Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On family tradition in the fall

Tradition can be defined as a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, etc., for a long time and the stories, beliefs, etc., that have been part of the culture of a group of people for a long time.

One of my favorite things about our family is our traditions. Some have been implemented purposefully and others have just happened based on what we like to do. Many are connected with holidays, but some emerged from daily life.

When we first went to Murray State’s Fall on the Farm in 2008, we had no idea the event would become a tradition for us. But it did – and that was before Ben was even born. The corn maze and barn slide have long been the favorite activities. And there was some disappointment this year that pony rides weren’t available.

We’ve been every year since, except for 2011, when we were busy exploring Acadia National Park, other places in Maine, and Boston. Most years Fall on the Farm was in September, which, looking at the pictures, is usually not actually cool enough to feel like fall.

{2008. 2009. 2010. 2012.}

The first few times we went as a family – which is usually how we do weekends. But last year the kids went with school so I tagged along while Greg was working. Then this year Greg had an all-day commitment, but the kids and I went anyway.

I take tons of pictures. But they help me remember moments. I especially love comparing pictures from the same event over the years. Pictures really are worth so many words and tell stories I know I would otherwise forget.

For us, the fall seems filled with traditions. There are football games and the annual church party and bonfire. We like to vacation in September or October, so I find myself remember trips to Chicago, Branson {2008. 2010. 2011. 2013.}, and the Northeast. Ben’s birthday is near Thanksgiving, so there is plenty of celebrating God’s goodness in our lives.

I hear it’s going to cool down around here. We have soccer games on the calendar through the beginning of November. We’re going to experiment with a possible new tradition – camping – in November.

But, first, we’re going to surprise the kids with one of those vacations we love. This one is to “that big castle before the movies,” as Cate refers to Disney World. Honestly, I can’t believe Greg and I have kept this a secret this long from them. We’re notorious for letting our excitement spoil surprises and prompt early gift-giving.

I’ve seen some people talking about Christmas. But I’m not ready to go there. Fall is just arriving and we have some traditions to uphold before the official holidays.

Does your family have any fall traditions?

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Monday, September 29, 2014

8 Things I Learned in September

I sound like a broken record here, but, seriously, where is this year going? How is September already over? Goodness.

But, hello, fall. Please stay a while. A long while. Like so long winter doesn't even happen. And, shh, nobody tell me how meterologists are predicted a no-good, terrible winter. I thought last year was bad ...

Moving on, September was lovely, even if it sped by so fast I could barely keep up. We spent many evenings and late mornings at the soccer field. We enjoyed the lovely weather. We lived our life in many small moments meshed together. We learned and loved and laughed. And, yes, we witnessed that lovely sunset while on Kentucky Lake.

In no particular order, here are some things I learned in my everyday life this month:

1. I can have household products delivered to my door step. I loved that when I ordered diapers from Diapers.com or Amazon. Now, thanks to ePantry, hand soap, laundry detergent, sponges, and trash bags will show up a few days after I place an order ... and at good prices. I received my first shipment this month and I believe I'm in love with this service.

2. I love life in my 30s, but sometimes I feel old ... and old-fashioned! For instance, I invited a college girl I've gotten to know through Bible study over for a home-cooked meal and realized I'm twice her age. She hasn't turned 18 yet, so she's only a decade older than my second-grader. Y'all my own college days don't seem that long ago.

More proof by the questions I ask myself: What's with all these movies that are rated PG-13 being promoted to kids? Like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Why do restaurants have TVs everywhere? Gathering to watch a sporting event is one thing, but I otherwise prefer no television while we're trying to eat dinner together.

3. My personality makes me like Snow White. We're both ESFJ. Find out here which Disney princess shares your personality. I'm OK with my assessment, but, really, Snow White likes animals much more than I do.

4. I could be the only person who doesn't care anything about pumpkin candles, desserts, coffee, or, well ... anything. Yes, I'm a summer girl, but I do love the transition to fall. Just bring on the apples, specifically Honeycrisp, and candy corn. You can keep your pumpkin spiced latte. Or whatever other hot beverage you're drinking.

