beverages, chunky socks, unceasingly lit candles, movies, and books, stacks of books.  

I miss our fireplace when this time of year rolls around. I'm sure you understand as we all know that sitting under a blanket, book in hand, with a fire crackling in the fireplace is one of the best things in life.

So I thought I'd give you a little reading material to kickstart your cozy days reading. And please add to my list!


- Foodie-Centered -

because it's food and "people who love to eat are always the best people." - Julia Child

Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Tasteas my love for being in the kitchen has increased over the years so has my interest in learning more about the history surrounding food and those who have influenced and formed the culinary world

Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchenone of the classiest ladies and the food she loved.

My Life in FranceI simply adore Julia Child.

- Fiction & Fantasy -

because it is always delightful to walk in an imaginary world for a little while.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition: I've just begun reading the Harry Potter series and I'm enthralled with J.K. Rowling's imagination and writing. What a world she created! I've heard this new illustrated edition is just beautiful. I can already tell this is cozied by the fire type of book series.

Anne of Green Gables: My beloved Anne. How much I've learned from her through the years. This book and this series will forever hold a very high place in my favorites list and every fall I have to spend some time with my old friend. 

The Truth According To Us: I have yet to read this book but it is written by one of the co-authors of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which, if you've seen previous posts of mine, is a book I just adore. I had told my mother-in-love about Guernsey and she loved it so she picked this one up afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed it, too. If the writing is anything like Guernsey I've no doubt it'd be a great read.

- Biographies & Memoirs -

because it's always fascinating to learn about the lives of others and hear their stories.

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years: I read this book a while back and so enjoyed learning more about Julie Andrews, her childhood, and how her incredible career began. What a gracious, lovely lady she is.

Jimmy Stewart: A Biography: Old movies. I love them. And Jimmy Stewart is one of my all-time favorite old movie actors. To read a biography about him as been on my list for a long time.

A Severe Mercy: This book is hard, my friends, but it is one of the most beautiful, profound, grace-filled, truly sweet books you'll ever read. This precious couples story will move you, change you, and inspire you.

- Home - 

because cold weather days are a perfect time to plan, to dream, to be inspired.

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves: I've heard good things and I know that Emily Henderson is a favorite among many. Whatever your personal design taste having a variety of books like this to reference is a great way to be inspired and helped, and they look pretty sitting on your coffee table or bookshelf, too.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing: I have seen this book in the hands of many friends and favorite bloggers as of late and, as decluttering and organizing are near to my heart I'm very curious about what this book shares. *Obviously, I am not into zen philosophy but am interested in the practical helps and habits this book offers.

Happy Reading, my friends!

study || true beauty || chapter 2

2.5 months later and we hit chapter 2! Wow, a bit shameful how long this has taken me, but here we are so let's power on.

Chapter 2: True Beauty and Our God

"refuse to accept our society's definition of beauty, or even the definitions that we ourselves may have worked with previously and decide that that which is truly beautiful is the character of God himself."  -- Wayne Grudem

Like Wayne Grudem says, our definition of beauty, I think, is based much more often by how we see ourselves standing up next to that which is considered beautiful in our world. We define our beauty by our size, our skin, hair, wardrobe. Instead, our beauty must be defined by the very same thing that every other area of our lives must be defined, our God. "In order to know what true beauty is, we must see God." (pg. 27) Beauty is not an area of life that is completely separate from everything else. The character of God and the calling on our lives to imitate His character is to influence and direct every piece of our lives, including our view and our understanding of beauty.

"Frankly, though, we're not always that interested in God's beauty, are we? It's great quiet time contemplation, but it can feel remote and disconnected from our body issues and our wardrobe fails, our hair troubles and our complexion flaws, our acne and our aging......Once we see God's beauty, we will never see beauty the same way again." (pg. 28)

The wonderful thing that this chapter so consistently reminds us of is that our God loves beauty! He Himself is the ultimate definition of beauty and He created us with a desire for beauty. And through Him we can be free from the constraints of the definition of beauty our world gives and feel such a weight lifted off when we realize we don't have to conform to "our culture's ever-changing and ever-more-tyrannical definition of beauty." (pg.26). We are beautiful because we have been made in the image of the beautiful God. Our issues come in when we allow the sin of the world and the sin of ourselves to redefine our understanding of beauty. We have to fight against this! 

