God’s Delight in Pre-Teen Girls (Book Giveaway)

Brave Girls

(This post is sponsored by Tommy Nelson Mommies: they give me free books – and allow you to win them – in exchange for my review of them.  All opinions are my own.)

One of the first things we learn as believers (or are taught in Christian learning) is “God created everything.”  I already teach that truth to my boys.  We love the verses that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “created in God’s image”

But, somehow, I think it is a very easy truth to learn and put into belief the older we get.  I remember being a pre-teen girl.  I was overweight, wore glasses, didn’t have great hair, had zits, wasn’t all the cool, wanted to be cool, had a crush on the cool guy, started my period, looked different than most of the girls in my class, it wasn’t easy.

I believed lies.  I desired popularity.  I earnestly tried so hard to fit in.  But, one of the things I don’t remember reminding myself of is that God created me perfectly in his image and has a plan for my life.

Then, I graduated high school and started college.  I taught 7th grade co-ed Sunday School for 3 straight years.  I still keep in touch with some of those girls.  There were (and still are) so many battles pre-teen and teen girls face.  But, there is only one answer.  God’s truth.

My first devotional when I was in 10th grade was Spirit Wings by Ken Burns.  I loved it at the time.  I was just learning how to have a quiet time thanks to my youth pastor and youth workers.  Quiet time material has come a long way.  I think it is an important discipline for kids of any age to learn.  Taking time each day to talk with God, read His Word, and listen to Him.

You, as a parent to them, have a vital role in this.  You can not only model this for them, but also teach them how to do it for themselves, and engage with them after their quiet time.  Ask them what they learned.  Ask them what they read.  Ask them important questions of how they might apply it to their heart that God is in the process of making new and making to look like Christ’s.

Tommy Nelson has put out resources for quiet times for pre-teen or young teen girls called Brave Girls.  The two I have for the purpose of this blog is Faithful Friends (on friendships and relationships) and Better Than Perfect (on self-image and how to relate to this world in light of the Word).  Each day is a 1-2 page read.  Starts out with Scripture, then there is a story, lesson, truth, completely applicable to this time in their lives, and finishes with questions and prayers.

One way I think it could be better would be to bring everything in every story under the Cross of Christ – but I do think these are really really good and can be a great help to you as a parent in giving your daughter some solid material.  And, as you talk with your daughter and engage with her in what she is reading, you can tie everything back to the Gospel.

So, if you would like a chance to win these books, please comment with the answer to one of these two questions.

1.  What was the first devotional book you read (besides the Bible)?

2.  How do you train your children to have their own quiet time?

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family

posted in: Books, parenting | 1

Spiritually Healthy Family

(Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour for this new parenting book and giving me a copy in exchange.  All blog content in my own opinion.)

Can I just tell you that parenting is the hardest job…EVER.  I keep telling people that now that I have two toddlers of my own (whom I love very much and would do anything for) – I wouldn’t be a nanny for a million dollars for the rest of my life.  Every day I am challenged in my sanity, patience, grace, and knowledge and experience of the gospel in loving on these two littles.

Michelle Anthony, who has many years of parenting and ministry in her pocket, has written a helpful and engaging book for parents.  If you live in this world, you must think that everyone is dysfunctional – and basically, we all are.  Sin is a problem with all of us.  And now that I am a parent, I definitely see my sin patterns and struggles and strongholds coming out in my parenting.

Do I desire to be in control?  Do I want to be liked?  Do I want everything my way?

Dr. Anthony takes these and many more thoughts and scenarios and helps us as parents think through them.  Not only does she help us think through them, she also helps us identify answers to strengthen our parenting.

And the best news of all: we are not the Director. I’m so glad Michelle started out with this truth because it is one of the most discouraging and encouraging truths to hold on to as a parent.  It is discouraging because as person who likes to be in control, I can’t do much about it.  But it is infinitely encouraging because the Director I know (God, the Father) is a perfect Director who has a marvelous plan and He never needs a “take 2″.

The best I can see using Michelle’s book Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family is getting together and reading it with your spouse and reading it, talk about it, answer the questions at the end of each chapter – and then discuss it with a small group.  This even might be a great evangelistic tool to use in engaging especially single moms who are struggling to do this parenting thing solo.  This book is written for the average parent – you don’t have to be seminary trained to understand her terminology.

Either way, read this, identify yourself in this book, and find hope in the Gospel.  I’m thankful Michelle wrote this and I look forward to re-reading this at each stage of parenthood that I am in.