Funny story: A delicious-smelling apple pie candle showed up in the mail for me from Amazon. I didn't know who sent it until my friend Jen texted me. She loves pumpkin spice candles but chose an apple one for me. God's in the details, I tell you. Apples over pumpkin any day, especially fall days, y'all.

{After I posted this on Facebook, I learned I'm not actually alone, but there are so many pumpkin fans out there.}

5. I don't like homework. I don't remember disliking homework when I was a kid, when it was required of me, personally. But, seriously, I could do without homework now that I'm a mom. My girl is a good student, but she's done with school when she gets home. That time between school and dinner is already a rocky time. That's not just true at my house, right?! So to add homework seems cruel. We're in year three of homework and I'm still not a fan. I'm guess if I didn't like it in kindergarten and first-grade and I'm still not liking it in second-grade, then hope is pretty much lost for me for her remaining decade of school, right? Plus I'll have those 13 years of school for my son, who, I'm guessing, will be even less into homework than his sister. {She's cute though.}

6. Little People toys are for little kids, which apparently I don't have anymore. That's according to my 4-year-old son. So we donated most of the Little People to his preschool. Yes, I'm curious if he's going to play with them there, unlike he did here.

7. The Blacklist is addicting. Hello, James Spader. Goodness gracious, he's good in that show. Greg and I just started watching it last week, but we're well into the first season. I know, I'm not sure what took me so long either.

8. Scrapbooking is still a hobby of mine, even if it doesn't happen often. Like riding a bike, I didn't forget how to document life with actual printed photos, Sharpies, cute paper, and page protectors. I managed to spend much of one weekday at my craft table. We didn't have anywhere to be and Ben was playing alone so well. I was out of my usual adhesive, so I broke out the Rubber Cement. I loved it so much I bought more next time I was at the store.

I'm linking up this monthly post with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky.  Here are previous month's recaps from 2013: June. July. August. September. October. November. And from 2014: January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August.

I'm also linking up with the weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering.

Want more stories? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox." This post contains affiliate links for products & services I love. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dreaming in Stories

My 4-year-old son Ben loves Daddy to tell him stories before bed. Usually my husband chooses childhood memories of fishing or exploring with his brothers and friends. Ben is captivated and often wants to hear the same story told over and over again, as if he’s claiming the adventure has his own dream.

Really, aren’t some of our dreams birthed from stories we’ve heard?

The Bible is full of adventures that entice us. We watch TV shows and read books that draw us in with their characters and plots. Stories are the foundation of so much more than bedtime entertainment.

Earlier this year I read “The Secret Keeper,” a fictional story of a woman uncovering her 90-year-old mother’s story. This book by Kate Morton had nothing to do with faith specifically and everything to do with dreaming and discovering.

Sometimes we discover stories that wreck our reality. Other times what we uncover propels us to dream.

{Join me at the God-sized Dreams website to read the rest ...}

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Monday, September 22, 2014

a cover for my story

I'm in one of those seasons of life where God is teaching me so much. Honestly, I'm trying so hard not to miss anything. It's exciting ... and exhausting, if that makes sense. I keep thinking about things I want to share, but then I can't find the words when I sit down at my laptop.

So instead of putting these new messages and lessons into words, I spent Ben's naptime this afternoon on my front porch turnings excerpts from my forthcoming ebook into guest posts for various online friends.

It was good to remember what God has done to me as I recognize what more he wants to do. The lessons on God adopting us, God faithfully orchestrating the details, God valuing life, hearing God in the wilderness, and knowing God has a plan even when we can't see it are ones that carry over to so much of life -- not just infertility and adoption.

{My ebook is going to be released on Oct. 15! More information will be coming about that. Much more, trust me.}

Until then, how about a sneak peek at the cover?