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

We have to be transformed....."let's take deliberate steps to limit worldly influences on our taste for beauty." (pg. 35) Let's pursue the beauty of our God and in that learn to love and treasure beauty like His above all. "When we behold God's beauty, we become like him. The truly beautiful woman is the one who contemplates the beauty of God. As she worships him for his loveliness, power, holiness, and goodness, she is changed. By the power of the Holy Spirit, her life radiates the beauty of the gospel." (pg. 35) When we behold God's beauty, when we pursue God's beauty, our desire for beauty will began to be transformed and as we seek to care for our physical appearance the goal will be His glory in the end and not our own. "And the beautiful woman is deliberate to reflect the beauty of God in every aspect of her life, representing him in her appearance and her character. She consciously seeks to glorify God in her heart attitude, how she cares for her body, what she wears, and how she makes herself beautiful." (pg. 35)

I just treasured the beauty, forgive the pun, of this chapter. It is truly a beautiful chapter about beauty because it is about our God, our Savior, our definition of beauty! Because we have been made in His image we are beautiful and when we can say "I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" then we will know freedom from the bondage of a self-focused mirror. 

"But a vision of God's beauty changes how we dress and exercise and eat. God's beauty reshapes our shopping and showering and showing off. It upends and undoes all our preferences about what is pretty and what is not. A glimpse of God's beauty makes all the difference in what we see when we look in the mirror. Once we see God's beauty, we will never see beauty the same way again..........

True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God." (pg. 28)

I am loving this book, you guys. This chapter just hit my heart exactly as I needed it to. And I'm thankful for it.

What were your favorite portions of this chapter, lovelies? Oh, how I'm praying for each one of us that we will define our beauty through the lens of our Jesus and glorify His beauty just as it ought to be!

study || true beauty || chapter 1

Hi, darlings!

I am so excited to be starting this study with you all! I'm grateful for the accountability it gives, and most especially, for the encouragement that I know it will be. Thank you for joining me, lovelies; for being so eager to do this study with me and for your open and honest hearts. I'm so grateful!

Bear with me as I do this for the first time. It's a learning process and I'm thankful for ya'll's willingness to go along for the ride with me!


Chapter 1: True Beauty and Our Culture

I think I underlined/marked up over half of this first chapter! They just set such an excellent foundation for the book and for the whole picture of what, I think, is the basis for why we women struggle in this way; and the glorious thing is, we don't have to stay there!

I kind of broke up the chapter into 5 little "main points" (my OCD took over). 

The Struggle: "....as women our beauty struggles can range from subtle and nagging to life-dominating. But to one degree or another, the issue of beauty presses in on all of us." (pg.15)

There is no woman who does not/has not/will not face this struggle in life. We live in a fallen world and in a culture that is beauty obsessed! We are surrounded by it, we are constantly comparing ourselves, we fight this battle. There have been so many times since AK was born that I have wished so hard that I could protect her from ever facing this struggle and I hate that she sees me struggle with it. I have to realize though that this struggle with beauty is present and will continue to rear its ugly head, and rather than just be constantly wishing it would go away I have to "arm myself" to fight against it and seek to prepare my sweet Little to do the same. 

The (Unattainable) Worldly Standard: "...These images tell us what we are supposed to look like, and they present a standard of beauty so narrow in its ranger that most of us feel unattractive by comparison.......Not only do most of us lack the means to maintain our culture's ideal of beauty, in many cases the standard against which we are measuring ourselves isn't even real." (pgs. 15 & 16)

Yuck, yuck, yuckAnd our culture is feeding us this stuff constantly, even in commercials that are supposed to be "helpful" and offer "answers", the underlying theme is clear: "We must have a perfectly proportioned figure, exquisite facial features, flawless skin, and be free from defects or disabilities -- not to mention that we must be young, or at least retains a youthful, healthy appearance." (pgs. 15 & 16)