Teaching Young Boys How to Be Men

posted in: Books, parenting | 3

Building God's Kingdom: Tipper Tells a Lie, Andy Holmes

My life is full of balls, choo-choos, and bulldozers.  If you are a mom of young boys, you know what I’m talking about.  I live in the Atlanta area and many times a week I’m driving around specifically going to the site of the new Braves stadium just because my son wants to see the bulldozers.  He squeals with much delight.

So, when I saw these books (a new series) by Tommy Nelson for young boys featuring bulldozers and other machines – I knew my older son would love them.  And what is better yet, they teach them morals: not to lie, telling the truth, etc.  And these are great qualities for young boys – who want to grow to be men.

When I’m training my little boys – I want to train them up in the Gospel – for sure (which is where I think these little books lack), but I also want to train them in good morals in ways they can grow to be men.  Telling the truth and being honest is definitely something God desires and a trait they should have their entire lives.  Another trait I want to teach them is to be gentle and to be good stewards of their toys and possessions.  This is something that God told Adam in the Garden – to tend the garden and take care of it.

Do you have young boys – how do you teach your young boys to be young men?  To teach them morals?

If you do have little boys who love bulldozers or cranes, etc, and you want to win your own set of these books – then just leave a comment on the blog or on facebook and you will be entered.

Thank you Tommy Nelson for these books (all opinions are my own) and for giving an opportunity to win them!

Thoughts and Quotes on Grace Transforming (Ryken/Crossway)

posted in: Books | 0

Grace TransformingOver the years, I’ve learned that I absolutely love books that have been compiled of sermons.  My love for them started with Piper’s Swan series, and has continued – especially since I can’t make every conference but I can always buy a book that has the talks transcribed to fit between the covers.  It is a helpful ministry to put these talks together for those who can’t attend, but would like to reap the benefits of the talks.

Wheaton College is an amazing romantic place to me.  I’ve only been twice, but the moment I stepped foot on the campus outside of Chicago, IL – I was filled with a since of awe as I knew the likes of the Elliots and Pipers had attended there.  The snow was piled high on my first trip, and the quietness peaked an interest in my heart of that campus – which I still adore.  Now, with so many friends working in Wheaton or for the college, it still holds a dear place.  One of my current favorite preachers is now the president.  And while I can’t attend weekly chapel services, I can pick up the book of sermons on Grace that the President, Phil Ryken, preached to his students.

I’ve already reviewed the book, but now want to return to it and point you to some of my underlinings and notes:

Let me just tell you – it may be written for college students, but people in every avenue of life can glean from his sermons.  I mean, for me – what Mom and wife doesn’t need to revel in the grace of Christ on her behalf – especially in disciplining two toddlers and submitting to her husband (who is wonderful by the way)?

“One of the ways that grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness is by giving us a place to go with our sin and then offering us another chance to grow.” (58)  Man…I need this reminder daily.  How often we beat ourselves up if we yell at our children, pick a fight with our husband, or overeat, or have a messy house.  These things shouldn’t define us, but we need to step away from them and enter God’s gracious presence to receive healing and hope.

“Wanting people to think the est of us, we try to present ourselves to the world in the best possible light.  Yet most of us struggle with a deep sense of insecurity. Rather than feeling confident in our abilities, we live with the constant fear that we don’t measure up.” – Probably the most impactful quote in the entire book for me.  In a world of social media and my role as a SAHM – this cut to my weak and sinful heart.

“Is this any way for a person to talk who has received an absolute sufficiency of God’s abundant grace,” (81)  Especially, as I’m around my two toddlers who are learning to talk and see how I respond to life (especially Atlanta drivers and disappointments throughout our day – I want my speech to showcase God – not make my boys question my relationship with Him.

“We get discouraged by the burdens of our work and disheartened by the brokenness of our relationships.” (84)  This was indeed true this past weekend – when my pastor preached on parenting and I also learned that day of another marriage in trouble because of sin.  I wept for the hurt of those friends.  I was convicted by the way I don’t treasure the Word in my parenting like I should.  God’s grace is more.



Grace and Peanut Butter and Chocolate

grace peanut butter and chocolate

I’ve already reviewed this book for Crossway and I stand behind everything I say.  But, in this post I want to encourage (mostly Moms) yall from some of the highlights that I read.  I’m grateful for Gloria’s writing, examples, and Christ-centered encouragement to other moms in the world.  Many things I could relate to – and no matter what stage of mothering you are in, I’m sure you can to.