Angie Kimbro, a local graphic designer friend of mine, created this beauty. And I gave her very few ideas with which to work. Honestly, I wasn't sure what I wanted my cover to look like, but I absolutely love how it turned out. Fun side note: Angie was Ben's first teacher at a mother's day out program a couple years ago.

That's where I am right now. A tad weary, but full of hope for what's to come.

What have you been up to? Learning anything worth sharing?

I'm linking up this post with Jen Ferguson's weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Worthwhile words for your weekend

Happy weekend! It's a beautiful day here in Kentucky. We've got soccer games and dinners with friends on the agenda. And I'm hoping the sun keeps shining so we can break in our new deck.

I've gathered some things I've read recently online that are worth your time ...

"The Danger of Protecting Our Kids From Unhappiness" by Kristen Welch :: "We live in a culture that is obsessed with not only making our kids happy by giving them everything they want, but also by trying to keep them happy. It’s an impossible, exhausting task. I’ve tried it. Maybe you have too. But instead of making kids happier, it just makes them want more. And more often leads to more emptiness. Because deep down our kids long for authority and structure. They crave guidelines and rules because that’s one of the major ways they fill loved by us."

"What Do We Do When Life Get Hard?" by Kayse Pratt :: "What do we do when things get hard? Will we run? Will we quit? Will we wallow in bitterness, insistent that we didn’t deserve this situation? I’ve tried that. It doesn’t make life any better. ... He’s overcome it, friend. Whatever you’re going through, He’s already overcome it. That doesn’t always make the situation easier, but it changes our perspective entirely, doesn’t it? Because now, instead of feeling abandoned, we see how very loved we are. Loved enough that He’s made sure that the ending to our story is a happy one. A victorious one. Because our story ends in His triumph."

"Light, for Your Darkest Days" by Jennifer Dukes Lee :: "It always feels like I am tripping over the hem of God’s garments when I have one hopeful eye pressed against a viewfinder. And maybe I am — for the Psalmist wrote how God 'wraps himself in light' as if it were his robe. The light does more than make a good photo. It preaches a sermon — one we might need to hear on days like these, in times like these. I found myself listening to the sky’s sermon the other day while barefoot on gravel, expectant and needy. The day before had been crammed with bad news around the world, and I craved light. And then, the sun rose, and I saw it anew: How light overcomes darkness, one glorious inch at a time, to gladden our barbed world."

"A Memorable Melody Through the Proverbs" :: Slugs & Bugs' "Sing the Bible" CD is one of my favorites. Ever. My whole family loves it. Yes, it's "children's music," but I'm 35 and love it too. Throughout September, 100 percent of the profits from "Sing the Bible" sales will benefit Restore Academy in Gulu, Uganda. The sale of just 40 CDs could cover the cost of an entire semester for one student. Here's my earlier review of the CD, which has songs straight from the Bible, and not just Proverbs.

Have you read anything good lately? What are you up to this weekend?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding freedom in the wastelands

I was stressed and angry. I had lost sight of what’s important in parenting. I couldn’t see beyond minor inconveniences and infractions to regain perspective of what actually matters. I blamed others in my mind for my weariness.

And my tears and words exploded all over Greg while we drove to Nashville for a delayed anniversary overnight date. As we drove away from the soccer fields where both kids had games earlier in the day, I didn’t want to go. I was tense and mad.

But we went. I cried and screamed and confessed. He listened and suggested and reminded me of truth. He told me it was going to be a good night. Even though I was hesitant to believe him, I hoped he was right.

My life is good. My kids are smart, healthy, and funny. My marriage is better than it’s ever been. Yet I’ve been feeling angry and weary. I sort of knew why but I was struggling to process.

Greg helped me with that. He loved me despite my feelings and lack of perspective. By the time we reached our dinner destination, my heart and soul were calmer and I didn’t want to yell anymore.

At one point during dinner, Greg and I were talking about how parenting is hard, how we’re all broken, and how the two of us needed to refocus. And then he said, “You should blog about that.”

“About what?”

