Archive for Book Reviews

Weekend Edition: Copycat Shepherd’s Pie, Natural Cures, and Favorite Things

I hope you are all having a great weekend.

Some newsy stuff::

We’re in the middle of construction again and I’m super excited about this part of our renovation: my kitchen makeover. It feels surreal to be getting new kitchen cabinets and to be able to choose just what I want. Who knew that all of our water damage two winters ago would turn out to be such a blessing in disguise? After a nerve-wracking few days of color samples and trips to the paint store, I’ve decided that the cabinets will be painted Dover White by Sherwin Williams. It’s a bit whiter than I’ve used in my house before, though it has a hint of warm cream, but I want the kitchen to look bright and cheery, so I am going to warm it up with accents and lighting. I’ll be posting pictures as we go on Instagram, so if you want to follow our progress, you can find me here. (PS: If you are on Instagram, tag me so I can follow you, too.)

Recipe::

A while back I told you about a great copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory’s Shepherd’s Pie that made after I took my daughter and a couple of friends to Cheesecake Factory for dinner. It was so delish that I decided I needed to make it at home. I found a wonderful recipe at Chaos in the Kitchen (Thank you, thank you, Katie.) that I loved because it used ground beef but didn’t taste “ground beefy” if you know what I mean. I made her recipe the next day, and it was so close, but when I compared it to the leftovers, I realized it was missing something. I added a couple of things and viola–it tasted JUST like the leftovers.

So, to make this at home, use Katie’s wonderful recipe, but also add 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce and 1 tsp Dried Rosemary.

You’ll LOVE it.

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Learning::

Peter has pneumonia and doesn’t seem to be getting better. He’s on his second antibiotic, but this thing seems to be hanging on. My sister Amy is a whiz with Essential Oils, so I got a little advice from her. She gave me this recipe to help with pneumonia based on the oils I had available to me:

Mix 5 drops peppermint, 5 drops Immune Strength, and 5 drops Lemon in 2 Tbsp of carrier oil. Rub on the chest and bottom or feet.

We’ve also been diffusing Rocky Mountain Oil’s Immune Strength in the kitchen and bedroom.

I took the plunge and ordered this set of 14 oils, because it was reasonably priced and before I invested a lot into them, I wanted to make sure I’d actually use them. I also ordered clove and frankincense. When I get them I plan to make Jacqueline’s version of “Four Thieves”. So, I’ll tell you how I make out with all this oily stuff. I know it’s been used for centuries, but it feels a little awkward to me since I have no idea what I am doing. (PS–don’t get peppermint in your eye. Mkay?)

Reading::

IMG_4997I’m currently reading The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert which has been excellent. Also, Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed, which is so basic that it’s refreshing and encouraging.

Family::

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We celebrated Hope’s 14th birthday and she got the Cuddl Dud’s Cozy Soft Comforter that is the.softest.thing.ever. Seriously. I got one for Christmas and I am literally so happy to get into bed at night. It’s so bad. LOL. If you go to Kohl’s you need to feel this thing. It’s mostly sold out online.

Links I Loved::

I really enjoyed these articles from around the web:

A Place to Start for Spiritually Stuck People

Dear Women’s Ministry, Stop Telling Me I’m BeautifulIMG_5089

That’s it for now. I hope you’re enjoying your winter and finding time to enjoy the little things and taking care of your soul.

I’m interested to know what you’ve been reading and pursuing. Also, if you have any podcast recommendations, would you send them to me? I’m always looking for interesting content related to art, homeschooling, motherhood, or family life. :)

 

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting JFD. :)

 

 

 

A Newsy, Political-free Post

This is going to be newsy because I haven’t had much time to blog in a while. I’m staying off-line for the most part because of the drama/hate/turmoil of the election. It breaks my heart to see the lows of humanity and the fact that #rapeMelania is trending on Twitter makes me realize just how broken we are and how much people need the Lord.

So if I’ve been quiet and slow with answering email and messages, that’s the reason.

On the home front, the cranberry harvest is over and I’m in full holiday mode.

img_4561 In the span of one week, we’ll celebrate three birthdays (Peter, Holly, and Little B) and host Thanksgiving. Matt is flying home and I’m so thankful to have a few days with him. Plus we started construction on our home to repair the water damage from a few winters ago.

What I’ve been up to:

Crafts::

I’ve been decorating (frugally) for fall. I wanted a few little accents for Thanksgiving. I painted this old picture frame and gave it a chalk board insert for fall. (I used Olde Century Paint in Pearwood.)

