Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Things I Learned in January

January and I have a history. 

It's the month I decided to follow Jesus two decades ago, we met Cate's birth mom nine years ago, Greg proposed 14 years ago, Ben's adoption was finalized six years ago, and I was diagnosed with diabetes 12 years ago. In 2012, it was January when decided to adopt a third time, and while we waited more than three years for that to happen, I remember the day God freed me from those fears. Last January, we decided to go on a mission trip to Guatemala, a trip that's still rocking my world.

So, yeah, January. 

Honestly, this January hasn't had big moments. Rather it's been the kind of month where I've felt settled with where I am and who I am. I see God working in the everyday moments. I get teary thinking about all that God has done for us, in Januarys and all the other months of our lives.

In no particular order, here some things I've learned this month ... 

1. Snow days are the best.

Okay, so, really, I'm a summer girl. But if we're going to do winter, let's have some snow days! And then when the snow days are over, let the sun come out and the snow melt. Clearly, I'm an all-or-nothing girl too.

And, yes, I've had snow days before, but we had a couple in one week (the same week the kids already had that Monday off in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.) and having everybody home FOR TWO DAYS PLUS THE WEEKEND was so great.

One snow day was a Wednesday, and then the roads were fine enough for a delayed-start school on Thursday, which worked out well because I needed to go to the grocery. And then more snow came so the kids were off school again Friday. Hello, long weekend! And Greg stayed home Wednesday and Friday too, which is a definite perks of owning his own business.

We played games, ate warm foods, drank hot chocolate, made snow cream, and hung out with neighbor friends. One day our best friends were even here for eight hours. We managed to play five games of various versions of Settlers of Catan while the kids enjoyed each other's company.

The whole third week of January was a sweet balance of each of doing our own things and hanging out together as a family.

2. Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa (Milk Chocolate) is the best packaged hot coca.

I don't drink hot drinks. Not coffee. Not tea. And I used to only want real hot chocolate, like the kind my mother-in-law makes or the kind that comes from a coffee shop. But I bought this on a whim in January. And we liked it so much I bought it again. And, well, those snow days I mentioned gave us ample opportunity to heat some milk to mix with these packets.

3. Strep throat can still happen even when someone doesn't have tonsils. 

Ben, who is 6 years old, and strep throat are not strangers. Since he was 11 months old, he's had it 16 times. But only two of those have been since his tonsils and adenoids were removed nine months ago. So, basically, we've had a good stretch lately.

Ironically, Ben was at the allergist the day before his latest strep diagnosis and the nurse practitioner even looked in his throat, which was red and irritated by the time the pediatrician looked at it. Within hours of leaving the allergist, Ben started running a fever. The pediatrician did say the way the winter weather has been back and forth around here is hard on kids with allergies.

4. Technology makes managing a chronic condition more efficient and fun. 

Medtronic Diabetes has the best customer service of any company I've ever used for anything. When I called to order some glucose sensors (a little piece of technology that is inserts near where my pump is inserted and monitors my blood sugar levels) and the lady told me I could get a free Connect , which is a small Bluetooth device that lets my pump and sensor communicate send data to an app on my phone.

{Read more here about my diabetes diagnosis 12 years ago and what living with a pancreas that doesn't produce insulin in like.}

5. Those DVR shows will have to wait. 

Greg and I started watching "The West Wing" when all our regular shows took a holiday break. Now there are multiple episodes of "Madam Secretary," "Blue Bloods," and "The Blacklist" on the DVR just waiting for us. We can't stop watching Josiah Bartlet and company.

{Speaking of President Bartlet, why is Jed a nickname for Josiah?}

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman, like I do at the end of every month. 

{2013} JuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
{2014} JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Taking the Steps {a #ThreeWordWednesday post}

I want to get back to walking regularly. I don’t really love exercising, but I do love clearing my head, catching up with a friend if I’m able to walk with her, and reading a book while I want on the treadmill.

One recent morning, I got on the treadmill with a library book – “The Lake House” by Kate Morton – and started walking. I read a few pages, but combination of the font size and lighting (or lack thereof!) in the room made me strain as I was bouncing from the steps on the treadmill. Note to self: THIS is why I prefer my Kindle while walking on the treadmill.

So I closed the book, scrolled through Facebook and then sorted thoughts in my head. And I realized with each step I took, I wasn’t actually going anywhere. And isn’t that like life sometimes?