“This. You should blog about how parenting is hard.”

So here it is: Parenting is hard. For me, specifically, parenting my boy is hard.

I love him. I love his laugh and his sweet, kind ways. But I don’t get why he thinks peeing in trash cans right next to toilets is a good idea. I don’t get why his speech has regressed and he now sometimes puts a “th” sound in place of “s.” I don’t get why boys do what boys often do.

I’ve been caught up in controlling Ben’s behavior and not teaching his heart and mind. I’ve been angry that I feel like I’m failing him and squashing his energy and joy in the process. I’ve been frustrated I don’t know how to do this.

Greg reminded me that even while this season is hard with him that we are not failing him. Readjusting and refocusing is necessary, but we’re doing some things right.

{I've said it before: Age 4 has been my least favorite age with both my kids. Even with their different personalities, nothing has challenged me more than parenting a 4-year-old. I may change my story when they’re teenagers, but this what I know now.}

On Saturday, Greg and I ate dinner and talked. We went to Target and CVS. We sang along to NEEDTOBREATHE songs on preparation for the concert that prompted our date.

I felt free again.

And that was before the concert that was exactly why my weary soul needed. When I bought the tickets months ago, I had no idea how perfect the timing would be. I was one of 4,500 people there, but NEEDTOBREATHE had a message I needed to hear.

Last week while working through the lesson in “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore, I read Isaiah 43:19:

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

I recognized the words from NEEDTOBREATHE's newest album. But I recognized the meaning from my own life.

Looking back, God was preparing me for Saturday night. Greg and I sang along with NEEDTOBREATHE at an amphitheater surrounded by trees. The weather was cooler than usual and felt perfect. I laid down some burdens and filled my head with what I believed to be true.

Of the two videos I found online from Saturday’s concert, one was lead singer Bear Reinhart talking about what he learned about God doing a new thing in his wasteland before he and the band played the song my soul needed. {Watch here.}

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised God was reminding me about LIGHT. Again. It’s truly become the theme of my year. “In this wasteland where I'm living, there is a crack in the door filled with light. And it's all that I need to shine.” Those words from NEEDTOBREATHE's “Wasteland” reminded me of a post I wrote earlier this year.

This was only one song and one message. There were others. But this is what I’m holding onto today because it echoes what God has been telling me. I’m so grateful for the soul relief that came with a reminder God is indeed doing something new.

I'm linking up with the weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, Jennifer Dukes Lee's #TellHisStory, and Lyli Dunbar's Thought-Provoking Thursday.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

{Dolphin Tale 2} #WinterHasHope

My kids don't watch many non-animated movies. But "Dolphin Tale" is one they've seen over and over. We even got to see Winter in real life at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in February 2013. {See those pictures above?} Winter's story and the hurricane that wrecked the marina are tales my kids still like to talk about.

"Dolphin Tale 2" releases tomorrow! So I'm guessing the stories will continue around our house.

The sequel has been on our calendar for months. It's going to be fun to be able to say, "We've been there!" as we watch Winter's story continue. Like the first movie, "Dolphin Tale 2" sounds like it's filled with messages of friendship, hope, and family that I want my kids embracing.

Plus, if it's anything like the first one, the all-star cast will make the movie one worth watching.

ABOUT THE MOVIE :: Inspired by true events, "Dolphin Tale 2" continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery — thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail — made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.”

This film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick Jr., Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, and of course, the remarkable dolphin Winter as herself. Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who has been an example of courage, also appears in the film.

It has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett, rescued Winter. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy, who developed a unique prosthetic tail for the injured dolphin, they were able to save her life. Yet their fight is not over.

Winter’s surrogate mother, the very elderly dolphin Panama, has passed away, leaving Winter without the only pool mate she has ever known. However, the loss of Panama may have greater repercussions for Winter, who, according to USDA regulations, cannot be housed alone, as dolphins’ social behavior requires them to be paired with other dolphins. Time is running out to find a companion for her before the team at Clearwater loses their beloved Winter to another aquarium.