The Reality: "....women still chase this unattainable standard of beauty with fury.....Women believe that beauty is essential to a happy life." (pg. 17)

It's true. As disheartening and discouraging and hopeless as the struggle to attain the worldly standard is, we still fight to reach it! I find myself seeing pictures of women on instagram, for instance, and thinking, "see!? She reached it! I can't imagine that she would ever struggle with anything! She"S's perfect!" and that ignites in me the desire to plow towards that standard -- forgetting what I know is true and once again buying into the lie! I begin doing exactly what our society has done -- "taken physical beauty and made it a god." (pg. 18) I idolize it, I chase after it, firmly sure that I will fiiinnnaalllllyyyy have self-confidence and never, ever struggle again. 

The Enticement: "Physical beauty deceives us by appearing to keep some of its promises in the short term. It delivers just enough to keep us hooked, to lead us on in thinking that it is a worthwhile investment of all our hope, time, money, and energy." (pg. 20)

There will always be that enticement that we can gain that perfect image of physical beauty. By some cream, some diet, some lifestyle change, some wardrobe makeover, some....thing, we can hit that sweet spot. AND, the truth is, it may give us some temporary satisfaction or some extra boost of confidence, but it will not last......"it promises a lifetime of happiness that it cannot deliver." (pg. 20) That enticement always, always sounds so good, but is is fading. 

However, HOORAY, as good as that enticement sounds it doesn't hold a candle to the hope that we have in Jesus to be free from this struggle.

The Hope | The Confidence | The Example: "Scripture shows us what true beauty is and how to become truly beautiful. Above all, Scripture reveals our beautiful Savior, who had "no beauty that we should desire him" (Isa. 53:2) but who hung bloodied on a cross for the ugliest of our sins. The gospel of Jesus Christ really does redeem everything, including beauty. It really does reach into the heart of "if only I could get this taken care of" and takes care of it. Our beauty crisis is no match for the truth of God's Word." (pg. 23)  

I desire, so much, for my beauty crisis to be redeemed by the gospel. Up until this point I have band-aid-ed my struggle, not grasping or being honest with myself about the full reality of what I was struggling with, to what extent I was struggling with it, and what I was really believing in that struggle. And what a breath of fresh air the reminders of truth have been to my mind and heart as I've read this chapter! To be reminded that, "the Bible does not say physical beauty is bad or that it is sinful to make ourselves beautiful. Instead, it tells us how to make ourselves truly beautiful." (pg. 22). My beauty crisis has become an idol --- the thing that I want "fixed" has become what I am fixating on, and rather than combat that with truth I have given into the lies of the world I live in and begun believing that was truth. I just loved, in this chapter, that as I was so saddened at my own heart's tendency to echo the culture in this area, I was immediately encouraged and hopeful when I was reminded of what really is true! My Lord created me, He knows me, He knows my struggle, He loves me, and He desires to redeem this heart struggle and make me more like Himself. No better excitement than what comes on hearing that! 

What stood out to you in this chapter? Where have you bought into the lies of our culture? Do you feel like you've ever truly understood "true beauty"? What encouraged you the most? What challenged you the most? What are the quotes from this chapter that you want to write out and remember? Do you feel more hopeful after being reminded of the unfading truth of Scripture? And anything else you want to ask, share, or add! 

Let's start some conversation here, my friends! Share in the comments, read others comments, and we can chat back and forth! 

And, know, sweet friends, I will be praying for each one of you! It is a joy and a privilege to have you share with me and to walk alongside you. I truly count it a gift. 

"Only God's Word can promise a beauty as supernatural as it is satisfying, as attainable as it is lasting; a beauty that blesses and does not curse; a beauty that is precious, not worthless, that leads to happiness instead of heartache; a beauty that grows more becoming even as you become more beautiful."

