September Reads

posted in: Books, Uncategorized | 0

September Reads

I think reading is one of the best ways to better yourself.  If you are reading the Bible – it is about learning the gospel of God to know God better.  If you are reading a cookbook, then you want to make your cooking better.  If you are reading a comic book, you want to laugh better.  Get it?

Before I get to the list of mine for this month, I want to encourage you to go read this post by Doug Wilson about how to read more.  It will be of benefit to you.  I know lots of seminary profs who are friends that read several books a week.  I don’t read that fast.  I would love to get through 2-3 a month.

So here are some I’m reading this month (mostly finishing up, because I’ve started all of these – and only have a few pages left in some, but I want to complete!!)

French Women Don’t Get Fat: I am so far loving this book.  I read it at night and it gets my mind reset to keep on my healthy journey.

A Woman’s Wisdom: This is a great book and helpful to women.  Lydia Brownback writes clearly to help women in any stage of life know how to apply the Proverbs to their lives.  This will be extremely helpful to me this month, especially in my parenting journey.

Peter Pan: I love any movie about Peter Pan – and I want to get to know more about Barrie in the future.  My mister and I are currently watching Hook which he has never seen, which I personally think is one of the late Robin Williams’ best roles.

Fierce Convictions: This is a biography that is about God, the gospel, justice, and women.  It is great – and I only have a little bit left to finish it.

What are you reading this month?


Nightly Devotions with Preschoolers

posted in: Bible, Books, Shepherding Children | 8

Preschool Devotions

Something my husband and I are learning how to do (and we are talking about progression, not perfection) is having more time where we talk with our boys about Jesus and the Bible.

And if you have preschoolers, then you know that their attention spans for non-televised viewing is fairly short (one of the pitfalls of our media-driven culture).  So, unless you have creative animals, paid sound effect personnel,and a storyboard producer – your nightly devotions might not live up to Daniel Tiger or the Octonaughts.

But, getting the Bible into your children, teaching them about Jesus, and loving them the way Jesus would love them (by the Spirit’s help) is the most important thing you could ever do for your children.

So, currently, my older son is just about to turn three.  He loves books.  So each night, we put our younger to bed (we read Good Night North Carolina and Goodnight Moon and a Sandra Boynton book and pray with him) and then scoot over to our older son’s bedroom and read a book with him.  We are reading Read and Share 5 Minute Bible Stories (that I just got from Tommy Nelson – thank you).  Our son loves it.  It is short, great vibrant pictures just like in the Read and Share Bible which we also like, and its big (so even if he doesn’t have his glasses on, he can follow along.  I love how even now (we are in the Moses story) it focuses on the work of God throughout the Bible – and not the men on earth who fail and are sinners.  The whole Bible points to God and Jesus who died on the cross for our sins and the Spirit who indwells in believers.  I want that to be what our son gets from reading the Bible.

So, when you are just starting out:

  1.  Be simple and short.  Attention spans are short.  Keep your kids’ focus by reading something, asking questions, and praying.  It doesn’t have to be long – just consistent.
  2. Utilize good resources.  There are so many out there.  I recommend this bible story book, and catechisms for kids.  So many other tools out there, especially as your children get older.
  3. Be faithful.  God will reward even the smallest.  He wants your children to know Him too.
  4. Pray that God would capture your child’s heart!  You can’t do it yourself.  The greatest parents in the world can’t make their kids love Jesus.  Only He can!

If you want to win a copy of the Bible story book I talk about here, then all you have to do is answer the question: what is one way you are teaching your children about God?  I’ll pick a winner Sunday night!

Learning Photography: Capture The Moment

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Capture the Moment

Life: it has a lot to do with savoring every moment.  Sometimes those moments are the best of times.  Sometimes those moments are bittersweet.  Sometimes those moments are just bitter.  There are moments you’d rather not capture or every remember.  But, mostly, even the bad ones, find their ever lasting way into your mind – etched there forever for you to press play and pause whenever you want.

That’s what I love about photography. It gives you the ability to not only press play and pause on the camera of your mind – but also hang up those captured moments for the rest of the world to see (or at least people who visit your home).