MORE INFO :: Official movie website. Facebook. Twitter. Trailer. Movie-related resources for homeschoolers.

And there's a giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter below to win a prize pack including an official Dolphin Tale 2 T-shirt and sunglasses. A winner will be chosen randomly Wednesday. CONGRATULATIONS, Mary! The prize will be coming your way soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received my own prize pack with a T-shirt and sunglasses from FlyBy Promotions, which is part of Propeller Consulting, in exchange for sharing about "Dolphin Tale 2," but the movie date my family is going on tonight has been planned for a long time. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you're not eligible for this giveaway. 

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Words for your weekend

Happy Friday, friends! Even with the short week, I'm glad it's already the weekend, again. It's going to be a busy but fun one for us, and, yes, we'll spend some of it at the soccer field. We're also going to have Greg's office party at the lake and have a fund-raiser for my kids' school. {If you're local, we'd love for you to join us for the Birthday & Benefit Concert for New Covenant Christian Academy. Who doesn't love the idea of classic rock for classical education?}

Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you some blog posts and book quotes that have encouraged me lately. Enjoy them as you head into your weekend!

"When matters of faith require action" by Kelli Stuart :: "I’ve long had a weary opinion of the Osteens. I do not believe in the idea of the prosperity gospel in any way, shape or form. I do not think that God is at all concerned with my happiness ... . There is zero evidence in scripture to support such claims, and so I’ve always taken Joel Osteen quotes with a grain of salt. They are feel good fluff – kind of like cotton candy. Fun to eat, but will rot you from the inside out if you consider it nutritious. ... God wants my yes. He wants my obedience. He wants me to give and love and pour myself out for others, not because it makes me feel good or look good or seem "good." He wants me to pour myself out as a praise offering to Him – so that He gets the glory. I don’t want the glory – I really do not, because it would be a cotton candy faith that dissolves the second I’m faced with any sort of challenge."

"Mel's Amazing Black Bean Salsa" by Kristin Smith :: Really, I've made this recipe several times now, including twice just this week. It's delicious. And easy. Both Kristin Smith and recipe creator Mel Schroeder are good ones to follow along on this big 'ole Internet.

"Today I'm Starting a New Book: Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist :: Well, this is exciting. A favorite author writes on a topic I'm always needing to learn more about. "Present over perfect, indeed. This is life, this is family, this is the great beautiful brave spectacular adventure that is plain old everyday life, and it promises to remind you over and over that perfect is a myth, and that perfect breaks our backs and breaks our hearts. Real life is in the homework, in the shattered glass, in the apologies and kisses and walks to the bus stop. And that’s what this book is about. ... I’m aching to move from exhaustion to passion, from comparison to connection. I want to forgive myself for all the things I’m not, all the things I’ve been trying so hard to be. And I want to hold out my hand and invite the people I love into that same compassion, for ourselves, for one another. I want to be free to love wildly, to be silly, to fail and try again because bravery is worth infinitely more than staying safe on the sidelines, afraid to look foolish. I’m discovering, inch by inch, a new way of spiritual living–less striving, more receiving. More love, less hustle."

"First Friday Book Faves" at Circles of Faith :: If you're looking for some book recommendations, Circles of Faith writers (me included!) shared what we're reading. Come join the conversation!

From "Memory Maker" by Carlos Whittaker :: "And that, my friends, is what Moment Making is all about — using time to create a story worth reading. Not everyone is going to write a book about their lives and sell it on bookshelves. But we all write a story through our lives that will be read by those around us. And through that, we have an opportunity to have an impact by touching just one other person. And that, by extension, will change the world."

From "Breaking Free" by Beth Moore :: "A wide gulf lies between thanking God for our wonderful victories and pointing people to God as the One and only Sovereign victorious."

Have you read anything good the past couple of weeks? What's on your weekend agenda?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

To Nap or Not To Nap?

My mom has told me I was a terrible at taking naps when I was a toddler.