“It’s tempting to view everyday life merely as a monotonous cycle of making the beds on to be in them again.” (63)

Don’t let life be mundane to you.  I know we have to clean and cook dinner and change diapers and run car pool.  But, don’t be ok with that.  That is when life gets boring and we get discouraged.  Make fun things happen, change your attitude – don’t live there.

“Controlling my circumstances wouldn’t fill the void in my soul.  You can’t organize your way into communion with God.” (78)

I see this in myself a lot today.  My littler toddler is sick.  I can’t take them anywhere I normally go because he would be around children and I don’t want him to get others sick.  So we are at home.  In a small townhome, all day.  Well, I can’t control that.  Now I can either apply the gospel or live in a bad mood the rest of the day until they go to bed?  It is choice!

“God is greater, more powerful, and more mysterious than we could ever dream, and it will take an eternity for him to reveal to us his magnificence.” (92)

God is our reward – not the perfection of heaven.  He is infinite and no matter how much we seek to know him on this side of his presence – we will never know him fully – because He is inexhaustible.

“Our craving for admiration is diluted and the praise of others is muffled as we serve with the strength God supplies.  Why would we take credit for the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives?” (105)

This is an area of biggest struggle for me.  God is the one who does the work and needs to get all the praise for it.

“I need God’s grace and something baked with peanut butter and chocolate.” (138)

Perhaps my favorite line in the book!

“I forget that homemaking is not primarily about my personality; it is primarily to adorn the gospel because the grace of God has appeared.” (155)

Another one of those needed statements that I will need to think through.

This book is highly marked up and I’m shipping it out today to a friend who will also love this book.  There are many other things I highlighted that I’ve talked about with friends or my husband because they bring up too much hurt from past relationships.

Mom – keep pursuing the gospel in your parenting!  God has got this!  Be encouraged!


Teaching Children to be Readers

Teaching Children to Read

Being a parent is amazing and hard and always full of new moments.  But, this moment we are in right now is something I’ve waited for. “Mommy” then I get a little pat on my leg and I see my older toddler standing there in front of me with a book in his tiny hands.  Begging for me to read to him.  So, I do. Over and over again.

There is a certain train book from Usborne books (gift from Oma) that he has carried everywhere – coffee shops, hikes, car trips, gym kid’s club – and Daddy has even had to tape it up.  It came with a little train – sometimes we can find it sometimes we can’t.  But, no matter – he has other cars that will work on its tracks – or at least work for him.

Elijah and the Train book

One of the things I want to instill most in my kids (besides a love for God) is a love of reading.  I love to read and I know how books take you to other places, teach you so much more than you could ever learn, and also put a desire in you to see the world around you.  C S Lewis and L. M. Montgomery are two of those authors for me.  I have a feeling the boys will love L. A. Wilder, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Andrew Peterson.  We shall see.  Can’t wait to actually read chapter books with them at night.  But, that is a moment in time later to come.

How can you instill a love of reading in children?

1.  Use the library.  We go to the library some for story time.  My boys are harder to sit still than some others but we still attempt it and its good song and play time too.  The public libraries, especially in bigger cities, are great resources (and free)!

2.  Buy them books.  Buy them at thrift stores, online book clubs, ask for them for presents.

3.  Read to them.  Use some time before bed, or after breakfast to read to them.  It teaches them to pay attention and sit still but also helps stir up an amazing appetite to read.

4.  Be patient with them as they learn to read.  My boys aren’t to that stage yet, but I have to be willing as their Mommy to be patient, let them stumble over words, help them when I need to, and listen to them.

5.  Encourage them to write their own stories.  This time will come too.  I still have the first book I wrote in 4th grade – all about animals.  I can’t wait to show it to our boys.  I hope they will love it and not laugh!

6.  Read different genres.  As a gospel Christian, I do like to read boys about Jesus to them.  But…I love to read them other books about the world God created and things that happen in it and teach them about a Christian worldview – seeing everything through the lens of the Gospel.  That is so important to teach to our children early in their learning adventure.

My friend Leah is an Usborne consultant.  They have delightful and interactive books for children of all reading levels.  Here is a link to an online party I am hosting for her.  I have been pleased with the Train book so far – and so has our toddler.  I’m sure you will find some your children like as well.

What are your favorite books to read to your children?


Read This: Women of the Word (Jen Wilkin/Crossway)

posted in: Books, Women | 0

Women of the Word

Our days are so full!