And with photography – you have to be ever learning.  Thanks to Blogging for Books, I have been thrilled at looking through the new book by Sarah Wilkerson, CEO of Clickin Moms (they know how to capture life).  The pictures are of course fabulous – different styles for every photographer.  Also, it helps you learn by giving you the camera and lens and settings so you can practice.

I am a learner by doing, and love having photographers in my life who will let me ask them tons of questions when I’m with them, but I do love this book so I can see exactly how the photo should turn out.  Learning is half the battle, right.

My Toddler’s Favorite Word (and Giveaway)

Teaching Children Gratitude

One of the big trends in birthday photos or memory books is to talk about the child’s favorite foods, words, people, toys, books, etc at each time they have a birthday.  I wish I had the chalk-lettering skills to do one for my boys’ birthdays coming up, but I will leave that to the experts.

But, if I were to do a chalkboard letter sign for my younger toddler, his favorite word would be “mine.”  And seriously, we didn’t teach him that word.  Its not like my husband and I go around saying mine mine mine in the house.  But, knowing we as his parents are sinners,I’m sure he did pick it up from us at some point along the way.

Mine is not a word we want said a lot in our home.  I usually answer him back with something like that: “Bubs, nothing is yours.  God gave us all things and all the things that we have are from him.  He gave them to us to use and share.  We need to be kind and share the gifts that we’ve been given.”  I want him to learn a few things from this conversation (that happens at least 10 times a day):

1.  God is the giver of all good gifts.  James chapter 1 says that and many times in the Psalms it says that everything in the world is the Lord’s.  We may have been given a gift from our parents, grandparents, friends, etc but ultimately all good things come from God.

2.  God does want hearts full of gratitude.  God desires our hearts to be overflowing with praise for all that He has done for us. And out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks!  So, if we can train our children to be thankful, then as they get older, maybe a heart of thankfulness with take root in them by the power of the Holy Spirit and their little mouths will bubble forth with praise!

3.  God does want us to be kind.  Kindness is fruit of the Spirit, so that makes it something that God desires in us.  Kindness is not something we naturally gravitate towards.  No, we all naturally gravitate toward taking care of ourselves first.  Kindness is showing special care and grace for someone else.  Even in toddler world, that may mean sharing the last cookie or giving up a special toy because another friend wants to play with it.

There is a new book by Tommy Nelson that helps preschoolers not only learn a crucial life skill of counting, but also, more importantly, how to express their thankfulness.  Count My Blessings 1-2-3 is a perfect little shapes book that is durable and fun and rhyme-y.  My boys have loved this book series.  When we read it together I can help them think of specific cases of each blessing (like friends).

If you would like to win a copy of this book for your toddler, all you have to do is tell me one thing that you are thankful for in being their mommy or daddy.  That shouldn’t be that hard – and it will help continue to grow a spirit of thankfulness in you as their parent.


the psalms and our emotions

posted in: Bible, Books, illustrated faith | 0

The psalms and our emotions

As a wife and a mom (and basically as a human being), I experience many different emotions every single day.









Things are out of control.


And the list could go on, but you get the picture.

God created us as whole beings, therefore emotions themselves aren’t evil.  But, they have been affected by the fall – when sin entered the picture long ago we have a different bent on emotions.  But, the good news is we have been given something to help with our emotions.

Psalter by Crossway

We have been given the Bible, especially the book of Psalms.  The Psalms to me is probably the most helpful book in the entire world when knowing how to deal with my emotions.  One of my friends told me early this year that one of the best disciplines I could would be to journal through the psalms, praying through them, crying out to God using his very word to direct my thoughts.  This practice has been so helpful in turning my thoughts and emotions back to God. This practice doesn’t necessarily have to go with hard times when our hearts are torn.  But, it can help us specifically praise the One who deserves all the credit when things are going well in our lives.

Crossway recently came out with a Psalter that is amazing.  My sweet husband just gifted it to me.  He placed an order with random other household goods from amazon that he knew I would open.  I found the psalter.  I called him hoping I hadn’t ruined a surprise – he said no, just thought it would be a happy.  It so was!  I’d been wanting it forever!  It is the perfect compact size to carry with me everywhere.  It has thick pages perfect for people like me who like to write in their Bibles.  And it is only the Psalms – which is perfect for reading and re-reading.