Turns out, nothing has really changed.

Really, I bet the total naps since Cate was born more than seven years ago is less than 10. No wonder I didn’t like middle-of-the-night feedings with my babies. Speaking of babies, that’s me and newborn Cate in the picture above when we were still hanging out in the hotel room in Indiana waiting for the clearance from state adoption officials to head home to Kentucky.

Back to the subject at hand, I still get so restless when I even think about taking a nap.

Take today for instance: I didn’t sleep well from 3 to 4 o’clock this morning – although that shouldn’t be classified as morning – so I’ve been dragging today. Starting last night, I’ve been congested and achy. I went to sleep fine, but then was hot and restless when I woke up well before the sun came up. I read some on my phone and then moved to the couch to finish up sleeping until 6:45 a.m., which is a more respectable morning time. I woke up with a headache, congested nose, itchy throat, and tired eyes.

I had a busy morning of tending to work responsibilities for the two lake houses I manage and ran a couple other errands while my kids were both at school. I really prefer to be home when my kids are at school because they really are pretty good errand-running assistants and I can be oh-so productive at home when they’re not here – think writing, reading, doing laundry, cleaning the house, and organizing. But that just wasn’t going to happen this morning.

So I started thinking about napping. I figured Wednesday was a good day to try it. Cate gets out of school early on Wednesdays, so it gives us more time at home in the afternoons. I had a good plan: The kids could rest in their rooms and then watch a movie while I napped.

Well, they rested. Quietly. Exactly to the 2:30 p.m. time I designated.

And I laid in my bed, totally restless and wondering why I thought napping was a good idea. Being in bed in the middle of the day makes me think of everything possible I would rather be doing with my time: Reading. Writing. Blogging. Scrapbooking. Digging into “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore. Reading more of “Moment Maker” by Carlos Whittaker.

So I watched two episodes of “Private Practice” on Netflix on my Kindle Fire and mostly ignored my phone. That’s like resting, right? Yes indeed, especially for the mom who rarely ever turns the TV on for herself during the day.

Call it a mental nap. But it’s the best napping I have in me.

Even when I’m sickly.

And, yes, I pretty much drafted this blog post in my head while watching Addison Montgomery and company. Hey, it’s more restful than making the grocery list I need to make or sweeping the crumb-filled floor under the kitchen table.

Do you take regular naps? How about when you’re sick?

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{Review} What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

Holley Gerth writes like she’s sitting next to you at the table. I can say this with certainty because I’ve had the opportunity to sit next to and near Holley at a few meals. Her words in person echo the words of her books.

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days” is Holley’s newest devotional that officially releases today. With verses from Psalms as her foundation, this is the kind of book you can tuck away in your purse – especially if it’s as big as mine – for encouragement on the hard days. Specifically, there are 52 truths she wants you to hold on to. Each chapter has a title that describes the character of God, a passage from Psalms, a devotional that’s based in real life, and a few lines to pray and journal.

As I was reading different chapters recently, I underlined lines I wanted to remember, thought about my own hard days, and prayed for friends walking through their own darkness. My favorite – I think, this is likely to change on a different day – was “God Knows Your Calendar.” If you’ve been around me, you know about my calendar. I make lists, plan parties, schedule activities and free time, and document dates. Sometimes forget I’m not in charge of my time.

Our days will have trouble. Sometimes we squander these days, thinking we’ll have all the time we want to make things right. Holley talks about how the memories of the days that have been – you know, the ones you keep circled on the calendar in your mind – eventually jolt us awake.

“We treat time like treasure instead of trash. That’s the hidden gift of trouble: it makes all that’s good and beautiful and true stand out like stars in a night sky. We learn to count our blessings and make our days count.” {page 143}

In the pages of “What Your Heart Needs of the Hard Days,” Holley shares about walking through infertility, being encouraged herself by the people in her life, living while waiting even when it hurts, and believing God is who he says he is. And when she does, she encourages others to keep living for and believing in the Creator of this world and its people, the One who delivers, redeems, accepts, hears our tears, gives joy, prepares, and protects.

