Posts in Heart Work
Eating Gluten and Dairy Free with Kids: How and why would I?
Hey, hey, Mae: How exactly DO you eat and why?
How did you go gluten-free and dairy-free with kids?

Grandma’s brownies, chips, family-recipe chocolate chip cookies and pouches of fruit punch Capri-Sun were the high, yummy points of my childhood.  Add in a side of Derby pie and a homemade southern biscuit and I was living a pretty solid life. Which...made my recent health crisis and the subsequent changes in health our family needed to make for - mental health, ASD, ADHD and a host of anxiety and depression sides to thyroid, gut and skin health - more than a bummer.  Working through our healing was an easy path into nutrition for me as I had severe nutrient depletions and my boys’ issues presented long term outlooks in either medication or nutrition. There was little choice if I wanted to heal up, get to walking around and continue living a full life.

Maybe you don’t have any pressing health issues - just a quiet desire to feed your children well. But what does that mean?  To NOURISH our children? First, we must take a look at how we got here.  

If you’re like me, you may have been raised on some or all components of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  I was blessed with a farm family who ate salad with every meal and always a veggie or three, but I was not immune from the food triangle of our youth.  

Did you know that our American food system has been designed around the center in our brain that derives pleasure from certain flavors - sugar, salt and fat - called the hedonistic center.  When I watched my boys’ eating, I saw quickly how this region of their brain propelled them to foods that lit up this pleasure seeking center. It is here in the brain that dopamine production is stimulated, which fuels our deep sense of wanting - not satiation or liking, but a desire for more.  More sugar. More salt. More fat.  Anyone identify when thinking of a hangry 2-year-old or even a hangry me?  


There are biochemical reasons behind our cravings.

Historically, the introduction of refined sugar took our consumption from a few pounds of sugar per person, per year to 160 pounds per person annually in the United States.  Wait, what?  My toddler is eating 160 pounds of sugar annually?  Maybe.  But maybe it’s you or I having a bit more than that average - many people upwards of 200 pounds of sugar annually - that balances out that measure for our children.  And it’s not in our grapes and apples, folks.

Processed food, I’m looking at you.  

As our world industrialized, we looked for quicker meals.  We needed to eat in a jiffy so we could get back to working or resting from working.  Sugar, white flour and processed oil began to make up much of our food as Americans simultaneously transitioned from physical labor to sedentary labor.  It was cheap, lots could be made from it and it lit up those pleasure centers. More machinery now meant we could take those machines and get really good at mass producing all sorts of foods.  Producing foods?  Didn’t we used to grow and enjoy food that grew?  Of course we did.  

The rise of big food and corporate food producers meant a shift toward hyperpalatable foods that focused on that hedonistic center of the brain.  Add in a side of branding with a sprinkle of sugar and so many of us and our children were hooked on processed food, much thanks to shiny marketing.  Brands even have vast influence over public policy and research. Who cares?  Remember that food pyramid? Big food played a key hand in swaying the design of a heavily weighted main food group focused on processed grains.  Big food designs processed foods for our desires - adding in chemical components to foods (MSG anyone?) that can increase our hunger levels and even turn off our hormonal cues for satiety.  No wonder our babies want “one more...cookie, cracker, biscuit, popsicle….”. They’re simply responding with their biology to the way food is designed.

Eating these nutrient-poor, calorie-rich processed foods leaves us with increasing appetite as we continue to crave sufficient nutrients.  Packaged foods are also so much prettier than whole foods which often have dirt attached and the occasional bug or two - not to mention how much longer it may take to prepare these foods once they’re clean.  Cravings also begin in our gut microbiome, where the microbial populations present can generate desires for foods that their hosts - us - don’t necessarily desire. Toss in the rapid rise in food reactions adults and children alike experience and we’re often raising picky eaters who can have some forms of disordered eating.  Much easier to toss over a pack of crackers to quiet the squeaky wheel...ahem...whiny child...then fight the battle over peas and carrots.  I feel ya.  

I used to really like my crackers, cookies and cereal, too.  That is until I linked behavior issues in our home, my neurological decline, arthritis, deep nutritional deficiencies, mental health struggles and triggering ADHD/ASD behaviors - directly to various foods we were consuming.  Simple food journals showed me that the foods we were consuming linked directly to many of the struggles we were having.  

So what did we do about it?


For our host of issues, some of us spent a long season on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, eliminating immunosuppressant groups of foods (grains, legumes, soy, dairy, processed food, refined sugars, seed oils, eggs, nightshades, nuts, seeds) supporting healing and then reintroducing offenders to see what the response looked like.  Others cut gluten and dairy, strictly and still some can handle bits of both of these groups, in more whole forms. That’s the detailed version. We each moved toward eating in a bio-individual way, because we’re individuals.  Over time, through nutritional therapy - a form of holistic nutrition - healing has occurred and we’re mostly free from steep parameters.  