Another book has recently come out that has been helpful as I’ve started reading it.  And this post has also been encouraging.  IF you want a prayer journal that a wife can pray for her husband through certain books of the Bible, you can find one here on the blog for free that I wrote for the book of Nehemiah or the one I wrote for Ephesians.

One of the best parts about the psalms and the most instructive is how the writers deal with their emotions.  They aren’t afraid to tell us what they are really feeling: doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, questioning, joy, praise, adoration, etc.  But, even when they are struggling in their faith – they always come back to the understanding that God is in control.  He is most glorious.  He is in charge of all things.  And that is why they praise.  They know that every situation will be handled by the Great BIG GOD who is gently leading and guiding them through all things.

I never want to shy away from my emotions.  I do want to run to my God who knows me and knows how all of it is going to turn out.  And you don’t have to not share your emotions with others.  Christians should not be a stoic people.  (I mean, clearly, the Psalms is anything but stoic.)  But, with our sharing, let us always return to the hope of Christ. May we always take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Why Should You Read?

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There is a new type of book on the market now: an adult coloring book.  I’m not talking about a rated R coloring book – I’m talking about a coloring book that will appeal to adults.  Hobbies are so good and with the influx of binge watching tv shows on Netflix it makes us feel better if we are doing something as we watch them.  Like we aren’t really being lazy.  A friend of mine is putting together a coloring book that I can’t wait to get my hands on.  Any time I can be creative – it is a good day.

That’s not the type of book I’m talking about.  I’m talking about books with lots of words in them – books that will change your life? Your job? Your hobby?  Your mind?  Books that will enlighten you and make you laugh.  Books that will challenge you and cause you to cry.  These are the books that you need to be reading.

One such book is Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms – the latest in the series put out by Crossway Books.  Not intended to be biographical mainly, these books only share a snippet on the persons actual life – but it is still informative, especially if you like biographies.  But, more importantly this book, and this series, allows us to know where we’ve come from.  Packer is one of the top 5 most influential evangelical theologians in the last 100 years.  His books like Knowing God and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God would probably be his two most famous books.  These two books have influenced thousands of readers and have influenced pastors that lead thousands every Sunday.

I love how Storms doesn’t shy away from any controversial theology that may have come across the mind of Packer or how he had to deal with heresy.  Packer has always (yes, even now, as he is still alive) come back to the Word. I love how he stands firmly on Scripture.  Yes, we will always differ with people on some theology, none of us are perfect.  As a friend said yesterday, when we get to heaven all of it will be right according to God.

So why should we read books?

1.  To engage our hearts, minds, and souls.  If the books you are reading don’t do this in some way – pick a new book.

2. To learn from the past.  This is why I love biographies so much, or series like this one by Crossway.  I want to learn from people who have lived before me.  I want to see the God they knew.  I want to experience their world.

3.  To impact the future. I think one of the greatest disciplines any leader can have is to read.  One of the things I love about my pastor is that each Sunday night he gives away books.  Maybe only one or two, but he wants to put good books in the hands of the people of his congregation, so they can do all three of these things I’ve just listed.

What are you reading?

Building Spiritual Disciplines in your Toddler (part 2)

Just for Me Bible

How many of you have more than 10 Bibles in your home?  That would definitely define our home – we have so many, and many in boxes.  The ones in boxes are probably from our childhood.  They are tucked away to help us remember what the Lord has done in our lives by the help of His word.  That is actually why I encourage note taking, prayer highlighting, etc in your Bible.

One of the ways to teach children, especially starting in the toddler years, even before they can read, to love their Bibles (the very Word of God) is by getting a little Bible made just for them.  The new Tommy Nelson Bible,the Just for Me Bible,  complete with round board book edges and a bridge red handle, is a perfect example.

You can teach your toddler to look in the Bible.  You can teach them to take their Bibles to church.  You can teach them to turn in their Bibles when the pastor instructs the adults to turn in their Bibles.  They may not even be able to read yet and yet they will be learning a valuable discipline of loving the Word of God.

If you would like to win one of these for your toddler: tell me what was your favorite Bible story when you were little.

Thanks Tommy Nelson for the book: all thoughts are my own.