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Also, I wanted a natural wood sign like you see everywhere, so I decided to make one. In the process I realized that if you stain the wood, then seal it with glossy spray sealer, you can write on it with chalk marker and make it erasable like a chalkboard. I’ve made several of these sizes for the Christmas season and for my mantle. :)

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We had a craft night with some of the kids’ friends and made these little yarn hats to hang on the Christmas tree.

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Ministry::

Hospitality continues to be one of the biggest blessings of this season and I’m always amazed at how often God opens the door when I’m sensitive to His leading. Sharing burdens, encouragement, and common grace over a hot mug of tea or coffee, all while fulfilling God’s commands and the Great Commission. What’s not to love?

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Hospitality can be intimidating, but don’t shy away from it. Don’t confuse “entertaining” and “hospitality.” One focuses on the meal, the food, your performance; the other on the person, their need, and nurturing a growing relationship. We need other people and without the input of other believers, we believe our own “press” and don’t benefit from the truth that others speak into our lives.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

If you are nervous about extending hospitality, start with having someone in for tea. Use what you have. Don’t stress over having the best of everything. Most of my dishes are mish-mash and many are things I’ve picked up at second hand shops. They aren’t there to see your things, but to spend time with you, and to get to know Christ a little better through you, and vice-versa.

Mentoring::

I’ve been helping a younger mom who is having some struggles with her kids. In the process, I’m reminded that we so often believe the lie that proper parenting guarantees that your kids won’t make mistakes. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m guilty of falling into this mindset as well. I can recall several times when our kids failed and instead of realizing that we are all sinners, I wondered where I went wrong. In my sleepless nights, I’d wondered if maybe I gave them too much leeway, or perhaps too many rules. Did I train them enough in righteousness or just give them all the dos and don’ts.

Friends, we are flawed parents who want to teach our kids the right way. But we can’t function from the mindset that our performance, wisdom, or righteousness is what “sures up” and sustains our family. We can’t measure success by an absence of sin because that is to deny what scripture teaches about all of us.

We are all sinners. You, me, everyone. So don’t be surprised when your kids mess up, and please, please, don’t shame them into thinking that they are in some special class of sinners because you are angry, embarrassed, or devastated by it.

We were never meant to parent as though it all depends on us or our performance. God is a God of grace: for you, me, and our kids.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do your job. Not at all. Do it with all your might. Heed Deuteronomy’s command to talk of God as you rise and sit and live and go your way with your kids. Teach them diligently. But don’t make perfection an idol. It’s an illusion. Make God the aim.

Meals::

I’ve been trying to save some money for Christmas, which means that I’ve been trying to do meals that are less expensive than normal. I’ve really enjoyed these frugal meals.

Quinoa Chili from Cooking Classy. My cousin, Susan, told me about this meatless chili that uses quinoa for protein. My kids even liked it. I served it topped with cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. YUM.

Shakshuska. I don’t even like eggs and I loved this. It’s inexpensive and so yummy. I served it with warm bread and lots of feta on top. Note: If you can’t eat eggs or just plain don’t like them, you could fry up some boneless skinless chicken breast slices in the oil (for protein) and then make the sauce as directed. It could be served over pasta, “fra diavalo” style.

Christmas:: My cards are almost done. Woot.

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Reading::

I’m currently reading through Colossians with Weirsbe’s Commentary and Dr. Constable’s notes , which are very helpful and free online.

Humble Roots is on sale right now for $7.73 (usually $12.99). If you haven’t read it, I’m going to be bossy and insist that you do. 😉 I’m giving it to a few friends for Christmas, it was THAT good.

Also, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin is also on sale for $7.23 if you haven’t read that yet.

Articles I appreciated::

Steward the Gift God Has Assigned to You. “Our lives are not about pursuing our dreams. Many of our dreams are self-exalting pride fantasies and gratuitously selfish when we really examine them. And the truth is, we rarely know what’s best for us and what will really make us happy. But our Designer knows.

Mothering or Smothering our Adult Children Appreciated the wisdom of this older woman.

I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for and if we don’t praise the Lord, who will?

 

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

A Few Thoughts On “Humble Roots”

Today I wanted to share a few thoughts on Hannah Anderson’s new book, Humble Roots, available now via Amazon.

Fine Print and Disclosure: I received this book free from Moody Publishers and I am part of the Humble Roots Launch Team. However, you know from reading here that I will not recommend any book that I believe to be unsound. If I find a book to be helpful as a whole, but find problematic spots, I’ll disclose that to you as well.