On the whole, we moved toward eating more whole, nutrient-dense foods and have stuck with no-gluten and no-dairy.  


The biggest question I get asked is “How in the world did you do that with children?” and my best answer is “it’s our new normal”.  My second is, “the boys don’t run the household food show.” Sounds harsh? Sure. But I want them to have as much access to their whole mind and body for as long as they can, to develop habits that will serve them and to one day send them into the world with the know-how to care for themselves in the best way, even if it bucks the system.  And I’m the Mom.  So I lead up the food attitudes since I’m preparing it all!

This article begins a series that will highlight two of the groups that we cut out and the various reasons for doing so.

One, so that you may identify understanding for others who have these food needs.  Two, so that you can learn more about the ways in which gluten and dairy work for or against our bodies.  I’ll end with a blitz over my methodology for switching the boys from processed foods to more whole foods and no gluten/dairy.  

To wrap the whole thing up, I’ll make available a massive list of gluten and dairy-free snacks that you can run to when you’re looking for a whole-foods option.  It’ll feature an easy purchased snack list, too - because let’s be honest - we are all working with limited time at some point or another.

My biggest goal is to free you up to explore eating FOR your health and preparing food to NOURISH our children so they can grow up to do what they were made to do!  I would love to hear your food struggles, concerns and questions!


Goodman, A. (2013, March 1). The Weaponizing of Salt, Sugar and Fat: The Secrets of How Big Food Got Us Hooked on Junk. Retrieved from Alternet:

Kresser, C. (2018, May 30). The Power of an Ancestral Perspective on Diet. Retrieved from Nutritional Therapy Association:

Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc. (2019, June 2). Basics of Nutrition.  

Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc. (2019, June 2). The Evolution of the Modern Diet.  

Wolf, R. (2017). Wired To Eat. In R. Wolf, Wired To Eat. Harmony.

Affirmations for Children: Raising Kid's EQ
Affirmations for Children: Raising Kids' EQ | Mindfulness can feel like a big mountain to climb, then you throw kids in the mix and it seems like a lofty goal: a far-and-away idea that is less than possible.

Mindfulness can feel like a big mountain to climb, then you throw kids in the mix and it seems like a lofty goal: a far-and-away idea that is less than possible. However, the research doesn’t lie - mindfulness and meditation combat stress, poor moods and anxiety. On the flip side, it fosters compassion for others, self-compassion, improved focus and moods - even combats depression. It can often impact relationships, chronic disease, weight loss, physical pain and improve our sleep! Meditation has even been found to shift the outcome of breast cancer. Hope!

Any kiddos out there struggling to sleep?

Rewiring our brains is possible and happens through activities like mindfulness, meditation and affirmations. It’s these exercises for the mind that build up and nourish positive pathways for traits like focus and decision making to improve - even sleep! While we add in the good and fortify the positive, less positive pathways diminish - resulting in less fear and stress.

Sounds great for Mommy, but kiddos, too?

While we don’t typically think of children as experiencing stress or battling depression and anxiety, they do! As they develop, many ordinary things happen that they don’t yet have the tools to understand or respond to. Then there are the bigger road bumps like bullying, mental health issues (ADHD, ADD, ASD etc.), divorce, death, loss, stress in the home or even interacting with their peers who experience these complications in life - then these peers act out because of the experiences they can’t understand in their lives and our kids struggle secondarily.

Our sweet family has weathered the above list and then some. What started as a breath-work practice for me targeted at retraining my body that experienced abuse - turned into meditation, free-writing and lots of affirmations to combat my past reality triggering my present physical body. When I saw the shift in my racing heart and reeling mind that was often triggered by the simple presence of a male, I was intrigued to help my boys.

We began with simple, general affirmations, developed some specifically to their trials and picked up some from a favorite teacher. Cal recently recited a few of his favorite lines when he faced a struggle and Tru reminded himself that “I did hard things! I can do what I put my mind to!” on the ride home after a tricky swim lesson.

So how do we integrate affirmations and mindfulness into life with a 2 and 5-year-old?


Diligence counts here - so do car rides. When I find there’s a lull in the play or the car has grown quiet, I’ll simple tell the boys we’re gonna take a couple breaths together. If they’re up I’ll bring them in by making it a game - who can breathe in the loudest? who can exhale the longest? When they’re down I’ll match their mood and quietly suggest we take some strong breaths together and remember things we’re great at! They’ll usually wind down after 3 breaths or get excited to particiapte and I’ll simply make a statement and ask them to repeat it.

ME: “I have good things to say!” Say it back to Momma?

BOYS: “I have good things to say.”

ME: “YES you do! I love the things you have to say; I have good things to say!”

BOYS: “I have good things to say.”

Sometimes I’ll move right into another affirmation, or Tru will ask a question about something he recently said that provoked response in another. Often I’ll move to a building affirmation - something that the child specifically needs to hear or will combat a harmful situation they’re enduring.