I know it’s how I’ve felt this week. I’ve struggled to find a groove – in chores, in errands, in writing – coming off a week that had my kids going to school twice and lots of fun family time. Last week was like an unplanned staycation and I loved every minute of that not going anywhere.

I’ve been in life seasons that had me stuck too. We waited a long time to have a baby the first time and even longer for our third. I’ve waited for healing to come in relationships. And I’ve waited for God to say, “Now.”

We take steps that we hope to move us forward but days and months and maybe even years later we find ourselves in the same place. And, you know, sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes God has us where he wants AND HE WANTS US TO STAY THERE.

Yes, there are times God calls us to go elsewhere.

But many times, being brave means taking the small steps, knowing full well our environment is going to stay the same. Even then, though, we’re not going to be the same because when we take the small steps toward a great big God, we’re changed from the inside out (Romans 12:1-2).

So take those steps, seek God, and be grateful for where you are. {Tweet that.}

Call the friend and invite her in – in your house and into your life. Tell your story – and not necessarily to the masses but to the friend you know needs to hear it. Be willing to teach your kids counter-culture ways, even when that’s hard and goes against “what everyone else is doing.” Eat meals around the table. Play games with your kids.

Right in there in the midst of life, of feeling like you’re taking all the steps but going nowhere, God is working. He’s weaving together these small details of our days into stories. {Tweet that.} And I get the feeling these are the stories we’ll remember when we’re in a different season, wondering how time escaped so quickly and praising God for what he has done.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Breaking Busy {a review}

I wore busyness like a badge. I defined a successful day by how much I got done. I wanted everyone else to multi-task at my pace.

And then I had kids.

My idol of productivity still creeps in after more than eight years of motherhood. But the changed started happening when little people started depending on me.

Especially this third one who comes after an almost-six-year gap. In these first four months, she’s reminding me to slow down and cherish the moments.

I’m not the same person I was when I got married, or welcomed our first daughter home, or our son 30 months after that.

I don’t wear busyness as a badge anymore. Yes, I still have to remind myself that my to-do list doesn’t have to dominate my days. I still have fight the temptation to bow down to productivity as an idol.

But at least now I know better and recognize the importance of breaking busy.

At the end of 2015, I read Alli Worthington’s “Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy,” which solidified what I’ve been learning the last several years. It’s a practical, real book with plenty of advice worth hearing and real life tales to make you giggle.

Just look at the chapter topics: Capacity. Relationships. Calling. Editing. Thoughts. Traditions. Time. Decisions. Communication. Worth. Those are all relevant to everyday life – the routines and motions that make up our usual days and the bigger picture of life.

It’s when we slow down enough in our ordinary days that God gives us a glimpse of the big picture – of what he has for us. “Breaking Busy” reminded me that God has me where he wants me, but trying to control everything around me conflicts with my calling to serve him.

“God has set our feet on a path that leads to where and how we can live out our calling. We often make ourselves very busy because we are searching for our calling. But it is when we slow down and choose to be busy only when what we are doing is our God-given purpose that we can see where God is leading us.”

Later in the book, Alli talks about how she had to make a choice about believing God – and that’s a choice we all have to make if we’re going to let go of the desire to control our lives.

“At that moment I had to decide whether I was going to keep living as if God wasn’t truthful, or if I was going to live like I believed that the God of the universe, who knit me together in my mother’s womb, was good and would bring me what I needed each day.”

Knowing God is enough and provides all we need is the essence to breaking busy. {Tweet that.} We don’t have to work harder and do more to prove our worth. Yes, we need to care for what he’s given us – and sometimes that’s hard work – but we’re loved just as we are.

In “Breaking Busy,” Alli also contrasts worry and anxiety – which is important for all the pressure society puts on us to be more, look better, exercise more, eat this and not that, be there and here at the same time, and maintain perfection in the process.

We can’t be all things to all people, but we can be our best selves to the people who matter most and the people God calls us to serve. We can have hard days and still be grateful for what we have and where we are. Like Alli said, “Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety.”

The last few years have been packed with lessons on letting go, not worshiping productivity, trusting God and believing his promises, and choosing joy. And this book ties so much of that together for me.

ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Breaking Busy” marries popular secular research from the fields of social and positive psychology with solid biblical principles, instilling readers with the confidence that they, too, can move from crazy busy to confident calm.