Holley Gerth is a bestselling writer, certified life coach, and speaker. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her popular blog and books like “Youre Already Amazing,” “Youre Made for a God-Sized Dream,” and “Youre Going to Be Okay.” Shes also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring. Holley lives with her husband, Mark, in the South. 

And I have some fun news! Holley is hosting an online book club. Learn more here. Or like her Facebook page to keep up. 

I received a free copy of “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days” from Revell Books in exchange for a review as part of this blog tour. This post does include affiliate links. 

I linked up this post with Creative Home Keeper's monthly Book Notes

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Monday, September 1, 2014

7 Things I Learned in August

Yes, it's September already. Hello, the month that begins fall. But I want to reflect on August before I forget the whole month, which is entirely possible because I've been forgetful lately. 

1. NEEDTOBREATHE has some great new live music.
You can thank me later when you stop listening long enough to do something else. Listen here.

2. All my Kindle highlights are in one place online.
{Get to yours right here. Notice the "Your Highlights" link at the top of the page.} My blogging friend Ashley told me about this awhile ago, but I hadn't really used it until recently. Silly me; it's fabulous.

3. Lisa Harris writes good fiction books.
I had her two Southern Crimes series books on my Kindle and read them both in less than a week. I can't remember the last time I read an entire book in one day, but "Fatal Exchange" was the book for me this past Saturday. I do recommend reading "Dangerous Passage" first. They're both packed with action and good messages. She has a new one coming out at the end of the year and, yes, "Hidden Agenda" is already on my Amazon Wish List.

4. Launching an ebook is going to be fun. 
I poured my heart and much time into writing my ebook. Writing those 24,000 words was a therapeutic, inspiring process, but I am really excited about the launch I have planned. {In case you missed it, I'm forming a launch team. Read more here, if you're interested in joining us.}

5. Seasons are good. 
I'm never ready for school to begin again, but once it does, the routine is good. Seasons are meant to change. And, with that, I'm admitting I'm ready for the humid days to be over for awhile. I'm a summer girl, but I'm ready for some fall days. I want to wear sweatshirts, eat candy corn, watch some Murray State football, watch my kids play soccer, go camping, use our new deck, and eat soup.

6. There is a Bible verse that sums up one of the reasons I write.
"Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does." Psalm 96:3 (NLT) Isn't that lovely and true? {The other reason I write is for my personal therapy!}

7. I miss being in a women's Bible study. 
So I'm starting one. Our first meeting is this week, in fact. We're going to do Beth Moore's "Breaking Free," which I picked out from my own personal need knowing I probably wasn't alone.

How was your August?

I'm linking up this monthly post with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky.  Here are previous month's recaps from 2013: June. July. August. September. October. November. And from 2014: January. February. March. April. May. June. July.

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{Circles of Faith} Perfection is an illusion

“We don’t have mango salsa anymore. It was seasonal.” Sure, it’s just a topping for my three-cheese nachos at Qdoba, but my perfected combination of flavors was disrupted.

“OK, give me the mild pico de gallo.” I settled for my next favorite.

But sometimes we build something after some trial and error that seems so perfect.

That’s how the nachos with queso, black beans, grilled veggies, shredded cheese and mild mango salsa were for me this summer. One afternoon not long before the kids returned to school, we met my husband for lunch. When I sat down with the not-quite-favorite nachos, mourning the disappearance of the mango salsa, I realized perfection is fleeting.

There are moments when perfection seems attainable, but that’s a trap. Every time.

Over the nachos that really did taste good, my husband reminded me about how pitchers can throw a perfect game but the next time on the mound a runner gets to base. Nobody throws back-to-back perfect games because perfection is just an illusion.

Unless you’re Jesus.

He’s perfect and he’s perfecting us.

{Read the rest of this post at Circles of Faith ...}

I'm linking this post with the weekly Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood Gathering

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