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It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a book like I did Humble Roots. Not only is it theologically sound, but Hannah’s writing style is gentle, descriptive, and calming.

Hannah’s book recounts her struggle with restlessness, anxiety, loss of sleep, feeling like she has to do it all, fear that she can’t do it all, and a myriad of other common symptoms that plague the modern women. She ties all of these issues back to a few common denominators: failure to rest in God, trying to do life on our own strength,  and unknown pride. She then gently unfolds what true humility looks. She explains, “Humility is not a commodity. It is not something you can achieve. It is not something you earn or accomplish. Being humble is something you either are or you aren’t.”

She uses agricultural examples to cement the truths in the book: ripening tomatoes (excerpt here), sowing seeds, root blight, grafting trees, pure honey, thorny blackberries, etc. I found her descriptions of Appalachian life endearing and refreshing, and I may or may not have spent an hour watching YouTube videos late one night learning more about the process of grafting apple trees onto common root, an example that only deepened my understanding of Jesus command to “abide in Him.”

This book was helpful to me, and went along perfectly with the Beatitudes study I told you I was doing using Jen Wilkin’s “Sermon on the Mount” inductive Bible Study.

Some favorite quotes:

“When Jesus calls us to take His yoke, when He invites us to find rest through submission, He is not satisfying some warped need for power or His own sense of pride. He is calling us to safety. The safety that comes from belonging to Him. The safety that comes from being tamed…It is understandable that we fear the yoke. We fear the loss of control. We fear surrender. But we must also understand that without the protection of a good master, we are not safe. From the manipulation of other masters. From the expectations of society. From ourselves.” pg 43

“…humility begins by remembering where we come from. Humility begins by remembering that to be human is to be dirt. Humility begins by remembering that we are “dust and to dust [we] shall return.” pg. 66

“At its root, pride confuses our identity with God’s and makes us think of ourselves as larger than we really are. But when we begin to think of ourselves this way, we expect other people to think of us like this too. Without realizing it, we begin to expect more glory and honor because we actually believe ourselves to be better than they are.” pg. 70

“The first step to engaging our resources with humility is to recognize how much we have been given. This may sound simplistic, but left unchecked, pride blinds us to God’s good gifts. Because pride convinces us that we deserve a certain experience of the world: and when something disrupts that, our pride reveals itself by complaining.” pg. 140

Her final chapter on death, the death of her beloved grandmother, and our return to the dust as the humble beings we truly are, was my favorite chapter in the book. I cried through much of it.

There are too many wonderful quotes to add to this short review but I highly recommend this book without reservation. It is one of the best books on humility I’ve read. It helped me to appreciate the humility of Jesus in a world that values and promotes self-sufficiency and self-promotion. It helped me see the loving Savior as He really is, to see the beauty of humility, and to value it just a little bit more.

I also loved, loved the simple yet beautiful pencil sketches by illustrator and artist Michelle Berg Radford.

Have you read Humble Roots? It’s now available through Amazon here.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog.

 

 

Weekend Edition

This weekend I’m sharing a few links that I think you’ll enjoy, so grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy.

I’ve been doing all the planning that comes with another school year: meal plans, curriculum choices, Bible study plan, etc, so it feels good to get some of that out of the way.

Food-wise, as soon as the weather gets crisp, I want to start making soup. I make it once a week because it’s usually frugal and it gives me an excuse to eat French bread and makes plenty for easy lunch leftovers. Rebekah was asking for some of my favorite soup recipes, so I thought I’d post them here as well.

Some great soups online::

Garlicky White Bean Soup with Greens via Nourishing Gourmet: This is so inexpensive to make and it’s delicious…and I don’t even care for bean soups usually.

Tortellini Sausage Soup via Gooseberry Patch: This soup is present at nearly every fall family gathering we have. It’s so good served with Caesar Salad and bread.

Cream of Pumpkin and Apple Soup via Wilson Farms. I love the sweetness of this soup. I’ve used canned pumpkin before with great results. Wilson Farms is a beautiful, New England farm and Lynn Wilson has a wonderful cookbook that is one of my go-tos.

Zucchini Cheddar Soup via Wilson Farms: Cheesy and delicious.

These are all family favorites. Let me know if you try them and how you liked them.

What I’m reading right now:

Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life. This is a book I return to when I need a little home making inspiration. It’s not a book that will guilt you into becoming a better homemaker. It’s one of those books that reminds you of the why behind what you do. It talks of the necessity of sheltering, clothing, and feeding the people we love the most. It connects the duties of home to Kingdom work and most importantly, it shows how it mirrors God’s watch care over us.