Building Spiritual Disciplines in your Toddler (part 1)

posted in: Bible, Books, Shepherding Children | 3

Teaching Toddlers Spiritual Disciplines

Toddlers: they are the funnest and hardest part of my day.  This afternoon when I was eating Chickfila with my boys on the back porch – watching my older one get so excited about dipping his fries in the sauce or hearing my younger say “coke coke” begging for a sip of my diet coke – I looked at both of them with a huge smile – telling them I love you.  And then there are moments when I just want to put them to bed and have a moment of silence to myself.  And I’ve learned that is ok.  Grace comes with bedtime.

But, grace also is imparted to our children by them learning about spiritual disciplines.  One of the disciplines that we are teaching our boys is prayer.  They clap and say yay when we are done praying at dinner.

A great new resource to help your child learn how to pray is the Say and Pray Bible.  It is by Tommy Nelson resources and is a board book with great illustrations for your toddler. One of the aspects of this Bible that I love is that it helps them identify objects in the story (learning new vocabulary, helping them learn how to spell).  This is purely educational.  But, when tied in with a Bible story and prayer guide – this is a great resource for your toddler – probably my new favorite.

One of the ways I intend to use this as my boys get older is create worksheets that they can do as we read along with the story.  I want to pull of the words and give them space to learn how to write, draw pictures of the words that they can match, There is a variety of creative games or word searches that you can do to help your children learn how to read, spell, match, and learn the Bible.

If you would like to win this resource for your children – just leave a note here or on Social media and tell me one verse that you are teaching your kids to pray.

That’s all.

Kids Need Love (and Book Giveaway)

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I Love You Even When

One of the best things that my husband ever said to me before we had children was that they would know how to be affectionate because I was their momma.  I cling to that these days when the discipline is so hard.  I still love getting their hugs, wrestling with them, tickling them, and having them give me kisses and hold my hand.  I will take it all.  It is one of my favorite things about being a mom!

There are so many children out there who don’t get the love they need from loving adults (whether it is their parents, other family members, or loving adults in their lives).  One of the reasons we wanted to settle on a church quickly when we moved to the metro area is so that the boys would get familiarity from other adults besides us.  They would get to know their SS teachers, pastors, friends’ parents. They would be shown love.

Some say it is hard to love when you have to discipline a child.  It is hard.  Disciplining is hard.  But disciplining them (when done with a correct action and spirit) is loving.  God loves us, his children, when he disciplines us and he is always love.

Tommy Nelson just released I Love You Even When, a book for toddlers.  It is a foam board book but has enough letters that it would be a great book for those learning to read.  Animals are a usual high attraction for most children and these illustrations are cute.

Good points about this book: God’s love is unconditional.  Helpful illustrations that will be perfect for most toddlers and the messes they get into.

Questionable – not bad, but just some points to talk about with your children as you read through it together – our kids should not feel they are more accepted and loved by us (their parents) when they obey.  That only teaches them legalism.  If you need a good book to talk more about this go here.

If you want a copy of this book, just leave a comment either here or on social media and answer the question: what is one thing your toddler does that as you are disciplining them you are trying not to laugh (yes, kids do the darndest things).


Categorical Reading

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Books by Category


It is no secret that I love to read.  But, I need more time in my schedule to read.  And with two toddlers, a husband, a photography business, White Collar, West Wing, and lots of books – I have to do something to find more time!

One thing I am doing is getting more organized in my reading.  I am one of those readers that reads multiple books at once and always has a stack of books by my nightstand.  I have several books a month I’m reviewing for one publisher or another and that always keeps my mailbox full (and that is a happy mail day!)

So, since I have different interests and ways I need to read to fit my life – here is the deal.  I’m going to try each week to organize what I’m reading and let you know about it.  That way you can be introduced to new authors and books and you can also give me suggestions on what you are reading in those categories.

Christian Life: Newton on the Christian Life and Packer on the Christian Life (these two are both on my Kindle and they are both books I’m reviewing for Crossway).  I think I would highlight the whole book!  So good!

Creativity/Business/Photography: A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

Marriage: The Fruitful Wife by DiMarco

Food: A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones (a book review I’m doing for Blogging for Books) and My Life in France by Julia Child

Children: Just for Me Bible, Say and Pray Bible, and I Love You Even When (all book reviews for Tommy Nelson)

Parenting: My husband and I are reading through Shepherding a Child’s Heart together and even though I’ve read it is very important for me to re-read it now that I have children.

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