The 207-page book officially releases today (Jan. 26) from Zondervan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Alli Worthington is an author, speaker, blogger, and the executive director of Propel Women. Her goal is to help women live the life they were created to live. Alli co-founded BlissDom Events and has helped individuals, small business owners, and Fortune 500 companies be more successful. Alli’s no-nonsense, guilt-free take on motherhood, parenting, and balance has led to appearances on TODAY and Good Morning America. She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, their five sons, and their rescued dog and cat, who moved onto their doorstep. You can connect with Alli at

I received a free, advanced copy of this book to read as part of the launch team. All opinions here are my own. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rachel @ 4 months {and some #ThreeWordWednesday reflections}

I know, it’s #ThreeWordWednesday, and you’re expecting some insightful reflections on what God is teaching. But, honestly, I just don’t have them right now. I’ve been overwhelmed – in a good way, the kind of way that only comes from God – with what God has done.

We’re blessed beyond my wildest dreams – we’re a family of five knit together in God’s perfect way, my husband’s business is successful, we have a community of people who love us and share their lives with us.

With those blessings, comes great responsibility. Some days I know exactly what that looks like for us, and other days I feel like I’m floundering.

“… For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

A God-sized Dream friend sent me “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World” by Kristen Welch as a delayed secret Santa gift. I say delayed, it was really right on time. Read the subtitle: How one family learned that saying no can lead to life’s biggest yes.

The book may rock my world. I feel like God is preparing us for … something. I just started reading it yesterday and was nodding in agreement that parenting can be hard because I believe God has called us to a different standard than the one our society teaches.

Beyond that, I just don’t have much. (Yet.) Well, actually, I have a million thoughts but many of them aren’t connected (yet …), so I’m going with the simple documentation of life today because my baby girl is 4 months now.

(I know, I don’t know how it’s possible either. But it’s true, as of yesterday.)

She’s still happy, smiley, and a good sleeper. And every day is evidence she is perfect for our family.

And by good sleeper I mean she’s been sleeping nine-hour stretches at night, usually from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The last couple nights, she’s gone to bed around 8 p.m. and then I’ve fed her a couple hours after that. It’s what we like to call a dream feed because she doesn’t really even wake up, so that’s really more like an 11-hour stretch … good girl!

And by happy and smiley, I mean she is content as long as you have her bottles ready when she’s hungry. She’s been eating 6-7 ounces every 3-4 hours – which the nurse said was a lot. Hence the growth, I suppose: She weighs 14 pounds 7 ounces (that's double her birth weight!) and is 24 3/4 inches long.  She likes to babble, chew on anything, observe everyone and everything, and hang out on her play mat. She drools and spits up regularly.

She prefers being in the same room with people, which is why I think she prefers napping in her swing. She sleeps in her crib at night but had been rejecting the attempts to sleep in there during daytime hours, BUT the last couple days have included MULTIPLE NAPS IN HER BED.

She scoots some on her back and can roll from her belly to her back, but otherwise she’s still stationary. (I realize that could change in any moment.) I’m over carrying the car seat carrier thing, which is fine because she likes the wrap and the stroller.

That’s a glimpse into one of the greatest blessings of our lives. She’s little, but her life is mighty. She’s already changed me and I have the feeling God will use her for even more.

Look back on Rachel’s growth :: One month. Two months. Three months.


AND #ThreeWordWednesday friends, I had a Facebook party the other night and the giveaways are still open. Of course, come on over to my Facebook page, where the conversations are always open. Anyway, the giveaways will be open through today {Wednesday}, so be sure to enter to win! 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It was a {Facebook} party!

I had a Facebook party last night, but the beauty of social media is if you missed it, the posts are still there. So, better later than never, come join me on my Facebook page ... and enter some giveaways while you're there. Or I'm linking to all the giveaways here in once place to make your life easier.

by Sara Frankl & Mary Carver AND a $10 Amazon card

"You're Loved No Matter What" by Holley Gerth
"Chasing God" by Angie Smith
"Bread & Wine" by Shauna Niequist

Sweet Birdie Blessings' Spirit of Adoption necklace

Slugs & Bugs' Sing the Bible Vol. 2
Jesus Culture's Let It Echo

Trades of Hope bracelet
Infinity Scarf


Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Friday, January 15, 2016

Salvation's Tide is Rising {a music review}

While listening to “Salvation’s Tide is Rising,” Passion’s newest worship album, I was reminded our faith is active. Yes, there’s often a moment we choose to believe for the first time. But faith is made up of many decisions to choose Jesus over and over again.