ME: “No one is more important than me, and I am no more important than anyone else. Can you say that long one?”

BOYS: “No one is more important than me, and I am no more important than anyone else.”

ME: “OH WOW, you can even remember long ones! That’s right - no one is more important, and we all listen to others speak. Can you pick your favorite learning to tell to me?”

BOYS: “I have good things to say and I listen to people?”

ME: “Ah, that’s so good and true boys. I know you treat others with respect, no matter who they are.”

At this point, they’ll either repeat some version of what I’ve said or wander off in to their own play or minds. Both are fine with me. If they’re still focused, we’ll continue with a couple more or I’ll end it by thanking them for talking about important things with me.


Little by little, these mini-meditations have increased the boys’ conversational focus, have brought out scary issues they’d not brought up on their own and has increased their confidence in the face of fear. Sometimes one boy won’t participate or will treat them as silly. Sometimes they’re simple and combat discipline issues - “I don’t bite anyone. I bite my food.” They also work wonders at bedtime, particularly if I’m planting them in the day. “I am full from my good day and now I’ll let my body rest!”

Daily, I’m still planting them - like we do scripture songs and immediate lessons - into their little hearts and minds, because those things surface when life is scary, something is hard or there is a challenge with a friend and no adult around to help make sense of it. Equipping our kids to handle the stressors, traumas and suffering we all experience can be such a gift to them - and a gift to the world if we focus some of our affirmations around the treatment and respect of others.


Here’s a growing list of my favorite affirmations for kids (and Mommas!) -would love to hear yours and your experiences in the comments!

Affirmations for Children: Equipping Kids' EQ | Equipping our kids to handle the stressors, traumas and suffering we all experience can be such a gift to them - and a gift to the world if we focus some of our affirmations around the treatment and respect of others.

I am smart.

I am accepted.

I am loved.  Jesus loves me.  He delights in me. 

My mom delights in me. My mom loves me.

No matter what's going on in my life, I love myself...UNCONDITIONALLY. 

No one is more important than me, and I am no more important than anyone else.

I am funny.  

I am brave.  God gives me courage!

I have good things to say.  

I am a friendly guy.

I am not intimidated because I am bold and full of courage. 

I make wise decisions that bring health and life.

I make wise choices.

Affirmations for Children: Raising Kid's EQ | So how do we integrate affirmations and mindfulness into life with a 2 and 5-year-old?

I am great at my number one job to listen and obey - I listen and obey my mom. Then I can learn to listen and obey God.

I have a strong mind that is alert and receptive.

I do ALL things with excellence. 

I give my best.

I accomplish whatever I put my mind to if I put in the effort.

I prosper in all things.

I take set backs as temporary and bounce back quickly.

I control my attitudes and my emotions because I control my thoughts. 

I can change my mind with truth.  ( I renew my thoughts to the truth of Gods word, so I can renew my feelings, emotions and attitudes)

I choose my attitude.

I can manage what I’ve been given, because all things work together for my good.

I expect to do well because I am prepared, I am able and I will do my best. 

I can learn.

I can try new things.

I show love to everyone I meet.  

God has not given me a spirit of fear.  God has given me a spirit of power!  God has given me a spirit of love! God has given me a sound mind and a spirit to use it with!

I do not fear be because I am accepted

I do not fear because I am loved

Perfect love casts out fear

I am found in Perfect Love because God is love and God lives in me. Love lives in me.

God has not given me a spirit of fear but of Power, Love and a Sound Mind.

Affirmations for Children: Raising Kid's EQ While we don’t typically think of children as experiencing stress or battling depression and anxiety, they do!  As they develop, many ordinary things happen that they don’t yet have the tools to understand or respond to.


Headspace. (2019)

Mayer, B., Polak MG, Remmerswaal D. (2019) Mindfullness, Interpretation Bias, and Levels of Anxiety and Depression: Two Meditation Studies. doi:10.1007/s12671-018-0946-8

Rosen, K. D., Paniagua, S. M., Kazanis, W., Jones, S., & Potter, J. S. (2018). Quality of Life Among Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: A Randomized Waitlist Controlled Trial of Commercially Available Mobile App-Delivered Mindfulness Training. Psycho-Oncology. doi:10.1002/pon.4764

Growing in Heart: What I read in 2017 for Compassion, Self-Care and Wholeheartedness

2017 was the year I turned 30, and I suppose this book list reflects that.  Looking back, I weathered a tough year with two littles - 3 & 1 and kept my heart growing in the midst.  I completed 26 books and this list isn't exhaustive, rather a highlights reel of the notables.  To see my whole list, click here.  Also, if we're not friends on GoodReads, WE SHOULD BE!  I love seeing what friends are reading and I obviously need to grow in reading some more happy books and some more fiction, so help a sister out.  