Favorite quotes:

“Housework is all about feeding and clothing and sheltering people who, in the absence of that daily work, would otherwise be hungry and ill-clad and ill-housed.”

She discusses how our culture spends more and more money on kitchen gadgets and cookware, while fewer people actually cook and eat at home. She discusses seasons and rhythms of life and likens them to homemaking and faithfulness.

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“Putting away things that get daily or weekly use is a way to exercise a kind of providential foresight. Having clothes ready to wear in the drawer or in the closet is part of creating an expectation that in this home we care for one another. Our needs are not a perpetual emergency but are anticipated and provided for ahead of time.”

“A well-kept house thus possesses a kind of sacramental quality. It is no substitute for either the kingdom of God or the church. But it is a kind of foretaste of the kingdom. A nurturing and hospitable home can be a reminder that God has always been in the business of making a home for people, that God desires that people should have the food and clothing and shelter associated with home, that one day our tattered and partial provision of these things for one another will be gloriously supplanted by God’s perfect provision of shining robes and a sumptuous feast in God’s own house.”

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And one of my favorite quotes:

“A Christian home overflows its boundaries; it is an outpost of the kingdom of God, where the hungry are fed and the naked are clothed and there is room enough for everyone.”

While I do have a few qualms with the book and she doesn’t write from a conservative Christian perspective, the book is extremely valuable.

The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges was published posthumously and is, not surprisingly, a blessing like his other works.  He starts with the premise that humility is the second most frequently taught character trait in the New Testament, second only to love, but is a trait that is hardly pursued or celebrated. He argues that humility is not optional, but a command of God which is enabled by grace to those who are born again. He goes through each of the Beatitudes and shows how each verse (poor in spirit, mourn over sin, peacemaker) reflects the qualities of the humble person.

A few favorite quotes:

“Instead we too often use the Scriptures not as a means of judging ourselves but as a means of judging others, especially those whose sins are more flagrant than ours. The meek person, in contrast, searches the Scriptures (or listens to it taught) not to judge others but to allow the Holy Spirit to judge him or her. In fact, the meek person earnestly desires the Spirit to use His Word to effect a deep change in his or her inner being.”

“It is often the sinful use of our tongues that causes conflict. But the tongue is only the instrument. The real problem is the heart, for Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) It is because of pride, anger, jealousy, and the like in our hearts that we speak cutting and hurtful words to one another. And it is because we nurse hurts from other people and harbor resentment in our hearts that we engage in verbal conflict.

To become peacemakers, then, we must begin with our selves. We must ask ourselves, “Why do I make cutting remarks to another person? …What causes my resentment toward that person? or “Why do I continue to nurse hurts by that person instead of forgiving them?”

I could go on…it’s Jerry Bridges and he was truly one of my favorite authors. I’m so thankful for his ministry of teaching via writing.

Sermon on the Mount by Jen Wilkin is an inductive Bible Study that covers the Beatitudes. Like all of her studies, it has been excellent. If you’ve never done an inductive Bible Study, this is a great place to start.

Jen defines a meek person as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment” …and as “someone who is not occupied with self at all, someone who does not insist on a set of rights.”

Highly recommend. In fact, I’m doing this with my teen girls this fall.

What books are you reading right now? Let me know in the comments.

Links you might enjoy:

Gossip Says More About Me via Desiring God.

Community Requires Vulnerability via Christine @ Grace Covers Me

The Ministry of Your Everyday Normal by We Are That Family

Blessed Weakness by Lydia Brownback

Projects:

I’m in the thick of choosing paint colors for several rooms in my house. We’re beginning repairs soon, and I have to have my ducks in a row for the builder. I’ve been on Pinterest searching for a great greige color. If any of you has found a warmish greige color that you really love, let me know the color in the comments or on FB. Thanks. :)

Well, that’s about it. I hope you have a GREAT weekend.

*Post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting JoyFilled Days.

 

Why the internet is wearing me down, and what I’m doing about it.

I have to be honest. This year, I’ve grown tired of the online world. I’m increasingly aware of the “rudiments of the world” that seem to stick into my heart and mind by what I see on Facebook, the news, and other social media and it’s wearing me down.

Before you think I’ve been indulging in smut online, let me tell you that I am not talking about overtly horrible stuff. We are super careful about what types of media enter our home. (Honestly, not all rated-G movies make it into our home, and I’m not kidding.)

So what’s going on?