Each time I listen to the album, I come away with a different favorite song, although “Remember” – the third track featuring Brett Younker – keeps striking me.

“Down in the valley, when waters rise
I'm still believing
Hope is alive
All through the struggle and darkest day
I'll remember the empty grave …”

{From “Remember”}

Faith is active – even when we don’t know what tomorrow holds. As Christians, we choose Jesus regardless of the circumstances. “I Turn to Christ” – the sixth track that features Matt Redman – is a beautiful reminder of this.

“And I turn, I turn to Christ alone
I surrender all, I surrender and I live, I live for You alone
All my heart and soul I surrender
Whatever may come my way
Whatever tomorrow holds
Let the glory of who You are stay in my soul”

{From “I Turn to Christ”}

Here’s a list of all the songs included on “Salvation’s Tide is Rising” –

  1. Salvation’s Tide – Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill
  2. My Victory – Passion featuring Crowder
  3. Remember – Passion featuring Brett Younker
  4. God and God Alone – Passion featuring Chris Tomlin
  5. Simple Pursuit – Passion featuring Melodie Malone
  6. I Turn to Christ – Passion featuring Matt Redman
  7. Your Grace Amazes Me – Passion featuring Christy Nockels
  8. All We Sinners – Passion featuring Crowder
  9. Surrender – Passion featuring Jimi Cravity
  10. Good Good Father – Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill

ABOUT THE ALBUM :: This brand new Passion album contains new studio recordings from best-selling artists Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, and Kristian Stanfill. It features new songs written specifically for Passion 2016. “Salvation’s Tide is Rising” releases Jan 29 from the Passion Conference and sixstepsrecords/Capitol CMG.

Learn more on iTunes, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

ABOUT PASSION :: The Passion Movement and the messages of founder Louis Giglio have marked the lives of millions of people around the globe, calling people everywhere to live for the glory of God. From its inception, the movement of Passion has birthed new anthems of worship, influencing countless churches and helping to define the current worship climate and establish artists Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and others. Louie Giglio is the pastor and founder of Passion City Church in Atlanta.

Since the first album release in 1998, Passion albums have sold over 1.3 million units while introducing the church to worship songs like “Our God,” “Holy Is The Lord,” “How Great Is Our God,” and “God Of This City.” Passion is coming off its best charting radio success in five years with the single “Even So Come.”

GIVEAWAY :: One of you will receive a physical CD! Y’all, it hasn’t even released yet and you could have one coming right to your mailbox! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. The giveaway is open through Thursday, Jan. 21 to U.S. and Canadian residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received a free download of this album from sixstepsrecords/Capitol CMG, thanks to FlyBy Promotions, in exchange for this review. The opinions are my own. FlyBy/Propeller Consulting is also providing the giveaway prize. If you have won a prize from FlyBy/Propeller in the last 30 days or you have won this same prize from another blog, you are not eligible to win.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Learning to pray {a #ThreeWordWednesday post}

Prayer has been one area of my faith that’s challenged me – probably because I could go for some step-by-step how-to instructions. I’ve longed for clear directions on when to pray, what to pray, why to pray and how to pray.

But truth be told, God does give me some of those instructions. He says to pray all of the time (1 Thess. 5:17) about everything (Phil. 4:6). And everyone, really. Even my enemies. And Jesus taught us to pray (Matt. 6:5-15).

Even so, I used to be reluctant to tell someone I’d pray for them. I’d find other words to use. “I hope you ...” “Let me know what I can do.”

I didn’t want to tell them I’d be praying when I doubted my ability. Yeah, the struggles of a recovering perfectionist are real, friends.

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.”

Lately, God’s been teaching me about prayer. He’s stirred up a desire in my heart to pray for people and let those prayers lead to conversations. It can still be daunting to me, which comes with the vulnerability involved.

Remembering is also important when I pray. I remember what God has done in my life. I remember the answered the prayers – some immediately obvious, others nothing like I expected, and some still in the waiting phase. I remember other people and their needs. And I remember the promises of God.

I don’t have a super organized system to how I pray, but I have been keeping a running list in my journal. It’s the same journal in which I jot down my thoughts, quotes I read, and notes from church. The journal is a hod podge of what’s happening in my head and heart – and in the lives around me.

Some days I read through my list and scriptures come to mind. I text friends as I pray for them. I sent Facebook messages when someone is on my mind.