I feel like this year was one of developing deep compassion in my soul for the struggles and trials of others and yep - myself.  This girl has gotten into a pattern of rejoice over mourn with and skirting pains through performing and perfecting.  I'm sure you can relate - yes, no?  Then let's pop through this list of likes.  

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown  It's no secret that I'm a Brene fan....isn't the whole world?  While I'm not sure this is her best work I do think it makes short work of standing strong amidst life's difficulty.  It sort of encapsulates all of her teachings and presses you towards belonging to yourself.  Belonging is a strong value I want to instill in my boys - the wholeness, courage and bravery that comes alongside belonging - goals for sure.  

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott  Oh sweet, Annie.  I had the pleasure of listening to her, in person, at a lecture series and it only deepen'd my love for her.  She can take difficult topics and lace them tight with a firm dose of hope and this book is no exception. 

Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott . More Annie.  Seriously, this book woke up my mercy-heart and had me crying sweet, happy tears beachside.  I read it in a (long) sitting, but it was such a dear story of underdogs, kind exchanges between strangers and yep - a whole lot of mercy towards self and others.  If your heart needs a lift, a pep talk and a bit of restored hope in humanity - this book's your girl.  Would also make a lovely gift.  

Everyday Faith by Katie Orr This is NOT my first Katie Orr book and I certainly hope it won't be my last.  She taught me how to study the bible more deeply and fully, amidst my stint at seminary - that's sayin something.  Her FOCUSed study method opened my eyes to a bunch of bible resources and got me going deep into the original languages.  Loved this faith focus - another great gift and a super approachable book for easing back into bible study.  I'm all about some biblical literacy and her books really helped ease me back into studying the word and deeply knowing Christ.  One day I'm gonna meet Katie Orr - she lives just a bit up the road - but through these books my study has radically changed.  So good.  

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown  Love Brene.  Think every woman, mother and human should read this.  In the throws of motherhood, business and just life it's easy to get stuck living our lives for others, in the ways we feel they call us to - and Brene challenges us to let go of all the 'keeping up' - to step into living as wholly ourselves.  Good stuff.  Great stuff for dropping baggage I carry as a Momma so it doesn't rub off on my littles.  They need not carry more than this world will ask of them.  

Coming Clean: A Story of Faith by Seth Haines  Loved Seth's wife's book and loved his nearly as much.  His story is a raw and honest view into his mind and heart as he quit a long love affair with alcohol.  So pure and honest as he takes you on a walk through hiding his addiction amongst friends, to stopping, through therapy and relationships changing.  Good, good stuff.  

A Fierce Love by Shauna Shanks Oh Shauna's book.  Are you stale in your marriage? Disgruntled about little things or stuck in other areas?  Shauna's book is a good perspective reset and shift.  She walks through her husband's infidelity - yes - but what is so much more rich and transformative is her own heart change and approach to what she felt like was an inevitable end to her marriage.  She makes much of Christ and both compels you to Him as well as in your own life.  

You Are Free, Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons  If you struggle with anxiety or know someone who does this read is for that's you.  Ha!  Rebekah takes you through her life in NYC, lets you in to her battles with anxiety in a season and the ways the Lord cared for and loved her through that.  So much compassion and understanding for those facing anxiety and panic and rich comfort and practical ways to trust the Lord in the midst.  

Soul Keeping by John Ortberg  This book pops up so regularly on my kindle deals email that I decided to give it a go and I am so glad that I did.  It was a good look at soul care through a spiritual disciplines lens.  Lots of good truths like being honest in every single last thing - to others, yes - but to ourselves - no denial etc.  Good stuff - lots of little truths from when we were littles that we so easily forget and don't apply to now.  

Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster LOVED this classic.  I think delving into spiritual disciplines has deeped and widened my faith.  So many practical ways to pray, do solitude, study the bible etc.  It's like a 'doing' of Christianity primer.  

Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend  I've been working through Dr. Cloud's works over the past year and this has been one of the most transformational for me.  Looking at the people in our lives and sorting through who is safe, who has safe characteristics and who just isn't.  Also so much growth to be had reading this book in search of learning to be a more safe person for others.  Good, good stuff.  Ministry peeps should totes read this . 

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth OH my starts.  I'm totally an Edie fangirl at this point and this memoir is what kicked it off.  I think it's the best memoir I've ever read.  For real y'all - and I LOVE me some memoirs.  Her story is just plain crazy, I adored the Appalachian ties, the trash to treasure sort of theme that winds its way through.  And dangit if Edie's transparency and honesty doesn't compel us into leading with our own stories, all hung out and honest.  So good.  If you read nothign, read this.  

