Let’s Chat: May Edition

Reading Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan and Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup.

Hoping to establish some sort of basic eating and sleeping schedule with Adeline before I return to work… I think we are making some progress here!! So far I’m seeing she likes to sleep until 9-10ish, stay awake for a while, snooze sometime around 11-1, snooze again sometime in the afternoon, and is awake again sometime around 4-6. We’ve been starting the “bedtime routine” somewhere in the 8pm hour each night.  We will see how much this holds up! 

Watching “Friends” and “Last Man Standing” with Jacob on Netflix.

Listening to Adeline’s grunty sleepy noises. All the heart eyes here. 

Clicking all over Google for every baby question you can imagine.

Wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans, lots of loose-fitting tops for easy breastfeeding, and my Happy Wrap!

Craving homemade chocolate chip cookies and tons of Dunkin’s cookie dough iced coffee. But really just coffee in general. I think I’m making up for my aversion to it in my first trimester. 

Writing in Adeline’s baby book!! It’s so fun to record all the “firsts” and summarize each month so far. I love the style of the calendar baby books and I’ve been using some of my Messy Box supplies to dress it up a bit! (See photo above)

Feeling so grateful to be Adeline’s mom. And extremely grateful for God’s unimaginable provision throughout her story so far. And on a less weighty note, feeling so good to have my body back! It feels great to be the sole occupant these days :). 

alllll the fruit and anything else I can eat with one hand. 

Praying for a smooth transition back to work in a couple weeks AND for a good “first flight” experience with Adeline later this month!! I’m also praying for the discipline to develop a new morning devotion routine. I had been doing so well getting into the Word this year, but having a baby really threw me for a loop!! I got up during Adeline’s last sleep interval yesterday morning to read and get some things done and that worked really well!! I’d love to try to make that a habit as much as I can! 

What I read: March 2016

While the early arrival of our sweet little girl threw a wrinkle in my reading groove, I still checked quite a few books off my list last month!

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass Series, Book #2)by Sarah Maas // ***** Fiction/Fantasy. This has been such a fun series to get lost in! I loved the twists and turns in this book – it kept my attention and delight just like the first book. (See my book #1 review here.)

More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger // ***** Non-Fiction/Self-Help. I’ve been borderline obsessed with getting rid of STUFF in our lives (see this post for proof), but this book was a great reminder that it’s not about just clearing space in our lives. It’s about being generous to others with what we have. I loved the author’s perspective and relationship with Clarence. This book tangibly challenged me to grow in generosity in several new ways.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty // ***** Fiction. This was a great read – one where I totally got sucked into the world these characters lived in. This was a twisty, great plot that kept my attention and surprised me again and again. Loved the author’s style – I’ve come to really enjoy her books!

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass Series, Book #3) by Sarah Maas // *** Fiction/Fantasy. This was by far my least favorite in the series so far. It seemed to delve so much deeper into this weird fantasy world and SO MUCH was happening with all the narrative focus changes. I lost interest in this not very far in and really only finished because I was already invested in the main characters. It felt long and very drawn out. (See my book #1 review here.)
Want more book reviews? Check out what I read in January and February.

Here’s what’s coming down the line for next month: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Great Expectations: the Essential Guide to Breastfeeding by Marianne Neifert, Finding Spiritual White Space: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray, Heading Home with Your Newborn: from Birth to Reality by Laura A. Jana and more I haven’t even started yet!:)

What have you read lately and loved? I’m always looking to add more to my GoodReads “to read” list! If we haven’t connected on GoodReads yet, let’s connect!

8 Books you don’t want to leave 2015 without

2015 was the year of discovering GoodReads for me. For those of you who don’t know, GoodReads is a social media tool for organizing your book lists. You can track what you want to read and what you have already read, as well as see what your friends are reading!

As a book lover, I love having all my “to reads” in one place, as well as all of my book reviews in one place! After finishing a book, I usually try to give it a rating so that I can remember later what I thought about the book. If I really loved (or hated) the book, I’ll also write a review. One of my favorite features, though, is seeing what other people are reading. Hence my ever-expanding “to-read” list.