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I think it’s pretty much the unintentional exposure to insults, foul language, derogatory talk, and constant cynicism, even within the Christian community. It’s like the Lord said that if you disagree with someone elses’s political standing then by all means–fire away your best insults and put downs in a public forum. And that’s just the language.

I’m tired of seeing things that contradict scripture brazenly posted by the people of God. I just am and I’ll leave it at that. I’m not saying that we all don’t have sin issues, we do. I do. But sin should be a source of remorse, not something shared for likes and public comment as though God thinks this is no big deal.

Are we too quick to be enamored with the world, with our stuff, other people, and our selves as though these sources are the well-spring of good gifts that come from God alone? Do we stay longer at the table of temporal delights because we believe they’ll deliver something we need like love, worth, happiness, or status?

Have we forgotten that every perfect gift is from above, from the faithful Father who never once changed in His aggressive, searching, seeking love for us?

Why do we go elsewhere again?

We’ve made big of sharing our story and we’re forgetful of the old, old story of Jesus and His redemptive, trans-formative love.

I don’t want to sound like the grouchy old lady, so I will just say that what I see affects me, so I shouldn’t  be at all surprised that this has taken a toll.

We all become like what we behold.

Your co-worker’s negativity drains you. Toxic people zap the life out of you. Print media in the grocery story. The fear-mongering news coverage. Podcasts. Cynical memes. Controversy, discord, feuds. It all changes you.

Thankfully, we know from scripture that something else changes us as well: looking into the mirror of God’s word.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor. 3:18

All this to say, a quick “devotional time” is not going to be any match for the drip, drip, drip of this world on the outside and the sin that lurks in our own hearts on the inside.

Not only do we need to be intentional about immersing ourselves in God’s word for cleansing and clarity, but we need to do more than just read. We need to cultivate our love for the Lord so that devotions aren’t just devotions, but that our lives are devoted. 

Devoted lives are driven by love for the Lord. They say no to worthless things and make time for the most important thing.

Maybe for you, you’re not sensitive to visual negativity. Maybe your weak spot is somewhere else. But whatever is slowing you down, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets us and let us run this long distance race with endurance, fixing our eyes on Christ for our inspiration, acceptance, and example.

Are you tired of the noise, too? Looking for a few good summer tools for personal Bible study and growth? If so, I hope you’ll find this list helpful as you seek to know Him more and more. Most of these are free, except for the books, so you should be able to benefit from many of these great resources.

Bible Study/Podcast: If you’re looking for a free, EXCELLENT, inductive Bible study, I highly recommend Jen Wilkin’s Hebrews study. Jen is a gifted Bible teacher, and a serious student of the Word, and that’s SO very evident as you hear her weekly podcast. I’m so thankful she is faithfully using her spiritual gifts for the benefit of the church.

Dramatized Audio Bible: If  you have young children, listening to a dramatized audio Bible as you work is a great way to fill your mind with Scripture.

Daily Audio Devotional for Kids: Kids4Truth has an excellent, simple daily devotional or biographical vignette for kids. (Some adults like them, too. ;))

20 Years of Elisabeth Elliot Newsletters: Did you know the Elisabeth Elliot’s Newletter Archive is online? Very interesting and encouraging to read.

How to Study the Word: resource page I can’t tell you how many times women have told me they study the Bible, then go on to basically say they read a commentary. I don’t have to discuss why this is dangerous. No man’s words about the Bible should replace your reading of the Bible. This page has many lessons about studying the Bible, the inductive Bible study method, etc. I also posted about the Immersion Bible Study method here.

Radio: There are many radio lessons to learn about Christian women at the bottom of this page.

Book: The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges. If my kids remember one thing about me, I hope it’s that I was a mom who loved God and who was devoted to Him. This book has helped me to see God as worthy of my devotion and praise, and has helped me to not seek only external change, but change based on love for God and hatred of sin.

Devotion to God, then, is the mainspring of godly character. And this devotion is the only motivation for Christian behavior that is pleasing to God…

It is sad that many Christians do not have this aura of godliness about them. They may be very talented and personable, or very busy in the Lord’s work, or even apparently successful in some avenues of Christian service, and still not be godly. Why? Because they are not devoted to God. They may be devoted to a vision, or to a ministry, or to their own reputation as Christians, but not to God. ~Jerry Bridges

Book: None But Him by Jen Wilkin talks about how God is different from us and discusses his attributes.

Book: The God Who Satisfies: How Jesus Seeks, Saves, and Satisfies Samaritan Women – Like Us Rebekah gave this to me and I highly recommend it.