I have conversations with God that lead to conversations with people. {Tweet that.} These prayers and conversations create bonds. And I’m learning this is the heart of God, to truly love people and pray for them. That’s certainly something I want to remember.

So, that begs the question: How can I be praying for you?

RECENT RESOURCES :: I recently watched “War Room” and read “Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God's Strength for Living” by Charles Stanley. I’m also currently doing a study on prayer through Undivided Women to kick off the new year.

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Thin Ice {a review}

Well, hello, first book of the new year. That’s what “Thin Ice” by Irene Hannon was for me.

Men of Valor is a series worth reading because the characters are so well developed. Personally, I love that the main characters in the series are brothers who are the good guys – good guys with military and law enforcement experience and moral character demonstrated by their professional and personal decisions.

The world needs more of these men, so I’m glad there are stories about them! (I previously reviewed the first Men of Valor installment, “Buried Secrets,” as well as other books by Hannon – “Hope Harbor” and “Deceived.”)

Thin Ice” is the second in the Men of Valor series and focuses on Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator turned FBI special agent. He meets Christy Reed, a former figure skater, when he begins investigating whether her sister actually died in a house fire just months after he parents died in a car accident.

Lance reopens Christy sister’s case and find surprising answers and love, of course. These romantic suspense novels have some predictability but Irene Hannon does a good job of weaving unique stories together in a way that keeps readers coming back for more.

Honestly, I found the suspect’s motive unbelievable, but, of course, that meant I had trouble figuring out exactly where the mystery was going.

Unrelated, some of the figure skating references made me want to watch “The Cutting Edge.” Toe pick!

ABOUT THE BOOK :: Bestselling author and two-time Christy Award finalist Irene Hannon warms readers’ hearts as they root for a romance between Lance and Christy, but she pulls out all the stops as this high-stakes thriller chills to the bone in a race to the finish.

Electronic and paperback versions available, 400 pages. Published Jan. 5, 2016 by Revell.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :: Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than 45 novels. Her Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series are among my favorites. Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. She lives in Missouri. Learn more at

I received a free copy of “Thin Ice” from Revell in exchange for a review. The opinions about the book are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

No performance required

My third-grade girl was nervous about a poem she had to recite at school. She knew every word to “Animal Crackers.” Sure, they came out too quickly and she could have spoken louder when she practiced in our kitchen. But she knew what she was doing.

Yet fear sneaked in. Tears came. Nerves abounded.

As I comforted her, I remembered every night before I had a school presentation when I was growing up, I would get irritable and nervous. Tears weren’t strangers to my preparations either.

But I don’t want that for her. I want her to stand in a confidence I never knew. I want her to realize she may mess up when she’s standing in front of her class, but life is okay anyway. I want her to realize her performance – with this poem or anything else – doesn’t define her.

I told her all these things. And then we opened up her bible to 1 John 4:17-18:

“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. ...”

She is loved perfectly by the one who made her. She doesn’t have to score well or speak perfectly to earn God’s affection. Sure, as her mom, I want her to do her best, but she’s already loved.

The same can be said for you and me.

Join me at God-sized Dreams, where I'm sharing the rest of this post. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reflections on Choose Joy {the concept & the book}

Joy was my word in 2015. And, honestly, I think it’s going to be my word in 2016. I know, it’s such a tiny word, but, goodness, it’s had massive effects on my heart and soul. And I know God has more to teach me.

I started the year listening to my playlist of joy songs. I counted joys on a list that started on my phone and eventually moved to my computer. And then this fall I stopped counting – not because there were no more joys, but because I saw joy all around me.

God finally broke through my stubborn heart and I heard him saying, “Kristin, your life is a string of joys. Even on the hard days, you’re richly blessed.” I mean, I’ve know that for a long time, but it’s like I know it deep down in my soul now.

My desire to control – the circumstances, people’s reactions, plans, whatever else – is what most distracts me from seeing and choosing joy. That desire to control is rooted so very deeply in my stubborn self, but I can see it now in a way I never have been able to. My husband has seen it for a long time. I know my siblings have too. And probably everybody else I know.

But as I let go, the joys abound even more.

In “Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts,” Sara Frankl quotes author Jessica Hatchigan: “There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go.”

In 2015, I learned when I let go, I’m freeing myself to be used by God – and that certainly isn’t anything I can control. I also learned I have to let go over and over again. I have to count the joys – either on paper or at least in my head – to get back to that place of loosening my grip.