My goal last year was to read 30 books, but I actually read 42! I won’t bore you with all of them, but I do want to share my top 8 from this past year.

8. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community
by Andrew Marin (5 Stars) – I wavered on whether or not to put this one on my list, but it was definitely in my top eight this year. This topic of conversation can be a bit… heated, to say the least, in Christian circles, unfortunately. I’ve been trying to do some research in forming my opinions on this topic, and this book was incredibly illuminating. In light of the damage much of the Christian community has cast onto this group of people, this book did a great job humanizing the topic and encouraging conversation. I’d highly recommend it.

7. Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God
by Bob Kauflin (5 Stars) – This book is geared toward worship pastors and worship leaders, but it was super encouraging for me as a new worship pastor! Not much of it was eye opening material, but it was full of great reminders that easily get lost in the week in, week out routine of scheduling people and songs, working with volunteers, etc. This will probably be a book I come back to time and time again when I need some encouragement or just fresh eyes for how to better lead my ministry!

6. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears
by Mark Batterson (4 Stars) – This is an awesome book for anyone looking to reinvigorate her prayer life. This book fueled a new fire within me for praying truthfully and radically for things going on in our lives. I will probably put this on my list to read again this year! Jacob also got me the Draw the Circle
40 day prayer challenge companion for this book for Christmas, so I can’t wait to dig into that.

5. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
by Julia Cameron (5 Stars) – I did this book with two of my close friends last year. It’s definitely a commitment once you start: it takes 12 weeks if you follow the design and complete the tasks each week. And while it was sometimes hard to keep up with in the midst of my daily life, it was an extremely encouraging and creatively re-fueling process. Last year was a healing year for me – I felt burnt out from blogging and the creative elements it entails, but was still searching for my own creative self outside of blogging. This book was a healing tool for me and I’d recommend it to all of my blogging and creative friends!!

4. What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty (5 Stars) – This book was so fun and entertaining! It’s another quick read for someone who loves to get lost in the world of fiction. It was also all the rage last year, so you’ve probably heard of it;).

3. All God’s People: An Exploration of the Call of Women   by John E. Phelan Jr. (5 Stars) – YES YES YES. This book. I read this one with another friend who wanted to explore this topic and this (very short!) book was extremely illuminating and thought provoking. It did not answer all my questions or feed me a tidy theology on the subject of women in the church, but it helped me to more solidly question the things I had always wondered about, but couldn’t defend well. It helped me to feel uncomfortable with where we are as a Church today, not just due to unsure feelings, but because of Scripture and Jesus’ attitude toward his people.

2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
by Jen Hatmaker (5 Stars) – I recommend this book for anyone who has ever questioned any part of how you spend your time, money, resources, etc. Hatmaker graciously shatters your reality as she goes through this experiment of hers, but keeps you laughing the whole way. I love her down to earth attitude and desire to not let the life we’ve been given slide through her fingers. I was so convicted by this book in a way that inspired me to move forward and make changes to my life.

1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (5 Stars) – This book was so intriguing! It pulled you through all the emotions of a family experiencing the death of one of their own and trying to understand it. Race, parental expectations, social struggles… all of it was so real and heartbreaking, I wanted to stop reading because my heart hurt so much. But I’m glad I didn’t stop. The premise of the story and the way it was written was incredibly well done. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a quick but engaging read!

Happy reading, book worms!

December Goals

Enjoy this season.

It’s our first Christmas in New England. Already our calendars are full with a baby shower I’m hosting this weekend, youth group Christmas parties, staff Christmas parties, small group dinners, youth sponsor parties, etc. It’s a lot. But in it all, it’s a season of recognizing all the blessings around us: a wonderful, family-like church home, great jobs, great friends, an apartment we love, HEAT, and a husband to live with all my days.

A girl can’t ask for much more. So this month I’m not going to focus on checking things off my list. I’m going to focus on being present, loving my husband, and saying “thanks” a lot. I’m also going to spend a lot of time in the Word.Here’s to aiming to enjoy every moment this month instead of getting from one moment to the next. What are your goals for December?