"All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades.....but the word of our God will stand forever." Isaiah 40:6-8

 

 

 

study || true beauty


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"As a pastor's wife, I have spoken to many women through the years about their trials and temptations with beauty. From these conversations and my own experiences, I know that as women our beauty struggles can range from subtle and nagging to life-dominating. But to one degree or another, the issue of beauty presses in on all of us." ~ Carolyn Mahaney, Chapter 1

I have come to an end, my friends. By God's grace and gentle prodding on my heart and mind, I have reached my end and said, "I am exhausted of this life-dominating struggle with beauty, Lord. I want it to end." There have been times in my life previously when I thought I had reached this point, when truly I hadn't. I put the band-aids over the struggle and moved on. I didn't see my struggle with the mirror, my struggle with wanting to change so much about myself as the prideful, idolatrous, selfish struggle with sin that it had become. I moved on, continuing to believe the lies the Devil poured into my mind, comparing myself to my friends and other women, never feeling freedom. The struggle continued to feel like one of those cartoons where the victim is tied up in a rope with an anvil at the other end and they are starting to sink further down in the water, unable to pull free.

How thankful I am that we have a loving Father who does not leave us to ourselves! He graciously unties the knots in the rope and helps us to have hope, to see that there can be freedom from the sin. That hope, for whatever struggle it may be, is so beautiful and comforting.

I have struggled with various things about myself, but the most difficult one has been my skin. I don't have great skin. It has been up and down since I was a teenager. Stress levels affect it, hormones, food to some extent, all those daily life things. It has been my "beauty nemesis" so to speak. I have tried different things to help it. I have considered going on different diets, switched facial skin products many times, etc. And while there is nothing wrong with seeking to care for myself well and be wise with what goes on my skin, etc, the desire to "fix" it has become an enormous idol in my life. To be honest, in my mind, I have thought that if I could just solve this one nagging struggle, I'd be nearly-almost-totally good with myself. The problem there is that I have left Jesus, and what He tells me about myself and beauty, completely out of the equation; and when I leave it there, I won't ever have lasting peace, even if I had the most flawless skin you could imagine. The depths of my heart have to be changed. I must understand the TRUTH about beauty and bring my thinking, my struggles, and my care for myself under that umbrella.

"The gospel of Jesus Christ really does redeem everything, including beauty. It really does reach into the heart of "if only I could get this taken care of" and takes care of it. Our beauty crisis is no match for the truth of God's Word." ~ Carolyn Mahaney, Chapter 1

When I read that sentence from Chapter 1 of True Beauty, my heart sang. As I said previously, the anthem of my life has been, for much too long, "if I could just solve this one nagging struggle, I'll be good." However, that actually wouldn't be the case. The beautiful hope, though, is that the gospel can solve this one nagging struggle......and every other one! In believing the truth about what God says about me and about beauty, I believe that my heart will be refreshed and even more joyful, and the lies of the Devil and the resulting struggles in front of the mirror will no longer hold weight over me.

So, my friends, I share all of this with you, for two reasons: 

1. My heart and desire behind this little online space of mine has always been that it be a place of real, honest, everyday, vulnerable heart and life sharing. I would cherish your prayers for me in this way, and I would love to pray for any of you in the same. Having each other to walk with, learn from, and share the bits and pieces of our heart with is one of the greatest gifts. 

2. I have been eager to read True Beauty and I would love if any of you would like to read it with me! My plan is that every other week I will do a little review about a chapter of the book and we can discuss it in the comments section, starting with Chapter 1 on July 1st. That way, if any of you would like to read along with me, this gives ya'll a couple of weeks before it takes off. I would truly love to have any of you share and study and discuss it with me! Here's a link to the book on Amazon. 

I'll share this last excerpt from Chapter 1 with you guys before I sign off.....

"But God's Word is not outdated or shortsighted. Scripture doesn't fail to answer our questions or address our struggles. The Bible actually has a surprising amount to say about beauty. For instance, Scripture tells us that God delights in beauty --- a theme we will return to throughout the book. The Bible does not say physical beauty is bad or that it is sinful to make ourselves beautiful. Instead, it tells us how to make ourselves truly beautiful." ~ Carolyn Mahaney, Chapter 1

I'm eager to learn with you all, lovelies, and to know freedom from our little nagging struggles to our big life-dominating ones, that the mirror no longer send us spiraling down into a pit of self-loathing or discouragement, and to truly find our worth in our sweet Savior and in His true and liberating definition of beauty. 

review || summer at tiffany


Several months ago, I finally picked up this read that my dearest friend, Beth, had recommended to me quite a long time ago. Her book recommendations have never failed before and this one was no different -- she knows me so well. 