Healing the Scars of Childhood Abuse by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD  I grabbed this in a random bookstore trip and am much better for the reading.  I think I read it right after Edie's book, above, that walks through a lot of implications of her own childhood.  After reading this, I feel like the standards for abuse are low (or high - not sure how to say that...) - feels like everyone experienced abusive situations if not length abuse patterns by the criteria within.  I am thankful for this info and the ways this book spells out what childhood abuse grows to look like when you're an adult - how people carry the pains, wounds and patterns of their lives before.  So much understanding and compassion can grow here.  And absolutely has made me comb my mothering with a magnifying glass - and has changed how I respond to my friend's mothering quandaries.  I'll warn you - it will also make you want to rescue quite a few little children from their own terribleness.  

Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton  If you're a high-powered, high-capacity lady (hello fellow enneagram 8's) then Ruths' writing is for you.  I loved her deep dive into solitude and silence from the perspective of a working mother.  Really practical and really transformative of my life with God when I'm sitting under this practice regularly.  If nothing else, I think it helps us claim some yesterdays from our culture.  I often wonder what sort of woman I'd be if I was reared in the 30's or 50' much more quiet.  

The Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson, MD  Last in the line of serious -this book is a biblical sort of approach on Brene's shame work.  SO great and while much of the information is similar, much of it is different and eye opening.  Curt feels like an old friend, his merging of medicine, science and faith is approachable yet lofty.  

Q&A Kid's Journal - Post-nap grumps to kids party gift

Last week a sweet little package arrived with a return address for Freely Give Co, a company unfamiliar to me.  After taking a quick naptime peek around their site and looking through their gift box options that give back, my excitement for my own package jumped up quite a bit.  


A canvas drawstring bag held a sweet 3-year kid's journal.  The striped cover was delicious and textured with just enough embossing pizzaz to delight a kiddo and quite enough class to sit on my shelf of daily study things.  

Thumbing through the pages, I loved the simplicity.  I'm not exactly the best with daily prompts and another thing to keep up with for the boys, but this seems simple enough.  One quick question a day with a short scripture verse and 3 spaces for writing.  I plan to try and use it with both boys as Cal is chatting more, but a simple answer with each's initial and age fits perfectly.  The journal is aimed at a 3-year timeline, but you could easily fit in more or less.  



What I've loved most are these questions break through even a 3-year-old's grumpy afternoon slump.  We've mostly dropped the nap and on the days he naps, he's crabby after and on the days that he doesn't, he's needy and crabby - enter this journal.  I get our afternoon snack together, tell him it's time for "our special question time" and we head for the sunroom couch.  Some days his replies have been short and another he told me he'll be getting married in June, when he's 10-years-old.  He then asked a few questions about weddings, we recited the bible verse together, ate snack and commenced playing in a much better mood.  It generally opens discussions and questions that wouldn't otherwise happen.  So good for us and certainly for older kids.  I could see this being a sweet bedtime recap, too.  



We've only been at the journal keeping for a long week and I've already enjoyed looking back on past answers and having a second (or third!) chuckle.  Check out this sweet journal here  and know that while this journal was a gift to our family, these opinions are my own and we're really enjoying it.  I can't imagine how fun it would be with an older child who has more to say!  It's totally going on my birthday party giving list - paired with a cheap digger or car and it's a sweet gift that lasts a little longer than most. 

What I'm looking at to read in 2017!

After a few solid pushes from you readers, I'm whipping up this too-large list of what I'm looking to read in 2017.  The list is alllll over the place: some recommendations, places I need to learn to walk in other's shoes, very little fiction because I'm a bore (kidding....sorta), an assignment or two, a couple author bunny trains, a heap of kitchen memoir and a few advance reader copies coming my way.  Most of all I'm super excited and have already wrapped one book up!  If you want to keep up or see more, I'm pretty good at tidying my GoodReads account, so hop over there and lets be friends! My goal for the year is to read 25, but I'm pretty sure I'll surpass that as I started the year deep in the middle of 8 or so books. So. We shall see what I stumble upon, which of my library holds comes in first and what I found out in our Little Free Library. Happy ideas to ya!

27 in 2016: What I Read

Since my life these days is filled with the wild laughter and raucous of a nearly 3-year-old and the equally wild giggles and needs of a 5-month-old, this'll be a quick and easy list.  Most of these I read the old-fashioned way, but I have really loved incorporating audible books into the lineup when I can.  Comes in handy in those fringe hours, where the boys are sleeping and I want to get a zillion house tasks completed before I have two little shadows.  I love their app and it's helped me add a few books to my list that I otherwise wouldn't have had time for.

While I did read 27 books, I can't remember what my goal was, to remember if I met it - will go digging for that this week, just to see.  But if I'd only read one book, I would be pleased with myself, because it's really in the pages that I learn so much, live other people's lives, have my perspective shaped and my compassion grown.  I should also mention that this list doesn't include the tens of cookbooks I've borrowed, bought and studied from friends.  I'm always pushing myself to cook new things, but in a year where birthing a kiddo meant I was often nauseous, not hungry or without time - reading through cookbooks and soaking up technique tidbits and flavor combos was like honey for my heart.  Maybe I'll get to a posting of favorites, for those of you who also enjoy wandering through recipes and gorgeous food photographs.  (For ease, if you click on any of the books it'll take you to the amazon page for reading about them there/amazon priming because lets be honest: amazon prime is my bestie)

The Road Back to You  - Loved this approachable and witty take on finding your enneagram number.  There are quick statements to help you identify and quick takeaways, too.  If I haven't drafted you into personality work and typing junk, consider this your invite.  Read it, then let's have coffee.