God is the True Joy – the one from where all other joys come. He’s the one who truly is in control and wants to surprise us with the desires of our hearts in his time. He showed me that this year, again.

Toward the end of the year, I was able to read “Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts” by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. This book echoes what God had been teaching me on my own joy journey.

Sara dealt with health issues that slowed her life to the point she couldn’t leave her house. She passed away, but her legacy of choosing joy continues. Mary compiled Sara’s words, interviewed her friends, and added her own perspective. This hardcover book is beautiful – both inside and out.

As I reflect on 2015, this quote from “Choose Joy” pretty much sums it up:

“You shake your head and laugh at the younger version of yourself for believing life would turn out just as you imagined it. And you look back on the road you’ve traveled and marvel at his, at every turn, you were upheld and loved. You were provided for. You were sustained through every change and every challenge.” (page 135)

That’s what God has done, faithfully. And I believe that’s what He’ll continue to do in 2016 – for me and for you. The provisions may look absolutely nothing like we anticipate but they'll come as we seek the Maker of it all.

There will likely be disappointments and heartache because this world is far from perfect. But even on the hard days, we can choose joy. We can know all things really do work together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

“(Jesus) didn’t let what would overwhelm Him in the garden overshadow the beauty He trusted would come: a beauty that only God can bring from the hard. God wants to transform our hard the same way. We all know how God turned the pain of Jesus’ journey into joy for each of us. And it all started with an action, not just Jesus saying yes, but Jesus giving thanks.”
(From “Choose Joy,” page 164)

So, yes, give thanks, choose joy, and see God as the author of it all because even on the hard days something good is coming true. 

In 2015, I used #choosingJOY on social media, and I’m going to continue that in 2016. I’d love for you to join me. {Instagram is my favorite place for this, but I’m on Facebook and Twitter too.}

ABOUT THE BOOK :: “Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts” is a compilation of the lessons Sara learned while she was dying, written in her own words and sewn together by her close friend Mary Carver. It is a reminder to see the beauty in life, even when it looks nothing like you hoped or planned. And the book officially releases today!

Published by FaithWords. Hardback. 208 pages.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS :: Sara Frankl entered into the arms of Jesus on Sept. 24, 2011, but her legacy of choosing joy lives on. Sara’s writing tells about her commitment to embracing the life God had planned. Her illness stripped her of the potential for a job and family, but that didn’t stop Sara from chasing down community. You can read Sara’s story on her blog, To assist in continuing Sara’s discipleship, visit

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at She is also a regular contributor to,, and Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

I received a copy of “Choose Joy” for being part of the book’s launch team. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."

Monday, January 4, 2016

How I Read Books While Mothering Young Children

When I share the list of books I’ve read at the end of the year, people comment on the amount of books I’ve read, especially given the fact I have young kids. I’m pretty sure other people read many more books than me because, let’s be honest, I like to watch TV too.

{My books lists :: 2015. 2014. 2013.}

But, anyway, I thought I’d share some ways I manage to read books while also mothering my young children, who are currently 8 years, 6 years, and 3 months.

1. I read on a Kindle.

Say what you will about missing the physical turning of pages and the smell of an actual book, a Kindle is convenient. I can have hundreds of books at my fingertips wherever I go. And when I finish one, my next ones are right there.

I do read actual books, especially when I get them free. (See #2.) And I write in them, just in case you’re wondering. I usually also then type all the marked passages into a Word document so I have them to reference later. (Call me a nerd, whatever.) When underlining on a Kindle, Amazon saves these quotes online, which, honestly, is amazing.

2. I review books on my blog.

I get quite a few free books through launch teams and blogger review programs. The deadlines that come with the review process keep me reading too.

3. My kids are big enough to swim without me always being in the pool too.

Well, I have a baby now, but I devoured some fiction books at the pool this past summer. This summer will be a different story. Ah, seasons!

4. I read when I’m waiting or sitting ...

... at the doctor’s office, at the kids’ bus stop, when I eat breakfast, on road trips while my husband drives. And if I could get back in a walking-on-the-treadmill habit, then I’d read there too.

5. If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it.

There are way too many good books to waste time on the ones that aren’t working for me. For real, ain’t nobody got time to wait and see if a book might get good.

Fellow readers, what would you add to your list about how you make time to read?

Want more insights? "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family" is available on Amazon. 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."