Posts in Love & Marriage
27 in 2016: What I Read
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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: Podcasts
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Aside from realllyyyy loving this space, in its newly remodeled state, I've got a little list of loves for ya that mostly revolves around encouragement through words.  But first, can I just say how it's so nice to finally have an online space that truly feels like me.  It's no longer a back-burner space to toss up family photos just so they are somewhere safe and it's not a place where my work gets clouded up with my thoughts.  Hopefully this will turn into the space that matches the all over the place way I do life.  Recipes here, gardening there, some quilting efforts, lots of words, loads of books and a little place to archive images of our family that we can look at regularly. As usual, I'm LOVING podcasts.  I clean to them, do dishes, cook dinner, ride in the car, take showers listening - perfect encouragement for when I'm home with a toddler while my hubs travels.  I LOVE how the iphone automatically has a podcast app - makes listening so easy.  Here are some highlights of my fave episodes, take a listen to at least one and I know you'll feel encouraged.

God Centered Mom has been a fave for a long while.  I nearly hate that it's called got Mom in the title, because sooo many of the episodes are so rich and not just for Mommas.  My top episode faves of hers are by two older ladies....think 80's.  Surprise?  I think not....I love me some wise women.

First up is a two-part episode featuring 87-year-old Vickie Kraft.  You can find episode one here and episode two here.  I love that Ms. Kraft went to seminary in her 50's, chats about how she's studied the bible in her years and how she's encouraging, leading and mentoring young women in her church. What I most love that she talks about how great it is when friends just stop by instead of calling first.  Love how she brings up so many things that were an integral part of her life, growing up in another time.  Since the podcast was recorded Ms. Kraft has gone to be with the Lord - I love listening to it with a sweet gratefulness for the legacy this woman has surely left behind.

Next up?  80-year-old number two: Doris Howard, lovingly referred to as Grammie.  She covers everything from her fruitful marriage that left her a widow, taking in an adult girl as her own to praying for chairs at her church in Asheville, NC.  She's just as sweetly wise as Vickie, but perhaps a bit more frank: which I super love.  She's such an encouragement - even to Mom's of little children - from which she is far removed, but remembers so well.  "We just need to obey and leave the consequences to God." 

There are so many solid - I mean, excellent - parenting episodes, but I especially love this strong dose of parenting wisdom she served up to celebrate two years of the podcast.  So many wise folks contributed to this episode - it's a must-listen if you're knee deep in loving and guiding littles.

I go back and forth and round and round with Around the Table's Podcast.  I love their Friday lunch break interviews and really enjoy the episodes where Jacey and Maggie chat about food and life around the table, but the filler convos can turn me away from time to time.  That said - give it a listen - it may be your perfect cup of tea!  And definitely roll through some of the Friday interviews - they're neat little windows into others.  Best Friday lunch, hands down, is spunky Rach Kincaid's episode where she covers everything from her transforming encounter with grace to her experiences in caring for hospice patients.  You will cry and your heart will be pulled on in the best way.  Love Rach's perspective and love her character that so clearly shines through.

"Grace was for people who were worse off than me and I couldn't be bothered to ask for any of it.  So I just went after this striving, accomplishment, success thing - this life - which is funny, because I've never been stellar at anything ... And then I got smacked with his grace when I became a mother and was absolutely terrible at it ... And that's when I fell in love with his grace for the first time as a twenty-something.  Ever since then I have wanted to walk this line that is right smack-dab in the tension - in the middle - of grace and works because it is his grace that compels us to do good works  It is his gift that asks us to celebrate what he's given us by striving - I don't want to be scared of that word - but we're striving after his kingdom, not after ours.  And we're pushing and we're moving forward into his calling for us and not into our own goals and dreams."  - Rach Kincaid

If you're a reader, Anne Bogel's podcast, What Should I Read Next will be right up your alley.  It's always a refreshing conversation where she listens to her guests (usually authors, wish there would be more 'normal' folks) share a handful of books they love and books they didn't.  She then comes back with suggestions for them, notices characteristics that link the books that they love.  I'm always hearing about new books, enjoying deeper reviews of books I'm considering and just love this easy listen each week.  Take a listen right here.