Bread and Wine - Oldie, but goodie, that we re-read for book group.  Love everything Shauna has to say, but this book is a sweet invitation back into food for community.  So much happens around the table and this book is a firm hug from a dear friend.

Wild in the Hollow - LOVED this one, so much.  Amber's words are a balm, her honest experience of life in and out of the church is so refreshing.  I've got her husband's memoir about his first 30 days  sober, on my to-read list.  Love hearing from both of these wise souls in the podcast world.

Women of the Word - Read this right after I wrapped up a seminary class, actually and really loved Jen's pushing women right into study.  She covers a variety of topics and some method with depth, yet a perfect approachability.  Super great for diving into deeper study.

Delancey - Loved this second book by famed food writer Molly Wizenberg.  Her first book was sweet and endearing, while this one was interesting and probably played into my business and marriage interests.  She and her husband work together to open a pizza shop that is largely his but equally theres.  I enjoyed.  

Tables in the Wilderness - I wanted to love this one, but I didn't.  It was interesting if you're into spiritual memoir....but I kinda am and I still didn't love it.  Let it be known, that in my mind, if something talks about tables then it better talk about food or hospitality...and this didn't.  My own problems.  But problems, nonetheless.

The Finishing School - Loved it.  Love Val.  Love her approach and the way she writes from doing life alongside you.  This is a great practical book filled with wisdom on a variety of topics.  A good read for the start of a year or to give your fresh start a boost.  While you're at it, go check Val's prayer journals out.  They're my fave - going on year 4's, I think.

For the Love - I am stubborn - surprise!  And didn't read this forever because everyone was reading it and her dang launch group was massive and felt like it was suffocating my social medias....BUT.  I laughed my butt off.  If you wanna laugh: read it.  If you wanna laugh super hard and grew up in any form of the church: read it.  If you want someone to saucily discuss some current day church ish: read it.

Eight Twenty Eight - A beautiful account of Larissa and Ian's walk through a traumatic brain injury.  I knew the story and it was still so beautiful, transforming and challenging.  It IS hard on the heart, but that far outweighs the goodness.

The Dirty Life - I enjoyed this cross between a love story, journalistic experiment, small farm trial and error and just good storytelling.  If you're interested in farming or women farmers or love or food or people working the land with horses (OMG!) you'll love this.

Stir - This sweet book recounts how the author cooked her way through life after an aneurysm.  Part food, part love story, part medical miracle: I enjoyed every minute.  Recipes, too!

When God Makes Lemonade - I read this in a stitch where my heart needed some encouragement and this was a delight.  Think about the chicken soup books of yesteryear.   Along that same vein, this book is a collection of essays with stories that run the gamut of all sorts of people.  Really enjoyable.  Really sweet.  Really a lot of awe and happy tears.

What did you expect? - Great biblical marriage book that challenges and pushes your heart in all the right ways.  It covers quite a vast array of marriage info and all of it from a biblical space.  Much encouragement and many practical ways to show grace, love and share joy with the spouse the Lord gave you.....same spouse that may drive you crazy and vice versa.  Good listen.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality - Hands down, one of the best reads for me, this year.  So good.  So much heart mining.  I loved it so much, I roped my friends into working through it in book group...

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course - ...our group used this in conjunction with the videos that you can buy on amazon.  We did the workbook, read the book and watched a video at each session.  Was such good work to wade through with close friends.

Wild and Free - Jess and Haley get it.  They take so many sweet biblical truths, walk them out for women and encourage you by calling you higher - into the calling the Lord has issued over his ladies.  If you're ever a little bit annoyed with traditional church projections for ladies or feel like some things you've heard don't sit well with your heart - well.  Read this.  It's a good'n.

Everyday Hope - Each of Katie Orr's studies have been such a joy for me.  This one came along right after little Cal was born and I needed something that was quick for when I needed to be quick, but could give me depth when I had time all without shaming me into not doing enough.  So perfect.  I also love that Katie and her hubby live just up the road in Harrodsburg.  If bible literacy and study is on your goals list for this year, you may enjoy their podcast.

Tender to the bone - An early classic, as far as food memoirs are concerned.  I really enjoyed it once I got past her statement that starts the book off...where she more or less tells you she embellished parts of her story for your own enjoyment.  And well.  If I'm reading fiction, I'm down with that: duh.  But something about it rubbed me wrong the whole time.  Still a super enjoyable book!