My 10 Secret Dreams

I’m going to be really honest here. Sometimes I feel like I’m overflowing with dreams and I can’t hold onto them long enough to make them a reality. I feel so pulled in every direction it’s hard to even know where to start.

Well, I know where to start. It starts with being intentional about my time. My life here is so short – in a blink it will be gone, and the last thing I want to do is spend it being lazy, watching too much TV or complaining about everyone around me.

I want to dream big dreams, chase them and encourage my friends to do the same. I want to love Jacob well and lead him in loving Christ beyond anything else. I want to do things. So today I’m sharing the 10 secret dreams (some not-so-secret) that I’m committing to making a reality in my life. Won’t you dare to dream a little and share yours, too?

1. Write a book.

2. Start a band. Write and record music and play as much as we can.

3. Love my job.

4. Memorize an entire book of Scripture.

5. Write music for my church.

6. Mentor other women in pursuing their dreams and believing the gospel.

7. See the world.

8. Live honestly, transparently, and with freedom from the bondage of others’ approval.

9. Love my husband wildly and devotedly.

10. Grow every day, no matter how (seemingly) little. I want to be changed, molded, and crafted into the very nature of Christ himself. That doesn’t happen accidentally.

Tell me, what are your secret dreams? What do you want to do in your life? Don’t be shy! Don’t be scared! Writing it out is the first step to realizing you can make it happen.

I’d love to cheer you on.

Just add a belt.

Just Add a Belt Fashion Inspiration
Just Add a Belt Fashion Inspiration
Just Add a Belt Fashion Inspiration
Just Add a Belt Fashion Inspiration

This outfit was so fun to put together! I recently got this dress from Pink Blush (for $15!!) and it’s become one of my new favorite pieces. It’s so versatile and so comfortable. That’s why dresses are one of my favorite fall clothing items – you look so cute, but secretly you know it’s all about comfort. ;)For those of you who commented last week about how green it was here.. I beg to differ! Ha! These trees are so bare it’s sad… it’s proof winter is really right around the corner. Although, we have yet to get any snow! And I’m thankful for that. I know it’s bound to come, and once it comes, it doesn’t go away… so I’m embracing these snow-free chilly days.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with the youth group this past Sunday and it was so fun. We all brought our favorite food items (which for some students was a pack of tacos from Taco Bell…) and ate too much, laughed, and spent time together.

The sad part for me is that it’s already November 25th, and I’ve hardly spent time this month reflecting on all the things I’m so thankful for. I know Thanksgiving is just a day, and that we should be thankful every day for these things, but it is nice to have a reminder once a year to just slow down and name those blessings, right?

So today I’m going to take a few seconds to name 10 things I’m thankful for. Will you tell me one or two things you’re thankful for in the comments?

1. Clothes – not only that I have more than enough, but also that I am able to choose how and when to wear them.

2. My apartment – that it’s warm, filled with food and furniture and a place we can invite others into to enjoy community.

3. Our new home city – moving to New England has been so great for our marriage.

4. The ability to travel for holidays – I’m so looking forward to seeing my in-laws this week. That’s the downside of living so far away: it’s been way too long since I’ve seen them.

5. New friends – God has blessed us abundantly with new friends in New England. I’m so thankful for them because God teaches me so much through community.

6. Old friends – He has also blessed us with friends who don’t waver, despite the distance. You know who you are. Thank you.

7. Technology – not only does it make it easier to communicate with people far away, but it has given me this opportunity to blog.

8. YOU – thank you for reading this blog and leaving encouraging comments. You have no idea how much that builds me up and spurs me on!! THANK YOU.

9. The freedom, security, and hope we have in the gospel – I can’t imagine what life would look like not knowing the truth of the Gospel.

10. My dear husband – he is absolutely my best friend. I love coming home to him, laughing, goofing off, planning our futures together and dreaming about this short life we have to live. He is such a gift.

You can shop a similar look here:

I’m linking up with Maegen and Jana for The Creative Closet. Check out their belted looks!