This book is just adorable. The author, Marjorie Hart, writes her memoir in such a simplistic, personable, heart-felt way. I felt as if I was living in 1945 and experiencing every bit of that New York summer adventure with her. Oh, the stories she shares -- from the interview for that job at Tiffany, to watching Judy Garland grace the Tiffany store with her presence, to experiencing, first-hand, the thrill of Times Square the night Truman announced that the Japanese had surrendered, to being given a priceless Tiffany gift on her departure from the store at the end of summer -- every one shared in such a way that you see what a treasure that summer was to her. 

One of the reasons I am drawn to biographies & memoirs is, not only the fascination that comes with learning about the life of someone else, but to experience a part of history, a time gone by, through the lens of someone who lived it. I loved this book for that. 

And my love for New York City, that intriguing, magical, memory-filled city, has only grown now.......and I still have yet to visit. 

Thank you, Beth, you darling kindred spirit, you. You always know the perfect books to share with me. 

 

review || women of the word


I was so eager to get into this book. I had several friends who had read/were reading it and I'd only heard good things. Plus, my sweet friend Julie, told me she used to be in a Bible Study lead by Jen Wilkin and loved her! Personal friend vouches always make me more excited. :)

I am so thankful for this book. Let me share an excerpt to show you why:

"When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected. Rather than acting as salt and light, we become bland contributions to the environments we inhabit and shape, indistinguishable from those who have never been changed by the gospel. Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible."

I read this and just felt my heart and mind explode with a resounding "yes!" Oh, I was just so thankful to be reading a book where the authors greatest desire is to spur women on in their study of God's Word, to challenge and encourage us in our hearts and minds, to spur us on as we are "salt and light" in our life, responsibilities, and relationships, and to remind all of us who read it that to know our God more we must know His Word better. 

I was also deeply challenged in my own study of the Word. To ask myself the questions she poses throughout the book. To be more thoughtful and purposeful in my study. And to come to the realization of the truth that the Bible is not a book about me. It is a book about God. Too often, I come to it searching to find more for me, rather than coming to it with a heart and mind ready to learn more about the God I serve. As Jen points out, "The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. In fact, there can be no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God. He is the only reference point that is reliable." As I seek my Savior more fervently, I understand myself and the purpose of my life better. 

Jen also gives such practical help and advice for study, which I greatly appreciate. She offers tools to put feet on the heart she shares. She exudes such a passion and eagerness for women to be better equipped to study the Word and to push us out of laziness, wrong expectations, or feeling fearful, overwhelmed, or sadly unmotivated. I am so grateful for how the Lord uses women like this in our lives, even if we never know them personally. 

Let us grow in being faithful imitators of God, dear ones, and as Jen writes, "trade mere human glory for holiness."

In case you didn't guess, I'd definitely recommend this book. 

a book list


Bring on the rainy days and cups of toasty beverages. It’s time to read.

Biographies & Memoirs

01 || 41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush*  02 || Walt Disney: An American Original by Bob Thomas  03 || My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme  04 || These Few Precious Days: The Final Days of Jack with Jackie by Christopher Anderson*  05 || Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney  06 || Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr  07 || Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir by Carolyn Weber  08 || Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew by John Oller  09 || Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini & David Rensin  10 || Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart*

Heart & Mind

01 || Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts & Our Minds by Jen Wilkin*  02 || True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney & Nicole Mahaney Whitacre  03 || The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts by Joe Rigney  04 || Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart & Hope by various contributors  05 || Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms by Gloria Furman  06 || The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller  07 || Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Various

01 || Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark  02 || The Book Thief by Markus Zusak  03 || Major Pettigrews Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson  04 || The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What books are you darlings looking forward to diving into this year? I am eager to hear!