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet - I so enjoyed this sweet read.  It was equal parts funny, joyful, southern, friendship - just like sitting down for tea on a snowy day with your funny, southern friend.  Quick and funny.

Women are Scary - I honestly thought I'd like this more than I did, because Melanie Dale and I have similar ways of talking and sarcasm and yada yada...  But maybe it's because I've always hung out with 'mom friends' and found a really deep batch of good ones.  The book is funny and was a good middle-of-the-night nursing book.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full - Oh my.  I listened to this one and treated it as a morning devotional of sorts during that time that Cal was eating 1 million times in his early days.  It is so beautifully written, deeply convicting and encouraging.  The author comes alongside you in the trenches of motherhood, calls you higher and encourages you right along in the tricky.  So great.  So purposeful.  Is something I still pull up on audible on a busy morning or short car ride.  Loved it.

You Learn by Living - Politics aside, I really enjoyed this quick book by Eleanor Roosevelt.  She tells some interesting tales about coming into her own as a first lady.  It's rich with practical wisdom on a variety of topics and makes me want to read more about the Roosevelts.

Daring Greatly - If you haven't read any of Brene Brown's work, this is a super one.  But also: they're all great.  This pushed on my heart LOTS in regards to relationships where I sit too long, wishing for vulnerability but not pressing into leading it on my own.  Good stuff.  So much good stuff.  But also, I couldn't read it without a deep longing for a gospel narrative to accompany it.  There is much missing in the way we humans were made and how the fall affected us.  Still so great...but definitely check out this book as a follow up or companion if you're of the same mindset.

Life from Scratch - Generally, I don't say you shouldn't read something because I generally think every book has something to offer.  But this one.  Meh.  No thanks.

Present over Perfect - This is my second Shauna Niequest book here (and she's the one who turned me to the enneagram years ago..) and I have to say it is fantastic.  When I had my first son, I went through a phase of forced restructuring where I really learned to sit still are pare back my life to what was necessary and life-giving.  That said, I approached this book release with a bad attitude because I figured it would have little to offer my generally slowed-down self.  WRONG.  In the way that only Shauna tenderly can, she shares much of her own journey across many facets of life and the ways she found herself achieving and running ragged.  But she does it in a way that doesn't condemn you, it invites you in to the freedom of enjoying a rich and intentional and pared back life.  So good.

Uninvited - If you're a woman (or a human) and you're considering a book on this list READ THIS ONE.  I read it in tandem with my bestie and I can tell you we text quotes from at least half of the book.  Lysa is SO WISE and just goes hard after those all too familiar feelings, experiences and reactions that come with rejection of all sorts.  Don't know how else to tell you that this book is rich and wise beside telling you that you WILL want your own physical copy, you'll need a highlighter and a pen and a box of tissues and a journal.  Because there's heart-gold to be mined with this one.  So wonderful.

The Magnolia Story - If you're American, you know these two from their HGTV fame.  I super enjoyed this book Luke picked up for me.  Was fun, encouraging and interesting.  And I think you'll still get a kick out of it if you (somehow) have no clue who they are.

Unashamed - Lecrae.  Hubby and I have been on a hip-hop kick.  We've mostly been on a well-written words and poetry, put to music kick so when I heard about Lecrae's new release, I ordered it up as a gift.  Then I read it and connected so many dots of so much photo work I had done that opened my brain and heart to predominantly black communities.  If you look at this book or hear Lecrae and think "I don't need to read that" or "I don't care about racism/black culture/abuse/hiphop/singing/white priveledge/whatever else you think this man is" - you need to order it, or come grab it from our Little Free Library.  He shares hard things, challenges, you find such joy and hope in his hardworking single-momma.  It's just good.

Loving Lately: Books, Jammies, FitBit & Audible

This year I wanted to use my last months with just little Truman to grow my brain and my heart.  In working through my powersheets (love!) I determined that I wanted to be more intentional about reading, moving my prego bod, spending time in my gardens with my boys, spend less time scrolling and establishing more tools to study the bible in my tiny windows of time.  So.  This post is (mostly) about that.  Now that I read back over it, that seems like a lot, but for the past 5 months, having these ideas loosly in my mind has helped to guide my time A LOT.

I've completed 9 books, planted a veggie garden, redone two areas of lame landscaping and a host of other things.  I have to say I'm currently in one of those phases where I'm reading about 10 things...but hey...nbd.  Determining and keeping these goals in mind has definitely helped change my patterns and use of time.

1. First lifesaver?  Audible.  I was on the fence (and off of it, really) when it came to audible for soooo long because I LOVE to actually hold and read the book, BUT with a Truman and a full workload squished into a couple days a week this has been such a blessing to my brain.  I'm working through Brene Brown's Rising Strong, enjoyed Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat on a carride with Luke and just finished up Paul David Tripp's What Did You Expect? and loved it.  It's a lengthy listen at 11 hours, but I enjoyed having it on my phone, ready for a listen on a short car ride or for an hour here and there in the office.  Another secret?...the ole bra.  Since I was a little and we rode horses on the farm, often alone, I've been living with my phone tucked into my bra and if you turn on the podcast and tuck it in you can get a lot of yard work done while listening to podcasts and books.  Bonus?  It makes the work go by faster.  There's your quadruple plus, love in one.