As a Mom of two toddlers – and very active boys at that – I know what full days are.  They are fun, encouraging, eventful, demanding, and days filled with laughter.  We are always on the go, exploring new parts of our city or heading out to hang out with some friends or go see Daddy at work, or walk along the river or see animals at the zoo.  I love cherishing times with my sweet boys.

But, something else I highly look forward to is either the days when they sleep in late and I get up to get some time in the Word in early – or their nap times – so I can again get encouraged by being in the Word.

The new(ish) book by Jen Wilkin, who serves at The Village Church in Texas, helps women with their understanding of how to better study – and fall in love with – the Bible (and more importantly, it’s Author).

I’m thankful for Jen’s organization, gospel-driven remarks, personal history with the Word, and imploring her readers to invest their time in the study of the Word – not just the glancing at it as you go along.

One of the hardest chapters for me to impliment on a daily basis if praying and the word.  I love the pray – and have written journals for wives to pray for their husbands, working on a prayer journal for moms to pray for themselves as moms, but really to engage in the word – before, during, and after – by praying.  Usually, I approach the Word quickly and haughtily and just start reading.  I’m thankful that Jen included this in her book.

“Ask him to make his word come alive for you in such a way that you

know him better and see your own needs of him more clearly.

 – Jen Wlkin

If you are looking for a way to learn how to study the book, or need encouragement in how to love the Word – turn to Jen’s book.  It is for women, new believers and the believers who’ve known Jesus a while.


Read This: Christ in the Chaos (Kimm Crandall)

posted in: Books, mothering, parenting | 0

Christ in the Chaos

Sometimes it may take me a while to get to a book, but God knows why he had me pick it up at that moment.  I’ve had this book for a while, and just really picked it up in earnest this weekend. As you can see by this review – I’m done with it and it has many underlines and !!! sections!

Kimm Crandall is a mommy of four – and a funny one at that – and one who knows her weaknesses and is steeped in the Gospel.  And even though she has written a helpful and gracious book, she would probably tell you herself that she needs to practice and rehearse the gospel every day (even after she wrote the chapter on rehearsing the gospel).

I liked this book because she shared stories I could relate to – even though her kids are definitely older than mine.  She pointed me not to my mistakes and where I fail every day as a Mom, but instead she pointed me to Jesus – who is perfect in every way and intercedes for me as my Great High Priest.

I liked it because it was short and practical – two things I need as a Mom to two active toddler boys.

I liked it because she encouraged women to be honest with other women – and to use wisdom in sharing – but not to hold on to this idea of perfection that we seem to do so well in many of our churches.

I would recommend this book to any mom but especially ones who are :

1.  Like me, in the throws of teaching two boys what it means for mommy and daddy to have authority and how they won’t get everything they want just because they throw a temper tantrum.

2.  Like me, who loves their to do lists and hates it when everything isn’t marked off by the end of the day.

3.  Like me, who knows the Gospel but still needs help in accepting it every day and also passing along that acceptance to their husbands and children.  Oh, ladies – how I struggle with that.  Teaching my boys to obey and listen and accept authority – and doing it with the love of Christ in my actions, words, and tone of voice.

Here are some of my favorites from the book:

“God’s faithfulness is not measured by tangible blessings.  It’s measured by his character and his promises to us.” (22)

“God’s grace leaves us with nothing of ourselves but all of Jesus.” (32)

“Grace is a mystery so disturbing I can’t bring myself to look away.” (44)

“When you know you are being pursued by a merciful admirer, the lure of sins’ crude pleasure loses it’s sparkle.” (51)

“Take off the strong mother mask and embrace your weakness.  Stop hiding the very inadequacy God wants to use to display the Gospel.” (61)

“Everything in Scripture points, not to our obligations, but to our Redeemer,” (67)

When you live in light of the Gospel – you are set free from your incessant need for approval.” (93)

Live in light of these truths – grounded in the Word and the Gospel.

(Thanks Kimm for providing me with a copy of this to read.  All comments and thoughts are my own.)


Read This: Bread & Wine (Shauna Niequist)

posted in: Books | 1

Bread & Wine

I’ve always been told if you want to learn how to write…then read authors you want to write like.  For that to be true in my life: I need to read Elyse Fitzpatrick and Shauna Niequist.

So, I supposed the same is true if you want to photograph, cook, design, create, etc…be inspired by people you want to emulate.  Not copy them – but look at their work, and learn from their craft.  We all need mentors in the area we want to be better in – so pick good ones!