What are your plans for summer Bible study at home? Do you have other resources to share with me? Feel free to inbox me, comment on FB or below and tell us what you’re doing.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Giveaway & Review of “A Heart Set Free” & Tea!!

I have a really great giveaway for you girls and I’m really excited to offer one of you a free copy of

A Heart Set Free by Christina Fox

PLUS

a 12 Single Serving Tea Sampler Gift Pack from Blooming with Joy Tea! Sweet!!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post!

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A little about both prizes:

A Heart Set Free By Christina Fox

Christina came to Boston a few weeks back and we had the pleasure of meeting in person. We are both part of an online writing group, and it was neat to make the  “real live” connection after being “virtual friends” for several years. We got to talk about her book a bit as we toured Boston.

On the site of the Boston Massacre

On the site of the Boston Massacre

If you have teen daughters, you’ll want to read A Heart Set Free and discuss it with them. I’m using certain aspects of it as I teach the Junior and Senior High girls in our church youth group, because, let’s face it, emotions are a huge part of our lives, and dealing with them in a godly way is something that we need to learn.

Emotions will rule you if you let them, and Christina talks about her own struggle with despair and depression, and likens them to house guests who show up unannounced and un-invited, who’ll make themselves at home and never leave if given the chance.

She walks through several Psalms and discusses how commonly we see negative emotions on display in them: anger, fear, loneliness, abandonment, despair, depression, betrayal, you name it…these negative emotions are in these “laments.” (Side note: There are more “laments” than any other type of Psalm!)

She shows us how the Psalms are helpful and instructive to us today, as we observe the way the psalmist confesses his struggles in his raw, honest prayers to God.

Christina shows us a three step pattern in the Laments that will help us when we struggle. She walks us through honestly telling God what’s going on in our heart (He already knows anyway!), encouraging us to go to Him for help, then engaging the mind to recall what we do know about God.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“One of the greatest lessons we can learn from the Psalms is the importance of expressing our feelings to God. We learn not only of its importance but also the fact that we are free to do so and God wants us to.” pg. 94

“God’s love for us is immeasurable and limitless. It is not dependent on anything we have done. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more or love us any less….It is this love that the Psalmist looked to as he waited for God’s response to his lament. Focusing on God’s love helped reshape his emotions. It restored his trust.” pg 128

“Often we allow our emotions to lead us and take precedence over our minds. The laments show us that both the mind and heart can meet together. They show us that the truth of God’s Word we have stored in our minds can lead the heart to rejoice in that truth.” p.135

“Too often our emotions tell us half-truths and sometimes even downright lies. Our emotions can exaggerate our circumstances to the point that we feel like our entire world has been flipped upside down. When we feel emotions like fear, sorrow, despair, abandonment, or worry, we need to be prepared to draw for the deep wells of God’s Word, saturating our heart with the Truth. We need to compare what we are telling ourselves with what God’s Word says.” p. 164

I really liked that this book was not super emotional and feelings driven, and not overly Spartanish either. I love Christina’s high view of God’s Word as the truth that will keep us anchored when life gets tumultuous! A great read!

About Blooming With Joy Tea Sampler Pack

Michelle from Blooming with Joy Tea has graciously offered her “12 Single Serve Sampler Pack” for this giveaway. Best thing about this prize– you get to choose the 12 tea flavors you’d like to try! Each one makes a 10 ounce cup of tea, and comes attractively wrapped in brown card stock and hand tied with jute. The winner will be given a free code where they can head over to Blooming With Joy and choose their flavors! (I love her Earl Grey Creme but you already know that!)

Side note: I am a huge believer in tucking tea into my letters and I have done so for years. (And pretty stickers and bookmarks!) These single serving teas are perfect for this!

Also, Michelle offered this coupon code to any reader who’d like to take advantage of it. Use code JOYFILLEDDAYS to receive 10% off any $30 purchase.

Contest ends Wednesday (4/27) night at Midnight!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fine Print: Contest and shipping limited to the Continental US. You must provide an address within 48 hours of winning or another winner will be chosen.

This post contains affiliate links.

Book Giveaway: The Life Giving Home!!!

UPDATE: THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNERS ARE DEBBIE S AND JENNY M!

I’m super excited to be able to offer a copy of Sally Clarkson’s newest book, the Life Giving Home, to TWO Joy-filled Days readers, courtesy of Tyndale House publishers!