I saved my current holy grail of podcasts for last:Jamie Ivey's Happy Hour.  I've binge listened to every last one of these and have been enjoying them since little Tru was born.  Jamie has such a deft hand as an interviewer - she graciously and lovingly gets to the heart of her guests.  She's so respectful, approachable and never talking over her folks or leaving me with questions, unanswered about her guests.  She's the real deal.  Ran into her on a curb at a conference and she's just the same in real life.  Love it.  Listen to them alllllll.

My most favorite episode - and possible blogger/internet personality - is Jami Nato's episode.  Listen to her chat with Jami, go sit a spell on her website and see if the grace in her marriage and family and words don't just cover you like a heavy knit blanket on the coziest of days.  Jami remains one of my most favorite encouragers on the internet.

If you want a sweet couple instagram accounts to follow, look up Stephanie Holden and her husband Nick's accounts.   I so LOVED this episode where she talks about how the Lord redeemed their teenage pregnancy, a host of family 'traditions' that you long to see an end to and just the most wild transformation of her family coming to faith.  So good.  Nick also recently did a line of insta posts about marriage.  Look em up.

Jen Wilkin's episode was another fave, wisdom-rich episode of the happy hour that I just loved.  She wrote a wonderful book that walks us through how to study the bible and she just has soo many lovely and smart things to say.

Now pick one, and pop that phone in a wide-mouth mason jar to make an easy speaker and enjoy the wisdom, fun and encouragement these ladies have to share.

Twenty-six, Twenty-seven

Twenty-Six.

It's over; because today my days measure twenty-seven years.

Oh twenty-seven, I have no expectations for you.  Nothing but breathing because I think that is most wise and the best tracks to lay, for the possibility of joy, anyway.

On my twenty-sixth birthday, my tender husband threw a little surprise dinner gathering at a sweet friend's home.  We'd been married just 7 days shy of three months.  Just 9 days later I found out of the absolute blue I'd be expecting a little babe come April.  Or March.  But that's another story.

Our friends came together to share a meal, my most favorite thing to do.  We shared many desserts, which is my most, most favorite thing to do and we headed home that eve talking about all the things that fall held for us.  Talking about the places we wanted to go and Luke's upcoming assignments that made travel likely.

And then we were out of town.  And then we were weeping, out of town, still in our little secret.  Still in the secret we'd keep for many weeks that tore down all the walls of expectation for twenty-six.  All the walls of newlywedness.  All the walls of flourishing business.  All the walls.  All of them.  And they were replaced by mile-high, night-dark walls of depression and despair.  I'm not sure that I wish I'd been able to function joyfully through a pregnancy.  I'm not sure that's what the Lord willed for that year of life.  It was the hardest, but it makes the joys we have now that much more vivid.  It was the hardest to be numb for so long, but God is good and there is Truman.  And God is good and there are memories.  And God is good and joy now, is magnified.  And God is good and twenty-seven has no framework aside from a simpler life, more time together, more feeling and less of everything that doesn't make my blood pump.  Being numb will do that to you.  Make you aware of what makes your blood move and what absolutely coagulates it.

For now, I know that that tender man I lay my head next to makes my blood move.  The sweet babe whose chest rises and falls thanks to the creator who made him does, too.  The little white fluff that laid with me as I completed college, built a business, bought a home, married a dear man, made a family and got her a yard does, too.  Open spaces.  African accents.  Fresh air.  Ponies of all sorts.  Watching seeds grow into food.  Images.  Creating and making.  My prayer for twenty-seven is that I continue to become more alive.  To the things I loved before twenty-six and all the things I have yet to discover.  And that I would be able to discover new next to the tender man and the sweet babe and the white fluff.  To credit all that new and all that joy to the creator who made us.  That's all.

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