Bread & Wine was given to me (2 copies actually) by sweet friends at our former church.  I loved getting the little brown book boxes on our Rainwood front porch.  Surprise!  And I was then able to mail off a sweet happy package to a sweet dear old friend who loves family, wine, and food just as much as I do.  That always makes me happy.

The cover of this book alone makes me want to read it  – and that is a great thing.  Why have a boring book cover?  Don’t you want people to open it and devour its contents?  I would.  And Shauna’s cover makes you want to pull up in a comfy chair, have a chilled glass of wine, and settle in for the night.

This book was written – not so everyone can copy Shauna’s life, love, and pursuit of the table – but so that they can dream a little bit of their own: to happy family dinners, to good meals cooked for one – or 10, to life whether good times or bad – but learning how faith, family, and food (and maybe some wine or beer) interacts with that.  One of the criticisms I read about Bread & Wine was that not many people can have the charmed life of Shauna and she seems to flaunt it.  Well, can’t the same be true of Mark Twain and the Adventures of Huck Finn?  Who wouldn’t want a carefree life of being always an adventure?  Or can’t we say the same thing of every cookbook – thinking that every meal is going to turn out photo worthy and perfectly tasty and never burnt?  Plateau status was not Shauna’s desire with this book – and nor should we be envious of any other life.  God has given us our life to live, and I’m sure we never know everything about everyone else’s life.

Many of her chapters come along with delicious recipes.  Here are some I want to try:

Blueberry Crisp (but I can’t keep them in the house long enough without Elijah eating them all)

Breakfast Cookies (always looking for quick breakfasts for the boys)

Goat Cheese Biscuits (hmmm, I do have goat cheese in the fridge)

Green Well Salad

Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse

This book, while I didn’t agree with everything from the theology perspective, gave me many great things to think about.  Here are some of my favorites:

“I feel honored to create a place around my table, a place for laughing and crying, for being seen and heard, for telling stories and creating memories.” (251)

“A heart of hospitality is creating space for these moments, protecting that fragile bubble of vulnerability and truth and love.  It’s all too rare that we tell the people we love exactly why we love them – what they bring to our lives, why our lives are richer because they’re in it.” (176)

“Soup…it’s the cardigan with elbow patches.” (LOVE THIS QUOTE, 161)

So, go pull up a favorite glass, and enjoy this book. I look forward to reading more of Shauna’s writings.

Link Love for your Weekend

posted in: Link Love, Uncategorized | 0


Anne of Green Gables


I’m very excited that the NCAA is back in full swing.  I am definitely a Gator girl even though I’ve lived in 3 different football/basketball states since: NC (I love the Tarheels though), KY (only good thing about Louisville and UK was UofL’s head coach was Charlie Strong, but even he got smart and left for Texas), and now GA.  I’d also have to admit if there was one SEC school that I could cheer for other than Florida it would be UGA – and that should make my FIL very happy).  But,  GO GATORS!  Now, onto more important things…

Maybe you aren’t into football like I am, so here are some things you can do during the games, or you can do them and watch like I do – great multitasking.

BBQ chicken is usually for the summer – but now that we are moving into the fall and you might just need some food for a football party of something…make this to continue the summer

This was an amazing article in the NYT and we actually did this for our honeymoon.  Yes, almost 3 years ago, we took a road trip up the East Coast that the final turn around spot was PEI.  A dream come true.  And I loved falling in love with Lucy Maud Montgomery more than her beloved Anne.  You must go if you’ve never been.

Little known fact about me is that I adore US History.  I wanted to be a high school history teacher because I had a high school history teacher who was an amazing teacher.  So, I want to read more on the subject.  Add something to my reading list besides Christian books.

When I was growing up I loved the cookies in the mall and the little stand in most malls that served Orange Julius drinks.  I want to make my own.  I’ve found a few recipes but will try this one this week

I have a journal that I want to use to write down food memories for our boys – so they will hopefully learn to love to cook and enjoy food and family around a table just like I do.  One of the first chefs I learned to love was Sara Moulton and here is some of her words on the subject.

I’ve been thrilled with the depth, applicability, and pastoral heart of our pastor here in the ATL metro area – in his sermons that is.  He was talking about friendship within the body of Christ this morning and then I just read a great blog post by a friend of mine on the very subject.  Live authentic community with others.  Believe me, it makes a huge difference in your life.

Happy Weekend!


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