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Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“One of the first obstacles I find in presenting the vision for the importance of home is the almost unconscious assumption on the part of many modern people that home is inherently a sentimental notion and that beauty is peripheral to spiritual formation. We discount our own homesickness as a form of weakness. We marginalize the beautiful. We dismiss the aesthetic as second class. WE think of beautiful spaces and comforting traditions as spiritually unnecessary and underestimate the profound importance of a safe place for growing minds and souls.” Sarah Clarkson, pg 15,16

“We must understand homemaking not as a retreat from the fallen world, not as a retrenchment from culture, but as a profound engagement with it. ” Sarah Clarkson, pg 17

No matter what has transpired throughout the day, we can close it by speaking to our children’s hearts with something like, “I love you no matter what. Please forgive me for my impatience today” or “I forgive you for your disobedience today” or “You are very precious to me. I am blessed to have you.” pg 56

“So often we get caught up in the immediate things, the practical tasks–getting the housework done, doing our jobs, checking homework, paying bills, disciplining our children. yet it is the emotional and spiritual atmosphere our children and friends breathe–the way we treat people, the foundations of the grace we live by, that will attach their hearts to ours and ultimately to God.” pg 65

“Even as an orchestra needs a conductor to choose the music, lead rehearsals, and unite all of the instruments into a harmonious sound, so every home needs someone to conduct what I call the life music of home–its atmosphere.” pg 24

To enter, use the form below and either follow us on Instagram, share on Facebook, or comment below. Easy. <3

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A New Book to Nourish Your Soul

When we first started homeschooling, I had two book mentors that impacted me tremendously and Sally Clarkson was one of them.

Sally’s volume, Educating the WholeHearted Child was recommended to me by a friend, and I quickly devoured it. It helped give me a big picture into the hearts and differences of my then very young children. I referenced ETWHC so often and loaned it out so regularly, that I “laminated” the cover so it wouldn’t get ruined. (By laminate, I mean I covered it with see through adhesive drawer liner.)

Sally taught me about the different ways kids learn and I quickly adjusted my teaching methods for my wiggly Emily who would have rather been swinging and moving or crawling or jumping.

Sally planted the seeds of grace-based parenting into my very novice black and white ideas.

So of course I was so excited to learn that she had written another book, this time about home!

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Reading The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming made me appreciate her even more. It’s a peek into their life, family, and traditions and if I could describe Sally in two words they would be:

AWARE–Sally constantly encourages you to be aware of your own heart, your own needs, your surroundings SO THAT you can then serve those around you, which requires awareness of the needs of others.

WELCOMING– Sally uses her home as the epicenter of her far-reaching ministry, a concept we’ve talked about extensively on this blog. This is something that every Christian woman can do. Hospitality isn’t optional for the Christian, and she gives you a living example of how it has worked in her home. She talks about inviting people in for the holidays, for concerts, for teas, for talks. She shares her life–which is the first step to touching the heart of anyone, young or old.

Her daughter, Sarah, also writes several chapters and let me just tell you that she has a “delicious” vocabulary. :) You’ll love it.

Life-Giving Home gives you guidance and helps you see the potential that your home can have when you take responsibility to orchestrate the rhythms of your life. She includes a chapter for each month of the year and discusses how to make life special by incorporating traditions with your family and friends.

Lest you think it all sounds too idealistic and pie-in-the-sky, she doesn’t paint life as though it’s one big tea party and talks quite honestly about the really tough times when the door of the home would have to stay closed so that people can heal and regroup after a loss or hurt.

Life is busy and it goes by before you know it. I used to think life slowed down as the kids got older, but now I know that it goes by faster each year. A book like this helps you slow down and choose to say NO to the filler material of life–and to say YES to the things that will impact generations.

You can get it here.The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite quotes and doing a giveaway!

Are you planning on reading this book? Have you already started it? Have you had any ah-ha moments while reading it? Share!

*Disclosure: I received this book free of charge to review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Favorite Things Friday

It’s been a while since I did a Favorite Things Friday edition. Did I mention that life has been just a bit busy? All last week was spent searching for a wedding venue for my oldest daughter. {We got one!} It was a tad overwhelming, but, you guys, I made an Excel spreadsheet for this purpose. Peter was surprised and a little proud as he is a spreadsheet kinda guy.

Also, we’re expecting a little snow this weekend, but it’s nothing compared to last year at this time. Remember this!?

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What a difference a year makes. Did you realize that it has been one year since Addy’s surgery? She’s doing great by the way!

And, it dawned on me that I never shared “on the blog” that my daughter, Rebekah, got engaged over Thanksgiving to a great guy also named Peter (his website here). So, to remedy that, pictures! We took these at Harvard Yard. We are so excited for them!