2. Everyday Hope by Katie Orr is simplifying my bible study time, that is running short on many days.  She follows a FOCUS method that meditates on a passage for 5 days at a time in 5 different ways.  She's also got Everyday Faith: Drawing Near to His Presence and Everyday Love: Bearing Witness to His Purpose - will probably give her method a try on my own until baby arrives then roll through Faith and Love when I'm shorter on time and self-direction.


3. Reading lately?  Nearly finished with this spiritual memoir of sorts by Preston Yancey.  It hasn't been my most fave, but I certainly have enjoyed reading from a different sort of author than I'm drawn to.  I'll tell you that the cover photo was really what drew me in and the talk of his time at Baylor and Waco kept me going.  If you're a spiritual memoir fan or someone searching through faith, asking questions about denominations and traditions, safe to say you'd enjoy his perspective and experiences in Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again.

4. Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough This gem of a book has me searching my heart with each chapter and loving all the visuals that Haley and Jess have thrown in.  The tagline for this book is superb, because is so succinctly addresses who God made us to be and that our tendency to believe that we're either too much (yes!) or never going to be enough (that, too!) isn't part of how He made us.  Totally a perfect start to summer freedom.  Grab it, read it with some friends and soak it in.

5. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature This book is definately something I'd expect to pick up for class, but was a quarterly read in the #nancyraybookclub that I am so glad I ordered.  I saw a few other ladies I mega-respect reading through it and have thoroughly enjoyed Scazzero's exploration of emotional health and maturity and how that factors hand-in-hand with our spiritual health.  He briefly touches on some denominational traditions, grabs your hand and goes mining through family traditions and experiences, expectations, church life and a plethora of other hot-button issues and experiences so many of us see our faith through.  The latter half uses a Stages of Faith model that theologians from Augustine to John Wesley have used to explore the Christian life.  It's a heavy, heart-opening, behavior-challenging read that will most likely take you a long while to weed through, but it's been the most expository book I've read in a while.  You can also pull up Nancy Ray's book club details here and watch old periscopes, on past books, too.  There are still 9 books to go on her list and I've really enjoyed her perspectives (as usual) and the community of folks following along.


6.  The Fitbit Flex.  Yep.  I've become one of those people.  But before you get crazy and try to challenge me to a step-off (I pretty much have no idea about the fitbit community..obviously) know that I am not an addict yet, am not a super competitive person and I'm not even close to using it's full potential and I LOVE it.  Above you'll see my fitbit disassembled how I like to use it.  I'm not an armband or things-on-my-arms person, so when I saw this fitbit magnetic clip, I grabbed it up.  All I do is remove the flex chip from the armband, pop it in this magnetic clip and attached it to - you'll love this - MY BRA!  (I hope I have enlightened you to make full use of these dumb things we ladies have to use.  I wear mine right against my heart, between the girls with the larger side out and it works like a dream.  I've got it linked to my phone and have found myself being much more aware of my activity.  This pregnancy hasn't been the easiest to keep strenuous workouts going (but often do I really participate in strenuous), so walking and being mindful or moving my body more has been the answer.  I rarely hit 10,000 steps, but I really love keeping tabs on what I think is a busy day.  I also make use of the water tracker, because with crazy Truman around, the usual tally I kept in my mind doesn't exactly keep as accurately these days.  Keeps me from feeling junky and has really changed my attitude about another trip up the stairs, running Truman's toys back to their various places and similar activities.  SO that's it.  Grab ya a fitbit flex and that $7 magnetic do-dad and you'll be walking and rolling.


7. Truman's fluffy hair...cause duh.  He's a sweet little dreamboat right now who needs a haircut, but the crazy, fluffy hair, I find, makes grace a little easier for me to extend when he's being a wild and crazy toddler.

8. Many of you Mommas have asked where we found Truman's popcorn pajamas and it's my old standby: The Gap!  He loves to wear them and come upstairs for a little movie on Friday nights with Momma and Dad.  I also grabbed these super American Flag jammies, too.  I've always been a fan of patriotic and the Gap just delivers time and time again on the ole red, white and blue.

So there ya go - my random list of loves that's a little book heavy (surprise!) and ends on a Truman note.  A quick sidenote from last week's Loving Lately, too - Grove Collaborative is offering a free full-sized hand sanitizer and $10 in credit to anyone who feels like signing up for their sweet service.  I unloaded a box of newborn diapers yesterday and was reminded that they are one of my most favorite parts of simplifying life these days.  A gentle reminder that the book links on this post are Amazon affiliate links and help me keep this little spot of enjoyment running.