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This week, I’m reading a pre-release copy of Sally Clarkson’s newest book,The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming. It’s available Feb. 2nd. This book is right up my ally. I’m only half way through but it has made me want to hug my kids a little tighter and it has given me “permission”–actually, an excuse–to do what I love which it to decorate and make the home a place where everyone wants to be. You can pre-order it, and there are several book studies that you can jump in to soon. Makenzie at Bold Turquoise is planning one, I know. I plan to review it during release week and Tyndale has agreed to do a giveaway here for my readers! Very excited for you guys!

Here are a few of my favorite things that you might also enjoy: enjoy:

Recipes::

Garlicky White Bean Soup from The Nourishing Gourmet. One of my favorite winter soups! Delish with french bread and blue cheese sprinkled on top!

If you’ve never made Barefoot Contessa’s Beef Bourguignon, you are in for a treat. This is THE best.  I made this for dinner this week and made a batch for a friend who just had a baby. She told me it was delish! Thanks, Ina!

We made one of our favorite addictive cookies this week: Molasses Sugar Cookies  Perfect with chai tea on a cold winter’s day. Here’s my DIY Just Like Dunkin Donuts Chai Tea Mix recipe, which is my most pinned recipe ever. Yum.

Articles::

How to Choose Contentment Right Where You Are by Joy.

This article by Lore about Spiritual Depression: Men as Trees Walking and Being Honest About the Blurry Things. “What is the cure for [spiritual depression]? For the moment I shall give principles only. The first principle is evident: above everything else avoid making premature claim that your blindness is cured.” In the last few months, several women have told me about their lack of desire for anything, including the Word of God. Their honesty is a gift and will help them as they sort through this season. And, as always, God is in the gift–even if He allows a season of struggle.

How Comfort Food Poses As Spiritual Food. This is a great article to read if you are turning to food to fill needs that only God can fill.

This article on hospitality by Jen Wilkin was both humorous and helpful. Don’t wait until your home is perfect to extend hospitality and don’t allow false standards to discourage you from welcoming others into your home. Was it Shauna Neiquist who said that you could just wipe your coffee table off with a baby wipe and be good to go? I can’t remember. 😉 Anywho, she also has this sweet printable if you are interested.

 

Products::

This CamelBak Eddy Insulated Water Bottle is saving my skin right now. I find my skin is so dry if I don’t drink enough in the winter. This helps make it easy.

I’m also loving TAZO: Earl Grey Black Tea right now. Emily makes me a London Fog with the strongly brewed tea, frothed milk and vanilla. So good!

What are you reading this winter? What favorite products would you recommend? Are any of you planning your garden yet? Share in the comments and let me know what you’re up to!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links at no cost to you.

 

 

Books That Challenged and Changed Me This Year {2015}

 

In case you need some ideas for Santa, here are a few of my favorite books from 2015. These aren’t necessarily new releases, but just books that encouraged and challenged me this year. I’m including the Amazon links below:

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We Would See Jesus. A short, life changing read. Every Christian woman should read this classic.

Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom. Got hurt issues? This is a great resource.

Women of the Word. Excellent resource for learning how to study the Bible for yourself, without relying on commentaries.

The Church Planting Wife. Great read for any ministry wife.

From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. Wonderful read.

Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image. Excellent resource for women who are living for titles or are confused about what Christian womanhood looks like. I adapted this book and taught through some of the topics in our teen girls youth group and I plan to cover the rest of them this winter.

Look and Live. One of the best books on worship I’ve read in a long time. I can’t recommend it cart blanche, as I had a few qualms with it (stylistic), but it’s wonderful for those who feel they are dry spiritually and know they are missing something in their worship of God…aka…they’re worshiping lesser things.

Safe People: How to Find Relationships that Are Good for You. I bristled at the title of this, because I tend to believe that you should get along with the people God sends into your life, but I was glad I read this book. It helped me to prioritize my relationships and find peace with letting go of a few relationships that I knew were no longer healthy because let’s face it–life’s too short to spend energy on people who are toxic.

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris. A fun read.

Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass. Peter read this aloud to me and it was fascinating. It’s based on the life work of Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychologist who, after working with the poor and incarcerated for years, noted a common dysfunctional set of values that seemed to keep these people trapped in a victim’s mindset, hence, trapped in their current circumstances with no hope of change. Excellent read.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom:My Escape from North Korea. Peter read this aloud to us as a family and we couldn’t wait to hear the conclusion of this modern day escape!

What books would you recommend? What books challenged you this year?

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